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Kawasaki GPZ500S

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      10.09.2011 18:04
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      it is without doubt one of the best buys you will ever make.

      It's now 2011 and the GPZ500 is still with me, which must be somewhat of a record and a recommendation in itself. I have to admit it doesn't get as much use as it used to, but that's more due to having less free time to enjoy it.
      Since I bought it I have enjoyed each and every ride, it still brings a smile to my face when I roll it out and fire it up.
      The biggest problem I have had since buying it was the chain snapping and locking up the back wheel, fortunately I kept it shiny side up...
      Unfortunately the dozy AA bloke dropped it on it's side when he turned up...Bugger!!!

      In the GPz's defence a chain snapping could happen on any bike, so should not be taken as any kind of negative...but the fact that it managed to bend the swingarm was not so good. Despite this, it's still a good bike, the drop damage was easy to repair with some chemical metal (it fractured the top fairing around the indicator stalk) and I was able to get another swingarm from a breakers for £30...so not too expensive then.
      I've renewed the exhaust due to corrosion and replaced it with a motad two into one, this effectively junked the bellypan as it was just melting on the new exhaust (not the best fit in the world I guess)...it does look better with a bellypan, but it's not the end of the world if it doesn't have one fitted.
      If you are going to keep the gpz, or any other bike for that matter off the road for any real amount of time, fire it up, turn the fuel off and allow the engine to burn up all the fuel in the carbs...this will help to prevent the carb floats becoming stuck and flooding when you turn the fuel back on (dripping petrol all over your engine)
      I fitted new carb seals and float valves to cure a long lie up fuel leak.
      A new battery was required this year and I fitted a gel type battery (which doesn't leak, so you don't need that breather tube and to keep topping it up).
      The weak point of the gps500 are the rear suspension unitrak linkages...these are right in the line of fire for all the crud thrown up by the rear wheel...teflon lined bushes and steel sleeves protected only by some crappy rubber 'o' rings, and it doesn't take much to get past them.
      I've rebuilt the unitrak linkage this year and it cost me £140 just for parts alone...keep it greased and clean and it will thank you.
      I also fitted a new shock absorber which made no discernable difference whatsoever...so a soggy rear end is a soggy rear end regardless.
      One pain is when you rebuild the linkage you obviously remove the rear wheel...but to get at the front linkage bolt properly you need the centre stand up....ooops!!! stick a jack under the engine to get round this and get a second pair of hands to hold the bike while you remove and replace this bolt.

      I will admit I have spent a small fortune on this bike in the last 24 months...but, much of that is due to the neglect of others...not the bike itself....

      Even after all the years this 1991 GPZ500 is still very clean, starts and runs smoothly and is ready for me whenever I want to use it. I have so much faith in this machine that in the last week I have fitted a GIVI rack and kappa topbox and purchased a set of oxford lifetime 60 litre panniers.

      Aside from the poorly designed unitrak rear suspension linkage I reckon Kawasaki created a real bike of worth in the GPZ500...

      And yes I have to admit that sometimes I look longingly at the weather protection of the Suzuki Burgman and the luggage capacity, but then when I see 40 of them listed on ebay...I just have to wonder why?

      The Gpz500 is a good bike....period!!!!

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      • More +
        30.03.2011 19:17

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        A good performer wrapped up in an economical, easy-to-live-with package

        The GPZ500S is a good looking sporty package for people looking for the most capability for the least amount of money in a motorcycle. The GPZ500S is a very good performer wrapped up in an economical, easy-to-live-with package. The GPZ`s liquid-cooled, eight-valve, double-overhead-cam twin engine is a "bulletproof" "no nonsense" willing revver, with a generous amount of midrange power and an even more surprising top-end rush. The relatively tall handlebar provides a sporty but comfortable riding position, where the rider is leaned slightly into the smooth airflow coming over the screen. The ergonomics are plush, with a fairly flat, wide, well-padded seat and a wonderfully contoured semi-sport riding position combining to provide enough comfort to give the bike significant touring capabilities. The GPZ 500 is simply a joy to work with in the urban jungle of the city or the tightly swooping curves found in the Norwegian mountainside. The GPZ500S is a comfortable, capable and fun motorcycle that experienced riders as well as novice pilots can enjoy. In my point of view one of the best motorcycling deals around, and a prime candidate for a "first big bike".
        The GPZ500S = a perfect balance between economy, handling, performance, comfort & bulletproof reliability!

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        06.10.2010 00:05

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        Remember it's a 500 twin, you'll find it an enjoyable ride.

        Like many other GPZ owners I have returned to biking after an absence of, well, more years than I care to think about.

        I had a very brief flirtation with a diminutive Yamaha 2-stroke and soon found it so totally uninspiring that it had to go and make way for something just a little more 'interesting'.

        I did my homework and decided that the GPZ was worth a look and was lucky enough to find one at a good price not far from home. Riding it home on that first day was enough to tell me that this was indeed what I wanted. We have a stretch of coast road that gives a mix of fast straights and not-too-scary bends and that enabled me to put the GPZ through it's paces in a sedate sort of way.

        Since then I've enjoyed every outing and am learning to work with what the bike has to offer. I wanted to be able to put my feet flat on the tarmac when I stop, show a respectably clean pair of heels away from the lights and tackle the hills of Dorset two-up with confidence that I wouldn't run out of oomph half-way up. Modest ambitions, I know, but the GPZ delivers all of those and more.

        Others have been more explicit here about performance and so on and my experience so far leads me to agree with what's said. The more I get to know this bike, the better I like it and the more I take advantage of its decent handling and nippy performance. I doubt if I shall ever stretch it - and myself - to hit the red line in top but the occasional flight up to 7-8,000rpm feels pretty good to me.

        In short, it won't set the world alight but if you want a lively, reliable and economical ride you won't regret buying a GPZ.

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        26.05.2009 16:23
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        Reccomended to anyone

        i have a gpz 500s 1995 model, it currently has 49000 miles on and is going strong. these are great 1st bikes(im 17 and passed my test 3 months ago) with cheap insurance(as above with 1 year no claims was £290 tpo). the bike pulls well to 100mph due to the 60bhp but hasnt got much guts after that. i have been clocked at 115mph(105mph indicated on my speedo) by a car and it felt stable at speed, it should beat almost any car to 100mph. although fast it does feel like a toy when riding with bigger bikes. it starts very easily in hot or cold weather and is quite stable in rain. in bends it is very forgiving unlike some sportsbikes. there is however no underseat storage what so ever which resulted in me fitting a topbox for storage.

        the bad points are firstly the ground clearance which is very low which means it scrapes on speedbumps with a pillion on. and the bellypan is very fragile meaning i need a replacement.
        secondly the forks are far too soft and can bottom out under braking with only the rider on.
        thirdly is the brakes, the front is a single disc and it shows, i dont have enough confidence with the brakes to ride the bike hard, but they are adequate at low speeds. i am currently converting mine to twin disc to hopefully cure the braking problem. the rear disc is ok once warmed up and doesnt fade hardly at all.

        the good points.
        it will do 100mph almost anywhere.
        0-60 takes around 4 seconds which is far better than even the fastest 125cc's
        the bike has immense grip round bends(but tires and fuel dont last long if the bike is pushed
        cheap insurance
        the list goes on.

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        14.09.2008 10:59

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        Worth a try, you might like it.

        Bought a 1991 A5 model a couple of years ago now, having previously owned many different bikes. My needs for a bike were pretty simple, to be able to get it into my shed, and out without getting a hernia and to be both cheap to run while not making me get old before I arrived at my destination.
        The GPZ surprised me by actually being fun to ride on 'A' roads, although occasionally twitchy on motorways. This sometimes to the point of naked fear when you first buy it...You do however get used to it.
        While its not as economical as I would ideally like, it's been so easy to live with that I could overlook it. I've left this bike for several weeks without starting it and though it's churned a bit its always started and run without fault.
        I replaced the exhaust as surprisingly given its age it was still running on the ORIGINAL exhausts (the balance pipe under the bellypan finally gave up the ghost) with a motad. one word of warning when you replace the exhaust, expect to junk the bellypan as it is not easy to get an aftermarket exhaust to fit without burning a hole in the bellypan. I've also fitted a goodrich front hose which has improved the braking no end.
        The bike is quick to rust, but is easy enough to touch up. To a reasonable degree you can ignore it and it wont pull a prima donna wobbly and refuse to start.
        This bike wont do great high speeds, but on 'A' roads you can have a lot of fun, be careful of going into sharp corners too slowly though as I have noticed (once) that it tried to turn in sharper and have me off.
        Used as a commuter and occasional fun you cant go wrong with this bike. Sure there's faster better handling bikes around but for the price the GPZ500 cannot be beaten.

        I'm keeping mine...

        Buy one.

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        10.09.2007 18:20
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        Fantastic bike, especially for new riders just passing their tests!

        Introduction:

        Sleek curves, a big mean looking headlight, and a nice shiny paint job, the Kawasaki GPZ 500 sure does look like a stunner!

        as mentioned above, this is a very good looking bike, my specific one has a red and silver paint job and I must say that this does look the part.

        Most people cannot decide wether this is a sports bike or a touring bike, in my own personal opinion this is a bike designed for touring, with 4 cargo net hooks underneath the back seat, a nice comfy riding position and a nice biggish seat for a pillion. This bike is absolutely perfect for buzzing through town or zipping round little country lanes, this is mostly due to it not being a very wide bike, it can fit into lots of tight spaces quite easily without too much effort.

        Drive / Ride Quality:

        This bike does ride extremely nicely, its very easy to turn, the steering is fairly light and it lets you know where your limits are before you start pushing it too hard. This is not a bike to slam your knees to the floor on, if your looking for a knee scraping thrill of a ride go and buy a ZX6R.

        As mentioned in other reviews on the web, the engine does feel a bit lumpy below 3k revs, this doesnt seem normal on a bike the first time you ride it, but you definately get used to it after a while and is not something to concern yourself with. Above 3k revs she is smooth as anything, all the way up to 7k acceleration is fairly sedate, but once you hit that power band everything changes....

        The exhaust makes a sudden ripping noise, the engine tone rises and all of a sudden it feels like spok engaged hyper-drive and your away! This bike can definately surprise you sometimes when you need a quick pull away, and would definately out-do any high performance car up to 80 - 90 mph easily.

        Braking is fairly good, I have the single front and single rear disk model, and providing you dont sit up the arse of cars all the time, braking will never be a problem! Keep the pads in good nick on the front and you will never end up climbing into someones boot.

        Economy:

        This bike, if thrashed everywhere, will produce little more than 45 - 50 mpg. but that is if you really do cain it around all the time (2nd gear upto 60 mph all the time, for instance). However if like me you commute at 70 mph up the motorway all the time, and accelerate up to that speed in a sedate manor, you can get up to 70 mph out of it. Depending on what fuel I use, I get anything from 65 - 72 mpg out of her, which lets face it, is very good for a 2 cylinder machine of this size! My 125 used to do 85 to the gallon (ish) so to take a drop of only 10 - 15 mpg is very very good, for 5 times the power.

        Reliability:

        Mine starts first push of the button every time, with or without choke. Choke is most definately reccomended for cold or rainy days though! Parts I have seen on ebay seem reasonably in-expensive compared to other bikes too, so if anything were to go wrong then parts wouldnt be too expensive.

        At Night:

        The bike does have a decent enough headlight on it for you to blind car drivers, and a good enough low beam to navigate your way around. However I plan on fitting some extra spotlights to mine.

        What your mates will think!:

        Mine all think that this is a cracking looking bike, it looks good in the cold mornings with the twin exhausts blowing away, and in the summer provided its well polished it will outshine anything! I have had people stop in car parks and look at it, commenting how nice it looks. The only thing I am currently trying to find is a custom fairing to sit above the belly pan and below the top fairing to fil in that gap! I have seen one bike with it on and it does look a lot nicer!

        Overall a lush bike with a lot of good features, perfectly good commuter but definately not a bike for the thrill seekers or anyone that wants to constantly do silly speeds and get their licence un-sullied!

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        01.05.2006 04:27
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        Buy one cheap, learn to ride, then move on.

        Fresh from my passing my test i was broke but eager to get my butt on my first "big bike". Being on a budget of around £1000 i narrowed it down to either an old 80's sports bike or a newer lower milage commuter. I figured the used and abused sportbike would be a moneypit and at the first big bill would have it stuck in the garden for months waiting to be fixed. So cheap commuter it was.

        After looking at the usual suspects in my price range(CB500, GS500, ER5 ect) i eventually settled on a Gpz500. I picked up a 97 D model in very nice condition with 13000 miles on the clock for £800. So i am writing this review from the experience of a good fresh bike, not a clapped out old shed.

        First impressions were good (after moving up from a battered old ns125r). It felt very quick with a pleasing kick at 7000 prm where it then howled to the redline. The engine is lumpy below 3000rpm, it sort of feels and sounds like a chopper but above that it's very smooth for a parralel twin. It wasn't hard to get 200 miles from a tank which at the time cost £13 to fill. But at that time i was still wet behind the ears and cornering at 4-5K, only winding it up on the straights. Now, riding it much harder i manage around 120 miles from a tank. Still not bad compared to a full on sports bike.

        The riding position is sit up and beg, and tbh a little cramped for me (6ft and 17 st) but it's still easy to do 200 miles in a day and not ache afterwards. One major downfall is the brakes. Within a couple of weeks i was finding their limits (not too hard to find tbh). I stuck a braided hose on the front (£25) along with some new pads (£15) and some fresh fluid. The back also got new pads and fluid. This made a big improvement but a single tiny disc and caliper on the front is never going to be great. The last ones made and some imports had twin discs on the front. Buy one if possible. It's easy but uneconomical to fit the twin disc front end to single disc models. I know it's not a sportsbike but there is no excuse for lame brakes.

        Suspension is also lacking but it's what you would expect on a sports commuter. The front forks are very soft and compress easily under hard braking, especially for heavier riders. This can be improved quite cheaply (£100) with stiffer springs and a heavier fork oil. The rear shock is truely horrible. Very harsh under fast compression so the back skips around when cornering on bumpy roads. Again this can apparantly be massively improved with an aftermarket shock. But at £500 for the cheapest one, i wasn't prepared to find out on a £800 bike.

        On to the bodywork. First off the mirrors. Completely useless if you are wider than a beanpole. Get ready to flap those elbows. I had a small off due to the chain snapping and locking the backwheel at 70mph. This cracked the top fairing beyond repair. No problem i thought, i'll get another off ebay for £50. Err..no! Undamaged top fairings for D models are like hens teeth and when they are available they sell for well over £100. All other panels are fairly easy to get hold of. Just bear it in mind if buying a bike with damage. The bellypan is important (but it does restrict ground clearance so is often removed) as it gives a bit of protection to those rust collecting downpipes. In fact the whole exhaust system is a bit mickey mouse. When it finally rots away stick a stainless Motad on there. The only other money i had to spend was when the fuel tank started to leak (internal rust). I used a Frost tank sealing kit £40 and months later it has given no more trouble. And finally the frame. The paint finish is very thin, especially on the swingarm. The whole thing collects a layer of surface rust and after a couple of winters kept outside the bike starts to look very tatty.

        Electrics are pretty good. Apart from a faulty side stand switch (i just cut and bridged the wires) and a blown main fuse everything still works fine. Despite being left outside uncovered in all weathers.

        When it needed a few things replacing this is where i'm glad i chose the GPZ over a full blown sports. A decent O-ring chain and sprocket kit cost £70 (i also went -1 +3 on the sprockets which makes it feel much livelier in the lower gears). I needed a new front tyre as it was worn (i put the reccommended BT45 on which was £60 fitted). I few miles lated i picked up a puncture in the rear. I wanted a BT45 again to replace the one on it but they only had an Avon in so i had that. Again, £60 fitted (eat that GSXR thou riders :o). Tbh the old Bridgestone felt much more planted and gave a softer ride. The Avon is much more fidgity but also grippier at full lean. The BT45's seemed to last forever, time will tell how well the Avon wears.


        6 months down the line and i'm gradually beginning to dislike the bike. I outbrake it into the corners, the riding position is terrible for leaning off and the engine feels very tame now. I find myself riding everywhere at 10000rpm+. Of course this isn't the bikes fault. Naturally i have progressed as a rider and i am asking things of it that it was never designed for. I just mention is as a warning to other adrenaline junkies that you will quickly outgrow the bike. On the plus side, it cost me next to nothing to run and in 8000 miles of thrashing it never let me down.

        So don't buy an old shed but also don't throw £3000 into the newest one you can find because you'll probably not keep it more than a year and depreciation is harsh. Buy something around the £800-1200 mark, clean it religiously and you'll not lose too much on it.

        Hell, i could have written a book ;). So to sum it up. Arguably the best buy for someone who has just passed their test. Get one with good tyres, chain and sprockets and brakes and it should cost you nothing but petrol money and the odd oil change. Then 6-12 months later sell it on to another noob and move on to something better.

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          09.09.2005 16:52
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          Recommended, and can be good fun.

          I've had my 1998 GPZ for five and a half years, and have found it to be an excellent all-round bike. It is my daily transport, so has to be 100% reliable to get me to and from work, which (touch wood) so far it has been.

          The bike is a good commuter, and is comparatively low and manageable - it's often described as an ideal ladies bike, indeed the previous owner was my sister in law , who bought it new, but then emigrated. Being somewhat vertically challenged, I find it ideal. It's also reasonably rapid, having a definite 'power band', taking on a greater sense of urgency once the revs rise above 6500-7000 rpm, although obviously these things are relative- it's never going to threaten one of the latest generation 600cc sportsbikes.

          Brakes are OK - mine's the later 17" front wheel model and has disk brakes front and back - the earlier 16" front wheels gained a reputation for their tendency to wash out with little warning, and had a drum brake on the rear. The back brake is good, although can be a little fierce at first, and will lock up the rear wheel fairly readily- familiarity breeds sensitivity! Perversely though this also highlights the fairly forgiving nature of the bike - rear wheel slides can range from scary to fun, depending on your level of experience and the situation, but are always recoverable ( I don't claim any great skill levels, and can only credit the natural balance of the bike's design ). The front brake is merely adequate- the initial squeeze on the brake lever has an effect, but it could hardly be described as eye-popping, and it definitely needs a good firm squeeze for more rapid retardation. This shows up the inadequacies of the front suspension, which is definitely built down to a budget and does run out of travel. I may try a braided Goodridge type front brake hose in due course, although I'm slightly wary that this might remove what little feel there is. Rear suspension has been Ok for my 11 stone, and I never carry a pillion, although have carried a fair amount of luggage on occasions.

          I've had my bike dealer serviced, and generally it has only required normal consumable items, although there have been a couple of electical gremlins- the two cut-out switches, one on the side stand and one on the clutch are known weak points, and are often disconnected or by-passed. Similarly mine also developed a minor earthing fault which affected the indicators, but was easily tracked down and rectified. At nearly seven years old and 35,000 miles of all-year round all-weather commuting the last service was a pricey one, needing a new water pump and most of the rear suspension was rebuilt - the difference is massive, and makes me realise how knackered it had got. Doubtless I'll need to do something about the front forks in due course, but they have always been a bit 'crashy'. Dealer servicing prices have been reasonable to more expensive when I've needed chain and sprockets replacing/ new tyres etc, although the old style skinny tyres themselves are cheap compared to the fat rubber used on the latest sports bikes.

          The only modification I've made is a Scottoiler, which was fitted from new, and a Motad 2 into 1 exhaust when the original one finally disintegrated - again, the balance pipe between the two exhaust systems ( disguised a bit by the belly pan, but actually exposed) is another weak point. The 2 into 1 conversion is popular, and I've seen a few bikes with these systems. It exits on the right hand side - the lack of any silencer on the left visually took me a bit of getting used to, but it does make getting to the chain easier. Seat of the pants dyno maybe noticed a slight difference, but certainly not a revelation. Lazer also do replacement exhaust systems - budget around £300 for a complete 2 into 1 system. A front mudguard extender is also currently on order from M&P in preparation for winter - the belly pan does give a certain amount of protection, but if you ever remove it ( for example when fitting a replacement exhaust ) you realise how much crap accumulates.

          Generally though a great bike. Nippy enough for me, can handle 350 miles a week commuting, with enough dry weather confidence to sling it inside less confident riders on bigger bikes. Of course they pass me on the straights, but any fool can ride fast in a straight line.

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            18.06.2004 05:22
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            Bike :GPZ 500S Year: 1996 (R) Colour: Black & Grey Mileage 16,500 INTRODUCTION: I passed my test recently - March 04 & couldn?t wait to get a bike. Believe me - when you have just passed your test, any bike over 125cc is appealing! I travelled miles one weekend armed with just over £1250 & ended up at the garage I first started at & purchased a GPZ500S. Cash limitations were obviously a big restriction for the type & age of bike I could purchase. I collected the bike a few days later as happy as Larry ? the bike had full service history, datatagged and had been reasonably well looked after. INSURANCE: Group 8/9 - Insurance cost a mere £117.00 TPFT (Age 32) with H&R insurance services, which I think is excellent value considering I have a claim pending(though not my fault). The bike has another added bonus £45 per year Road Tax, so all in all a cheap bike to run. ECONOMY: The bike will give anywhere between 140 - 190ish miles per tank of fuel, obviously the more wrist you give it, the less it will do. The reserve is also reasonable giving an extra 15 - 25 miles. VIEWS: First impressions on the way home were WOW, the bike was comfy(good riding position)nippy & handling appeared reasonably good, but don?t forget I had only just passed my test a few days earlier. The more a rode the bike, the more I realised that I was going to quickly outgrow it. The acceleration, although exhilerating at first, appeared less exciting after a couple of months. The engine is a bit flat under 6000 revs & you have to rev it high to get the most out of the bike
            (The bike does pull well above 6,000 revs, but don?t expect any wheelies). I must say the engine is bullet proof(starts first time, every time, the engine stems back from the 80?s so is tried and tested), but as it is only a twin it is not the smoothest & if you get it in the wrong gear it will give you a good kick under the seat! One downside of the bike is when you want to carry an adult pillion. Obviously with it only being a 500cc the performance equates to a 250cc on acceleration, though once up to speed it is quite stable. Do expect the odd clashing of helmets on gear changes and braking. The front suspension is a bit spongy & can bottom out if you brake excessively, more so when carrying a pillion. As I take my wife on the back regularly I have noticed that the rear tyre is getting flat spots(going a bit sqaure) & losing tread quickly, this isnt helped by the fact that the rear tyre is only 17?. Braking is adequate one up, but again it is a lot slower with a pillion(please bear this in mind in the wet). I travel approximately 300 miles a week on the bike & tend to have to adjust the chain every fortnight & oil it every 200 miles. I have also found that chain oil works best rather than wax. There also appears to be some chain noise for a day or too after adjustments are made. You can just about fit a wallet under the seat so I would also recommend getting a rucksack or rear rack. The dials provided are the bare essentials ? speedo, rev counter & temperature gauge, there is no fuel gauge, but just set the mileometer reading to zero every time you fill it up & keep your eye on the tank after approx 140-150 miles. Overall it is a good bike, but like most things it has its downsides. For the money I would rather have a GPZ than an ER5 or Suzuki GS500, but don?t expect it to get admired in the parkin
            g compounds. I have just this last week traded it in for a Suzuki Bandit 600(I pick it up next week). I have lost £300 in just over 4 months on the bike trading it in at the same garage I purchased it from! I tried to sell the bike privately in Free Ads & didn?t get a single phone call, this was probably due to me asking too much money for it. The impression I get is that GPZ?s are not sexy enough & considered to be a bit of a lady?s bike, if you know what I mean. My advice would be: If you are going to buy a GPZ500S then grab a bargain on Ebay. I have noticed that you can pick up a 1996/7 model with under 20,000 miles for between £850-950. I know you get a warranty from a garage, but for secondhand bikes a warranty is only valid for between 1 & 3 months. As I said before the engines are bullet proof & if I was to purchase another GPZ I would definitely consider Ebay. I have enjoyed my GPZ even if it was only for a short while. I will be sad to see it go as it was my first big bike. I would definitely recommend it to learn on, but if you can afford it buy something bigger. If you just need a bike for commuting then it will be ideal! OVERALL: Good Points: Good commuter with cheap running costs. Adequate performace for everyday use. Tried and tested bike with bullet proof engine. Good bike to learn on. Good riding position & comfy. Not so good: Not the best bike to carry a pillion Image Not the easiest of bikes to sell(The garage owner said to me when I traded it in? I need another GPZ like I need a hole in the head?)

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              25.03.2004 19:06
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              I bought my 1997 GPZ500S in 2003 upon returning to biking after a 15 year break. I had previously been riding around on 12 hp 125cc bikes and, having passed my test in 2003, decided that the 60 hp of a GPZ would be more than enough power to get me back into the swing of things. A lot of riders considering the GPZ500 also consider buying a 600cc sports bike, so in this review I'll include some comparisons of the GPZ with the sports 600 I had after it, a Yamaha YZF600. Specification The GPZ500S is a parallel twin sports bike, although nowadays it's often thought of as a commuter due to its upright riding position and low power compared to the latest sports 600s with nearly twice the power output. The GPZ500 was designed in the 80s and has all of the corresponding design traits - narrow tyres, twin exhausts and low tech brakes and suspension. The choice of a parallel twin engine meant that the designers could use a steel frame and still keep the weight down to around 180 kg which was respectable at the time. Performance The GPZ500S is a good bike for commuting and town work. The engine produces enough power low down the rev range to be able to ride smoothly in slow moving traffic without the engine snatching or having to slip the clutch as is the case with full on sports bikes. The high handlebars allow you to steer full lock without getting your hands trapped between the handlebar and tank which is always useful when you're weaving in and out of stationary cars. The upright riding position also means that you are putting virtually no weight on your wrists, so there are no wrist/arm/back aches even after riding for hours. My bike did get quite hot in the summer in traffic even after the radiator fan kicked in although the temperature gauge never went into the red. The bike had plenty of power for city use and is capable of out-accelerating just about any car at the traffic lights. With its manouverability and comfort, thi
              s bike was superior to my YZF600 for city use. It is on the open road and motorway that the GPZ500S shows its shortcomings. The fairing is neither high nor wide so the rider gets only minimal protection from wind blast. In spite of the bike's weight, it is not very stable in cross winds. At motorway speeds it's very common for a sudden gust of wind to push you a few feet to either side. Being so small, the fairing doesn't offer any protection from the rain to the upper body and as it has no middle fairing, none at all to the legs. There is enough power for overtaking up to about 90 mph, after which the engine runs out of steam somewhat. The quoted top speed of the bike is 120 mph, which I don't doubt but it would take you a while to get there. With such minimal wind protection and stability it gets pretty tiring cruising at anything over 90 mph. By comparison, a more modern bike like the YZF600 is much more stable and offers much better protection from the wind. The sportier riding position does not cause problems at speed as the wind pressure takes some of the weight off the wrists. The GPZ has very soft suspension. The forks easily bottom out under heavy braking and the rear bounces around a fair bit under cornering. The steering is not very accurate and you feel a lot more detached from what the bike is doing than on a modern sports bike. Earlier GPZ500s have a 16 inch front wheel which has a reputation for letting go in corners with no warning. My bike had the 17 inch wheels but still didn't give all that much feedback about the amount of grip remaining. Flicking the bike through corners is possible but it tended to be a case of "turn the bars, lean over and hope for the best". In spite of the YZF600 weighing more, it was much more flickable with much more precision to the handling - all in all a more involving experience. The brakes on the GPZ500S are also worthy of mention. The rear brake is ok whil
              e the front is very weak. My bike had a single disc up front and required a hefty squeeze of the lever to slow down quickly. I was once riding in London in traffic around 20 mph in the pouring rain. When a car suddenly pulled out in front of me I grabbed both brakes but nothing happened! If the car driver hadn't seen me at the last minute I would have hit the car. Suffice to say that in the wet don't count on the brakes to get you out of trouble. More modern brakes work much better and are not affected so much by water. Fit and Finish The GPZ500S is built down to a price and it shows. The steel swing arm is reknowned for rusting all over. It is only covered with a thin layer of paint and stone chips soon let rust form. You need to check this on any GPZ500 - if the rust is serious enough it can affect the structural integrity of the component. If the swing arm collapses when you're riding it's game over. The exhaust down pipes are made from mild steel and are extremely prone to rust. Most GPZ500s that I have seen over 5 years old have had aftermarket exhausts fitted. The paintwork on the tank, fairing and body panels however is of good quality with a good finish. Reliability GPZ500s don't like starting from cold, even less if it's raining. My GPZ never failed to start although it did require a few presses of the starter button. The GPZ500 has a few known problems - steering head bearings tend to fail after around 10,000 miles. To test this, ride the bike along at around 15 mph and then brake sharply to a standstill. If a clonking noise comes from the head stock then the bearings need replacing. Another way is to put the bike on the centre stand and move the handlebars from side to side. If any notchiness is felt then the bearings have had it. Head stock bearings are an MoT item and cost around £150 to replace at a dealer due to the amount of work required. Another problem is the cush drive. This is a ru
              bber disc in the rear wheel assembly that smooths out the drive from the rear sprocket to the wheel itself. When this goes the bike will feel "snatchy" upon appying and taking off power to the back wheel. The alternator can also give problems on higher mileage bikes. Costs Fuel economy on the GPZ is around 50 mpg. This is good when compared with a car but the combination of a non-aerodynamic shape and 20 year old engine design makes the bike non-competitive compared to modern bikes. I got the same fuel economy from the YZF600 when not riding it at warp speed. The tank range of the GPZ is around 180 miles including reserve. Insurance is a big plus for the GPZ. The bike is group 8, cosing me £300 TPFT compared to twice this for the YZF600. The bike apparently gets overlooked by thieves in favour of sportier bikes, which means that insurers don't offer big discounts if an alarm/immobiliser is fitted although having the bike Datatagged will get you a small discount. The other big cost advantage that the GPZ has is the purchase price of the bike. At the time of writing this (spring '04) it is possible to get a one year old GPZ500s with low mileage for a little over two grand. A similar 600cc class sports bike would cost double that amount. Overall The conclusions that can be drawn are that the GPZ500S is an excellent bike for town work and for people who don't want or need a 150mph sports bike. The GPZ is beaten in just about every category by the newer 600cc bikes but then again the GPZ is really in a completely different category itself. Lots of riders new to biking or returning to biking buy the GPZ500 over a sports 600 while they improve their riding skills. However, if you think you may eventually want to get a sportier/faster bike then my recommendation would be to get that bike straight away in preference to the GPZ.

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                13.04.2001 03:16

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                I owned a 1991 model of this bike and consider it an excellent buy for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the performance is excellent for this size of bike - around 120 mph, with a 100 mph cruise on tap easily at all times. Secondly, the fuel economy is very good considering the performance, averaging around 55 mpg without hanging about unduly. Thirdly, this bike is TOUGH in the engine department, with many bikes reaching 55-60K without stripping. Handling is light and quite good provided the suspension is in good condition. The 16 inch front wheel of older models tends to hop out under acceleration on roundabouts, so try not to hit the powerband when cranked over! Downsides include a fairly cramped riding position, occasional water leaks and a tendency for cams to wear through the hardening if oil changes are neglected. But all in all, a good safe buy, and cheap to run, too!

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                09.02.2001 18:14

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                I passed my test 20 years ago but what with getting married, having kids and working to pay the rent bikes got pushed aside. Three years ago I decided that now my kids are growing up I decided to better my career.This meant looking further afield for work. Living in the sticks means exactly that. I found myself a job 50 miles away, but having the car as my only transport ,meant a very costly fuel budget each month. That is when I decided to get back into bikes. After checking with other bikers what a slim in her 30s not quite ready for the rubbish bin should ride after 10 years out of the saddle the GPZ came up everytime. So I got one.An N reg blue and purple model in good condition that cost a mere £1200 taxed and MOT and ready for the road. Whats best about this bike is its low and light. Both features I recommend highly for women just starting out in bikes or getting back into the saddle after time away. The insurance on it was reasonable considering I had no no claims and not ridden for ages. She was easy to handle, good grip and gave me the confidence I needed to open up the throttle and enjoy the road. I never had any problems with her mechanically and started first time everytime. Now I am onto something a little more suicidal.But without the GPZ to convince me I missed biking I would still be wrapped in metal and driving on 4 wheels.

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                26.11.2000 05:09

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                As a born again biker (well a couple of years gap anyway!) I found the GPz500S a strange mixture. It was a good value second hand (1986) 16 inch wheel model with rear drum. It was very pleasant to ride once I replaced the soggy rear monoshock. It was cheap to run and little to do in the way of servicing. I`m six foot but I can see how the low seat would appeal to the smaller rider. So what was the other side of it? Well born again bikers are either conservative or plain daft. I was the former and soon found that this was no Ducati, that it didn`t like motorways and it was gutless two up. A great bike for the solo commuter and a bit of fun round country lanes. In good condition a bargain

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                21.10.2000 00:12
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                I brought a GPZ 500 after taking my test on one. My model is a 1995 twin cam. The power is not very good a low revs but then this is useful if you are still learning. However you can feel the kick of power at 7000 revs and onwards. There does not seem to be much middle range power ie either full on or quite slow but you do get used to it. The size of the bike is perfect for beginners and should not get you into to much trouble. There is enough acceleration at high revs for easy overtaking. The bike does not sound that good, but maybe a new exhaust system will sort our that, but don't forget there are two exhausts on this bike.

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                  03.08.2000 20:39

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                  i own a 1986 model, a twin that thinks its a 4. low insurance, low running costs, also a low seat for the ladies...slight problem for blokes like me over 6ft, took mine over to Ireland and did 1500 miles in a week. My brother thought it was so good he bought one. Try and get the later model with 17" wheels and rear disk brake. this improves the machine considerably Excellent commuter fun, the power kicks in at about 7000 revs so watch it then. a motad ss exhaust makes an excellent after maket ectra, lovely sound too

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