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‘82 Honda FT500 – Jordan Froidmont


Posted on June 14, 2016 by Andrew in Tracker. 24 comments

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Written by Martin Hodgson.

With the big manufacturers, corporates and TV shows dedicating large sums of money to the custom motorcycle scene it is easy to forget that its foundation has and always will be home builders on tiny budgets scrummaging through scrap yards for that must have part. We can all dream of our ultimate ride, a $100k to spend and the skills of the words great fabricators at our disposal but the reality for most of us mere mortals is a few grand for both bike and bits. As a 21-year-old student from Liège in Belgium, Jordan Froidmont found himself in this very predicament but has found a way to make his dreams come true with a little left field thinking and a lot of hard graft. After three years of work he’s turned Honda’s forgotten FT 500 Ascot into a stunning street bike and is now filling the Belgian air with the sound of a screaming single.

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It was also a 500 single that Jordan desired, a Yamaha SR to be precise, with its classic looks and host of aftermarket parts making it such a favourite for all. But with his head in the books and on a student’s budget the price of the popular Yammy was just too much and he started to think of more affordable options. The answer came in the form of a 1982 Ascot that had been sitting idle in a damp garage for more than ten years and despite its shocking condition, the low kilometres on the clock convinced Jordan he was onto a winner. Knowing the Ascot was going to take a lot of clever tricks to get it looking as good as an SR he sought out the help of a friend, “My objective was to purify and simplify to the maximum the bike, I started with the help of my friend Florian Halleux from Classic Motos Liège.” The first challenge was to strip the bike back to its bare bones, clean it up to see what they were working with and formulate a plan of attack.

The bare frame was cleaned up with the side cover locating tabs and other brackets removed and any imperfections sanded smooth. The swingarm got the same treatment with just the rear shock mounts left before a new rear subframe was fabricated to perfectly match the lines of the seat to be used. The stock muffler brackets were cut off and the frame and swingarm treated to new galvanized nuts and bolts before the whole lot was coated in hard-wearing black paint. Then it was time to sit tanks on the back bone and decide what looked best, because the standard item is quite simply a shocker. A decent condition Honda CB360 unit was found and Jordan loved the look but it was no straight forward swap. To clear the wide back bone the tunnel had to be heavily modified and to make sure the internals were good it was treated to a full clean and reseal to ensure no dodgy flakes of rust ended up inside the engine.

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With the tank sitting right new mounts had to be fabricated to hold the CB tank in position and capture the lines Jordan was going for. Then it was over to painters Fortemps to prep the body work and lay down the colour on the old Honda tank. Wanting a classic look the decision was made to go with a dark navy blue on the top half of the tank with white for the lower sections broken up by a single colour matched stripe. With the factory badge work retained and a new chrome filler cap fitted up the looks of the bike are instantly transformed to something far more beautiful than the blocky Ascot’s aesthetics. With paint being laid down Jordan also sprayed the classic Guzzi headlight supports for the build that add a little Euro flavour. To match the paint work Jordan headed over to Tex-Air Seat Covers in nearby Herve armed with the dimensions of his bike and the lads stitched him up a classic tracker style seat in quality dark brown leather.

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One of the things that had attracted Jordan to the Ascot in the first place was its engine, a 500cc single just like the SR500 he had been dreaming of. To be fair to the little Ascot, while the SR is far more sought after the Honda engine is superior in almost every way you care to look at. Coming from the XL platform it has more horsepower, more torque, bullet proof reliability and responds exceptionally well to modifications. If it had one weak point it was the starter motor that had been added for the urban Ascot, so Jordan had Florian from Classic Motos remove the starter and associated wiring and cleverly convert the bike back to kickstart. The low kilometre engine was ticking over nicely so just a new galvanized bolt set, a lick of paint and some new exterior component gaskets were needed. Then Florian set about hand forming and welding the stunning 2 into 1 stainless steel headers with custom muffler and a new handmade bracket.

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With the mechanicals taken care of it was time to bring the suspension up to scratch and give the bike the stance to match its new looks. The front forks have been rebuilt to take a good 12cm of ride height out and the lower legs painted to match the frame. Out back the standard shocks are very spongy from the factory so they’ve been replaced with new units with progressive rate springs to give a sportier ride. Happy with the standard rims Jordan gave them a coat of paint and wrapped them in Firestone Deluxe rubber. But he wasn’t so pleased with the bite provided by the standard single pot front brake so it’s been swapped out for a much more impressive twin piston Brembo item. Not a bolt on piece Jordan and Florian took some heavy stainless and fabricated a bracket that would mount to the standard forks and position the Brembo perfectly over the factory front rotor.

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Up on the new bars Jordan has added a powerful Magura master cylinder and lever with braided line to prevent fade or bursting, which is good insurance given they’ve also deleted the rear brake. To do this a bronze spacer was machined up to fill the void on the rear axle and loving the look Jordan also did the same for the fork tops. The bars also wear a beautiful set of leather wrapped grips with machined aluminum ends from Brooks and an MX push-pull throttle. The only other thing up front is a single switch that turns the headlight from low to high beam as the desire was always to create an ultra-clean look. To make this work a fabricated battery box under the seat holds a lithium battery, CDI box and the key switch. The rest of the wiring loom has been cut out and terminated so here’s hoping the Belgian boys in blue are on the forgiving side.

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Having gone to the effort of converting to kick-start and fitting up a nice new lever, Jordan couldn’t bring himself to leave the factory footrests so a set of machined alloy items with modified linkage for the gear change take care of business. From a standing wreck of an ’80s bike that was neither a looker nor popular Jordan has taken the Ascot and given it a fine classic make over to produce a unique street bike on a budget. It all couldn’t have happened without the great support of his father and Florian’s mechanical wizardry. But now the custom bike bug has truly bitten, not content to just ride his completed steed his picked up another left field selection, a Suzuki GR650, and it too is getting a new lease on life the Belgian way.

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You always win when you wear the chequered flag

[Photos by Germain Ozer]








  • revdub

    Very clean and nicely done. This is one of the best looking FT500’s I’ve seen and a bike I would definitely ride.

  • Christopher Petrillo

    i absolutely LOVE this bike.

  • JayJay

    How do you shorten a fork that much? Great work from Florian!

  • Hardley T Whipsnade III

    Very clean . Very nice and cute as a bug in a rug . But once again those tires ! Fashion over function creating a less ridable and stable bike in the process . Sigh . When will this humiliating fashionista tire trend finally come to the ignominious end it so richly deserves ?

    • Davidabl2

      Probably when somebody starts making K-70’s and/or K-81’s in the sizes these things require. OR those big SpeedMaster “Safety-Mileage” 5.10×16 in a few more sizes.
      Those ‘Stones seem to come in every size imaginable. Unfortunately.

    • Neil Roy

      Agreed. Minus rear brake.. darwin attrition might contribute

  • Vbboli

    Very nice pictures !!!

  • Neil Roy

    just read…… deleted the rear brake…… flipped to hippster hampster on a non functional bike.. pity

    • Giantsfan

      No fenders? Doesn’t it rain over there?

  • 66saint

    Yup. Brakes and mudguards are over rated and why waste your time with mirrors or indicators too.

    • guvnor67

      You can picture the scene, has to do a sudden right turn under brakes, right hand off the ‘bars to give a hand signal …no rear brake ….no mirror to check the lane is clear … Uh-oh

  • It’s a “Studio” bike. Attractive, but the no inner fender fad is beyond stupid to me. Tires have been beat to death to no avail so I’ve given up on that one.I love the two tone tank and wheels but just a short rear fender would do wonders to the proportions. At a glance, very cool.

  • Love this bike and that this article highlights the attainable build. Anyone who has scavenged scrap yards… or cleared out the carbs of some bike left for dead knows the fulfilling reward of pulling together a build on a budget. Great read.

    • martin hodgson

      Completely agree Nick, I bought an old ZXR400 for $200 that spewed about 2 litres of water from the oil drain and the carbs were gummed up and the bowls filled with water and sticky old fuel. $50 on parts and a lot of graft… to hear it fire into life was a beautiful thing. Definitely it is those moments that are so fulfilling and the reward of playing with these cheap old bikes.

    • Exactly!

  • 1957 Panhead

    I don’t know about all of you, but when I was a 21-year-old student I didn’t have much scratch to build or even OWN a bike. I think this is a really nice, clean, well-balanced build despite the shortfalls. I agree with Mule about the fenders – even shorties front and rear would bring the build up a notch. And the Firestones? Agian, a student with a limited budget and they’re cheaper than a set of Avons or Metzlers. So, at least he’s out riding instead of waiting for the day he can afford good tires – and hopefully, for his sake, that day will come, soon. But, the rear brake delete? I’m not even going to touch that one…

  • Javier Rosa

    Arcena keyring? is he rollerblader?

  • I need to add…when I was 21, I could not have built this or anything a tenth as good as this, so good job on this one!

  • 66saint

    It is a sweet looking ride and well done. I’m only thinking good luck getting it registered. The final street legal bike might look a bit different

    • JayJay

      See that’s the problem in Belgium, you can just register it.. No technical control.

  • Mia

    What kind of “budget” was this bike built on? I’m sorry but I’ve been in the process of trying to convert my ft500 into a brat style café racer and it is not cheap. The article says “It all couldn’t have happened without the great support of his father…”. I think this “student budget” was backed by daddy’s wallet. Not trying to be a hater but come on, don’t call it a budget build when it so obviously is not. For most of who are paying for upgrades out of our own pocket, a build like this is probably not attainable.
    …But the bike IS beautiful. I’ll give him that.

    • Jordan Froidmont

      I thank my father for sending me the passion of motorcycle. And I think that 3000$ in 3 years is a really cheap budget, yes … When you don’t have the budget you have to ask for help with the machines and tools to all your friend. You always can serve them with another things … And to all the Haters, this is my bike, not yours unfortunately. So I do what I want on it !

      • JayJay

        how is the GR coming along?

  • Jörg Renz

    Hallo

    Great Bike but how did you travel the fork?

    Jörg