Like the Kawasaki Ninja 500R, the GS500F offers a sporty ride for a minimal investment. It looks sporty, rides sporty, but falls just short of the benchmark set by the Ninja 500R.
Our Suzuki GS500F Review:
Suzuki GS500 has been one of the “learner bike” staples since its introduction nearly 20 years ago. It has a long and praised history, and a lot of that praise is well deserved. Since its introduction it’s be heralded as the ultimate beginners bike, a title that it shares with the Ninja 500R.
However, we aren’t as convinced that it’s the case now. Kawasaki has recently revamped the Ninja 250R and Ninja 650R, making both bikes much more competitive and appealing in the “learners bike” segment. Suzuki has updated the GS500 a few times as well, with the most obvious update being the addition of the “F” (faired) version. The GS500F is a great bike that sports aggressive bodywork and is definitely worth your consideration.
However, we found the Ninja 500R to be both more response and quicker off the line- two things that beginner riders are going to want to see in their bikes as it offers more longevity to their purchase. That being said, we did notice that the GS500F did get slightly better mileage: 50mpg as compared to the 45mpg we got on the 500R.
The Suzuki does handle very well. Its light weight and low ride height make this bike a joy to thrash around corners, and it remains surprisingly stable during commuting and highway situations. It has a claimed top speed of 190kph (118mph) but we did not feel confident testing that. We did take it up to about 140kph where it felt solid, though anything above that and the bike began to become a little twitchy- perfectly acceptable for such a small bike.
That does make the Suzuki GS500F a great all-around bike that both beginners and somewhat experienced riders will enjoy. It’s not a drag queen, with a quarter mile time of right around 13 seconds (some quote an exact figure of 13.8 seconds), but that’s not why you’d want to buy this bike anyway. This bike is something you’d buy when you like the idea of having a fast machine that can handle traffic, highway riding, and still return exceptional fuel economy. This bike is as much a weekend tourer as it is a commuter go-to guy.
A new rider who wants something small to start off with has a lot of options, but in the 500cc range it pretty much comes down to the Sukuki GS500F (or the regular GS500 if you like naked bikes) and the Kawasaki Ninja 500R. We’re a bit partial to the Ninja, but really the differences between the two are pretty minimal. Buy the one you think looks the best and have fun, either bike is a joy to ride.
The Bottom Line:
It’s slightly slower from a standing start than the Ninja 500R, but the GS500F is no slouch. Don’t count it out based on what you read or the numbers that are posted. Ride it for yourself and experience the bike before you count it out.
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