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Thread: Total noob here... did I do good?

  1. #1

    Question Total noob here... did I do good?

    First off, hi everybody! I'm a brand-new biker, starting from square one here. No dirt bike experience, no manual vehicle experience. Just plenty of time spent on bicycles. Due to some events in my life beyond my control, I needed to get affordable transportation and I decided to fulfill my long time desire to learn to ride.

    So, that brings me here. I creeped around my local Craigslist for a cheap, older model motorcycle. After a while looking I bit the bullet and made my first bike purchase- a 1984 Honda Ascot VT500FT with ~26K miles. It seems to run strong as far as I can tell. It looks pretty nice too, aside from some badly done paint on the front plate and top of the gas tank and tail (from a long-gone owner who wanted to "increase visibility"). It has also had a toggle switch installed on top of the instrument cluster to operate the radiator fan, apparently when the thermostat went bad. Lastly, the needles on both the speedometer and tachometer seem to have snapped? No pointy end anymore.

    I know, it's got some issues. But it fit my available budget at decently under a grand. I'm not averse to potentially replacing the instruments, as long as it's not too intensive a fix. I'm handy with tools but no mechanic. I've also read that this bike will fit parts from certain years of Honda Shadow 500C. Is that correct? Would I potentially be able to find instruments from one of those, or is my best bet aftermarket?

    Most of all, tell me. Was this a decent choice for a cheap bike to learn on?


  2. #2
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! Sorg67's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Orlando, FL
    Boy did you come the right place. I am also a newbie. I have gotten a lot of great information here. You may have to sort out some differing opinions on certain items. But you will get a wealth of information. Lot's of very knowledgeable people here who are very generous with their time in answering questions.

    I hope you took a motorcycle safety class. They are well worth it.

    Be careful out there. Motorcycles are difficult to see and other vehicles are not looking for you.

    You have to stay out of their way. You cannot depend on others respecting your right of way or even noticing that you are there.

    Good Luck!!

  3. #3
    RiderCoach Wannabe 4000 Posts! Chench53's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    now in Suffolk VA, home town is NYC
    Hey Awrydo, welcome!! Sorg67 is right, if you haven't taken the training class, it is the best way to learn the basic skills, and and also get licensed. Then go from there!

    Check out the MSF/Motocycle Safety Foundation website at and find something near you.

    Where are you located in this great big world? Add a location to your profile!

    Lots of Honda fans here, and great knowledge too! Good luck!

    Peace ~ Love Ride ~ Then Ride Some More
    '16 Kawasaki Vulcan S 650 with ABS - "ED-2ND" - Special in a new way.
    '05 Yamaha 1100 V* Silverado "Beast, Big Ass Bike" - The name said it all.
    '02 Suzuki 650 Savage - "Special Ed' - A wonderful memory.
    - Gerry -

  4. #4
    Flirting With The Redline 8000 Posts! Trials's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Where do you live? I have an old FT500 Ascot single, some of the parts such as the instruments are identical to your VT500. They made a million of them and many of them have been abandoned to the scrap pile, so you should be able to find parts from a motorcycle wreckers.
    They are a pretty good beginner bike, change ALL of the fluids right from the get go and have fun with it

  5. #5
    Hey, thanks for the welcomes everyone! Taking a MSF course is priority A#1 for me, but I need to save for a bit first. I failed to realize that it's more expensive when you're over 21... :shrug: I tested for and acquired my learner's permit, but a slug could have passed that test.
    Until I can take a MSF course I don't feel very confident doing much more than straight lines in a parking lot. Trying to teach myself exactly where the friction zone is, etc.
    I definitely am anticipating my new, different role in traffic. At the very least, I'm going to find some reflectors for my helmet and a high-vis safety vest.
    Trials, I'm in Southern California... I'll edit my profile too.
    The owner I bought it from had changed the transmission (or is it more appropriate to just say shaft drive?) fluid as well as given it an oil change. What else should I be on the lookout for?

  6. #6
    RiderCoach 4000 Posts! AZridered's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Chandler, Arizona
    Put the training class at very high priority. While most motorcycles are pretty easy to handle under ordinary conditions, when you are surprised and have to act quickly and correctly, things are much more likely to go wrong. A lot of class time, very nearly the whole second half, is spent on preparation for surprises and making basic skill second nature so that you are able to keep your attention clear to perceive problems before you get to them.

    As for the bike, it is a getting pretty close to the fringe end of "OK for a novice", but not too bad. Knowledge and skill from basic training will help a lot to get you solidly into the range you need for the bike. On the plus side, that bike is very, very, versatile and should serve you well for a long time.

  7. #7
    Welcome! Congrats on your first bike purchase, you must be very excited. I know you said it, along with a few others above, but the safety class is the best investment you can make right now. I'm very thankful I took it and it has saved me twice from going down (get your mind out of the gutter ) because of what I learned and practiced in the class. I know it's expensive but I hope you can take it soon. Best of luck with the new bike and safe riding!

    I'm in San Diego so if you're ever in my area, let me know.

  8. #8
    Flirting With The Redline dc_Minnesota's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Baltimore, MD
    Welcome. As has been recommended already, take the course as soon as possible. Trying to learn on your own can create bad habits you don't even realizing you are creating. It's much easier to learn everything the correct way from the start than trying to re-train certain aspects while also trying to learn new skills.
    "Don't push it. Just let it fall." - Duke Ellington
    2012 Yamaha FZ1

  9. #9
    RiderCoach 5000 Posts! NORTY's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Enroll in the basic course soon. Once you successfully complete the course, then we'll talk about " further training" to get you more comfortable with the street. Since you are in SoCal, there are "tools" for you to help you transition from a parking lot to the street with traffic.
    Don't forget to transfer the registration into your name. Also, don't forget insurance costs.
    Is the Ascot the one that has the oil in the frame? I think my xl600 had it.
    What City do you reside?
    Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

  10. #10
    Flirting With The Redline 8000 Posts! Trials's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Awyrdo View Post
    Trials, I'm in Southern California... I'll edit my profile too.
    The owner I bought it from had changed the transmission (or is it more appropriate to just say shaft drive?) fluid as well as given it an oil change. What else should I be on the lookout for?
    Do yourself a favour and hook up with Norty if he will have you, one of the best things you could have right now is a mentor and riding partner who knows his stuff.

    Transmission is combined with the engine oil on your bike, change it frequently especially for the first little while, you never know what the previous owner has done. Highly recommend Rotella T dino oil, not the synthetic as your clutch rides in the engine oil. That will loosen and clean out whatever is in there now, change the filter with each change, they are small and cheap enough to do that. Your bike is liquid cooled, I would probably flush and change that. Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, water in your brake master cylinder will promote corrosion, particularly the rear one, replace/flush the brake fluid. Drain your front fork oil into a clear glass container, hold that up to sunlight and see how dirty it is and look for the presence of shiny metal particles, that will give you some indication of how infrequently it has been changed and an idea if you need to rebuild your fork bushings and sliders soon. That's all the fluids there are in your bike except for the grease in the bearings, swingarm bushing & battery fluid, you'll know if the battery is a problem real quick.

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