SUZUKI GS500 (1989 - 2008) Review
- Honest, reliable workhorse
- Reasonably priced used buy
- A practical, capable cruiser
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£240|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Workhorses don’t get much more honest than the Suzuki GS500. In either its faired F or naked E format, it is a bike that seems to float around the commuter winter hack world, covered in a perpetual layer of grime and more often than not also adorned with a set of bar muffs. While it is most certainly lacking in the sex appeal stakes, the GS500F has carved out its own niche.
The GS500F isn’t the most glamorous of bikes, but at under £2000 it offers cheap and reliable motoring for those on a tight budget. Its low seat height and light weight is a blessing for less experienced riders and the parallel twin engine is smooth and capable of hitting motorway speeds. What it lacks in thrills it makes up for in practicality.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Oh dear. The soft, wallowy suspension makes for laborious riding and bad handling whilst lack of feedback means the rider’s unable to corner with confidence, let alone speed on the Suzuki GS500 E. Furthermore, it all gets worse over time. Brakes are dreadful but the gearbox is good.
EngineNext up: Reliability
A sturdy lump, if ever there was one, but it’s ancient and lacking in power. The Suzuki GS500 E probably performs best in town where a bit of low down grunt can see you out of any nasty entanglements. Elsewhere, however, the GS500 E's a chore to get it up to speed. High mileages are common, which is a good sign, but the whole set up needs to be updated to keep the Suzuki GS500 E in touch with modern competitors.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Whilst the engines are proven, the rest of the bike suffers from famously-bad build quality. The paint on the GS500 E is thin, scratches easily then quickly rusts. Similarly, metal parts corrode rapidly. The welds are a particular weak spot on the Suzuki GS500 E: it may be sensible to invest in shed loads of WD40. On the plus side, it’s said the old Suzukis crash well… !
Suzuki GS500 reliability - the mechanic's view
By Shaun Lock of Bridge Motorcycles, Exeter
"They are about as reliable as it gets when it comes to the motor and that’s probably why Suzuki sold so many of them. However, production finished a while ago and that means any used examples you are likely to encounter nowadays will be deteriorating through age.
"In general terms the GS has no Achilles’ heel, so you don’t have to look out for a specific issue, but age and the often very high mileages that they cover conspire against them.
"Older, high-mileage bikes have issues with the rear suspension linkages as it is seldom stripped and regreased. This can lead to seized linkages or bearings in the swingarm and that can be a nightmare. Most times it simply isn’t economically viable to do the job. Get the bike on its centrestand and grab hold of the back of the swingarm with one hand and the chassis with the other and try and rock the swingarm from side to side to feel for wear in the bearings. If you push down on the back end and the bike stays down the suspension linkages are seized, if it pings right back again then the rear shock is probably shot!
"General wear and tear can lead to blowing exhausts, so look and feel for any holes, and always inspect the exhaust manifold studs as if they are seized on then you will need to grind them off and re-tap them to fit a new pipe and this can be very time consuming. Again, making fixing it often not economically worth it. "Electrical faults will always leave home mechanics stumped, so check everything works, and look at the loom around the headstock area for any signs of the insulation cracking or splitting. Don’t be too worried about the brakes, rebuilding a sliding caliper is simple, but always check the oil level on a used bike – I’ve seen so many that are either horribly low on oil or the oil in them looks like tar because it hasn’t been changed in years!
"One tip is to fit quality rubber. A lot of budget bikes are fitted with cheap tyres and while they are so hard they last for ages, they don’t handle or grip well."
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
It’s ludicrously-cheap asking price is the Suzuki GS500 E’s saving grace. What’s more, it’s in a very low insurance group and does millions of miles to the gallon, making big savings over other bikes. However, owners of the GS500 E may find tweaks to the brakes and/or suspension necessary, which could raise their outlay considerably.
The Suzuki GS500 E os a basic package and, for the money, you can’t really complain. Comfy seat, wide bars, a grabrail and an adjustable brake lever almost cover it. The fuel tank’s pretty huge on the GS500 E.
|Engine type||4v parallel twin, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Steel twin spar|
|Fuel capacity||20 litres|
|Front brake||Twin 300mm discs|
|Rear brake||220mm disc|
|Front tyre size||110/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||130/70 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||50 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£69|
|Annual service cost||£240|
7 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||47 bhp|
|Max torque||30 ft-lb|
|Top speed||110 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||14.8 secs|
|Tank range||220 miles|
Model history & versions
1989: Suzuki GS500E launched as an unfaired roadster. Very few, minor tweaks (front forks became adjustable, as did the brake lever, it got lower bars etc) until 2001 when it was discontinued.
1992: A fully-faired version of the ‘E’ joined the stable.
2001: The new Suzuki GS500E was launched. It got a make-over with new bodywork, redesigned seat, larger fuel tank etc.
2004: Suzuki GS500E gets a catalytic converter. GS500F is launched with a full fairing.
Suzuki GS500F: faired version, whose current, jazzed-up paint job is influenced by the GSX-R range. Looks a bit antiquated but quite smart, all the same. Same basic spec as standard model although weighs in at 180kg, is slightly taller and has more ground clearance.
Owners' reviews for the SUZUKI GS500 (1989 - 2008)
36 owners have reviewed their SUZUKI GS500 (1989 - 2008) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£240|
I bought this as a commuter as I don't want to use my (superb and immaculate 1996 Honda CB500) for commuting and wanted a runaround machine. It's nowhere near the build quality of the Honda CB500 but it's nowhere near the price tag either. I'd not be overly upset if I dropped it and could patch it up again anyway. Easy to work on. Need to keep an eye on the oil and body work (as you should with every vehicle, I suppose). But it's fun to ride and, for the short time I've had it, I've no complaints so far.
Air cooled. But powerful enough to do me. And good on fuel consumption.
Basic. Everything you need. I added a centre stand, Givi rack and Monokey plate and as well as a 12v socket.
Rock solid almost literally bullet proof engine. Exterior needs "babying" and prone to rust. Also a tiny bit cold blooded until a warmup.
This is NOT a racing machine, but if your GS500E will not go well over 101 mph, there is something seriously wrong with it.
Plain Vanilla. Knew that when I bought it.
Buying experience: Ordered it brand spanking new in the crate from Japan. Was there when it arrived.
Version: Fairing (2009)
Annual servicing cost: £75
The best features are comfort, looks, handling, forgiving, enough power to get out of trouble. This bike keeps up with the 650's I ride with sometimes, plus is probably a little more nimble.
Smooth power delivery, sounds great, air cooled- less weight. I'm a larger guy and after riding this bike for a year I'm now aware of it's limitations. It isn't the fastest bike but it is still fast compared to cars and will out accelerate 95% of cars if needed. But that's not what this bike is its 487cc and for that displacement it's magnificent. And it's a very very fun bike to ride.
These bikes are known for durabilty and reliabilty- that is why they have been in production for so long. Simple proven design.
It is the best value bike available, thats if you want one caple of easily handling hills highway speed and getting away from conjestion at the lights... you could get a 250 or 125 cheaper but they won't do that unless you're very light build. 20 litre fule tank gives excellent range and economy.
Get a rack so you can carry a bag or a hardcase but if not just use a backpack. The bike really is a tourer, and can be loaded right up and still thrive.
Buying experience: Bought privately, low k bike a year ago. Still waiting for the seller to produce the books/manual etc...
Annual servicing cost: £300
Not perfect, but a damn good bike. It's a perfect all-rounder that has all the power you'll need in real world situations!
I'll be totally honest - if you're taking it at face value, it's not great. The suspension is soft and wobbly, and it's not a very spacious bike if you're tall. However, the breaks are very good and have excellent stopping power, the seat is, as stated by multiple pillions, "a sofa", and you can spend hours in the saddle with ease. I've done my fair share of long distance touring on it and it'll handle it fine, but depending on your size it can be a tad cramped with a passenger. Once you sort out the suspension it's a great bike to ride.
The power's great. It's got all the power you need for city riding, and can hold highway speeds with relative ease. It's fast enough to keep you entertained for longer periods of time, and if you ring it's neck it'll blow past bigger bikes in the canyons, leaving them wondering what on earth was that. The engine's one flaw is oil consumption. Being an old-school air-cooled motor, it'll consume oil fairly regularly, and it can get a tad annoying to constantly check it and having to worry about it when you want to ride at higher speeds (as it tends to consume oil at high RPMs), but it keeps you in check. As I said before - all the power you need in a real world scenario. If it wasn't for the oil consumption, I'd probably keep it forever, as it feels comfortable even at higher speeds.
Mechanically bulletproof. The rating isn't perfect because the paint quality isn't stellar, and it tends to rust if not looked after properly. The suspension is very soft, could use an upgrade (which is a common and cheap mod). Reliability-wise it's a very simple, air-cooled twin with only 4 valves and one main fuse, so not a lot can go wrong. Had mine for 3 years and am reaching 120,000 km on the clock, with the original engine! Service it by the book, don't ride it like a super-sport and it'll last forever.
I ride 15-18 thousand KM per year, and service it myself mostly. The only costly job is the valve clearance check, which I do every 10K at a friend's garage. It's very simple to work on, with parts being very cheap. I get around 20 km per liter, so it's also great on gas. Very, very affordable.
Very basic bike. You get a speedometer, tachometer, trip meter, oil light (which will only turn on to indicate your engine is dead, basically), lights, turn signals, and that's pretty much it. There's no fuel gauge, no engine heat gauge, nothing fancy. It's as simple as they come, and that has made it stand the test of time. No liquid cooling system to start dripping, no fancy electronics that'll break eventually. Just an engine, two wheels and a smile, and that's all you'll ever need.
Buying experience: Bought it with 67,000 KM for an equivalent of 3000 USD, which is a bargain here in Israel. I'm the 3rd owner, bought it from an older gentleman, with the first owner having the bike for over 11 years! That's really a big deal, since these bikes are often thrashed and trashed as a first bike by many young riders that later move to bigger and faster models, who often lack the knowledge to properly service and take care of their bike, so it tends to live through those mistakes quite often. If you're thinking of getting one, make sure it has a proper service history and the valve clearances have been checked regularly, as it's quite often the reason these bikes break down eventually.
Annual servicing cost: £65
Great bike for the back roads but is tiresome keeping up with traffic on the a roads and motorways.
Decent bike up to 70 mph. Not great two-up.
Robust rattly lump, no issues and decent mpg.
Easy to service yourself.
No digital stuff here, all fixable and easy to work on. I'm using Michelin pilots and have no complaints.
Buying experience: Bought privately. Wasn't tidy but tidied up well. Some are used as hacks so buyer beware, it's easy to fix but the price has to be right.
Annual servicing cost: £200
A serviceable all-rounder with respectable handling and a solid engine, let down by lousy brakes and marginal fit and finish.
Handling is respectable, suspension is not too soft and cornering is easy. Very comfortable riding position, suitable for shorter riders. Unfortunately the stock brakes are completely insufficient, lacking both power and sensitivity.
Very tractable, wide spread of power with a respectable top end. Perfect fuelling. Sound is quite good too even with the stock exhaust.
Prone to corrosion due to the low-quality paintwork, otherwise solid and reliable.
One of the cheaper bikes to own.
Basic but efficient. Good pillion seat with grabrail, speedometer with dual miles/Km readings, rev counter but no fuel gauge.
Buying experience: Used for lessons.
Version: GS500 (naked)
Annual servicing cost: £500
In my opinion, the Suzuki is the best looker out of all the middleweight standard twins. It's remained more or less unchanged since the design debuted in late 80's, receiving some small modernising touches over the years. It retains an endearing and attractive retro character that the other Japanese manufacturers lost touch with in their haste to appear ever more modern. Reviewers like MCN seem to think that the fact that it's not a fuel injected inline 4 fully faired race replica is a bad thing. Honestly, it just means that it isn't completely out of it's element on public roads. Who really needs a bike that can get them a speeding ticket in 2nd gear? The GS500 is a "just enough" bike. It never feels like it "wants" to go faster or that certain speeds are a chore. It doesn't have so much power that it's intimidating or dangerous, but it doesn't have so little power that it feels gutless or unresponsive. It doesn't have such exotic brakes and suspension that it cost a fortune to buy, but it isn't so deficient that it feels like it can't handle spirited riding down some twisty roads. It isn't so much bike that you can only get the most out of it at the track, but it isn't so lightweight that finding it's limits lacks any challenge. I'd say the GS500 is right up there with the CBR400RR, RVF400R, and GSF600 Bandit in terms of being a bike whose power is simply perfect for really getting the most out of street riding.
I feel like the GS gets a bad rap here, and that MCN's review was unfairly harsh. Sure the suspension isn't the best in the world but does it really have to be? I've never found it "unresponsive" in the corners, nor have I felt like it negatively impacted my confidence. It's not trying to be a race bike because public roads aren't a race track. It keeps two wheels on the ground well enough to sustain the kind of spirited riding that will see you have some fun on the street without taking risks that might lead to getting yourself killed. I don't see it as a major reason to complain. If it bothers you that much, it can easily be fixed by swapping in an R6 monoshock and some PVC pipe fork spacers. I've taken my bike on both long and short trips, city and highway riding, rough and smooth, and even some unpaved roads. The GS takes it all in it's stride and I've yet to find a street riding situation where I didn't feel like the bike was perfectly capable of handling it. Riding solo the steering is light and flickable, the brakes and throttle are responsive, and it is overall a really fun machine to ride. With a pillion the suspension does feel a little bit wallowy and bouncy, but honestly most bikes are better solo than 2 up - this is really the only area where it could've used a bit more power. The seat is comfortable enough although after about an hour you have to get off and give your ass a break! Apart from that the ergonomics are about the best of any bike I've ever ridden. The brakes have been good enough to save me the few times I've had to do an emergency stop, which I guess is the ultimate test. Admittedly the brakes are a little spongy and lack feel. I think some ceramic pads, stainless steel brake lines, and some suspension mods to reduce brake dive would be all this bike needs. Ultimately though you have to remember that this bike was not built with track days in mind, and for the speed range where it shines, the brakes are totally adequate, if a little unrefined. I give this category a 3 out of 5 because although there are some easy fixes that bring the bike up to the standards of it's competition, I honestly I think Suzuki could've done a bit better here.
The perfect amount of power for the street. Just enough power that you can still wide open the throttle without everything going wrong, but not so many horses that it feels like it always wants to go much faster. The GS500's motor is as silky smooth as it is reliable, with no vibration felt through the bars or seat at any point in the rev range. Sure it only has 2 valves per cylinder meaning it gets a little breathless around the 85-100mph range, but that isn't where the fun riding happens on the streets anyway. With 51hp and 41nm of torque on a bike that weighs just over 400lbs wet, the GS500 pulls like a freight train from 0-60 in a little over 4 seconds. The torquey twin means that so long as you aren't trying to set a land speed record, roll on power is instant and linear, meaning it's always available. It doesn't really seem to matter where you are in the rev range or what gear you're in, there's always more at the twist of a wrist. The only time I've felt like it needed a few more horses was riding two-up, which is why I've given it 4 out of 5. One of the nice things about this engine is it's actually in a fairly low state of tune, meaning more power can be squeezed out of it if you really feel it needs it. An ignition advance, aftermarket muffler, re-jetted carb, and aftermarket intake will net a decent horsepower and torque gain. The motor is easily tough enough to take the extra juice, so long as you don't mind sacrificing fuel efficiency to get there.
It's not quite a Honda, but it's still very good. The only parts on this bike that really let me down were the flimsy chain tension adjusters and the exhaust header pipes which surface-rusted because Suzuki were too cheap to use stainless or chrome. Aesthetically there are some decals that have sun-faded but that's minor. The motor and chassis are bulletproof and more than make up for these minor things. The electronics are also bulletproof which is more than can be said for some bikes, and if you've never had the misfortune to experience a motorcycle with electrical issues, let me tell you that it makes you appreciate solid electrics.
There are few bikes in the middleweight category that are as frugal as the GS500. Tires, oil, and brakes are the only things you'll have to tackle most years. Eventually you'll need to do the wheel bearings, chain, spark plugs, and battery. Overall this is a trouble free bike, and has an active owners community online who are more than willing to help you with keeping your bike in tip top shape.
I don't really believe riding a motorcycle is the time or place for gadgets, and I also don't believe a gadget is necessarily a bonus. For the GS500, simplicity is it's strength. The fact that it has a tacho is more than can be said for many bikes, and I hate not having a tacho, so it has to earn some points for that. The GS500 also has probably the best tool kit of any bike I've ever owned.
Buying experience: I paid $2995 in 2016, which is approximately 1800 pounds. They're a dime a dozen in both North American and the UK.
When my NTV 650 failed its MOT, and it was going to cost me nearly what I paid for it to get it through, I was resigned to getting a scooter to tide me over until I got a bike I wanted. I was rescued from this indignity by an 18,000 mile GS500, which I bought for £603.00 on ebay. Much cheaper than a wheezy scooter, and I can use it happily on the motorway. It is what it is---a 500cc bike for less than the price of a scooter. It is joyless, but compared to a 125 it is a proper bike. As a winter bike to tide me over, I could not have done better. Don't compare it with better 500s, but with what else you can get for the money. A CBF1000 calls, but the GS can sit outside during the winter.
I'm never going to like it after my 650 v-twin (going down in power is never going to bring joy), but it has enough power to keep you out of trouble, provided you remember it is not a v-twin, and will only wake-up at 4,500 revs.
Try taking a VFR 750 in for a service, and see what that costs you. This bike is so simple, it costs flupence to keep going.
What equipment? Just out fuel in it, and get to work.
Buying experience: Bought it from a reputable ebay seller. A chap had a large selection of bikes, and decided to get rid of some of them, as he was just taking the bikes to the MOT station every year, and not using them. He asked the reputable ebay seller to help him reduce his collection. I felt a bit guilty when I picked it up, as I only paid £603.00 for it---I put a maximum bid of £750.00 in, but no-one else seemed to realise that, whilst most other 500s are better, it is better than a scooter.
Annual servicing cost: £500
Simple design makes easy cheap maintenance. Good seat comfort, relaxed riding style, great every day bike. Can be ridden hard if experienced, gets a bit spongy in fast hard corners. Great urban bike for its capacity and category.
I prefer dual front disc for better responsive braking, overall it's fine. I fitted braided brake lines and better tyres made an improvement. Rear brake is huge 250mm, front is good with HH pads.
Basically its a detuned engine but more powerful than most and more grunt than the 500 V-twin on the USA market, technically it needs head porting to flow better and re-jet the carbs.
Rugged, time proven, been around so long because it is actually a good basic bike. I bought mine with 15,000kms in 2015 and everything still worked and passed a vehicle test, that's proof of a good design.
I do my own servicing, mainly tyres and brake pads.
Has the main essentials.
Bought as a first "big" bike just before I passed my test and been very happy with the old girl. May not be the most modern of bikes but the old fashioned simplicity and cheap running costs mean when I fancy going out for a ride it's always there and willing to put a smile on my face but not a dent in my wallet. Keep toying with the idea of swapping it only has 11500 on the clock and does exactly what I want it to.
After a 75 mile non stop trip I found the 'bike comfortable enough, the relatively narrow rear tyre seems a little prone to moving around though Brakes are...adequate...
A little lumpy pottering in first but aside from that it's a perfectly acceptable for a little ol' carb'd 500.
Thin paint and some rough looking welds mean I've had to crack out the rust protection within 12 months of ownership. I own Landrovers though I've seen worse on newer! Reliability wise as long as the battery is kept charged it's been bulletproof
£59 VED, under £150 for insurance and I've seen 73mpg on a long run. Really can't argue with that for a toy.
Basic as they come. Sidestand and the fly screen on mine about the only things you could take off without removing vital bits and all the better for it
Extremely harsh MCN review. In reality it's your old friend. Reliable, rugged, go anywhere on road in all weathers. You can perform the service & maintenance yourself. Parts are easy to come by & the 487cc twin gives enough power to still be fun.
My starter bike from seven years ago that I never got tired of riding. Every year I swore was getting a Ninja 650.
The brakes are spongey. It's not a race bike. Surprise!
Starts every morning.
Annual servicing cost: £60
Great value, comfy and reliable. Considering its still going strong 19 years after it rolled off the production line I would say it's pretty damn good!
I've given 5 out of 5 because for this size engine and type of bike it really is great. You constantly feel like its trying hard for you, as a result you can have some real fun. It won't match anything remotely speedy, but it will make life easy through corners and will also be comfy to commute. The brakes are responsive and the ride is smooth. The seat and position is really comfy and there is an actual seat for pillions rather than a token effort like some others.
Could do with just that bit more power sometimes, but it is just a 500cc so you can't expect that. Numerous occasions I've come off a roundabout and in seconds found myself sitting at 90mph without a thought. It does what it says on the tin and will even surprise you sometimes.
It is reliable, but it's not finished to a particularly high standard. Starts on the button every time and runs great. The overall finish isn't great, but its nearly 20 years on so I guess some wear and tear is to be expected!
Cheap parts and easy to pick up. Fuel efficient.
Have given 5 out of 5 because there isn't really anything to rate. The steering lock works! I use Avon Roadriders.
Buying experience: Bought privately for £950 and it was well worth it. Had it for 3 years and will probably get most of my money back.
I bought a 1998 model as a winter hack and then discovered that it had tons of history and had never missed a service, so I've still got it. I've scored the engine a 5 because it puts out 47hp (new A2 category) and is so reliable and easy to service because it is really basic. I agree with the rust comments, buy a cover, WD40 and some hammerite! Equipment is low but I fitted a screen, heated grips and cheap chain oiler for next to nothing! Cheap and reliable is what you want for a commuter, in a recession where congestion is terrible, fuel and parking cost a fortune. Not everyones cup of tea, but maybe I got a pearl amongst the swine!
just want to start by saying that I think that a score of 2 is very unfair for this bike, overall quality and reliability may let this bike down a bit but the engine (as long as its well maintained) is fantastic,has plenty of torque and power to get you into trouble and great fuel economy if not ridden like a maniac, have had 70mpg on it before by being super frugal. suspension a bit soft and can wallow out if a pillion is on the back but is very forgiving and can almost bounce out of pot holes, a great little cheap roadster.
The GS500 represents probably the best budget middleweight buy out of any of them. I say that because it's so cheap, and cost's very little to run, and is so easy to maintain. Boring? yes maybe, but the point of biking is to get the best value for your hard earned cash. I own another bike just for leisure,and the GS is my daily hack and is ridden all weathers all year round. My GS500 has done 60k miles and still on it's original motor, and sounds and looks no different to when I purchased it new. That's testimony to a recipe that hasn't changed since it was first introduced to the UK. So anyone who expects more from this old gem, I say look elsewhere. For me. I'll run it til it drops. Cracking value for money motorcycle. But I've only been riding bikes for just over 36 years, so what do I know?
Better than the Kawasaki er5 and up there with the Honda cb500 (almost). For the money the best 500 your gonna find. Cheap fuel, cheap insurance and very reliable. The perfect commuter or first big bike. MCN's 2 stars is way off the mark!
And it is good! I picked up my GS500EY a couple of years ago in near pristine condition with only 6k miles for under a grand. The thing is, you can get on the twisty mountain roads and take this bike to its limits - but you have to do this - other bikes will ride themselves to an extent. With this one, you need to know exactly what you're doing to get the best out of it at 7k revs+ where it flies. Mine is totally reliable, uses no oil, cruises at 85 on the M4 all day if I need to crunch miles, is comfy and returns 50+mpg. Finish is still good if you use the modern cleaners - ACF 50. Been biking for 29 years now and this twin is great fun.
I got my gs500 after passing my restricted licence, and had it restricted to 33bhp. For the first few months I loved it, better than scooters and 125's I'd been riding before, but after that I soon got bored (and still am) with it. The restriction doesn't take too much off it but I will be trading it in as soon as possible! To give it credit, it does the job for the 2 year restriction, good economy and easy to ride. Had a few problems with oil leaks but not too expensive to get fixed. What MCN say about corrosion is 100% true, no matter what you do it will start deteriorate. Would recommend this to any first time rider who wants a restricted 500 as its cheap to insure and run, but I cannot see why anyone would choose to have one of these for any other purpose when there are plenty of great naked 600s out there.
So I picked up my 2001 Suzuki GS500 at the weekend from deepest darkest Kent, ready for the ride back to Bristol. This was my first time riding this particular bike, having previously been using a Honda CB500 which I enjoyed, and was a little worried about the GS being smaller or more uncomfortable than the Honda. No need to worry, the bike was incredibly comfortable (I'm 6'6") even on such a long journey back, and I was surprised to find that my wrists didn't ache as they used to on the Honda - not sure what this is down to - maybe the handlebar position, as the Suzuki bars seemed to have a wider grip? Who knows! I did stop after 100 miles to check the fuel usage, and was happy to see that I'd only used half a tank, so topped it up with £12 and of I went again. It handled really well and at no point did I feel I would lose control or that the bike would punish me for any minor mistakes I'd make. Even with a large Givi box on the back, I managed to get it to north of 90, and would have been able to exceed that had I a) not had the box on, and b) not wanted to be disqualified for breaking the 100mph barrier... The wind was quite rough that day, and my neck and head took quite the barrage, so I will be adding a wndscreen to deflect some of the resistance - even by pretty much lying on the tank to be more aerodynamic, you feel it would benifit from having the screen. Around town and in built up areas it handles nicely, and has a nice safe lean feeling even at low speeds. Great for filtering through traffic, even on the motorway, and has a nice burst of speed for getting away at lights and overtaking, even in top gear there's enough power to get into the overtaking lane and push past those dreaded middle lane crawlers! All in all this is a quality bike. Yes, it's a commuter and not a race bike, you won't be able to throw it around corners with reckless abandon, BUT, you will enjoy it and not feel out of place on the motorway or in areas where speed is required.
I brought this bike off my brother just before passing my test. A month later and I passed, I couldn't wait to get on it. It is restricted to 33bhp which is enough power to start with. I went out on my own on a Friday afternoon on roads I was very familier with and soon learnt how fast this machine is when you've just passed your test. There is more than enough power to get you in to trouble if you're silly enough. It took about 200 miles to start to get used to it, to ride it without thinking hard about the machine you're on. The brakes are excellent. With the restrictor in, 1st, 3nd and 3rd gear don't seem to be effected when solo which gets you up to 60 in about 4 seconds. Drop it in to 4th and the speedo needle starts o creep up abit slower, and you seem to hit the restrictor at 8,500, knock it up to 5th and you hit the restrictor at about 7,500 knock it up to sixth and you'll not get a lot. Down the bottom end of the rev range there's plenty of torque. In 6th you'll do 40 to 60 in about 5 seconds. However, you do notice a difference in the power when you're two up. 0-60 is about 7-8 seconds, and when want to overtake a car, make sure you knock it down a couple of gears and be ready to knock it back up when you hit the restrictor. I found changing gears at 6,000 revs solo and 7,000 revs two up is best when riding this bike restricted. MPG is good brilliant. On a good run two up I've calculated 68mpg which is great, solo must be about 75mpg and thats excellerating as i've described above. Commuting 4miles acorss town does drag that right down though, about 55-60mpg on cold mornings. The big bikes might grin when they overtake you, but you'll be laughing out loud when they've all pulled over to refill there tanks and you go sailing past. After 4 months and 2,500 miles I ride it confidently and I feel ready to take the restrictor out as I now feel as though its a hinderous hitting that flat spot. The only things that have needed to be done is a new chain and sproket that were previously abused by my brother. There is also some rust around the swingarm and the brake torque arm rotted right through. Other corroding area's highlighted as a winter cummuter are the little nuts around the handle bars and brake lines. Overall a great first step after passing your test.
i got my gs500e...back when i traded in the old 125...a tzr125l.... my first "real" bike.... being sensible i read review after review about most bikes i thought would be a sensible step up... bandits 600, cb500's and the like.... but i fancied a bike i could buy brand new... plus insure without the need to sell a kidney or two!!! first ride from the bike shop was fun, after 2 strokes the bottom end grunt was awesome!! let the clutch out and off it pops!! once run in, i got my nerve.. and decided to hear what it sounded like!! the engine was fun, compared to my fireblade now it was dull and gasping for breath at the top end of the rev range, but back then it was great!!! and the handling even after a sporty 125 was good!! the brakes did there job, and it was actually comfy!! i took it two up to the isle of man TT ... me and my mate, but two up, up hills was a little bit too much for the gs, but we had a ball, overall it was a great bike to start on ... fuel consumption was great, comfort was good, and it actually sounded good too!! performance was actually rather impressive at first, although once used to it it was hardly heart stopping!! build qualtity was not as bad as the press would tell you, just wash it after a winter run!! but the rear break did seize!! .... the mirrors were a but crap though, vibrating so much you could not see what was behind you!! but overall, it was a fun bike to start real biking on!! it was the first bike i ever got to 100mph... something ill always remember!! and too be honest, even after owning yzf600's and fireblades, i do miss it!! it had a real good charector!!
my second 500(the first being a cb500)although not as fast i find it to be more reliable,top bike
This was my first big bike, took me time to get used to the handling but I can certainly corner fine on it now (just had to give it a chance). Set the shock to the hardest setting and helped my riding alot. Don't see why people slate the riding position? Why buy it in the first place if its not comfortable? Only thing I don't like on the bike is the clocks, but at the end of the day you dont expect state of the art clocks for the price.
Like some others mentioned i find the 2 star rating pretty unfair for this bike. You guys might be used to ride & review 10000£ bikes and then when you ride this ofc you'd say "bleh". I have a 2003 and its my first real bike,i love it,couldnt be happier,speeds upto 120mph when i need,runs cheap not much maintenance needed,has a huge mpg value,looks nice and is pretty solid with the frame and engine. There is nothing wrong with this bike when you compare it with what its meant for,a cheap,reliable,beginner street bike. I never heard a complaint before about the suspansion or the handling,its not your ordinary 130-170hp racer that you corner with 100mph excuse it! this bike is great for those who are just starting or upgrading from 125cc. It deserves atleast 4 stars in its own league.I dont know about it there but Honda CB500 costs a lot more here. FIX THE RATING!!
Ok it is probably just me. but I found the riding position on this bike the most uncomfortable I have ever ridden. I honestly couldn't do more than 30 miles before I had to stop in agnoy. Tis a shame cause the rest of the bike seamed ok. a good alternative to the ER-5 and the CB500
I had one of these little chaps as a loan bike recently, while my Buell was in for a service. I was fully expecting a nasty little learner bike, but wound up having a really good laugh riding it. The engine is flexible enough for easy round town riding, the gearbox is very smooth and the handling is more than acceptable but for me, the biggest grin came when riding on the motorway, screaming the poor little engine along. Clealry the GS can take this sort of abuse all day long. I think if you just passed your test, this is a far better proposition than a CBR600 or R6 that so many get lulled into thinking is a good move. This is a good bike to hone your riding skills, to gain confidence. I think you could own one of these for years and be perfectly happy - especially in a city where its slim dimensions, economy and easy riding, will pay dividends.
As others have said, this bike is a great step up from your 125 to build some confidence on. It is what it is! A cheap, reliable bike that is built to be that first big bike. So stop reviewing it like you are about to trade your R1 for it. That's just stupid! I own the GS500f 2005 model and she is restricted to 33bhp for the next 2 years. TIP - don't take the heavy bar-ends off - they are there for a reason!!! The handling goes to crap (YES, i found that out the hard way). She will get to 95mph even while restricted (disclaimer - only tried in track conditions...honest guv!) and if you drop a couple of gears can overtake traffic quite easily. Just don't expect to be keeping up with the 600cc bikes eh? As a first step from a 125 it's an awesome bike.
As with another reviewer I agree that MCNs two star rating is unfair. Having just past my bike test and restricted for two years this is a great little bike to build confidence on. I also disagree that the suspension is "soft, wallowy", now I know I don't have a frame of reference for this however I have not had any problems from handling and find the bike quite flickable. It accelerates fast enough for a new biker and gets up to illegal speeds even on my 33bhp restricted version. Once you hit 50mph it does become harder to get it to accelerate with any speed and above 70mph you can forget any sudden increases. We need to remember though that this is a cheap bike for people who have never had a (big) bike before. It is a safe, predictable, non-threatening bike with great MPGs to boot.
Firstly, I feel the 2 star rating given by MCN is VERY unfair. Don't forget, the reviewers are used to blasting around tracks reviewing Hayabusas and the like, and I doubt that they have been near a GS500. These bikes are very highly rated for people just having passed the full test in the USA and Europe, it just seems to be over here that they are slated,mainly by the wannabe rossi's in need of a manhood extension. Anyway, back to the bike! The acceleration is quite good after 3000 rpm,for the inexperienced it is ideal,more than quick enough, but not so as it scares the pants off you!! It will do 0-60 in around 4 seconds, which is quicker than any car under £80000. Handling is good, but could be improved, but saying that, the bike is not meant to be hammered in to corners like a sports bike. VERY comfy to ride on and very light, which is ideal for newly qualified riders who want to build confidence. Brakes are very good,especially compared to the ER-5 that i learned on. Gearbox is also excellent and positive. To summarise: If you want a very reliable experience gainer, then try the GS for yourself. They go for peanuts and are great fun as a first big bike, insurance and fuel costs are ridiculously low!! Remember, not every rider starts on a crotch rocket super sport, ask those who know and they will recommend starting on a 500, at least for a few months while you practice safe riding. Hope this review helps, and most importantly STAY SAFE!!!!
It really was my first bike so i love it anyway. The Good: Massive tank range, forgiving handling, lots of midrange, frankly fantastic gearbox, the grabrail (why don't more bikes have these?), never ever broke down, space to mount my gps on the handlebars. The Bad: you can find the limits of the handling very quickly, poor brakes, paint on the tank scratches easily, paint on the engine covers comes away with any winter riding, not much power up top, and if you're tall like me you'll find your knees overhanging the ridges in the tank. Overall, a trusty reliable commuter and a good first bike, just dont expect too much of it and it'll look after you. Oh yeah, and don't bother trying to keep up with the sportsbike boys if you're on a group run, trust me its not worth the effort on one of these cos you'll never be quick enough.
I bought my gs500 in March 2007 after a four year brake from motorcycling, all I wanted as a cheap economical commuter for work. The bike seemed to be in a reasonable condition with 39000 recorded miles, however after a few commutes I noticed that the engine was unwilling to rev past 6500 rpm and fuel consumption was dreadful returning an average of 30mpg, initially I put this down to a dirty air filter and ill sized shims. I replaced the air filter without improvement so checked the shims which had perfect clearance. It soon dawned on me that the problem may have been more serious, so I carried out a compression test. The test proved my concerns to be well founded; the right cylinder was only producing 50-70psi. Not good for a bike with such a low mileage! The engine was replaced with one from the breakers. Since then the bike has performed very well, but at unreasonable expense. It seems to me that the majority of these bikes are very good, but with the exception of a few duds circulating out there. Any one considering purchasing a GS500 should strongly consider at the very least carrying out a compression test (which takes no more than five minutes) before buying!
Having ridden one of these as a curtesy bike for more than a week. I have to say it was one of the most uncomfortable bikes I have ever ridden. Don't get me wrong the engine was great, it was reliable and cheep to run, but it just didn't work with my 6'6" height.
I've Probably ridden /raced / prepared over five hundred different bikes since the early sixties, so think I can give the GS500E a fair appraisal. Bought last September for £1,500 my K4 model had 3,000 miles and 9 months Road Tax and had been serviced on time intervals by the lady owner. Lack of wear on the original rear Bridgestone told me 'Not Thrashed'. Considering it had been parked outdoors under a cover from new, the finish was OK, anway a few rusty bolts don't affect the ride of this well balanced middleweight. The soft front forks are easily fixed by using more fork oil and a thicker grade sorts the damping. Rear suspension is fine once you get the preload set for your weight. Brakes are really good if they are maintained correctly. Get the wheels in line (don't use markers on swingarm), and it handes well if the tyres are not to old (there's a date code on sidewall of all tyres), with plenty of feel in the wet. Relocating the heavy tool kit from the seat tail to under the battery, or better still under the workbench!, also helps, as does not having a top box. Power delivery is fine for an aircooled 2 valve twin, although five gears would be adequate. Ever fancied something like a sixties British twin but without the dreadful reliability, brakes, vibration and oil leaks etc., yet want to maintain it yourself? Then have a ride on a decent GS500.
Had a 1995 from new, kept for five years, the only trouble I ever had with it was the rev counter cable broke. It was reliable, comfortable and "safe", if you want excitement buy a fireblade , if you want a cheap, good, reliable workhorse buy a GS500E. Strengths: Un-intimidating, user friendly, cheap to run, good fuel range. Weaknesses: Poor finish, built down to a price, if you use it all year round, be prepared to keep on top of corrosion.
Was really happy with bike until at 6450 had total engine failure, new engine fitted courtesy of Suzuki and I paid for fitting, then at 12000 bike bouldnt work and when had taken to agrage air cleaner was seriously wet - NO APPARENT REASON - however I heard that someone else who works for my company and has a 1000cc also had the same problem no apparent reason. Since then have had nothing but trouble with this bike like its jinxed big time - had trouble wtih the wiring - had to have a new relay fitted at 15000 which got WET now the bike is constantly stalling even after running for an hour if I slow sown and or come to a halt the engine stops dead and is a bugger to re-start with no apparent reason - I have re-booked bike into garage to see if they have an iota as to whats going on now, I do on average 900 miles a week. And this bike just eats oil, 5 liters of oil went in last month and only 1.5 liters came out. Strengths: Can't think of any. Weaknesses: It eats oil, the saddle is so uncomfortable its sometimes unbareable on long journeys I dont like this bike at all and its a bugger to sell on being made in Spain