It all started when I was using my clapped out old CG125 to do a 40 mile round trip to work in all weathers, when it kept running very badly in the rain and I had just about enough. So I thought I'll have a browse on ebay, hopefully for something reasonably local, at the right price and in need of little or no work. After a few minutes in front of the PC, I stumbled across a GS500E. The GS500E, although an early one (the early ones are better), had very low mileage, years MOT and some tax, new tyres and chain and sprockets. Also, the general condition was excellent, and far better than a lot of the latest GS500Es I've seen.
Finally, the next day had come to do yet another 20 miles to work on the old CG, and yet it was raining again. Of course life being life, the CG was cutting out, coughing and spluttering for the entire 20 mile journey. So I thought enough is enough, and when I got home that evening, I promptly put in a last minute bid for the GS500, and to my amazement, I won the bid.
I arranged to collect the bike in a van that weekend, and transported it home.
The following day, I took it for a ride locally. Bearing in mind, the largest bike I owned before was a ZZR250 over ten years ago.
My initial impressions were very good. The brakes were good, although the front suspension is a bit sloppy, but this can be rectified with stiffer springs or even better forks. The handling is okay and the engine pulls well, but below 3000 RPM it does stutter. On the motorway at 70mph, the engine feels smooth and sounds very quiet. A slight twist of the throttle and still remaining in top, she pulls without hesitation. The engine has plenty of mid-range torque and the power peaks at 52BHP (later ones are strangled by emissions regs and are 47BHP).
For once, it is very pleasant to ride at motorway speeds in a relaxed and comfortable manner, knowing if I need to be 200 miles away, the GS500 will get me there.
As for the gearbox, neutral is easy to select, and the clutch is light and smooth, and the gears aren't too clunky.
I like the general lines of the bike. The twin spar frame gives the bike a sporty appearance, as do the all round disc brakes.
Build quality is good being it an early model. The later ones did suffer. Also, compared to my Brazilian built CG125, the GS500 is far better built. The CG125 was, in all fairness, quite bad for a Honda. I don't think I'll buy another CG125!
The economy is fairly good. I get about 52mpg around town (my ZZR250 did about 60mpg around town). The best I've had has been 62mpg. This was when I was using it on a longer run. The previous owner told me he got between 60-70mpg.
On a final note, many people who read MCN will notice they really are harsh on the GS. They say riding at motorway speeds is a chore. I ride easily at 70mph with plenty of power to spare. They also say the GS is best for around town. Hold on, it's a 500 for goodness sake, not a C90. Around town in top at 30mph, the engine is only doing 2000RPM. They say build quality is poor. I haven't had a problem and there are many worse built bikes out there that MCN don't criticise in that way. They say the handling is dodgy. I can lean it over, but one has to get use to the bike first and then the handling is fine.
One should bear in mind, the guys at MCN get to ride all sorts of motorcycles. They are privileged enough to the ride the likes of Ducati's exotically crafted 1098 and Honda's techno VFR1200, which cost thousands. So how on earth can one compare those machines to a GS500E which is aimed at a rider, like myself, that is on a budget?
The GS500E is a good reliable bike. Easy to maintain too and parts are plentiful, both pattern and genuine.