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GPZ550 and others...old and unsafe?

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by mattb, Jan 20, 2006.

  1. Have been discussing my next bike purchase with a friend who has been riding very seriously for 15 years, and is quite knowledgeable, if not rather different to me in his tastes. I've been discussing my (stylistically broad) short-list of all the potential bikes, mostly late-model CB250 kind of things, when I mentioned one left-field bike that makes my pulse race:
    the old Kawasaki GPZ550 (with the bikini fairing, and some custom retro black with pinstripes, with leathers to match)!

    His email reply:

    "It's old and unsafe!!!! Bike suspension and breaks have improved a LOT in the last 20.... no, make that 25 years!"

    It seems to me that if you're used to a modern, better bike, then to jump on an old bike might spell disaster come the moment you ask it to do what your bike does. But this would be my best bike yet (and the SR185, which is a move up from the postie, is the same age anyway), such that I would be learning in concert with this bike's capacity and riding style. What do you guys think about his objection, both re this bike and other similar vintage bikes? I like to push myself in twisties, but I'd never gun it like he and other fellows do (or the guys riding in 1980) such that I'd outdo the bike's abilities.
  2. Well I'd be inclined to agree with him.

    I don't have alot of experience with bikes and I'm not mechanically minded, but I'm of the view that yes technology has improved alot in the past 20 years so IMO newer is better.

    When I made a decision to buy a bike I set a criteria of 5 years old max, 2000 models were my abosolute limit as I've been told significant changes were made in bike technology at this time.

    I have to say I'm quite surprised at the number of older bikes owned on here, I'm not sure whether its a budget thing or a "I'll wait until I'm off my P's with more experience before buying a new bike" thing?

    I can understand classics but thats a bit different as they are more of a collector/enthusiast type decision, but as for a totally dependent transport tool (I don't own a cage) I wouldn't buy older than 5 years.
  3. the oldest bike i've ridden is a 1987 gpx250 and that was a perfectly good bike to ride. no issues with handling, brakes or otherwise - very similar to a brand new zzr250 in my opinion.

    on the other hand, i ride a 1995 bike and it is way behind the newer sports bikes, but still great to ride.
  4. I don't have alot of experience with bikes and I'm not mechanically minded, but I'm of the view that yes technology has improved alot in the past 20 years so IMO newer is better.

    yes technology has lept ahead in the past 20 years ... but only when u look at high end super performance machines ... the mid to low end bikes have changed very little in that time .. anything in the 500 range that has electronic ignition and has been well maintained / restored .. isent going to be a lot different to today ... for instance ... a gpz 550 or a gs 500 ... there will be very little in it compaired to their current counterparts
  5. ummm that quote didnt work
  6. surely brakes and suspension has improved on these bikes though?
  7. not a great deal in the commuter mid size class ... no the gpz 550 had brakes and suspension ahead of its time
  8. Yes there is heaps of difference between my 1975 z900 and my 2002 zx9r. Older bikes do not handle as well or do lots of things well but as a new rider sometimes that may be safer as you might not tend to push it as hard.If the older bike is well maintained there should be no problems.
  9. in the small mid class .... but nowhere like the stark difference that z900 just posted ... they were both high end sport bikes of their day ... and u wouldnt want to ride a z 9 ......... spagetti frame made of cheese steel than felt like it had a hinge in the middle .. and brakes that when wet were non existant ....
  10. You shouldn't operate anything near it's limits as a learner, so what does it matter? Would you get out of a brand new Commodore and try the same things in an FJ? Of course not. To do so would be bloody foolish.
    Young people seem to think the newer vehicles mean they can drive more agressively and the car/bike will compensate..a bad philosophy.
    My Z 650 was built in 1977 and has not had a whole hell of a lot of work done to it.
    So far it's gotten me home every time I've taken it out, and the only issue I've had with the bike has been a non genuine, 1 week old electronic ignition failing.
    Sure, it has ordinary brakes, but seriously, look further ahead. If you have to brake hard in a bike to avoid someone/thing, you're pretty screwed in any bike, but at least with my bike, it's almost impossible to lock teh front wheel.
    Parts are dirt cheap, all mechanical parts available new, as are hot up parts. Kazillions of parts in the wreckers, and whole bikes go for bugger all for spares. Servicing cheap too, Castrol GTX oil is all it needs and everything is right there to service, no annoying fairings.
    It's just bloody easy to ride, it's heavy and not at all twitchy and that's all I really wanted. Fast is just not something that has appealed to me, and I suspect, many others. However, it will put up a good show if you rev it. Good reliable transport appeals, and it's fun enough. I really like my motor vehicle licence, so speeding is not something I regularly feel the need to do any more.
    Will I grow out of it? Dunno, possibly. Will I sell it? Doubt it. Too cheap to repair and run, and bulletproof. Will keep as a second bike for when I get a nice tourer like a BMW or Honda, but the way this bike is, if it keeps doing what its doing, there won't be another bike for quite a while.

    Regards, Andrew.
  11. are you for real? :shock:

    :LOL: the bike i own, although being a 99 model, is 96 technology. and it has more modern technology packed into its left front brake caliper than your entire new bike there :LOL:

    there are PLENTY of bikes out there that use older technology. the 250 class is the biggest example of this, theres only a couple of bikes out there that originally came out less than 10 years ago, a fair portion of them have been unchanged for 15 years. the only bikes that REALLY change year to year are the full sportsbikes. everything else would probably be lucky to get anything more than a new paint scheme in a 5 year period.

    i'd say anything past 1990 is pretty damn solid technology, they had things pretty well sorted by then. even older bikes than that had some pretty serious stuff on the go. my old mans $800 1981 CB900 would TROUNCE that twin of yours in a line and you would be quite suprised about its handling (i was).

    you cant write a bike off because of age, there were some VERY well sorted bikes out well before 2000 :wink:
  12. Yep your right in a way cats sure the z 900 is difficult to ride especially if you have only ridden new bikes but its like anything you get to know the quirks and do the relevent mods (ex double drilled discs) and as typhoon posted if your not into flat out racer stuff these types of bike will be around long after the newwer stuff has been destroyed.This is why i have both and i certainly dont want to stuff a classic bike
  13. yes very true z 900 ... was just making a point about retro vs modern superbikes ... i owned a 73 z900 .. and actualy done my licence on it ( no restrictions ) back then .... and a 79 z1000 mk 1 and that wasent much better ... but nice bikes both none the less ... however the early 80,s mid class bikes have changed very little to todays mid class commuters
  14. I dunno about generalising to the degree of "all bikes earlier than 19xx are unsafe due to old tech" is fair.

    I've got an '87 GPx750R, it's perfectly fine, it's "technology" is not much different to todays, the diference in tech is evolution really, just refinements on the same theme, and they still get it wrong sometimes.

    It's got anti-dive brakes, (well... brake activated anti-dive shocks), dual disks in front, single disk rear, adjustable shocks with air ride height adj, 4 cyl 4 valve water and oil cooled engine, was good for (and still is) 230kph+ and can pull that mass up quite quickly. Corners like a dream, and is easy to ride. even has a proper working fuel guage, not just warning lights. The 16" front wheel it has is an arguable point tho.

    In fact I'd say its EASIER to ride than say a GSXR600-750, R6 etc, as the torque spread, and "power band" appear much less aggressive. It's got power and torque figures similar to the latest 600-650's but it al happens much lower in the revs. Being bigger it's (to me) more comfortable to ride, being heavier it feels more solid and re-assuring at higher speeds.

    My redline is 11,500, IIRC the R6 power peaks at 14,000 (??) can you really get to use that peak in todays world? In top gear your at ballistic speeds, in town and lower gears the hi pitched scream of those revs would be bursting windows.

    It comes down to the RIDER and the individual bike in question, not many here could get to the absolute limit that a modern "sports bike" is capable of. Not many here could ride to the absolute limit of what my GPx750R is capable of, I've got long way to go to get close to it's potential, should I want to. (It was a beast in it's day, and still successful against newer bikes in club racing)

    A well looked after 70's beast could well be safer than a 2yo machine used by a learner wannabe stunter. IMHO a reasonable mid-late 80's bike is just as good as the latest neast for the average sensible rider

    The older beasts downfall is mainly in parts availablity, and an unknown history in most cases. There will always be "quirky" models that are brilliant in one are and deadly in another (H1 Kwaka, 3 cyl 500cc ROCKET!)

    Ride to the conditions... if its wet, slow down. If the brakes are drums, slow down. If you have a 16" front wheel and the road is dirt..slow down!!
    If your bike isn't the latest greatest on the road, respect that and do what you do with any bike, ride to it's (and your) strengths and minimise the weaknesses.

    Just my thoughts.

    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. Yeah I am. But as I said it was what someone told me, someone I respect though...perhaps they were generalising about high end sports bikes but thats not the impression I got. But I don't have the knowledge to say one one way or another so am happy to stand corrected.

    Each to their own of course, but give me a newer bike over an older one any day. If I was classic shopping sure, I appreciate the motorcycle and its history, but to me its like anything else, phone, car, computer....when its getting long in the tooth you upgrade. But thats just me.

    And to me its got nothing to do with speed, I don't buy newer because I think its faster.
  16. i wasn't talking just speed, just about any bike over 600cc would easily top 200 once you get past about 1980, and since you bought a cheep'n'cheerful commuter, i assume thats an irrelevent point to you :wink: (not saying the bike is crap or anything, just that its not really at the high end of anything)

    i suppose your way of thinking is ok if you have money to burn, but there are a LOT of people out there that struggle to get $5k together for a bike, let alone the 10 or 15 you need for a NEW bike.

    anyways, point of the matter is that old doesn't mean not as good as new. a top end bike from 10 years ago will still be better in almost all cases than a bottom or even mid end bike new. new sportsbikes are the only things breaking any real ground anymore, just about everything else is just making old technology look better :grin:
  17. This kind of reminds me of discussions I've had re cars. People always ask me when I will buy a new car, and have thought about it briefly. Then the maths kicks in.
    I've never spent more than $1k in a year on any of my older cars. Servicing (at a dealer) on a new car equals that. Lets not even talk of teh interest you are paying, even if it's on your mortgage.
    My older cars never let me down either, unlike sooo many new cars I've heard about and seen by the side of the road. Why? Because the money I am not paying out on a loan goes into servicing and preventative maintenence, just like my bike. If I see something cheap on Ebay I'll need eventually, I buy it. Still cheaper than a new car/ bike.
    If my older vehicles ever break down (twice in 20 years of motoring) either I can fix it easily, or the NRMA can. No bullshit dragging the car back to a mechanic in some backwater and being raped on prices because I have no choice, or being raped by a dealer. I have NEVER been stuck overnight in a used car somewhere.
    In fact, many of the older cars I have owned have been extremely confortable and more refined that new cars( my 84 Daimler is a joy to drive). I even have AC and cruise control, all for $2k with six months rego. That's a LOOOOOT of maintenence to get to the $35k a Commodore costs new!
    Same with my bike, I have around $1500 in it, and 12 months rego, compared to whatever a new 650 costs....and due to it's nice big 19" front wheel, 210kg weight and torquey engine, is nuch nicer to ride than other bikes I tried out.
    Having said all that, if you buy an older machine and don't maintain it and do preventative maintenence, you will suffer horribly, as witnessed by the scores of less than 10 year old cars that die by the side of teh road on hot days....lack of maintenence. It's newer than 1990, so it doesn't need maintenence, right?
    Seriously, new cars/ bikes is all about being marketed at by manufacturers, which is fine if you have the dollars to pull it off, but if you don't, buy something you like and enjoy it!
    Hell, I'd love a brand new BMW tourer, but it's not on the horizon.
    Just my thoughts,