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Kawasaki ER-500 vs. Suzuki GS500

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by norbie, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. Hi all,

    I am close to picking a bike out for myself and would appreciate your help in making a good choice. I have narrowed the choice down to the following two bikes:
    Kawasaki ER-500 or Suzuki GS500

    I realise that they are very similar, but having never ridden a bike before, I would appreciate the advice and experience of those of you that have ridden these bikes for many years.

    I have not yet had an opportunity to climb onboard one, but that is one of my goals for today.

    I am not sure if I will be buying new or second-hand - it all depends on what is on the market when it comes time to making the purchase.

    Also, I have noticed that the Kawasaki is liquid cooled, and the Suzuki is air-cooled. Is this a major difference? How does this impact on the performance and/or longevity of the bike?

    Thanks for all your help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Hi,

    I've never ridden a ER-500 but I used to have a GS500.

    They're both parallel twins and one's liquid one is not (as you've already noticed), also the Kawaka has 8 valves and the Suzy 4.

    Don't worry about the air-cooled bit, doesn't make much difference in 'under-stressed' engines like these unless you spend your whole life sitting in traffic.

    Don't worry about the valve count because neither of these engines is exactly a power-house.

    The GS is a good little bike, nice and cheap to buy and repair and pretty bullet-proof (I wouldn't bother buying it new though).

    Also note that the ER-500 is basically a GPZ500 without the plastics.
  3. For those that want to compare:
    I have ridden the er-5, but not the gs500. I found the er-5 to be a good bike overall - nothing 'outstanding' but no faults either.

    Air cool vs. liquid - not sure about longevity/performance. However, air cool means there is one less thing to check and worry about. I don't think that this will impact upon performance or longevity though - both bikes will have been sorted to deal with the kind of cooling they have.

    From the stats: The er-5 has slightly better power, but slightly smaller front brake which - depending on the quality of brakes - probably will mean less stopping power. The gs 500 is slightly shorter, though with your height that is not an issue.

    As you said there is nothing substantially different between the bikes. Best option is go to a dealer, sit on them, take them for a ride if you find them comfortable, and decide which one feels most comfortable.

    Aesthetically - I like the look of the gs500 frame more than the er5. :)
  4. Generally liquid cooled motors have a tighter tolerance, and have less issues with hot summer days sitting in traffic. Liquid cooling allows more peak performance at the extreme end of the spectrum, and is the reason why eventually most sports bikes went to liquid cooling.

    OTOH there is extra complexity and they tend to cost more to service (other things being equal). At the performance levals of the 2 bikes mentioned it really isn't a deciding factor.

    I would suggest if you can afford it that you look at the fully faired GS500. Naked bikes are fun, and the insurance and repair costs can be cheaper, but a fully faired bike like the GS500 is a bike that will last you for a long time. It will commute, tour and even be capable of some gentle bend swinging in the hills.

    Whilst not a ball of fire it has enough power and torque that you can throw a pillion on the back later and not die in the arse up the hills.

    Besides... I don't know about you but I reckon the faired suzuki is much nicer looking (and I'm a naked bike fan generally!).

    Suzuki in yellow http://tinyurl.com/47ama
    Suzuki in blue http://tinyurl.com/4gejx
    Kawasaki in black http://tinyurl.com/5fbnv
  5. Thanks again for all your quck and very handy feedback.

    When looking at buying either of these bikes second-hand, are there particular year models that I should steer clear of? How long ago were they released?

    I appreciate all your help.
  6. This web site has a quick history of the GS500E, what's basically the current model started in 1989 about 15 years ago. I would expect most of the bugs would be out of the design by now, not that I heard of inherant problems with them anyway.


    Not sure about the ER-5 but it (as mentioned earlier) is a development of the faired GPz500 and uses basically the same motor so I suspect that it should have few issues as well.

    Having said that there were a few GPz500's that were bought by sports bike riders that tended to show a shortish engine life (most likely brought on by revving the poor things to keep up within an inch of thier life to keep up to thier mates on larger more powerful bikes) :)
  7. I found the ER5 to be more expensive than a GS500(E) of the same year. That was the deal clincher for me which is why I own one now. The fuel efficiency of the GS500 is very good, and there are a lot out there. I don't think you can go wrong with either to be honest. Which ever suits you and your budget.
  8. Rode both back-to-back for about 1 hr. each 6 mths ago.
    Both were new demos, GS didn't have the suspension set up properly, 3 mins fiddling once out of the dealers yard fixed that.
    Very similar bikes, the finish on the Kwaka seemed SLIGHTLY better, the GS was lighter and therefore easier to ride and manoever.
    Kwaka is also more top-heavy.

    All up I'd personally go for the GS, it's had a looooong model-run, plenty of 2. hand spares available, also aftermarket-spares, plenty accessories available, most of which the Kwaka is lacking.

    The new faired GS will add to purchase price/ repair costs if damaged/ insurance premium due to higher value_risk, since there are not many (if any) sold yet and virtually no 2. hand fairing parts around.
    Great bikes to work on too, easy access/ cheap spares.
  9. So what did you buy? Did you buy? Did you ride?

    The Suzi is a nice looking bike.

    I owned a ZZR250 ten plus years ago and loved it. It was a great all round bike. If I come back to the fold (I keep toying with the idea) it would probably be with a cheaper bike which still has lots of fun value. Good for the occasional weekend mountain detour too. These look like good candidates. Any other recommendations?

  10. I'd also love to know what you bought cause I've recently purchased a GS500F and so far can't fault it. I much prefer my girl dressed rather than nacked. I also found it cheaper to service than the ER-5.
  11. I have never ridden the ER-5 but I have a GS500, and I think its a great 1st bike. Air cooled with fewer valves means that its also a great bike to tinker with. Haynes manuals are relatively easy to come by and its definitely cheaper to buy if you are comparing like with like. I also think that because of the price difference there are more GS500's on the road which means that it should be better for parts.
  12. Another thing in favour of Suzuki is that it's still being made in the faired version, while ER-5 has been discontinued. Maybe also have a look at its replacement - ER-6? (though it might be a bit dearer than these two)
    Edit: Oops, forget about ER-6... it isn't LAMS approved and I just noticed that bit where you said you never had a bike before :)
  13. Spud Gun: What about a second bike?

    I'm considering a GS as an upgrade from a GPX250, but also looking at the ZZR600.
  14. I would take the Suzuki without EVER thinking twice!!!
  15. It is a good upgrade from a GPS250, and its a great commuting bike. The ZZR600 would be a faster bike, and probably has a little bit more room. Try both, but I think you would opt for the ZZR600 as it would be more fun to ride. Bear in mind that the GS500 is learner leagl, but is very much in the upper end of the scale.
  16. I've got a great little GS500 '03 here for sale. Less than 16,000kms a true steal at only $4000.00 It's blue and silver and comes with a windscreen (easily removed). Come on up and grab a bargain :wink:
    Perfect for you!
  17. Doggy: Great offer, but what I'm thinking is that it might not be powerful enough for me.

    I ride hard and love that, so the GS might not be powerful enough for me, I'm not sure.
  18. IMHO ,if you need another Learner bike ,go the GS it's a GREAT leaner bike ....... ,but if your only got 6 months left on your learners ,and you have a 250 allready ,i think a GS is a step side ways ,not "really" a step UP.
  19. You're not going to get anything quicker on your ls... GS is easy as quick as any fzcbzxrrrrr 250
  20. Tailus: Hence I'm thinking of waiting till October when the restrictions are off.