I couldn't agree more. I tend to be aggressive when learning new sports. I researched things, and this was the bike I chose. I bought a 2003 model with 3k on it. I never had any problems whatsoever, and the bike handled like a charm.
I have held onto the 500 for a commuter bike. It gets about 60 mpg. But I got so good at cornering on it, I decided to get a wilder bike to ride on the racetrack. Got a 2006 ZX6R. Put over 24,000 miles on the two bikes combined in a just 12 months.
Everyone make such a big deal about the Suzuki, but my Kawasaki seems to be in the shop a whole lot less than their Suzukis.
As for the "keeps you out of trouble" comment, Right on! I hit a deer going 70 mph at 11 pm in the dark on an interstate off ramp. Lucky the deer freaked out and fell on its side just before I hit it. I went flying through the air with major head shake. Landed in a wheelie, kept it upright, brought the front wheel down and made the turn. I was unharmed and the bike had no damage whatsoever. A police car happened to be following and saw the whole thing. The cops only comment was "amazing".
Wow...that's either a complete bull story or absolutly frikin awesome... haha... either way, great!
Oh, and I used to own an old '88 EX500 that would make small wheelies in 3rd... somehow... also made a few 500 mile road trips on it (and was still able to sit down afterward!). A great bike!!!
The comment about ramping off of a deer is unlikely. I live in an area with lots of deer, and other wild life, and I've seen the aftermath of car and bike accidents. There was a young rider who wiped out and broke his leg after hitting a fox. And a 60 year old who was just shaken after clipping the hind end of a deer. If that deer would have been standing still and not running at the time, who knows if the rider's heavy Goldwing would have been able to plow through and stay upright. Light bikes may be more agile, but large bikes have been known to protect riders with their girth.
Case in point; my dad was going to buy a 81 Suzuki 850GS, and took it for a test ride. He was used to riding dirt bikes, so he took it easy at first. A car tried passing him without a big enough gap and side swiped him (hit and run). My dad was bumped towards the ditch, but recovered in time and without going into a death wobble or getting completely punted off the road (like what could happen on some smaller light weights). He thought it made a great reason to buy it, but my mother thought otherwise.
In summation, I think you need to test ride different bikes to find which you're most comfortable on, and which best suits your needs.