1997 Suzuki GS500E from United Kingdom

Summary:

Damned good

Faults:

Head bearings due to jet washer use by the previous owner. Front brake seizure from the same cause. Rear suspension bearings; again from overuse of a pressure washer, clearing grease from the bearings.

General Comments:

I have been a motorcyclist for nearly 50 years, and have ridden most of the larger capacity machines, both British and Japanese.

The Suzuki GS500, whilst being a budget bike, and described as a commuter by the motorcycling press, is really nothing of the sort.

Suzuki have spent their money in the right place, the engine. It is super reliable, free revving, and will crack the ton with some to spare. The road holding, and brakes and frame, complement the power output, and the bike as a whole is well balanced.

It is not a Fireblade or a CBR600, and does not pretend to be. But, if you want a bike that is capable of 400 miles a day at motorway speeds, that will return up to 65-70 MPG and will easily get up to 90+ for over taking, then this bike is worth considering. It is easy to repair and cheap to insure.

I have only one complaint, and that is I find the seat a bit on the hard side.

Finally I have one bit of advice to offer. Change the oil and filter regularly; this applies to all bikes.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th September, 2014

1992 Suzuki GS500E from United Kingdom

Summary:

Good allrounder for both experienced and new licence holders alike

Faults:

When I bought the motorcycle, the speedo and tacho illuminating lights were blown.

Renewed the two bulbs at a pound.

There is a little bit of rust on little areas of the frame, but nothing to loose sleep over.

When the weather permits, I'll treat the areas.

Nothing at all has gone wrong with the motorcycle.

General Comments:

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.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd January, 2011

12th Oct 2011, 00:57

Spot on mate! MCN (and other bike publications for that matter) are basically biking snobs. Anything less than a 1198 Ducati is sneered at!

26th Apr 2013, 20:28

The riders for MCN are fortunate enough to get their hands on exotic stuff such as Ducatis and the latest Japanese sportbikes, so when they ride a GS500, of course it's not going to be on par. MCN sometimes need to think more logically. If you're rich enough, then you can afford a Ducati, but if you're riding because you can't afford a car and do a 20 mile commute, then a GS500 is ideal.

31st May 2013, 10:45

I'm afraid that it's nonsense like this that the mainstream bike press pump out that is partly responsible for ruining our wonderful hobby. MCN also state that the GS takes a long time to get up to speed. Since when has 0 - 60 in a tad over 5 seconds been 'a long time'?

The sad thing is that newcomers to biking swallow all this up and really believe that they need 100 BHP plus for anything but a trip to the local paper shop.

This attitude means that manufacturers don't really make light/middleweight machines any more, so newcomers go out and kill or injure themselves on the latest sports bike, and the establishment responds by tightening up the testing regulations, and insurance companies respond by hiking premiums, thus putting beginners off all together.