I've owned my R-Reg '97 Gpz500 for almost a year now and its been fantastic biking on a budget. First of all i will say the front single 2 pot sliding calliper is awful, and really ruins the bikes overall impact as everyone complains about them. My fix, which i believe is the first in the UK, was to fit a Yamaha R1 298mm '98 4XV floating front disc, the hole pcd is exactly the same!, and same thickness too at 5mm, drill out the holes to 9.9mm dia and it'll bolt straight on(standard Gpz 500 bolts are 10mm shouldered bolts but measure 9.9mm diameter and the disc is located concentrically by the bolts and not the centre of the disc!), and i have also fitted a Honda Vtr1000 '97-'00 4 pot Nissin calliper. I made a brake adaptor from 10mm thick solid steel and machined the calliper to be able to mount it properly, so now instead of a 281mm disc and 2 pot sliding calliper, i have an awesome 298mm disc and 4 pot Nissin calliper with HH-rated pads setup and its utterly fantastic! I'm an engineer btw so have done all the work myself. 4hrs start to finish.
Before this i had the standard 281mm disc but with a 4 pot Honda VFR400 NC30 calliper and again, my own adaptor but this wasn't a huge leap in breaking power due to the disc diameter.
Anyway back to the bike, the engine will feel grumbly below 2.5k, but its just the charactoristics of the twin cylinder engine. It sounds great from 3-5k, real gutsy! But at 6k it seems to hit a powerband and takes off!
Its such an easy bike to manouvre, due to its light weight, and can easily sit at 80mph comfortably with the screen deflecting wind well.
I've made extension posts for the mirrors so they stick out a further 30mm as all you can see is elbows as standard! They still fold in to less than the handlebar width which is nice as i wheel my bike straight through the side gate with no faffing around.
Tyres are Bridgestone BT-045's and transform the handling alot, making the bike much more confident around the bends, tho they do seem to cause the 'bars to waggle if you let go on a straight road, seems i'm not alone with this problem and these tyres are apparently to blame somehow. So no posing non-handed as you'll be off!
MPG is around 60mpg on standard unleaded, never less than 57mpg even after a 50mile country road blast at high revs! Amazing really!
I have stainless downpipes as the standard ones rust, and you'll find the end cans rust where they join the downpipes-i've temporary fixed mine because of this.
I fitted a Halfords white light bulb to improve the headlight, and it allows me to raise the beam a little so i can see further without losing any strength.
Unfortunately, i find car drivers do not give you as much respect as they do when i ride my bigger 1200 Bandit, and so they tend to sit closer behind you, or pull out of the junction when they would have waited for a bigger bike. Sad, but true, so be wary of that.
I have used this bike in all weathers and handling has been very predictable, very confident inspiring when the roads are awash with water, and will make you give your bike a pat after a spirited ride around the twisties! I love my bike, it has sooo much charactor compared to most, reliablility has been brilliant, only a blocked fuel tank breather in the filler cap caused it to stop working as a vacuum created in the fuel tank and so it struggled to suck fuel! Check yours, if it hisses when you open the filler cap you have a blocked tank breather.
Aside from that, my 29k Gpz500 has been a dream to ride, i love its old skool looks, twin exhaust, grumbly engine, starts time after time, a true 60mpg, cheap tyres, doesn't use a drop of oil in 3k miles, overall a fantastic bike either as a step up or a commuter bike. I've got a 1200 Bandit as well, had a '95 Fireblade for 5 yrs and i am still very happy with my little GPZ! Just be sure to upgrade the front brake like i have and you'll love it to pieces! If i were to be picky, i would say no fuel gauge and no clock are something i'd have liked, and less throttle rotation as you can wind it round quite alot, and there's no rear shock protector to stop road crud being thrown off the rear wheel and onto it. Picky things but useful mods.
Just to finish, you should get close to 200+ miles from a tank, and finish is very good, 14yrs old and it still polishes up nice! I'd hate to see my Suzuki Bandit when its 14yrs old, as in my opinion the Suzuki is below par-paint wearing thru etc, whereas the Gpz is still a nice red, thick paint and decent tough plastic screen, panels etc. Recommended bike, i can't imagine selling mine!!!