The Suzuki GS500 is probably the perfect beginner motorcycle for someone who is confident in their ability to quickly grasp the basic motorcycle concepts. Its a pretty small motorcycle, but its also powerful enough to lug around some of the bigger guys (250 lbs+!!) with relative ease. It gets great gas mileage overall, the only thing that is a little annoying is since it is carburated it takes liberal use of choke to get this bike to warm up on cool days/nights, but after it gets warmed up it is an absolute joy to ride.
Personal to me
This review is going to a bit more biased than usual, but that's because I have very personal experience with this bike. That's because my first motorcycle was a 2002 GS500! It was a great bike and therefore it holds a special place in my heart.
When I first purchased my GS500 it hit all of the things I needed. An inexpensive motorcycle (I bought it for about $1800), it had great styling, and the 487cc engine had more than enough power to let me get around on the California freeways.
I loved the fact that this bike was naked, meaning that there were no plastic fairings cover the bike. This was important to me because if I happened to drop it (which new riders often do), the damage that was possible was minimal at best. In fact I recall dropping my motorcycle 2 or 3 times at a stand still when I was first learning and you couldn't even tell!
Power to grow into
I loved how easy the GS500 was to ride. I took it on all the surface streets around my apartment while I was learning to ride. It was lightweight which really helped with low speed maneuverability. The fact that it wasn't a heavy motorcycle also helped in other ways.
During one of those drops I previously mentioned, I fell into a bush and managed to pin my leg under the motorcycle. But because the motorcycle was pretty lightweight I was able to life the bike off myself single handedly. If it had been a bigger bike, I might have had to embarrassingly call for help (or worse, actually have been injured!)
Really the only thing about the bike I didn't love was the fact it was so cold hearted. What I mean by that is that the GS500 was hard to start sometimes, especially if it was cold out. You would have to play with the choke and be patient while you tried to start the bike. I even would sometimes adjust the idle until the bike warmed up otherwise the bike might die at a stop light.
The GS500 was originally a fully naked bike, and that is the one I got. They did also release a fully faired version of this motorcycle called the GS500F. These are still available on the used market, but I really think that a first motorcycle has many advantages if it doesn't have any fairings. That being said, if you prefer the sportier look then the GS500F might be for you.
Either way the GS500 is a great starter motorcycle. Even if I take out my bias, I still think that you couldn't go wrong by picking up this bike. I also love the fact that it's not a very popular bike, which means it can sometimes be found for cheap! Like I said, I purchased my GS500 for $1800, and later that year I sold it for $2500. If you are patient you can find a great deal, and if you are savvy you might even be able to make some money while learning to ride.
- The earlier versions of the GS500 are naked stock, that way if you drop it, minimal damage is incurred.
- 500cc's and roughly 50hp is fun and forgiving
- Relatively inexpensive.
- Cold blooded: Takes a while to warm up on cold days.
- No fairing means no wind protection
- Engine Type: four-stroke, air-cooled In-Line Parallel Twin Cylinder, DOHC, two valves per cylinder
- Displacement: 487 cc
- Engine Redline: 11,000 rpm
- Horsepower: 51.3 hp @ 9500 rpm
- Torque: 30.4 lb-ft @ 7500 rpm
- Fuel Economy: 50-60 mpg
- Length: 81.9"
- Weight: 396.8 lb. (dry)
- Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals.
- MPG: 58 MPG