Skip to content

Suzuki GS500 Naked Motorbike Review

Find By Make/Model

1 of 14
Suzuki GS500E motorcycle review - Riding
Click to enlarge
Previous image Next image

MCN overall verdict rating is 2

Having been around since Adam was an embryo, the Suzuki GS500E may be a trusty workhorse but it tends not to inspire passion in riders due to drab handling, gutless performance, dreadful finish and its perpetual association with L plates. The GS500E looks ok and they’re dirt cheap but, for a few hundred pounds more, you can do a lot better these days…

Engine

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

A sturdy lump, if ever there was one, but it’s ancient and lacking in power. The Suzuki GS500E probably performs best in town where a bit of low down grunt can see you out of any nasty entanglements. Elsewhere, however, the GS500E's a chore to get it up to speed. High mileages are common, which is a good sign, but the whole set up needs to be updated to keep the Suzuki GS500E in touch with modern competitors.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 2
Owners' rating rating is 3

Oh dear. The soft, wallowy suspension makes for laborious riding and bad handling whilst lack of feedback means the rider’s unable to corner with confidence, let alone speed on the Suzuki GS500E. Furthermore, it all gets worse over time. Brakes are dreadful but the gearbox is good.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 2.5

The Suzuki GS500E os a basic package and, for the money, you can’t really complain. Comfy seat, wide bars, a grabrail and an adjustable brake lever almost cover it. The fuel tank’s pretty huge on the GS500E and, for Category A licence holders, a restrictor kit is available.

Suzuki GS500E (1989-2008)

Detail Value
New price £3,349
Dealer used prices
£1,420 (2002) - £2,300 (2008)
Private used prices
£1,280 (2002) - £2,070 (2008)
  View full used price info
Engine size 487 cc
Power 47 bhp
Top speed 110 mph
Insurance group 7 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 2 rating is 3.5
Engine rating is 3 rating is 3.5
Ride & Handling rating is 2 rating is 3
Equipment rating is 3 rating is 2.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 2 rating is 3.5
Value rating is 3 rating is 4

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 2
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

Whilst the engines are proven, the rest of the bike suffers from famously-bad build quality. The paint on the GS500E is thin, scratches easily then quickly rusts. Similarly, metal parts corrode rapidly. The welds are a particular weak spot on the Suzuki GS500E: it may be sensible to invest in shed loads of WD40. On the plus side, it’s said the old Suzukis crash well… !

Value

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

It’s ludicrously-cheap asking price is the Suzuki GS500E’s saving grace. What’s more, it’s in a very low insurance group and does millions of miles to the gallon, making big savings over other bikes. However, owners of the GS500E may find tweaks to the brakes and/or suspension necessary, which could raise their outlay considerably. Find a Suzuki GS500 for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 7 of 17

Compare motorcycle insurance quotes now

Model History

1989: Suzuki GS500E launched as an unfaired roadster. Very few, minor tweaks (front forks became adjustable, as did the brake lever, it got lower bars etc) until 2001 when it was discontinued.
1992: A fully-faired version of the ‘E’ joined the stable.
2001: The new Suzuki GS500E was launched. It got a make-over with new bodywork, redesigned seat, larger fuel tank etc.
2004: Suzuki GS500E gets a catalytic converter. GS500F is launched with a full fairing.

Other Versions

Suzuki GS500F: faired version, whose current, jazzed-up paint job is influenced by the GSX-R range. Looks a bit antiquated but quite smart, all the same. Same basic spec as standard model although weighs in at 180kg, is slightly taller and has more ground clearance.

Specifications

Top speed 110 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 14.8 secs
Max power 47 bhp
Max torque 30 ft-lb
Weight 174 kg
Seat height 790 mm
Fuel capacity 20 litres
Average fuel consumption 50 mpg
Tank range 220 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 7 of 17
Engine size 487 cc
Engine specification 4v parallel twin, 6 gears
Frame Steel twin spar
Front suspension adjustment Preload
Rear suspension adjustment Preload
Front brakes Twin 300mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 110/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 130/70 x 17

See all Suzuki GS500 motorcycles for sale

Suzuki
GS500

6284 miles

£995

Suzuki
GS500

68500 miles

£890

Suzuki
GS500

7800 miles

£1,595

Suzuki
GS500

12000 miles

£1,150

Suzuki
GS500

47272 miles

£500

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 3.5(23 reviews)

  • Not Bad

    Mike Sibley

    Witham

    Average rating rating is 3.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    This was my first big bike, took me time to get used to the handling but I can certainly corner fine on it now (just had to give it a chance). Set the shock to the hardest setting and helped my riding alot. Don't see why people slate the riding position? Why buy it in the first place if its not comfortable? Only thing I don't like on the bike is the clocks, but at the end of the day you dont expect state of the art clocks for the price.

    29 October 2008

  • 2 Stars? WTH

    kindredice

    Average rating rating is 5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Like some others mentioned i find the 2 star rating pretty unfair for this bike. You guys might be used to ride & review 10000£ bikes and then when you ride this ofc you'd say "bleh". I have a 2003 and its my first real bike,i love it,couldnt be happier,speeds upto 120mph when i need,runs cheap not much maintenance needed,has a huge mpg value,looks nice and is pretty solid with the frame and engine. There is nothing wrong with this bike when you compare it with what its meant for,a cheap,reliable,beginner street bike. I never heard a complaint before about the suspansion or the handling,its not your ordinary 130-170hp racer that you corner with 100mph excuse it! this bike is great for those who are just starting or upgrading from 125cc. It deserves atleast 4 stars in its own league.I dont know about it there but Honda CB500 costs a lot more here. FIX THE RATING!!

    24 August 2008

  • Hate it

    Mjollnir

    Average rating rating is 3

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Ok it is probably just me. but I found the riding position on this bike the most uncomfortable I have ever ridden. I honestly couldn't do more than 30 miles before I had to stop in agnoy. Tis a shame cause the rest of the bike seamed ok. a good alternative to the ER-5 and the CB500

    05 August 2008

  • Such a laugh

    Lightning Boy

    Average rating rating is 3

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I had one of these little chaps as a loan bike recently, while my Buell was in for a service. I was fully expecting a nasty little learner bike, but wound up having a really good laugh riding it. The engine is flexible enough for easy round town riding, the gearbox is very smooth and the handling is more than acceptable but for me, the biggest grin came when riding on the motorway, screaming the poor little engine along. Clealry the GS can take this sort of abuse all day long. I think if you just passed your test, this is a far better proposition than a CBR600 or R6 that so many get lulled into thinking is a good move. This is a good bike to hone your riding skills, to gain confidence. I think you could own one of these for years and be perfectly happy - especially in a city where its slim dimensions, economy and easy riding, will pay dividends.

    20 July 2008

  • Great wee bike

    henryscat666

    UK

    Average rating rating is 3.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    As others have said, this bike is a great step up from your 125 to build some confidence on. It is what it is! A cheap, reliable bike that is built to be that first big bike. So stop reviewing it like you are about to trade your R1 for it. That's just stupid! I own the GS500f 2005 model and she is restricted to 33bhp for the next 2 years. TIP - don't take the heavy bar-ends off - they are there for a reason!!! The handling goes to crap (YES, i found that out the hard way). She will get to 95mph even while restricted (disclaimer - only tried in track conditions...honest guv!) and if you drop a couple of gears can overtake traffic quite easily. Just don't expect to be keeping up with the 600cc bikes eh? As a first step from a 125 it's an awesome bike.

    08 July 2008

  • Great first bike

    smartroad

    BASINGSTOKE , UK

    Average rating rating is 3

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    As with another reviewer I agree that MCNs two star rating is unfair. Having just past my bike test and restricted for two years this is a great little bike to build confidence on. I also disagree that the suspension is "soft, wallowy", now I know I don't have a frame of reference for this however I have not had any problems from handling and find the bike quite flickable. It accelerates fast enough for a new biker and gets up to illegal speeds even on my 33bhp restricted version. Once you hit 50mph it does become harder to get it to accelerate with any speed and above 70mph you can forget any sudden increases. We need to remember though that this is a cheap bike for people who have never had a (big) bike before. It is a safe, predictable, non-threatening bike with great MPGs to boot.

    10 May 2008

  • Excellent Starter Bike

    suzuki_sid

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Firstly, I feel the 2 star rating given by MCN is VERY unfair. Don't forget, the reviewers are used to blasting around tracks reviewing Hayabusas and the like, and I doubt that they have been near a GS500. These bikes are very highly rated for people just having passed the full test in the USA and Europe, it just seems to be over here that they are slated,mainly by the wannabe rossi's in need of a manhood extension. Anyway, back to the bike! The acceleration is quite good after 3000 rpm,for the inexperienced it is ideal,more than quick enough, but not so as it scares the pants off you!! It will do 0-60 in around 4 seconds, which is quicker than any car under £80000. Handling is good, but could be improved, but saying that, the bike is not meant to be hammered in to corners like a sports bike. VERY comfy to ride on and very light, which is ideal for newly qualified riders who want to build confidence. Brakes are very good,especially compared to the ER-5 that i learned on. Gearbox is also excellent and positive. To summarise: If you want a very reliable experience gainer, then try the GS for yourself. They go for peanuts and are great fun as a first big bike, insurance and fuel costs are ridiculously low!! Remember, not every rider starts on a crotch rocket super sport, ask those who know and they will recommend starting on a 500, at least for a few months while you practice safe riding. Hope this review helps, and most importantly STAY SAFE!!!!

    17 February 2008

  • My First Bike

    David washbrook

    Birmingham ,

    Average rating rating is 3.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    It really was my first bike so i love it anyway. The Good: Massive tank range, forgiving handling, lots of midrange, frankly fantastic gearbox, the grabrail (why don't more bikes have these?), never ever broke down, space to mount my gps on the handlebars. The Bad: you can find the limits of the handling very quickly, poor brakes, paint on the tank scratches easily, paint on the engine covers comes away with any winter riding, not much power up top, and if you're tall like me you'll find your knees overhanging the ridges in the tank. Overall, a trusty reliable commuter and a good first bike, just dont expect too much of it and it'll look after you. Oh yeah, and don't bother trying to keep up with the sportsbike boys if you're on a group run, trust me its not worth the effort on one of these cos you'll never be quick enough.

    15 September 2007

  • before buying...

    mydadsdog

    Average rating rating is 2

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I bought my gs500 in March 2007 after a four year brake from motorcycling, all I wanted as a cheap economical commuter for work. The bike seemed to be in a reasonable condition with 39000 recorded miles, however after a few commutes I noticed that the engine was unwilling to rev past 6500 rpm and fuel consumption was dreadful returning an average of 30mpg, initially I put this down to a dirty air filter and ill sized shims. I replaced the air filter without improvement so checked the shims which had perfect clearance. It soon dawned on me that the problem may have been more serious, so I carried out a compression test. The test proved my concerns to be well founded; the right cylinder was only producing 50-70psi. Not good for a bike with such a low mileage! The engine was replaced with one from the breakers. Since then the bike has performed very well, but at unreasonable expense. It seems to me that the majority of these bikes are very good, but with the exception of a few duds circulating out there. Any one considering purchasing a GS500 should strongly consider at the very least carrying out a compression test (which takes no more than five minutes) before buying!

    09 August 2007

  • not for the taller person

    KWAK6ftRider

    Cambridge , UK

    Average rating rating is 3.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Having ridden one of these as a curtesy bike for more than a week. I have to say it was one of the most uncomfortable bikes I have ever ridden. Don't get me wrong the engine was great, it was reliable and cheep to run, but it just didn't work with my 6'6" height.

    13 April 2007

Discuss this

Add your comment
sandro650

sandro650says

General review

I got a 2006 gs500f Good: Easy to learn on Moderate torque Cheap in general/parts Easy Handling Moderate styling(2004 and up versions) Comfortable riding Great bike to learn mechanics, handling, and is fun (way better than a 250cc for a bigger bike) up to 120mph fairings will handle freeway Great commuter really cheap insurance Kick stand so that both wheels are up BAD: Rust almost every where metal soft suspensions also non-adjustable Carbs suck (fuel injections is better) Heavy chassis Brakes are horrible Non adjustable clutch, brakes, and foot rest (as comparable to other bikes) Cheap paint Cheap plastics notorious squeaky rear brake weak throttle response

20 January 2013 05:22

mjkazmierski

mjkazmierskisays

get a good'un, ride it like a 2-stroke

I had a 95 Speed Triple before this, loved it, but my licence/life was far too much at stake... Bought a new all-black GS500 for £2600otr, had it over a year, 13000 miles, not a bit of rust, no maintanance needed, terrible brakes, no torque, all top end, sounds great close to the red line (air cooled engines do that), handles well enough for our roads, holds 100mph in corners with a pillion, which is enough to see off sunday superbike riders on the A24 down to Brighton most weekends. Forget modern (bikes evolve, but roads stay the same), forget list price, forget your ego, forget depreciation, forget risk of theft, forget breakdowns, forget all your bike-mag inspired preconceptions - buy a new/well looked after GS (never touch a "dog", they always bite), ride it like a two stroke and smile like you was 17 again...

27 March 2007 12:40

Read full MCN road tests

Most popular

Rate my bike

Related News