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Honda FT500 – Lorenzo Buratti

Posted on June 9, 2013 by Scott in Brat, Racer. 22 comments

Written by Ian Lee.

Big 500cc thumper engine. Good ground clearance. Hell, the FT in FT500 stands for flat tracker. It’s a good start for a custom build, that is if you are able to see past the 80s plastic fantastic styling, and even more unique if you keep the ‘Comstar’ styled wheels, even though they aren’t the most popular option. Lorenzo Buratti could see past all that, his latest build a 1982 Honda FT500 named ‘Metropolitan’. Here is the build concept in his words: ‘it’s all about a city playbike, light and manoeuvrable in traffic, low seat, something different to the hundreds of café racer styled bikes’. Café racer it ain’t, but it would sure cut a mean image tearing down city streets, and the sound would definitely match the imagery.

Starting out with the commuter friendly FT, this model of bike was chosen because of it’s light and agile frame, reliable engine and low seat height. The factory fuel tank was discarded, an Aermacchi Harley Davidson unit sits in it’s place, airbrushed with a city skyline to keep with the ‘Metropolitan’ motif of the bike.

Perched behind the tank is a seat leftover from a previous scrambler build, recovered in leather and mounted backwards, with 3 inch thick leather attaching it to the tailpiece. Also fashioned from leather, to make the bike rather unique, is the dashboard cluster, something Lorenzo admits ‘not all people can agree on that’.

Performance modifications include a K & N filter, and another remnant of the scrambler build, the awesome frame hugging silencer. To be able to perform in city streets the way Lorenzo envisaged, the bike is fitted up with Hagon shocks on the rear, the original rims being repainted black and retained for the build.

In a special touch, the stock brake discs have been re-profiled with holes, then machined in a CNC mill. The headlight, originally fitted to a Ducati Monster, sits beneath a wider than factory set of handlebars.

From rather plain beginnings, Lorenzo Buratti has stripped away a lot of the pretence asked of bike aesthetics in the 80s, and shown that ‘hidden beauty’ can be something to consider when looking at a bike to modify. The Buratti workshop is a fan of mixing aesthetic quality with functionality, for instance in regards to the ducktail: ‘All the back is built up, starting from an aluminium sheet, just hammered and polished by hand. A very light one, not just about the weight, but I try to do something light also for the eyes’.

And all this with the premise of building something with style, using the tools at hand in his garage. It’s inspiring that Lorenzo Buratti could see past the acres of plastic, past the rear guard that seems to go on forever, to see a beautiful diamond, hiding in a polyethylene rough.

  • itsmefool

    So that’s what FT stands for? This one has some good points, but it reminds me of an awkward teenager; all elbows and, well, you know. Plus, that billboard license tag doesn’t do it any favors.

  • Tanshanomi

    Just FYI, the stock FT500 wheels are cast aluminum, not comstars.

  • FT was my first bike and I am a little bit sentimental with this thumper, but this one is not my cup of tea, for a lot of reasons.
    To be more specific, when you start a project before taking everything apart, make yourself a coffee, take a comfortable seat and stare your bike for a while. EVERY bike has some unique aesthetic features that give character to the bike and make it different from the others, not necessary beautiful but unique in a way. If you customize a bike but you don’t maintain these elements, as a result, you have a totally different bike.
    “Is that wrong ???” ,you may ask. No way, if this is your goal I will tell you, but my perspective is to maintain these features and step even further both in function and aesthetics.
    The most recognizable characteristic that FT has, (and not beautiful), is its square headlight and in this project is gone, there is no visual flow between the tank and the seat,the exhaust is…well let’s skip this…, and I am one of those that don’t agree with this dashboard.
    What I’m trying to say, is that the end result has no connection with its roots, as the FT that Sideburn customized:
    This project is the best example of the things I tried to explain above. You can recon its identity, you are curious to zoom in the details from the first glance, and finally you smile with the upgrades. You lust it and you want to ride it !
    Maybe the comparison with Sideburn’s FT is the basic reason that I don’t like this one, but I ‘m afraid it’s inevitable…

    • Sideburn’s was the best FT I’ve ever seen. Everything worked and the paint pulled it all together.

    • Adam Santella

      Sticking to your roots works, but i still like this bike as well, even if it isn’t a head turner like some other bikes out there

  • Greg Simanson

    clean but zzzzzzz

  • Стефан ‘Dobermann’ Петров

    Bottle openers are for girls! Joking. 🙂
    Great bike.

    • nathas909

      Sorry I am still really confused about the bottle opener!!! The amount of times I have had to open a beer (the only bottles that need a bottle opener) next to my bike is so small I would not think of putting one on my bike.
      And yes I am one also who does not agree with the dash boars…

      • Fastbaall

        You need to drink better beer!

  • I need to bolt a bottle opener on my bike(s).

    • Jorgan

      Keep a Bic lighter handy. Or open it on a spinning tire like a man 😉

      • arnold

        Mine is a multi tool in the manbag. /sarc/

  • Mitt Zombie

    “theme-bike” touches ruin yet another build…

  • Jorgan

    So many haters. Rad bike that actually looks like someone will ride it. Gauge thing is not for me. But it would be awesome if under peoples comments they had pictures of their own builds.

    • Adam Santella

      Great idea. my old 70′ CB350 I tore to pieces and rode dangerously for a year. barely ran when I got it, tank was rusted, got a new one from a later model. complete with dent and all. what a fun bike! I miss it.. and yeah, I hit the filter faze hard I know

      • Hey Adam, I have a CL350 K5 that I ride all the time. I like what you did with the stock tail light – I never thought about turning it on it’s side – cool idea,

  • Zundap

    Looks like a fun ride and that is my first priority. As far as the look, that is the owners choice. I would enjoy riding around town on this on. ..Z

  • Idon’tknowmuchbut…..

    Ummm Ian. It’s not a thumper as you say…..I see two exhaust pipes

    • macmotor

      The honda sigles ran two exhast headers, so they could have sufficient exhast head pipe size. Two small instead of one large usually so they could go around the single frame down tube.

  • ugh

    no…… used a rare SWM exhaust?

  • Erich Wacha

    i would like to have it as my 3 rd bike in the garage to drive on sunday morning to the bakery for fresh rolls, and make a date wth the saleswomen there she is almost as old as myself! to me it looks somehow different and appealing … good job Lorenzo !! In the old days a shirt from Trussardi looked different than one from Germany made by Boss … Italien chick i used to call it.. ..the bottle opener is just freaky +funny

  • Gnarlydan

    This bike is radical. Everybody hating chill. His bike, not your problem. Build a bike, or pipe it.