2024 Kawasaki Z500 review | Newest A2 naked is a well-rounded, entertaining and great-value option


  • Naked sharing Ninja 500 mechanics
  • Fun to ride, distinctive Z looks
  • Cheap to buy and own

At a glance

Power: 45 bhp
Seat height: Medium (30.9 in / 785 mm)
Weight: Low (370 lbs / 168 kg)


New £6,049
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

This new Kawasaki Z500 is a naked motorbike with big ambitions. For a start, it’s not actually a 500 at all, with the parallel-twin motor displacing 451cc.

But that does represent 51 cubic centimetres in extra capacity over the Z400 that it replaces, so I suppose we can forgive the optimistic rounding to drum up the latest badge.

Indeed, this is the very motor in the new Eliminator cruiser, plus the sister Ninja 500 sports bike and interestingly the pair of high-tech Hybrids – Z7 and Ninja 7. We’re testing it in south-eastern Spain on the launch event to find out what’s new, and whether it remains a well-rounded A2 option.

2024 Kawasaki Z500 right side static

The Z500 comes with a distinctive new face for 2024, with a triple LED headlight arrangement – with low beam taken care of by the upper two lights and high beam coming from the lower of the trio. We didn’t get to test their performance on the launch in sunny Alicante, but we’re assured of improved illumination over the Z400.

It’s styled to look like its super naked siblings (the Z H2, for example) with lineage dating back to the Z1 of 1972, but despite that there’s no ignoring the lithe, lightweight nature of this middleweight.

Its performance and handling feel very nicely matched. This is a bike that’s been designed as an A2-ready model rather than throttled back to be one (like you can with the larger Z650), which means it benefits from lighter weight than lots of rivals. The result is that while it won’t be setting any speed records, it feels like a rounded, likeable package that will keep both new and experienced riders entertained.

2024 Kawasaki Z500 front left action shot

Add new tech, good tyres and a comfy seat into the mix and we’ve got ourselves a bike that excels at what it’s intended for.

It isn’t perfect, though: the engine sounds flat and the switchgear appears basic compared to Honda’s, although it’s better to use and laid out in a sensible manner.

Should you buy one? There’s plenty more to discuss, so read on for our in-depth Kawasaki Z500 review…

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

While mechanically very similar to the Ninja 500, with the same frame and engine, the differences add up to more than the sum of the parts. The riding position is more upright, and this puts less stress on the front end.

Couple this with 41mm non-adjustable forks featuring a lower spring rate and the result is a naked that feels quite a bit more playful than its sportsbike sibling. There’s a pleasing looseness that makes each ride feel like a proper event, but don’t let that lure you into thinking it’s in any way a wild-handling motorcycle.

It remains an approachable bike that will work with newer riders, tipping into corners predictably and featuring enough front-end feedback that you always know what’s going on under the 110-section Dunlop Sportmax GPR300 tyre.

2024 Kawasaki Z500 turning right on the road

And that rubber felt fantastic on the bike’s launch in Alicante. It heats up quickly, grips well in the dry (we didn’t see a drop of rain) and makes for a confidence-inspiring handling character.

At the rear, the suspension is five-way adjustable for preload only, and this felt find on the launch event, with decent wheel control. It’s difficult to say what it would be like in the UK at this point, however, because the roads we were riding on were snooker table-smooth.

We found the seat and ride quality comfortable enough, but for taller riders you can spec a 30mm-higher item as an optional extra.

2024 Kawasaki Z500 front brake

One aspect that we really did like was the initial bite and feedback from the front brake lever. Considering the Nissin caliper only has a single disc to squeeze, the way this bike slows down feels streets ahead of Honda’s CB500 Hornet.

At trundling speeds, the turning circle was small enough for easy U-turns, while when we really started leaning on the handling, we found the steering accurate and well-matched to the rest of the chassis.


Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The old Z400’s engine has been retuned for use in the 500s, with a 6.8mm longer stroke liberating the additional 52cc of capacity. The crank has also been modified with extra counterbalancing for smoother pick-up. Couple these with circular throttle values (instead of oval in the new Eliminator cruiser) and we found performance that felt very nicely matched to the approachable handling.

This isn’t a screaming supernaked, though. The engine note isn’t very entertaining at lower rpm and all but disappears altogether at 70mph, which is a shame given the engaging nature of the handling. Kawasaki will sell you an Akropovic pipe and we’d heartily suggest plumping for that, or indeed another aftermarket firm’s offering such as Arrow.

This motor doesn’t have as much peak power as the rival Honda CB500 Hornet, but when you’re looking at power-to-weight ratio, the lower mass of the Z means it actually has better performance.

2024 Kawasaki Z500 engine

We loved the way the transmission was set up. The six-speed gearbox is slick and simple to operate, while the clutch is so light you only need a single digit to use it. There is also an ‘Assist and Slipper’ feature that helps newer riders to avoid stalling, and more experienced bikers to avoid rear wheel skipping on high-rev down-changes when the engine and road speeds are mismatched. We tested this and still managed to unsettle the rear tyre, but it did take quite a bit more provocation than expected.

Kawasaki have also seen fit to provide an economical riding indicator on the screen, but we didn’t see this a huge amount during our initial road test…

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

We were pretty impressed with the perceived build quality of the Z500, the paintwork and fittings seemingly of a high quality and the switchgear basic, but really nicely arranged in front of the rider – a step ahead of Honda’s latest efforts in this sense, actually. We don’t have any reliability concerns.

Our Kawasaki Z400 owners’ reviews indicate this should be a dependable machine, with nothing of concern reported.

2024 Kawasaki Z500 model badge

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The closest rival to the Z500 is undoubtedly the Honda CB500 Hornet: the artist previously known as the CB500F. It’s telling that the Kwak is only a few hundred quid less than this hugely popular bike; clearly the Honda was firmly in the Z’s crosshairs. Kawasaki’s four-year warranty is worth a mention here too, offering a strong long-term ownership proposition.

Other competitors include the surprisingly high quality CFMOTO 450NK, and smaller nakeds such as the Yamaha MT-03 and KTM 390 Duke.

2024 Kawasaki Z500 right side profile action


4 out of 5 (4/5)

As standard, the equipment list includes an LCD screen, and Bluetooth connection using a smartphone app known as Rideology the App, that provides battery voltage levels, a riding log, mobile phone notifications, rider profile sharing and a maintenance log. The only colourway is metallic black with grey highlights.

The majority of the Z500s sold in the UK will be in SE (Special Editon) specification, which means a choice of two colour schemes – candy red with black highlights or candy green with black – plus a far nicer higher-grade TFT screen with automatically switching day and night running displays. Additionally, a two-piece under cowling aims to highlight the aesthetics of the engine and exhaust.

There’s a USB-C socket near the screen, LED indicators, a larger windscreen in clear or smoke finishes, a rad guard, frame sliders, a pillion seat cover, a tank pad and knee grip pads for quicker cornering.

2024 Kawasaki Z500 dash

An ‘Ergo-fit’ 30mm higher seat is available as an optional extra, alongside all of the kit mentioned above, and a tank bag, wheel rim tape, a helmet lock and a U-lock.


Engine size 451cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel-twin
Frame type Steel trellis
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 785mm
Bike weight 168kg
Front suspension Rigid 41mm telescopic forks
Rear suspension Bottom-link uni-track rear suspension with 5-way preload adjustment
Front brake Single 310mm NIssin semi-floating disc with dual-piston caliper, ABS
Rear brake 220mm Nissin single disc with dual-piston caliper, ABS
Front tyre size 110/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 150/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 74.3 mpg
Annual road tax £84
Annual service cost -
New price £6,049
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Four years

Top speed & performance

Max power 45 bhp
Max torque 31.4 ft-lb
Top speed 110 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 229 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2015: The Kawasaki Z300 is launched, using the Ninja 300 as a basis
  • 2019: A year after the Ninja 400 replaced the Ninja 300, the Z400 replaces the Z300
  • 2024: Rather predictably, Z500 replaces Z400.

Other versions

The Kawasaki Ninja 500 sportsbike and Eliminator cruiser share many of the same parts as the Z500.

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