Honda FT 500 by H Garage

I consider 1down4up.net as a stage for bike builders to present their work to interested readers. Since most of the bikes are the fruit of long days and nights of blood, sweat and tears in sheds and workshops, the least I can do is to write a half-decent story that puts the outcome in perspective. So if a bike builder goes the extra-mile to write down a detailed built-story, it goes by himself that I shut up and clear the stage for the man behind the work.

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Here are Scott Halbleib from Louisville, Kentucky based hgarage’s words about this Honda FT500:

Another thumper. Before even completing the XT500 in 2014, I had gone and purchased a FT500. The singles are great platforms - relatively lightweight, torquey and fairly simple electrical systems, and great urban commuters. With prices rising quite a bit on the XT’s the Honda platform seemed like a worthy alternative, plus electric start.

This was going to be a long drawn build, no rushing, no deadline. That timeline was extended quite a bit when the Gold Wing appeared and the FT got put on hold. After 2 years of working on and off, it has finally been completed. 

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There was no initial concept in mind for the build, as is typically the case. I stripped it down and be­gan the process of resting different tanks on the backbone to see if anything gelled. The Aermacchi tank has such a nice design and keeps the look of the bike super slim. My interest in cafes has dwin­dled a bit but I had an idea for an exhaust/tail section that I really wanted to try so cafe it was. Minor mods to the tank and a couple of weeks chopping down, capping and fabbing an exit for the exhaust, and the tail section was almost complete. A muffler was sourced from Cone engineering and a bracket welded to hold it in place. 

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I literally woke up in the middle of the night at one point with the idea of trying to incorporate a headlight into a vintage microphone. A few weeks of Ebay research and I had sourced a microphone that had the shape I was looking for. More research to find a high intensity fog light that could be retrofitted into the shell, and I had the headlight worked out. Then I decided I’d like to have a matching tail light so, start the process over again. Funny how difficult it becomes to find a second identical item, but a couple of months later, success. Tail lights are aluminum bullets from British Cus­toms, with wiring painstakingly mounted through multiple frame bends and exiting the passenger peg mount brackets. 

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After admiring a build, Golden Boy by Tyler Stepp, the decision was made to try to smooth out all welds and have as clean of a frame as possible. All tabs were removed, battery box and electrical trays were fabricated, rear was chopped and plugged, and all joints were re-welded, grinded and smoothed before applying a satin black automotive paint. 

Next challenge was the seat. Rather than capping the tunnel on the tank, I decided to use it as part of the design. The tunnel on the tail paralleled the shape of the rear Pirelli so I thought the tunnel from the tank should be visible as well. I would design the seat to parallel the tank tunnel. The seat pan was formed then channelled in the rear to allow clearance for the exhaust, then various density foams were used. The center was then hollowed out to allow hollow foam tubing to create the cyl­inder that parallels the tunnel. I put Ginger at New Church Moto to the test for upholstery.

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Miscellaneous items sourced - Rizoma rear master cylinder reservoir, Vortex clip-ons, steel-braided brake lines and new header pipe from Thumperstuff, Progressive springs and shocks, Mikuni 36mm round slide carb, custom carb manifold fabbed, massive velocity stack custom-made by Speed Moto company, Ballistic battery, vintage foot pegs modified, new levers and master cylinder, Motogadget switches and relay with push buttons recessed into triple tree, and all wiring meticulously routed by Chad Francis of Retrowrench. New cables, tank CA swelled, tail section interior and seat pan heat taped, DEI exhaust wrapped and vintage Honda wings modified and applied to the gas tank.

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The gold wheels were decided early on - just had an old NASCAR racing vibe, back when NASCAR was cool. Shortly after, I made the decision to make the engine gold as well. Then literally months went by debating on a color scheme. I mocked up various combinations on the computer and still couldn’t decide, so I decided to open it up to my moto friends in Louisville Vintage Motorworks. One Face­book poll and 50 comments later, the vintage Honda racing color scheme it was. I mocked up multi­ple versions of red white and blue and finally landed on one. Paint duties were sent to Bobby Fulkerson. After that, it was just a matter of deciding what would remain black and what items should be gold. Decisions made, bolts polished, slowly reassembled.

So if you think hgarage’s Honda FT500 would suit you well, you might be delighted to hear that the bike is up for sale.

Get in touch via hgarage’s WEBSITE or INSTAGRAM page.

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