Living With A Kawasaki GPZ500s
I was a little shocked to realise that I’ve now had the Kawasaki GPZ500s for 6 months now – so I guess it’s time for an update to let you know what I think of it now!
Way back in my first blog I said it was a lot more fun to ride than I imagined it would be. This is still true.
Within the first week or so, I completely ruined the whole ‘sensible’ bike idea by getting my knee down on the GPZ for the first time! No drama – it feels a little twitchy when banked right over, but never enough so you lack confidence in it.
From then it became another bike for hooning around on – just slower than the ZX9R that sits next to it. I have been out a few times on the 9r, but it still has an electrical issue that means it cuts out, so the GPZ is definitely my main bike.
I also did some flat-out runs up the motorways to which I thought had taken their toll on the bike… Normal fuel economy seems to get me close to 170 miles from a tank of petrol – flat out runs dropped that to less than 100.
It also started making some strange whistling sounds, which I diagnosed perfectly as being a loose spark plug.
No problem! I whipped off the tank (didn’t even need to take any bits of fairing off) gave the top of the block a good clean with an air hose, removed and checked old plugs, shoved in the new ones I’d bought anyway, and all was right with the world again.
Next purchase was tyres. As my intention was to ride through Winter I wanted something better than 15 year old BT45’s or Mac 100’s, so did a bit of research and found Michelin Pilot Activ came with good recommendations. The downside was they cost a third of the price I paid for the bike!
As it turns out, it was money well spent. They are excellent all round – right from cold, in the wet, dry etc. Very confidence-inspiring even braking very hard in the wet. I’ve done about 2000 miles on them so far and they show no signs of wear, so I’m hoping for big mileage from them, too!
The exhaust was the next thing to go – although it started blowing where the can joins the pipe… very quickly this separated completely.
A bit of welding genius, along with an old exhaust from a Formula Vee race car saw a replacement on within a few hours. (See pic at the end of this blog)
But it was LOUD. Being pretty open also meant I had loads of low-down grunt but absolutely no power at the top of the rev range. This was great for city centre riding, but no good at all on motorways.
I bought an extra baffle which made the sound tolerable (I loved it loud, I have to say!) and also gave a nice spread of power back but still leaving loads more low down grunt than standard.
I will replace it with another end can but this has complications, as the exhaust is one complete unit and quite expensive.
Commuting is great on the GPZ because it’s nice and narrow, so I can fit through stupid gaps in traffic.
Even on icy roads I was never let down. It starts every time, too. I fitted Oxford heated grips and it doesn’t affect battery power at all.
The front caliper did gunk up a bit with the Winter salty roads. 20 mins to give it a clean up sorted this out. I had to remove a dust seal, but this shouldn’t cause any problems if I stay on top of maintenance.
The current expense is a new chain and sprocket set… I bought the parts from different Ebay sellers and got the lot, including postage, for under £40. I just have to fit it, now.
The rear shock will possibly need replacing for the next MOT, but again that should be pretty easy thanks to the centre stand.
It’s a great bike for a workhorse/commuter!
I’ve already scraped the pegs again this year, and maybe this will be my earliest ever kneedown of the year?
I’d happily buy another GPZ, because they’re pretty bomb proof and very easy to work on if you do need to do anything!