The New (Sensible) Beast
Soon I will be required to commute to work on a motorbike – just like the good old days!
Because I’ve already ridden my ZX9R on snow and ice, I decided this time to get something a bit more sensible.
As I’m doing this to keep travel costs down, I decided I need something that looks a bit tatty, very reliable, easy to work on myself, cheap to buy, run and tax, and something that isn’t too nickable to thieves. There’s only so much I can compromise, so I also wanted something with a bit of poke to it, that wouldn’t depress me every time I straddled it, and a fairing would be nice, too.
A 500cc maximum pointed me towards the kind of boring bikes you do your test on – Honda CB500, Kawasaki EN500, Suzuki GS500 or Kawasaki GPZ500.
I wanted to pay well under £1000 for a bike on the road, and found it’s possible to have any of these for that money, but you really have to get lucky to find a CB500 under this with long tax, MOT and tyres.
After viewing a few shitters, I saw a faired GPZ500 (EX500 Ninja to you Yanks) that fit the bill, made an offer on it, and rode it away the next day. Sorted.
I have to say I’m a bit embarrassed by it. It’s like having mongy girlfriend does the job for you, but you don’t really want to get into a discussion about her with your mates down the pub, because you KNOW you’ve compromised for something easy and available.
I thraped it on a long motorway run showing it no mercy straight away, and nothing fell off or leaked. I even scraped my toes on that same ride back after buying the bike.
It’s got skinny little tyres and the suspension feels a bit wobbly in the corners, and I have no idea how far I actually CAN lean it over before something solid touches down and I fall off and tear my petticoat. So I’m a bit wobbly on it as I try and push to build up confidence… *NOTE* This has improved since checking the tyre pressures last night, and adding around 30psi to the rear to bring it up to around 33psi…
And it’s got a ‘Vee Rubber’ rear tyre! WTF is THAT??? I know it heats up very quickly, but that’s probably more to do with me not checking pressures for the first few days. Then finding about 2.5psi in the rear. It might even be a bit less wobbly in corners now!
The GPZ500 allegedly has 60hp – so 10 more than the other ‘less sporty’ bikes mentioned above – will do 60mph in under 4 seconds, and tops out at 120mph.
All of which is of course bullshit. Mayyyyyyyyybe it’ll see 120 on the clocks on a 10 mile salt flat, bu I doubt that’s the real speed. 0-60 I don’t even want to think about or I’ll cry. At least I’d have time to get off the bike, find some tissues in a supermarket, buy them, and then get back on before it actually hit 60mph.
Brakes are ok, but I don’t think a track day will be on the cards for this one.
It’s my first time on a parrallel twin, too. It reminds me a lot of my very first Yamaha TZR 125. It’s light, needs loads of revs to do anything, and even has a slightly 2-strokey Old Bike Smell.
It’s actually quite fun to ride because you feel you can just fling it around everywhere! I’m probably already riding it more antisocially than my 9r!
But it’s not fully fun. I get my confidence from a new bike by scraping my knee. Is it even possible on a GPZ? How hard should I push for this, considering I really bought it to get from A-B through traffic?
I suspect it will just be a reliable runaround that goes forever. Maybe I’m getting old…