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Suzuki GS500 - Honda VTR250

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by Joshua Brace, Oct 12, 2016.

  1. Hey Guys,

    Newbie here, quick bit about myself.

    I'm 25, rode dirt bikes all through my teenage years, sold the bike a few years back and haven't ridden much since.

    Now, I went and got my L's last weekend as I'm looking to get back on a bike and commute to work as can't afford to run 2 cars and the wife needs the car full time.

    I'll be commuting roughly 20 mins a days through moderate traffic, backstreets/highway with the fastest road being 70km/h

    Besides that I'll only ever be going for the occasional cruise through the national park as I live literally 2 mins drive from the entrance and it's a great drive and I imagine a great ride.

    I'd say I'll very rarely (if ever) need to ride on a freeway or anything like that.

    Now Im a big fan of the naked bike, so I have it narrowed down to the GS500 or VTR250, hopefully going to test ride both soon and have watched numerous YouTube videos on both, I was leaning more towards the GS500 as naturally I assumed bigger bike bigger engine . surely that's the go? All the YouTube videos I've watched they look like a good bike and the reviewers have nice things to say about them.

    But I've also seen such comments on here as "boring" "commuter" .. etc and that the VTR despite the smaller engine is in fact the more fun bike .

    Can anybody elaborate more on that fact?

    Also I'm only light about 70kg and 6ft tall.

    Thanks for Reading,

  2. sit on a VTR, see if your legs fit.
  3. I'm hoping to test one on the weekend, you think it might be a bit small?
  4.  Top
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Cheers Mate!

    Just had a look, looks like I'll fit on the VTR250.

    I think I'll be happy with either, My only concern is maybe the VTR250 just being that bit too slow .. And I think it will be hard to get a good judgement from a 5 minute test ride so looking for any opinions on the bikes :)
  6. The 500 will definitely have more go.
    so will probably be better for those rides through the national park and any other joy rides you do
  7. Hey Joshua BraceJoshua Brace one look at my avatar pic and you'll probably guess which one I'd suggest :emoji_smiley:. So please forgive the longish post below - you'll see I'm a bit of a fan.

    I'm shorter, rounder and considerably older than you but I've found the GS500 to be very comfortable. Its ride height and weight (200kg wringing wet) is a good fit for me. Mine is used for commuting (60 ks per day) and longer (much longer) touring trips. Fuel economy is ridiculously good (The recent Newcastle to Grey Gum Cafe ride - 350 ks on 13 litres). They are are an honest machine. As a LAMS legal bike they are right on the money with 30 Kw at the rear wheel and 200 kg - that's exactly the prescribed 150 Kw per tonne. Is the bike wildly exciting? No, seriously no. You can still get into trouble or lose a license if you want to, but in most cases that won't be the bike's fault.

    There are four things that people religiously complain about -
    1. soft front suspension - At 70kg this probably won't be a huge issue for you. Rather than going for heavier springs consider a 15W fork oil and a reduced air gap. I (with my extra 25kg) found that was enough.
    2. squeaky rear brakes - This one seems to affect some bikes more than others. Rear wheel alignment can be part of the problem. I bought one of those laser chain alignment tools and haven't heard a squeak since.
    3. 'soft' front brake - Some people report a lack of confidence in the front brake. This is not my experience. Good quality pads and regular brake fluid changes help. Also, braided lines when/if you feel the need.
    4. Hard starting in cold weather - The bike's got carbies it should need the choke to start from cold. Some people feel this is a 'flaw'. If a GS500 starts from dead cold with no choke then it's running way too rich.

    I'm guessing you would have seen some of the examples on bikesales.com.au. Other than the usual stuff of looking for oil leaks from scuffed engine cases and damaged/replaced bar end weights (evidence of drops) there are couple of specific GS500 things to look out for ...
    1. After market exhaust / KN style 'lunch box' air filters. Off the shelf GS500s run toward the lean side. If the owner has made these changes and haven't re-jetted the carbies the bike will be way too lean and on its way to burning valves.
    2. Poor, uneven idling or an idle speed that varies radically with engine temperature. This can be evidence of valve clearance issues. If the bike has been properly serviced, according to Mr Suzuki, valve clearance should be checked/adjusted every 6000 ks. Most people don't do it anywhere near that often. But it is something I would include in the budget. Can be good price negotiation point.
    3. A naked bike with an oil cooler. GS500Fs came with an oil cooler. So a naked bike with an oil cooler has lost its fairings. Some people do this on purpose - cool, they'll probably tell you. More often it happens after a bike has had a serious down and the cost of fixing/replacing the fairings has been too much. Look closely for other evidence of damage.
    4. Clunky, inaccurate gear changes and/or difficulty in finding neutral = oil level. Frequently this is a symptom of too much oil. Too much oil can damage oil seals, particularly valve stem seals. People tend to check the oil with the bike on the side stand or center stand, both of these lead to a reading that is artificially low. By the way, use any oil you like that's appropriate for bikes, but change it frequently. These bikes thrive on use and oil/filter changes.
    5. God awful LED indicators (OK this is just personal preference). The only reason I mention this is that I've seen several bikes with battery charging / parasitic drain issues caused by dodgy installation. If it's been done properly it's all good.

    The only other thing to consider is that these bikes are getting old (some argue they were 'old' when they were brand new - but, hey, that's why I like them). Even a 2012 bike will be up for replacement fuel lines, brake lines, etc. On the upside, the vast majority of the servicing can be done at home with a minimal tool kit.

    Whatever you choose, have fun looking and riding.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. +1 for the GS500

    I've loved mine mostly for city riding and the occasional weekend. Also super easy to find info/help on here and other forums.
  9. Hey Mate,

    Really appreciate you taking the time out to write that up! Was a good read and kind of what I was looking for, as I was leaning more towards the GS500 so was hoping I wasn't going to be talked out of it .. haha.

    Thanks again!
  10. Ride them both - buy the one you like the most....
  11. If you've ridden dirtbikes before, neither bike will be particularly exciting. They're heavy in their power output and really linear.

    Both are really reliable, but I'd say the GS500 might win out based on the higher displacement and being a little more flexible.

    That being said the little VTR250 is just a fantastic bike. I commuted on one for around six months earlier this year and it was just so light and so well built I had a blast on it. And I've been off restrictions for ten years.

    If your budget went that far I'd look at a CB400. It's naked, really well built and goes pretty well too.
    • Winner Winner x 1
  12. For me was where knees ended up, not comfy around the tank or frame or something
  13. I've seen both having their necks wrung on long touring rides. The GS seized because it was 44c ambient and they are oil/air cooled.
    The VTR, could kill it after hundreds of km of being pinned on the throttle stop.

    Both very reliable, well proven machines. The GS will have a bit more go in it, particularly in the mid-range. The GS is physically bigger and for me that's better but for you not such an issue.

    I personally would take the GS as it has more go, larger fuel endurance and proven over decades. Lots of spare parts available as the GS500/E/F all the same mechanically and with most parts, fairing aside on the F models.
    One thing to consider, in NSW, the 500 will cost more for CTP.
  14. If you peg any bike at full power it won't last long, more then likely rattle it self to pieces, 70km/h is easy for even a 125.
    My zzr250 did 30k pegged at close to full power everyday commuting on the freeway and it was fine, rode a GS500F back from Ballarat well north of 110 in 40c weather and it did it without a sweat.

    Both the VTR and GS are boring but very capable bikes. without looking at the spec sheet they are very closely matched in terms of performance and have excellent reliability. The GS is the easier bike to service, quite large and has stacks of spare parts for them. CB400 as pointed out is miles ahead of the GS and a very fun bike.

    Another option might be a bandit 250/400, being 4 cylinder the maintenance will be higher however they are more interesting.
  15. CB400 is a much better choice and is made for the type of riding you're talking about, and I don't just say that because I have one for sale, lol.
    • Like Like x 2
  16. I've enjoyed my GS500 over the last year. Comfortable enough for long touring, good enough fun in the twisties for an inexperienced self such as me, great on fuel, enough torque to not have to change gears all the time to get moving and it's a big enough bike that it just feels more solid than other LAMS bikes I've ridden (admittedly only a CB125 and Ninja250).
  17. Welcome, Joshua BraceJoshua Brace

    Owned a 2012 GS500F last year for about 10 months and 15,000km of touring. Got bored of it after 6 months.
    Predictable, reliable, but very basic. It was designed and built as a mid-size commuter. It does that very well.
    Apparently serves couriers well too. Lacking soul, in my opinion. Heavy, noisy, sluggish. A proven 25 year old design, though.

    If I had my time again, I would not buy one. It was, however, a decent stepping stone from a 250 to a 650.

    Now I ride an old man's bike, instead.
    Go, the Wee!
  18. The most important question, what's your budget?
  19. G'day Joshua,
    At the start of the year I had the same choice to make and im not sure if you've made your choice yet but I settled on gs500f. It's my first bike and apart from the tired old beasts that I rode to get my L's, it's the only bike I've ridden. Having said that I'm having a blast with it. I use it to commute to work (albeit only 15 minutes away ) and have taken it for runs along the freeway and twisty roads. I feel that this bike ticked all the boxes for me and so far I've not been disappointed. I also made the choice based on advice from the wonderful people in these forums and knowing that I'll be using it for a lot more open road riding than you suggested you might be doing. And for what it's worth we are close to the same size and I find the GS a very comfortable fit.