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Honda’s capable middleweight V twin

I’ve written this as a very brief summary of some of the things to look for when buying a VT500. Please bear in mind I live in the UK with our salted winter roads and my experience is based purely on ‘E’ Euro models.

RUST. They do rust at the back end if used on winter roads. Two main points of concern are the mount for the rear passenger grab rail which should be solid when grabbed and rocked back and forth. It bolts to a metal section at the top of the rear mudguard and collects the muck thrown up by the back wheel. Secondly the main cross member of the swinging arm which again was not very well painted from the factory and is in the line of winter road debris.

Rear passenger grab rail mount. This one is from a well looked after machine but still looks like its been plated at some point

This was the one on my first VT. Good replacements are rare!

Swingarm gets very rusty in the centre. This one is like swiss cheese after it was blasted.

That covers the two main areas of concern at the back end although I have seen extreme cases where the frame itself was perforated. Generally, if its that bad leave well alone. There will be better examples.

At the front, fork leg chrome is the main issue. Too much pitting and you will need a replacement or re-chroming. Difficult to find good ones and expensive to rechrome.

The tank is also another issue. Both of mine have had rusty seams that weep petrol. Easy enough to sort out with a tank sealant but a bit of a pain. Modern cheaper fuels contain ethanol which will absorb water which then separates at the bottom allowing seams to rust. ( Make sure your tank sealant is Ethanol resistant and remember premium unleaded will have a longer shelf life as it usually doesn’t contain ethanol )

MECHANICAL ISSUES Early models had issues with the cam chain tensioners which were beefed up with a modified blade and stronger springs in later production. Rattles could be a sign of this issue. I have added a piece about this on the resources page but if left unchecked swarf from the block can contaminate oil and play havoc with the plain big end bearings. All in all though a properly sorted and maintained VT engine can be good for 100K miles and we frequently see them come on the market with this sort of mileage.

ELECTRICAL Very few reported issues other than Coils which are now ageing and expensive to replace. Problems can become apparent when the coils gets hot and start to break down causing problems when restarting with a hot engine. If you cant find OEM coils the Dynatek DC4-1 is a replacement but will need modified mounting ( Google the subject for other peoples experience )