Very solid motorcycle on the road, easy to handle (both pushing out of the garage, and on the road), good looks, great price, basic proven engine = lower maintenance, lots of power for the casual rider, safe (you can gun it and not worry about wheelies). Not a 'crotch rocket' by any means.
This is a great starter bike, was in the market early this year to buy my first bike and checked out quite a few, from the Honda CBR125 to a variety of 600s. I'm loving this bike, easy to ride, looks great, enough power to be fun but mild enough not to intimidate a new rider. The drive train is bullet proof, easy to maintain most of it yourself.
Have decided after next season I will get a 600 gixxer, but think I will be keeping this one in the stable, too much fun to give it up. You want great looks, decent performance and a reliable ride, then this is your bike. I have had mine just a few months and 4800km, no problems, worries or regrets, just a lot of good times and memories. GS twin forever!!
Bought my GS500f new in 2007, and I have beaten the hell out of this little bike, and never had a problem yet. Its fast enough to be fun, it looks great and turns heads, and even two up riding with the wife isn't too bad. I wouldn't drive across Canada like that, but I would solo in a heart beat with my GS500f. Great bike for anyone.
It's a great bike, but it's utterly untrue that you don't have to worry about doing wheelies if you gun it; an inexperienced rider can easy pop the front end, and the bike can get out from under them if they are not careful. This is not a beginners bike; it's a great bike for experienced riders, and for those who've already got the basics down, and have been riding at least a couple of years.