KAWASAKI GPZ500 (1987-2004) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Long in the tooth but a prime candidate for a first big bike"

Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding

"Long in the tooth but a prime candidate for a first big bike"

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Long in the tooth but surprisingly fast and easy to live with, the Kawasaki GPZ500S’s a true and reliable all-rounder. The  Kawasaki GPZ500S is a prime candidate for a “first big bike” and one with the performance and handling to tempt you to hold on to it after rivals have lost their (underpowered) appeal.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The Kawasaki GPZ500S is ong, narrow and relatively lightweight, making for quick, responsive handling. The GPZ500S's suspension’s a bit budget and nearly always needs replacing on older models but does the job. Brakes likewise. The front end’s a bit frisky on bumpy roads but, overall, it’s incredibly easy to ride and very forgiving.

Engine 4 out of 5

The Kawasaki GPZ500S begs to be revved, adopting a banshee-style wail to accompany super fast acceleration over 7000rpm. Down low the Kawasaki GPZ500S can be a bit lumpy but it’s not a major flaw. Smooth and reliable, owners of the Kawasaki GPZ500S describe it as “bullet proof”. You could be hard-pushed not to think it was a four.

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

Really old Kawasaki GPZ500S's tend to look a bit ragged: suspension, brakes and bodywork need particular attention. However, overall build quality of the Kawasaki GPZ500S is good and the engine’s reliability is without question. High mileages are common but check for dents and bumps: many Kawasaki GPZ500S are ex-learner or courier bikes.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

Thrash the Kawasaki GPZ500S and fuel consumption will diminish to a paltry 35mpg or so; take it a bit easier and you’ll see up to 200 miles between stops. Insurance is good, especially considering the bike’s performance, and spares are everywhere, given the bike’s long history. Loads of Kawasaki GPZ500S around so you can find one to suit pretty much any budget. Find a Kawasaki GPZ500 for sale.

Insurance group: 8 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

The Kawasaki GPZ500S is hardly flash but practical enough. Whilst the engine guarantees performance, the adequate fairing, rear grabrail and useful bungee hooks make useful, everyday additions to the Kawasaki GPZ500S. There’s a centrestand and the large mirrors work very well. Pillion provision isn’t bad either. Kawasaki GPZ500S clocks are basic but clear.

Owners' Reviews

36 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI GPZ500 (1987-2004) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KAWASAKI GPZ500 (1987-2004)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.2 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3.9 out of 5
Engine 4.3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.5 out of 5
Equipment 3.5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Great for first bike

02 January 2016 by MarkTheSpark

Back on two wheels with a smile Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
This is just dead easy to ride, and after 8 years without a bike, was the perfect reintroduction to biking. I quickly gained confidence on it - the handling is average but totally predictable. OK, I'm already yearning for something a bit quicker and tastier, but that's a credit to this bike. It's tractable, perfect in traffic, and is a little firecracker when wound up. What's more, it loves spinning over 7,000rpm. I really, really cannot fault this bike for what it is, and it's great if you're a shortie like me. Maybe I won't sell it after all...
Engine
4 out of 5
Bit lumpy at low revs and buzzy, so not great for long journeys. But unbreakable. Easy to fix if it does.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
2 out of 5
Temperature gauge. That's it, really
Buying experience

Paid under £800 for a 5,000-mile old example - been stood for five years! Passed MoT after £150 work

5 out of 5

Nailing a nail

05 December 2015 by Thrasher

Easy to get on and go anywhere. Versatile as a Swiss Army Knife. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
Ideal as a second bike or a 40 mile commuter. Bike is at it's best on B roads and maybe the odd dual carriageway. But I've gone from Oxfordshire to the new forest, and Oxford to Birmingham with no aches or pains and I have a crushed lower disc. Unbelievably low fuel consumption and that's ridden quickly too.
Engine
4 out of 5
Vibration and terrible brakes on older models. Has to be used hard if you need to press on and pass a few 60mph cars, but otherwise plenty enough to nip along. Mines done 48500 and will still cruise at 80 but vibration can be tiresome but at legal speeds it's good. 1987-93 machines are not a two up bikes unless you are both 8-10 stone (max).
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
If well looked after by sympathetic owners (rare breed when these get cheap) it should last a long time, 48,500 miles and still going. Mine is 25 years. Only let me down recently due to a charging fault which caused a high rev misfire. Usual wear and tear like forks needing refurbing (soggy and dived under braking) and the rear drum wearing oval shape. Bought a 94 rear wheel, as nobody will replace steel liner.
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
Serviced by a couple of mates. Nothing is expensive apart from oil. Tyres never wear out.
Equipment
3 out of 5
I've just bought a top box and heated grips. A must do. No features on older 1996-1994 bikes apart from fold out luggage hooks. Old style reserve taps are awkward to find when the engine runs out of fuel. No fuel gauge or light, so set the trip and keep an eye on it so you can fill up before you need to use the hard to find tap.
Buying experience

Sold mine to a mate 10 years ago for £650, he sold it back to me in July 2015 for £500 with full MOT and new tyres. Actually I gave him a crash helmet and £460, so it was a bargain for me and he'd not lost much.

4 out of 5

Old Kwaker But Outdoes Newer Bike

17 November 2015 by Cosmic Wolf

I've had a couple & Just got back on a bike, the 500 makes it fun & is easy to live with Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
As with most bikes you need to uprate the brakes from standard. Taken this across to Germany & got off it without feeling tired or stiff
Engine
5 out of 5
Kawasaki have engines that are bullet proof, providing you keep the oil service & the servicing regular
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Bought as a 2nd hand bike, but with a little bit of TLC & some retuning of the carbs its very damn good
Equipment
3 out of 5
Not much in this area, but what it does have is adequate & very functional
Buying experience

Very easy, bike was advertised @ £700, been used by a lady owner with bags of service history, paid the full £700

2 out of 5

20 July 2015 by Dan Fozzy

Huge engine problem from new, would never recommend to anyone Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
2 out of 5
-
Engine
1 out of 5
leaked antifreeze every time i opened it up a bit
Build Quality & Reliability
2 out of 5
Unreliable at the best of times, sold it 6 months after buying it new
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
Buying experience

bought from John King, Honda centre in Grays (no longer) £3750 in 1999

4 out of 5

Edit: Great all-rounder!

03 August 2014 by eldee

I meant, of course, over 6000rpm the engine smooths out! Slip of the finger! Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Great all-rounder

03 August 2014 by eldee

I've had my 1999 GPZ for about 3 years and I don't regret buying it one little bit. It's a great all round bike with enough sparkle to make it interesting. Pottering around town or the country lanes near my home the bike is fairly quiet and well... Read more behaved. Get it out on the open road and give the throttle a tweek and it shows the other side of its nature. Over 600rpm the exhaust note changes and the engine smooths out to give a pretty dazzling performance for a 500cc twin. My one regret is that I didn't manage to get a slightly later model with the twin front discs as the stopping power with the single disc could be better.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

A damn good all rounder

27 September 2013 by anndra

I just got rid of mine and I'm regretting it. It handled well enough to make it fun. The vibration could be annoying but I had to be in the saddle for an hour or more for it to get to me. Comfort over distance was reasonable. Going to work and back... Read more was a pleasure. The fairing meant that cross winds on the motorway could be awkward. The bike returned an impressive 65mpg at times (long steady hauls down the motorway) and hitting about 7k revs made it pick up the pace nicely. Overall it was a good bike. Reliable and trustworthy.... Wonder if they'll let me buy it back????

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

The best bike I have owned

07 April 2013 by Wolfie1994

Im currently driving a 33bhp restricted version of this amazing bike, it is my 1st big bike and I love every aspect it, She handles very well through the corners even in the wet and tbh its the first bike I have ever had at high speed. It is easy... Read more enough to keep under control and comfortable to ride even at slow speeds. (Im not the classic speed everywhere and overtake everything teen. I go for collecting NCB's and not speeding tickets haha) Overall its a brilliant bike

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

It's a good un

22 March 2013 by rikster1975

I'm very happy with 1st thoughts on this bike as its my 1st big bike. Took a while to get it ready due to lack of cash but parts are very easy to find. On open roads its very quick, With 46000 on the clock and an 1987 plate she has still got plenty... Read more of life in her.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

It's a good un

22 March 2013 by rikster1975

I'm very happy with 1st thoughts on this bike as its my 1st big bike. Took a while to get it ready due to lack of cash but parts are very easy to find. On open roads its very quick, With 46000 on the clock and an 1987 plate she has still got plenty... Read more of life in her.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
Read all 36 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1987
Year discontinued 2004
Original price -
Used price £1,000 to £1,500
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 8 of 17
Annual road tax £60
Annual service cost £180
Performance
Max power 47 bhp
Max torque 34 ft-lb
Top speed 125 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 13 secs
Average fuel consumption 44 mpg
Tank range 174 miles
Specification
Engine size 498cc
Engine type 8v parallel twin, 6 gears
Frame type Steel box section
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Seat height 775mm
Bike weight 176kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake Twin 270mm discs
Rear brake 230mm disc
Front tyre size 110/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 130/70 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1987: Kawasaki GPZ500S launched. It was “half a GPZ1000 RX”! Various graphics and colour changes only until 1993.
1993: Kawasaki GPZ500S gets a big facelift. Forks go up from 36mm to 37mm; wheels from 16” to 17”; the front gets twin discs and the rear drum is replaced by a single disc. All new bodywork and a lower seat.
2004: Kawasaki GPZ500S discontinued.

Other versions

None

Photo Gallery

  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Front view
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Front view
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Engine
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Side view
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