KAWASAKI GPZ500 (1987-2004) Review | MCN
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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"

  • At a glance
  • 498cc  -  47 bhp
  • 44 mpg  -  174 miles range
  • Insurance group: 8 of 17
    Compare insurance quotes now
  • Low seat height (775mm)
  • Suitable for A2 licence

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.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1987
Year discontinued 2004
Original price -
Used price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 8 of 17
Annual road tax £64
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

Owners' Reviews

38 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 4.6 out of 5
Equipment 3.5 out of 5
4 out of 5

GPZ 500

28 June 2018 by Beefy

I have recently sold my Kawasaki ZZR1100 which whilst being an awesome machine left me missing having to work for power. So, I bought a GPZ 500 for £800 with some cash to spare. So far it has been an amazing little bike, the handling is easy going and there is more than enough power on hand with a quick downshift to get things going and no space is too small to park it up.

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
Stopping is not a strong point. Braided lines have given it a little extra help but would recommend finding a suitable upgrade.
Engine
5 out of 5
Can't fault it. Wanted a high rev screamer and it hasn't let me down.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
I can't really fault the bike here. The standard exhausts are leaky and carbs were out by a mile but that says more about the previous owners upkeep than the bike itself. It's in good condition considering it's a 20 year old bike.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Came in at a reasonable price to get it the once over. New pads front and back, braided lines fitted, stripped and cleaned carbs, valves etc came in at under £250 and let's face it, most of the cost is for labour.
Equipment
4 out of 5
Basic but you have what you need. Took off the luggage hooks as missing clips were making them rattle. And two helmet locks that are placed perfectly to melt your lid to the exhausts.
4 out of 5

Old but simple, basic, easy to ride & fun.

12 May 2017 by brigade_red

Old, basic and far from sexy even when new. BUT easy & fun to ride and pretty simple to maintain. Quite often find myself reaching for the GPZ keys instead of the 1050 Tiger. Why? Because you can ride it like a loon, red lining it for all it's worth - it FEELS fast without risking your licence too much. That can't be said of the Tiger (or many other modern bikes) where licence shredding speeds are all too easy.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
I think the GPZ suspension was intended for Japanese riders so is barely up to the job for 12 or 13 stone. On a bike this old the original suspension is likely to be pretty tired too. Having said that the front springs on mine were within tolerance according to the Haynes manual, so a grade heavier fork oil change will make a difference. Rear shock from the Ninja 250 will pretty much bolt straight in. With these changes it's actually pretty good. Brakes are plenty adequate for the available power and the weight of the bike. Comfortable enough for as long as the fuel lasts. Very light and easy to throw about.
Engine
5 out of 5
Generally regarded as bulletproof and I can't really argue with that. Thought I had a major problem with mine until my bike mechanic neighbour told me to strip and clean the carbs. Did that, put it all back together and it's spot on again. Low down power delivery is quite flat and linear (good for newbies), then gets interesting at about 7000rpm when it starts delivering grin inducing acceleration (fun for the more experienced). In bike terms it's not fast, but it is certainly fun.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
This was always a budget bike and was built down to a price. In fairness to it though mine is 24 years old, has 31000 on the clock (who knows what it's really done!) and looks like it's had a pretty hard life. However, it still passes its MOT without major issues and runs ok with basic servicing.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Hard to say what the servicing costs are as I do most of it myself. Being an old basic design it's actually quite easy for DIY maintenance. Just buy a Haynes manual and go for it. Even though it's been out of production since 2004 (1993 for the A models) there were plenty of them about and parts are still reasonably plentiful and cheap. Tyre choice is limited by the 16" wheels, but still far cheaper than any sportsbike tyres. Fuel economy is decent.
Equipment
3 out of 5
Not much aftermarket stuff available now so ebay is king. BT45's seem to be the best tyres on offer in 16" - only others I've seen are unheard of Chinese brands.
Buying experience

Bought mine unseen off eBay and unsurprisingly had to spend a fair bit of additional money to get it roadworthy. OK for me as part of my reason for buying it was to tinker. Think early 'A' bikes are hard to find in good condition. Still seem to be a fair few tidy 'D' models about for £1000 - £1300 though.

4 out of 5

Great for first bike

02 January 2016 by MarkTheSpark

Back on two wheels with a smile

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.

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

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

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!

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 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 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 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 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 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
-
5 out of 5

33HP restricted

18 February 2013 by BornBiker1911

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

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

Highly Recommended First Big Bike - Even 33bhp Restricted!

24 January 2012 by MikeyBrown

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--

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

Update

10 October 2011 by firebirdharris

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.

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
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Fantastic bike, read for brake upgrade

14 September 2011 by urbanfireblade

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!!!

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

looking for a post DAS bike?

17 May 2011 by cayo79

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.

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

The best bike you can buy for under a £1000

07 May 2011 by JustBe

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.

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

94 gpz500

22 March 2011 by klir

First big bike after pratting around on a 125 for a while. Fast enough for public roads and pretty forgiving. Use her everyday for getting around and shes also fun enough for a weekend blast. The stock mirrors are rubbish, but ER6-F mirrors bolt right on and are much better, best money ive ever spent on a mod. Insurance is cheap and restricted its still fun, although i do get low mpg like the other bloke mentioned. Cant see me getting rid of her for a while now.

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

Awesome first 'big bike'!

01 February 2011 by FreestyleToast

For me this bike is fast, handles well, looks good, sounds great and is generally pretty damn amazing. Only downside is the mirrors - good luck seeing anything with them.

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

Sweeeet!

11 May 2010 by catchthepigeon

The GPZ500s is my first big bike. I have had it only two days. It was purchased from a MCN classified ad. I have to say I think mkdave has pretty much hit the nail on the head with his review. The mirrors do suck a little, I have some replacements on order. I paid considerable more than mkdave for the same year but with slightly lower mileage. However I am smitten with it. It handles like a dream. During my direct access lessons I never really got over 4000 revs. Having read about the power band at 7000 I had to give it a try :-) I was just blown away. I am so glad I didn't get the gixxer, I'd be dead by now. The cush drive is shot on mine but I knew that before purchase, the rear bearings are also shot. Apparently the cush drive gasket thingy is a common failing on the GPZ500S (It may be on other bikes too) but it's a quick and painless procedure. I can see myself keeping this bike until it hits a very high mileage, she's a keeper.

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

Top Secret

09 April 2010 by mkdave

I bought my GPZ about a month ago so this is only a first impression. She’s in red with the middle fairing, registered in 1998 with 23K on the clock. She’s in very good original nick, with a brand new rear and a very good front tyre. I managed to get her on eBay for £687! I’d never ridden a GPZ or for that matter a Kawasaki before but for that money I thought I couldn’t go wrong. I agree with other owners that the engine is a bag of nails until you hit 4K rpm. After that she’s very smooth to 7K and above that she’s a blast. The roundabouts in Milton Keynes arrive pretty quickly compared to my Yamaha XV535. I’m a born again biker having got the Yam last September (2009) but I fancied something a bit sportier than my cruiser and the GPZ delivers. OK I guess she’s not as quick as a 600 four but she’s very cheap to insure (£78), delivers about 60 bhp and hits 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. I’m 55 next and with the GPZ I’m likely to see 56 and still have my licence! She does 60 to the gallon, handles well and the brakes are marvellous compared to the Yam. The only drawback so far are the mirrors which give you a very good view of your elbows and bugger all else. I’ve searched for mirror extenders but so far no joy. When I was a lad I thought a Bonneville 650 churning out 46 bhp was fast but the GPZ would have left a Bonnie standing – in a pool of oil. All in all a bloody good bike and a well kept secret so don’t tell anybody else! mkdave

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

Had it

03 April 2010 by firebirdharris

for 6 months now on a restricter kit (33bhp). The bike is fantastic and it's only failed to start once (on a cold morning, after i'd been messing with the idle mixture). I have to say the biggest complaint is the fuel consumption, by quirk of nature mine only gets 28mpg, if it wasn't for the fuel consumption i'd give everything 5 stars. It has enough power without being stupid and the handling is nice and predictable, I've lost grip on the front and rear wheels before and both times the bike found it again before things got messy (with avon roadrider tyres btw). Fantastic bike, it'll keep up with most bikes, very glad my friend suggested it to me and i'll be keeping it for a few years to come. ( i commute mostly, going out on twisty's when i can). Ah yes, http://www.ex-500.com/ is the forum for it (it an alternative name) just incase someone wants more details on it.

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

Had it

03 April 2010 by firebirdharris

for 6 months now on a restricter kit (33bhp). The bike is fantastic and it's only failed to start once (on a cold morning, after i'd been messing with the idle mixture). I have to say the biggest complaint is the fuel consumption, by quirk of nature mine only gets 28mpg, if it wasn't for the fuel consumption i'd give everything 5 stars. It has enough power without being stupid and the handling is nice and predictable, I've lost grip on the front and rear wheels before and both times the bike found it again before things got messy (with avon roadrider tyres btw). Fantastic bike, it'll keep up with most bikes, very glad my friend suggested it to me and i'll be keeping it for a few years to come. ( i commute mostly, going out on twisty's when i can)

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

Proper bike for real riders

03 October 2009 by nosnowking

I have been on the geep now for a year. I convinced myself I needed something faster/sleeker/more fashionable but to be honest, if you spend £1500 on a GPZ you will get a bike that will keep up with the majority of 600/650s on the road, costs pennies to run, and will last until it falls apart in many years time. Compare that to your more modern sports bike which will comprehensively outclass it, but will melt the first time you get it wet! The bike is 120mph fast, but you can still redline it around town if that's your thing without getting nicked. Dirt cheap insurance. 70MPG if you take it steady. 5-7000 rpm will see you 200 miles to a tank and will still get you to 85mph fairly briskly...give it a handful and the bike will reach 100mph in a few seconds. Watch your tyre tread and head bearings for tightness/wear (not too serious) and the handling will stay true right up to the top speed. To be honest, this bike is frowned upon by the power-ranger-suit brigade, but if you actually ride all year round, not just pose at the weekend, you cannot go wrong. Plus, I actually like the retro styling...there are few bikes on the market that have a 25 year production run and are still being sold now pretty much unchanged...there must be something right there!

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

100% Satisfaction

30 April 2009 by sharpbanana

I have owned a 1998 model for 3 years and I have loved it. I think it looks pretty good compared to other 500s and bloody hell does it have a kick once you reach 6000rpm. I have managed to get it to reach 110mph (private road obviously) and its 30mph-50mph around town acceleration is brilliant. I cut my riding teeth chucking this bike around london rush hour traffic and I must say it is faultless. Nimble and quick. Plenty of bungee hooks and an ample pillion seat make it suitable for short range touring and commuting. The fairing works well at speed so motorways are no problem. You can pick them up pretty cheap and spare parts, including OEM, are easy to come by. They need looking after if you want to keep them looking smart though, and over the three years I have forked out quite a lot of money getting it through MOTs. (age related issues though such as bearing replacements). The engine is solid and although sounds like a bag of nails at idle speed, picks up to a satisfying howl once you get it going. To conclude, as a first 'big bike' or for someone looking for a cheap commuter and general traffic beater, you can't go wrong with a GPZ500S. Looks good, goes fast and is very very versatile.

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

Good bike

24 March 2009 by Chpz

tis a great bike but watch out for the electrics blowing on them mines a 1993 model and all the electrics are blowing one after the other (luckily its under warranty :))

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

GPZ 500 A5

13 December 2008 by Broggie

My early bike is a bit twitchy, due to the 16" front wheel, but once you're used to it, its fine. I've owned it for nearly three years and had no problems apart from replacing a rusty exhaust. Rides well, starts easy. The gpz500 is big enough to be interesting, yet small enough to be convenient. After years of too-ing and fro-ing between big capacity bikes and tiddlers I have settled with this bike as it covers all the bases. Economy is good and parts cheap. It's easy to work on and easy to fix if anything goes wrong. I have no complaints about this bike.

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

Excellent

14 August 2008 by spf01

Great bike to ride, really easy to control and cheap to maintain.

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

top bike

12 March 2008 by gavstas

only just got my 500s, finding it very easy to ride, can chuck it into corners and the extra 7000rpm boost feels really nice, im 28 and just passed my test but insurance came out at £200, well impressed so far, would recomend for a first big bike

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

1993 Vintage!

15 February 2008 by coliwobble

Had mine for 5 years ( 30,000 miles )now and absolutely love it. The ride and handling won't thrill you, its bog basic and the build quality is average. What it has in spades is character, reliability & versility. It's pitifully cheap to run and, for me at least, has proved to be the best everyday communter bike that money could buy. Keep meaning to change to a newer model but when it comes to it I can't bear to part with her. What can I say. Love is!!!

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

1993 GPZ500S

28 December 2007 by BikerBladerAsh

i had the last model before face lift, just like the blue/white/pink one above with a nexus system. It was a nice step up from my gpx250 and handled exactly the same, i used to keep up with everything other than in a straight line, although, give it a hand full and didnt half go for a twin. I thought the engine was indestructable but i was going down the motorway, lost most oil and that was that, the bike had only done 31k miles and a full srvice history and i'd stayed on top of them while i had bike as i clocked up 8000 miles in 10 months. the 16 inch wheels meant handled well but tyres were a pain to get and the drum brake at rear although worked, had no feel and was nothing like discs i had been used to. definately one of the best looking and fastest 500s money can buy. If you want you want a economical commuter for fun aswell it really is good, i covered 300 miles in a day and no pain at all it is very comfortable. i'd recommend go for the the newer models tho as got 17 inch wheel and discs front and rear.

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

GPZ 500S

27 September 2007 by g_mcquet

Ive got one of these. If anyone was ever thinking of getting into biking and looking for their first "big bike" this IS IT. Dont be a fool and read too magazines telling you to jump on a 600 Ninja, get yourself the most powerful 500, the GPZ and trust me you wont get bored of it for a long time. When you do however, you will be much the better rider for it. A bike that can do 0-60 in under four seconds is never slow though, no matter if there is faster bikes out there. If you like racing cars pretty much any car on the cheap side of 80 grand is gonna be in your rear view mirror below 100 mph. One thing I would say though I didnt like is the seat. Im a big guy with a big bum and I find the riding position and general seat lay out ok, but I find the seat a bit narrow so had it padded out with more foam. Problem sorted

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

I like it!

03 September 2007 by Munchkjn

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.

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

'I don't like it!'

03 September 2007 by Lass

I didn't like this bike and I didn't keep it for long. The handle bars were weird, the position didn't feel right, as in too much sit up style for the bike,& I had no confidence in it's handling. Sorry to be so down on it, but me personally I didn't like it, but the guy I bought it from loved it.

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

First Bike

28 June 2007 by ouzo

This was my first bike after passing my test on a 125, in the days before DA, deciding to go for a smaller bike rather than something that would probabaly scare the hell out of me. In this respect the bike was very good, giving me a chance to learn how to handle a bike (and I am still learning!). The bike was pretty small for me at 6', which I really noticed after hiring a Triumph Trophy to tour around Europe, but because of this it is easy to flick it about. Reliability wise it was fine during the 8,000 miles I rode it, except needing to replace the rear shock. I had it serviced once but judging by the log book was only the second time in 20K miles. I never had any real issues with comfort but also I never toured with it, 200 miles being about the maximum distance in one stint. My girlfriend at the time didn't complain too much so I guess it can't have been too bad for the pillion. If I was to buy a second bike as a commuter then I would seriously consider one of these and for anyone looking for a first bike then don't overlook the GPz.

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

One i borrowed for 12 months

24 May 2007 by skycat

while my bother toured Oz for 12months i was left to mind. Not a real fan, but this bike would suite certainly anyone wanting to ride with out the scare factor! Also a good one for the communte.

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

20 year gap

05 May 2007 by Anonymous

Last mid range bike I rode was Yam's XJ550 back in the mid eighties. The XJ was definitely a 70's bike. The Geep is sooo different. The acceleration is (relatively) awesome. I was off the road for some 15 years before getting the Geep and it felt, at first, skittish on the front. But once I learned to relax again at something approaching a lean angle, it began to feel planted and secure. I'm still occasionally nervous on cornering but the Geep is very forgiving and lets me be "stoopid" without getting so far out of line that I get threatened with either pain or termination. IE I don't end up sitting 4" higher than when I started. This has to be good. I'm "only" 5'9" which I believe is the national average, and the fearing is just too damn low, so I cop the wind off the screen straight in he neck. As a consequence long motorway runs are tiring. The commute into work though is just great fun. The power is on tap from 4 1/2 to 5k and from 7k hold onto your hat cos mamma you’re in for a ride! All the way to the 11k red line in any gear except 6th. It would take another serious sports bike or sports tourer (ok any modern 600 race rep will embarrass the geep) or very serious sports car (0-60 in a little more than 3 seconds is quoted and is accurate) to cause problems at the traffic light grand prix and I weigh in at 14 stone. There is no room under the seat but there are 4 good bungee points. Our lass (40+ ish) is happy with the pillion seat but on higher a mileage (100+ in one leg) does complain of numb bum. For me this has been the perfect intro back into biking after a bit of a layoff. Next stop the new GTR 14 Well I can dream... Long term test report anyone?

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