View Full Version : My 97 GS500E

30th August 2004, 12:30
Firstly a potted history of the mighty GS500. The GS500 was introduced in 1989 and has been in continuous production since. It's also been the subject of derision in the British biking press ever since, although the Americans and Euros seem to really like them.

The motor is a derivative of the GS400 introduced in the mid 70s (wow all that technology), and is a two valve per piston air cooled vertical twin four stroke. It's NOT fast, but very strong.

The frame is a square section perimeter type, similar to some domestic market smaller GSXR's but in steel. Again a bit heavy but very strong.

The only changes made to the GS that I've been able to track down were a change to the specs for the camshafts to reduce noise, changes to the body work in 2001, and a fully faired version in 2004.

If the 70s Japanese bikes had engines that overwhelmed their chassis, the GS is completely the opposite with an engine that rather underwhelms its chassis.

I've owned my GS500E for 3 and 1/2 years now, and have made a few changes to suit my requirements.

From front to rear changes/mods are:

Progressive springs, spacers, heavier fork oil in the forks
Braided brake line
Givi A755 screen
Replacement pilot jets, remove blanks to allow adjustment of idle mixtre (US spec model)
Replacement rear shock (Hagon with adjustable rebound damping)
Bridgestone BT45s

Pros: The GS is absolutely reliable. I use my bike to commute every working day, and the occasional weekend ride. It's never failed to start, and has never left me stranded. Maintenance is fairly cheap too. Naked, simple etc, etc.

I regularly get 65+ mpg (sorry but speedo is in mph), and could get by filling up every second week. Should be great touring.

The GS is surprisingly comfortable for a smaller bike. Ergonomically it's almost an exact copy of a CBR600 F2/F3 with higher bars, so no problems.

Handling is great, especially with upgraded suspension and the BT45s. Chassis dimensions seem pretty similar to 600s of the late 80'/early 90's and corners/direction changes are a breeze.

Good brakes. The GS is 170kg dry so the single disc front and rear are fine. Don't actually notice it so I guess they work.

Cons: GS stands for goes slow. :gob: There isn't any getting around the fact that a 500cc air cooled twin isn't going to be quick. In truth performance wise it's probably similar to an old Triumph 650 twin (or even a new Bonneville??).

It's still quicker than a car from the lights, but pretty well any sports bike will see you off in a straight line. It might be a bit closer in the corners.

Conclusion: The GS is perfect for what I need at the moment. I think it's one of the best commuters that you can buy in NZ. It's big enough to do a bit of touring on, and it's not too expensive to buy or run.

Ok it's not fast, but in all honesty too much above 120k isn't really practicable on most NZ roads. :Police:

I reckon that even when I can afford another bike I'll have to keep the GS to ride during the week.

Paul :cool2:

30th August 2004, 12:51
good write up

30th August 2004, 13:22
Yeah, good work. Glad that you have a bike which meets your needs so well.
65+ miles per galloooon?!? Dang that sounds like a lot

(lucky if I can get 30 mpg, mumble grumble gripe whinge mutter.....)

Paul in NZ
30th August 2004, 13:25
I could not agree more.. They are a great bike...

I guy totally cleaned me up on one a while back. true he was risking life and limb to do it but do it he did! I was megga impressed!!

GS500 and W650 are on my list of bikes to wn before I die and IMHO a bloody good choice for anyone that prizes value above ego.


ps I'll even bet with block patten tyres you could see off a few adventure bikes as well on one....

30th August 2004, 14:02
Dude they are a bloody goos bike. I bought one at auction with bent forks.
I couldn't kill the bloody thing.
It had about 16000 km on the clock -but it turned out it was ex courier and had really done 116000

Posh Tourer :P
30th August 2004, 15:30
Subsititute BMW R65 into there and add a bit more weight (196kg) and it sounds like my bike....

30th August 2004, 19:57
Subsititute BMW R65 into there and add a bit more weight (196kg) and it sounds like my bike....
PT ya forgot--shove a couple of leg warmers out sideways.

30th August 2004, 21:25
I guy totally cleaned me up on one a while back. true he was risking life and limb to do it but do it he did! I was megga impressed!!
Wasn't Grumpy, was it?...maybe not...he's given up on the risking life and limb thing (he says)

30th August 2004, 22:43
I know someone who owned one a GS500 for years - in which time he racked up 215,000 miles on it (about 270,000kms?)

So if they're looked after, they'll certainly last!

He liked it so much that when the original GS reached that point where looking after it was getting to be an expensive option, he replaced it - with another one! But he kept the old one at the back of the shed "just in case"...

Nice write up, btw - I couldn't stick it on the website at some point, could I? Obviously (oh I get SO boring) I'd need a photo of it as well - put one in the gallery and - as long as it is OK with you - I'll give it the website treatment at some point (starting to get a lot of advance planning in now, so it'll be a while before it'd appear).

31st August 2004, 11:11
Thanks for the posts guys. The GS may not be fast but it sure seems to handle ok, especially with uprated suspension. I'm not a big bloke (5'6" and about 68Kg) which means that I prefer lighter mid range sports bikes.

PT - interesting comment about the Beemer. I wa going to say that the GS seemed like a Euro, but I think that it's probably more like a Brit twin could have been.

Paul - I bet that the guy who cleand you probably had a sticky throttle cable and was absolutely sh#@$%g himself.

Firestormer - mate each of your pistons has at least as much capacity as my bike: scary but not good for fuel economy. Besides I'm pretty well only commuting so just can't really give the GS a good thrapping (well except up Ngauranga Gorge - hmmmmm).

Bob - No problems about using the review. I've just got a digital camera, and when I've learnt how to use it (old age) I'll post a couple of pics. My GS is just coming up to 25,000 miles on the odometer. Must confess to being a bit anal about cleaning and maintenance so I clean & polish the bike every night ( :wacko: ) and check tyres, chain etc every weekend!

We're also lucky that we can round year round in Kiwiland (well at least in the lower NI), and they don't salt the roads.