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Honda FT500 By Sideburn

Honda FT500 custom
Words by Gary Inman, photography by Paul Bryant. There’s a phrase, very popular in England, “You can’t polish a turd”. But, taking on their first project bike, Sideburn magazine tried.

The starting point was a £370 ($600) Honda FT500C, and the magazine didn’t want to spend a lot on it. Luckily, they had Carl of CFM in Lincolnshire, England, on their side. He’s a local one-man do-it-all bike builder/fabricator, and he sorted the bike out.

Honda FT500 custom
One of the biggest jobs was removing the FT500 sub-frame and replacing it with raised seat rails. This was done to make the new tank sit parallel, and look good with the seat. The tank? It’s from a 1970s Garelli sport moped, while the seat is a repro Norton race unit, with a Steve Adams seat pad. The distinctive paint, based on an optician’s colour blindness test, was laid on by British cross-genre artist, Death Spray Custom.

Honda FT500 custom
The front forks were replaced with Yamaha TDR250 legs, with the stock triple clamps bored out to accept them. The puny and worn-out front brake was ditched for a Yamaha R6 caliper and custom-made EBC disc, while the rear is another EBC disc, with a standard caliper. Sideburn went to the bother of having one-off discs made to avoid caliper adapter plates—always ugly and best avoided. The rear shocks are British-made Hagon Nitros.

Honda FT500 custom
There are dozens of tasty little details. The footpegs are KTM beartraps, while the rear master cylinder is Yamaha YZ450. The stock headlight is on a cut-and-shut standard bracket; the front master cylinder is from a Honda CFR450, and the switches have all been moved to the headlight shell.

Want to know more? Grab yourself a copy of Sideburn #6.

With thanks to Gary Inman of Sideburn Magazine and Paul Bryant of Kinetic Images.

Honda FT500 custom