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!!!!