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Kawasaki GPZ500 Naked Motorbike Review

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Kawasaki GPZ500S motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

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.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

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.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

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.

 

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

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.

Kawasaki GPZ500S (1987-2004)

Detail Value
Dealer used prices
£1,800 (2001) - £1,800 (2001)
Private used prices
£1,620 (2001) - £1,620 (2001)
  View full used price info
Engine size 498 cc
Power 59 bhp
Top speed 125 mph
Insurance group 8 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 3 rating is 3.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 3 rating is 4
Value rating is 4 rating is 4.5

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

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.

Value

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

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

Insurance group: 8 of 17

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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

Specifications

Top speed 125 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 13 secs
Max power 59 bhp
Max torque 34 ft-lb
Weight 176 kg
Seat height 775 mm
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Average fuel consumption 44 mpg
Tank range 174 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 8 of 17
Engine size 498 cc
Engine specification 8v parallel twin, 6 gears
Frame Steel box section
Front suspension adjustment None
Rear suspension adjustment Preload
Front brakes Twin 270mm discs
Rear brake 230mm disc
Front tyre size 110/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 130/70 x 17

See all Kawasaki GPZ500 motorcycles for sale

Kawasaki
GPZ500

37000 miles

£925

Kawasaki
GPZ500

14000 miles

£750

Kawasaki
GPZ500

19990 miles

£890

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(30 reviews)

  • A damn good all rounder

    anndra

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    Engine

    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 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????

    27 September 2013

  • The best bike I have owned

    Wolfie1994

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    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 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

    07 April 2013

  • It's a good un

    rikster1975

    Average rating rating is 4

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    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 of life in her.

    22 March 2013

  • It's a good un

    rikster1975

    Average rating rating is 4

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    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 of life in her.

    22 March 2013

  • 33HP restricted

    BornBiker1911

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    im restricted, but omg the bike is still amazing, purrs along at 1500 rpm, ticks over less than 1000, bought mine for 500 fully sercices, no advosiries, 36,000 miles... its the original 1987 one, still absolutely brilliant

    18 February 2013

  • Highly Recommended First Big Bike - Even 33bhp Restricted!

    Michael Brown

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Engine

    I have owned my GPZ500 since passing my 33bhp test in May '11 and I only paid £500 for a '91 bike with 17.5k miles on the clock and just 2 jobs needing work for the MOT. It has been bulletproof since I got it, with only two major things going wrong...1) stuck float valve and 2) leaking rear shock. But these two are only age related things anyway ;) Love my GPZ, even restricted to 33bhp and it'll still do 100mph (on private land of course) and it still handles pretty sweetly for an older bike. I currently have a Motad NEXXUS s/s exhaust fitted and I would advise any owner to fit one...although Delkevics 2-into-2 full stainless replacements sound VERY VERY nice! --Mikey B--

    24 January 2012

  • Average rating rating is 5

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    Had the bike over two years now. This means i've been able to fix some of the quirks and de-restrict it. The bike is great like that, after two years you really notice the extra power available and the extra torque is great in higher higher gears at low speed (can now cruise at 30mph at 3.5krevs without it complaining or straining). For the price they cost and the cost of insurance (about £330 for tpft) they're well worth it, sure they're not as flashy, but i've dropped it/come at low speed and the only real damage was to my confidence in my intelligence (riding on ice is not a good idea, even if fun). Cracking little bike definitely worth a look if you're a new rider. First of all when buying check the exhaust before you buy, there is a bit (a balance bar?) between the two pipes and this does some unknown jiggery pockery to do with pressure through engine and stuff. Either way if this thing is holey (and it is the lowestest part of the bike that's not wheels) and it can be so without any excess noise (you need to feel for blowing down there) then your fuel consumption will drop like mad. There is a simple solution to this problem and that is A: get a new exhaust or B: (my preferred option) and have a friendly shop chop out the offending bit and weld the resulting holes over. Sure the bike sounds a bit more like a two cylinder but it's worth it in fuel comsumption. PS: if anyone is interested then i have a 33bhp restrictor kit available(well, it's two washers that go in the carb to restrict air flow) dead simple to put in and out.

    10 October 2011

  • Fantastic bike, read for brake upgrade

    urbanfireblade

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    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!!!

    14 September 2011

  • looking for a post DAS bike?

    cayo79

    Average rating rating is 4

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    My 1992 GPZ500 was my first big bike, and had it for three years, using it pretty much every day in all weathers. Aside from consumables and servicing, I had to replace the rusted stock exhaust...and that was it. It's certainly rapid up to 80ish if your prepared to stir the gears, it really wakes up after 7500rpm, but getting much faster becomes a more pedestrian experience. Despite some idiot mistakes and stupid heroics I've managed to stay upright – I’d say the GPZ500 is most forgiving, and not the sort of bike that will catch you out. I found that stepping from 125's to the GPZ500 was mind-blowingly fast. Now I find myself down changing and throttle full open screaming for more, if you have a penchant for speed then this bike will not last you forever, but it’s been a huge grin of reliable fun for me for the last 20k miles.

    17 May 2011

  • The best bike you can buy for under a £1000

    JustBe

    Average rating rating is 3

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    This was my first big bike I got after an RS125, the first thing I noticed was just the power difference. I could easily pull 130MPH and get there very fast, though the power goes right there and you wont be doing much faster. I really liked the engine because the power will suddenly come on like the RS and it just pulls and pulls. The downside is in the lower revs it does tend to be a jerky and feel unstable. The engine is so reliable and never gave out on me during the whole time I had the bike, I used it every day and done long miles on it. The ride is comfortable but the suspension is super soft and tends to just bounce round corners. I never felt comfortable pushing the bike to the limits as a result like I could on my RS or even my newer ZX6R. That's to be expected really, it isn't a sports bike like those and more for upright on the streets. The worst thing was the brakes, I suggest trying to get a newer one with dual discs on the front as the single model didn't have the stopping power. Even with them serviced and new pads, I could pull back as hard as I wanted and the bike would take forever to stop. You don't get any fancy equipment with the bike either. I went from a bike with a low fuel light to this one, which is without and ran out of fuel on my first ride lol. I kept forgetting it didn't have a fuel light and it nearly got me into trouble at work a few times. However you don't really need it as you can shake the tank or just fill it up every certain amount of miles. The dash is functional, doesn't look the best but it could be a lot worse. I had to put my GPZ to sleep because I crashed it and I plan to do it up in the future, I just haven't had the time. The crash was around 70mph and I cannot remember what happened other than it was my fault. The bike just slid across the road and the only damage was the front mud guard, gear stick and the handle bar. Some how the fairing, tank and engine went by undamaged. So I was quite happy with how well it stood up to a crash at that speed. I paid £620 for my GPZ, best value for money and I recommend any one who doesn't have a lot of money to get this bike. It's a great first big bike and also a great commuter bike for someone who doesn't want their real pride and joy clock up the miles.

    07 May 2011

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Munchkjn

Munchkjnsays

I like it!

I've had the bike a couple of weeks now and I think it's great. I am a short arsed bloke and the bike's size and geometry is perfect. It's suprisingly quick as stated above, especially when you hit 7000rpm. The handling is better than any bike I've ever ridden, so much so that you can take corners fast and get back on the gas earlier than some other bikes. I like speed as much as the next rider, however the GPZ feels fast and that is what matters to me, in that respect it reminds me of a mini cooper. Also they are v cheap to buy & insure, got a 6 year old model for under a grand.

03 September 2007 13:31

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