If your looking for a touring bike that is easy on the budget and practical, then the GT550 is a good concideration.
Its engine comes from a long history of similar inline fours. post 1990 bikes come with zephyr engines, which had softer cams for better midrange reving.Also Carb heaters to prevent icing... other than those modifications and a change in colour scheme the Gt550 is basically the same as when it was first introduced.
CHASSIS AND ENGINE
The chassis etc could benefit from powdercoating as the standard paint isnt up to the job and makes the bike look like a neglected pile of junk!.
Engine can look tatty with age and begin to leak oil in various places.
Electrical system corrodes and can cause embarrasing smoke shows if you dont give it some preventative service!.
People say that brakes wear out very quickly.... 2000miles was one quote i read. well if you manage that your doing something wrong!. I have both models the GT750 and the GT550 and i cover about 15000 miles a year and change my pads every two years- this is because i use forward planning and engine braking!.
Air assisted shock and forks are probably good when they were new, but both of mine loose air during the day - althought this doesnt affect the riding too much.
Kawasaki , i think dont like to use oil on any threads , so all the nuts and bolts will seize. When you try to remove something your always thinking' is this undoing or snapping off!'. Exhaust studs like to snap too.
The rear mudguard is made of metal, which i dont understand why(front is plastic-sencible)... but it rots out from underneath. If you manage to buy one that isnt starting to rot, then i sujest you coat the underside with a sealant paint for car wheel arches.
the rear light bracket rots away and in extreme cases the indicators fall off!.
Petrol tanks can rot inside out or from underneath!.Its also getting more difficult to find a GT550 wit no dents in the tank.
Pattern front brake light switches dont last anywhere as long as genuine ones. I replaced 3 pattern switches in as many months and now i have bought a genuine one, its been working for the past 5-6months.
The earliest GT550 first appeared some time in the Cretaceous period. Its been going strong ever since. The engine is as near to bullet-proof as its possible to get with very little going wrong with it. I've had cause to ride dozens of these bikes over the last ten years or so and although not the most exciting ride in the world they are built to do a job. Going from point A to point B in just about any weather, carrying just about any load. You're not going to scare any sports bike riders on a GT550 but after 500 miles you'll still be able to walk, not something you can do on just any bike.... Styling is bland to the point of anonymity but looks aren't everything, or anything really as far as the GT range is concerned. Comfort on the other hand is important and on that point the Kawasaki scores big time. The seat is like an armchair, although prone to tearing. The sit up and beg riding position is comfortable at all speeds short of the "Hang 'em" type. Things that go wrong? The discs wear and the speed the front pads disappear is criminal. The callipers were a standard one size fits all type that started on AR125's and went up the range, unfortunately the GT weighs about 3 times as much as an AR....If you don't keep an eye on their wear rate you can actually be down to the metal in 2000 miles and then to top it all the pads fall out leaving you stopping with just the calliper pistons! The carbs need balancing regularly too, although its an easy job. The clutch cable stiffens up too leaving you with forearms like a gorilla, although again its easy to sort out. If you want a winter hack, something to get you to work or just transport the GT550's the bike for you...just forget about "Image".