Manufacturer: Suzuki……..TOP Model: GS500E, GS550F Years Made: 1989 – 2004 (2003 to today) Style: Sport Standard Engine Type:
490cc Parallel Twin
Weight: 380lb HP: 51 Torque: 30 Top Speed: 110mph MPG: 60 New Cost: New: $5,000 (1989) – $5,299 (1991) – $6,099 (1993) – $6,799 (1995) – $6,999 (1997) – $7,290 (1999) – $7,090 (2001-02)
Average Used Costs: Low $1,500 Medium $2,483 High $3,815
Description: Suzuki introduced the GS500E mostly as a budget, entry level motorcycle. The way it was received was better than Suzuki could have hoped. Not only was it a good entry level machine, but it could keep the rider entertained well after the basic skills were mastered. Many GS500’s found their way into the hands of the budget conscious, and some even made it as far as the race track. The vertical twin cylinder engine proved a willing performer. It was a smooth running unit, derived from the GS450 motor, complete with a counterbalancer. A twin spar frame made of steel was hooked up to Kayaba suspension components. Much of the running gear was sourced from other Suzuki models. The suspension performed well, despite being non-adjustable, and the brakes were excellent. Overall, the GS500E was a fantastic budget machine, capable of keeping novices, or experienced riders happy.
Notes: Perfect advanced starter bike. Wonderful A+ blend of power, performance, weight and balance. Highly recommended.
MBG Says: (Rating 9/10) The GS500E is an excellent way to gain experience for a minimal amount of money. The engine is practically indestructible; the bike is resistant enough to take minor falls without mach damage; the power level is ideal, since it will never surprise the rider, nor will it become boring as soon as the learning period is over; its handling is an excellent preview of serious sportbikes and its comfort level is more than fair.
UMG Says: Reasonable blend of handling, performance and frugality. Power delivery and light front end not to some tastes. Hard ridden DR bikes wore the mill out in 30k, but milder use doubles that. Chassis rot more of a problem than engine reliability, not helped by silly rear disc and monoshock. Jap market 40hp, 400cc version on grey circuit.
IGM Says: Everything I said about this bike goes for the used version, except the price. These bikes have been popular ultra-light racers, so if you buy a used GS500E, make certain that it hasn’t been raced.
IGM Says (Best buy, Best first bike): This bike traces its roots back to the mid-1970’s and Suzuki’s first four-stroke motorcycle. It’s a fun, inexpensive bike, similar to Kawasaki’s 500 Ninja, but it’s a bid underpowered compared to the Ninja. I believe most riders will outgrow the GS500 before they tire of the Ninja.
Extract from the Haynes service and repair manual “Suzuki GS500E Twin ’89 to ’97”:
If ever there was a bike bred to be a workhorse it’s the GS500E. Its ancestry can be traced right back to the first generation of air-cooled GS motors, Suzuki’s first four strokes incidentally. Those 550, 750 and 1000 cc fours gave rise to a 400 cc twin which grew over the years to 425 cc. Just like the fours, this twin used a roller-bearing bottom end and was considered unburstable. In 1985 the motor was bored out again, this time to 450 cc, but more significantly it got a plain bearing bottom end, bringing it into line with industry practice. This is the motor that in 1989 was bored out by another 3 mm to 74 mm and used to power the first GS500EK.
The motor may have been around for a good while in one form or another, but Suzuki did an excellent job with the totally new chassis and running gear to produce a motorcycle with looks sharp enough to belie its utilitarian specification. Here was a bike that was aimed at the rider on a budget, the rider who had just passed his or her test, and the big-city despatch riding market, yet it didn’t look like like a workhorse. Suzuki had got their planning right, the bike sold well and was well reviewed on both sides of the Atlantic.
There were very few signs of the GS500E being built down to a price, with the possible exception of the front fork. The front fork was very soft and did a good impression of a high-speed lift under even gentle braking. This complaint was addressed on the UK 1992 model, the GS500EN, by fitting higher-rate fork springs and the incorporation of preload adjusters in the fork top bolts.
The only mechanical modification to the GS related to the cylinder head. Like all air-cooled motors, the GS produced a good deal of noise when cold and alot of it came from camshaft endfloat. From engine number 114497 onwards the clearance was opened up to a theoretical 1 mm by taking 0.5 mm off the head casting and the same amount off the end of the camshaft. This clearance was shimmed up with a 1 mm shim to give “almost no clearance when cold”-the theory being that differential rates of expansion between the cylinder head and the camshaft would produce working clearance once the motor was warm. Like the fork modification, it worked well enough to stop the roadtesters mentioning the problem again.
The only other changes to the GS500E have been cosmetic. This is not a model that the factory wants to spend money on altering every year, after all the whole idea was to produce a budget bike. As you’d expect, the factory changed the paint scheme every year – some being more pleasing on the eye than others! The UK importer has, however, seen fit to offer an after-market fairing as an option. This is not a factory product, in fact it is sourced in Spain, but it does fit in with the surprisingly sporty lines of the GS500E. Owners also have the option of a quarter fairing and chin fairing.
The new-generation has carried on the tradition of those original GS-fours in providing reliable, even bullet-proof, riding and while it may be a budget bike it is also a very good bike.