Living With A Kawasaki GPZ500s

Living With A Kawasaki GPZ500s

Bandit 600 & 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.


GPZ exhaust break

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!

GPZ500s Barber Institute Of Fine Arts – note custom exhaust.

11 thoughts on “Living With A Kawasaki GPZ500s

  1. Last year I wore out the K505 rear the PO had put on the bike. I upgraded the 140/70-17 to a 150 which fits just fine and doesn’t slow the steering down any, honestly a 150 fits a 4 inch wide rim better than a 140 anyway and it was like $15 cheaper. This is my first Pilot Activ, and the front is still a K505, but the bike is so much more stable in general, wet and dry ride just the same and it even tracks less side to side on metal bridge surfaces. I’ve got about 600 miles of wet and today about 80 in the wet, great tire. I can’t wait to wear out this K505 I have on the front so I can put a pilot activ on there!

  2. Your GPZ is looking nice, I bought some rim strips, really improves the look. I’ve been thinking of making an aftermarket exhaust as the stock ones are far too bulky, make it look horrible, and so damn quiet until you get to 7k RPM. Could I go and buy any motorcycle exhaust for similar power output bikes, then just fiddle with the carbs?

    By the way, It’s the guy that inboxed you a while ago, got a new channel now, linked in this comment.

    • Don’t let the pictures fool you! I wanted a bike that was in great mechanical condition, but looked like an old shitter up close – and that’s exactly what my GPZ is!

      I bought it for commuting into Birmingham city centre, so figured an old crappy bike would be less likely to get stolen!

      Exhausts can make a massive difference both to overall power and where it delivers the power. I suspect the longer the exhaust, it will move all the power up to the top end of the revs (with potentially nothing low down) – but it might just be trial and error.

  3. Nice review. Looks like a good commuter. Too bad we don’t have this model in Singapore. I does look pretty with that red colour. BTW, talking about security, what do you use to keep your bike from being stolen? I read that Central London has a high theft rate.

    The last I read about your ZX9R was that the dreaded 2nd gear issue has surfaced. How is it now? Has it been fixed? There’s some electrical problems from what I read in your post?

    • For security I use everything available! I get to park at work in a secure garage, so that’s ok – otherwise I use a disk lock and chains. You just have to make it as hard as possible for any thieves.

      My ZX9R still has 3rd gear missing and also the electrical problem. I will probably sort out the electrics and then sell it off to get a bit more budget for racing cars this year. There’s no chance I can afford to do any bike trackdays this year, so I shall look at buying another bike (probably another ZX9R) after I’ve got a few seasons racing cars under my belt.

      • Sorry to hear that the ZX9R is still not fixed. I was hoping to see her back up and running at 100%.

        What’s plaguing the electrics? My bike (GSXR) had irritating electrical issues with the headlights. The connectors on the right side were not weather sealed and the terminals were corroded. In addition, the previous owners cut, spliced the wires and did a shabby job. It took quite a few times to clean, trace the connections and solder the by passes. So far, it has been behaving itself for the past month.

        • I’m pretty sure it’s the immobiliser playing up – first step will be to take that off and see what happens… I did get to take it out a few weeks ago for a quick blast, but after a few miles it cuts out when you get above 5000rpm! I still got the back end out a few times on slippy roads, though! 😀

          • Oh man…you’re crazy. Take care when riding on slippery roads! Just yesterday, as I was paddling my bike out from the carpark, my left leg stepped on a wet spot on the ground and had to lay the bike down. Damn…

            Good thing was that the bike was basically untouched. The rear saddlebags saved the rear section and the frame protector supported the bike on her side. I did need to polish and remove some paint from front cowl because it scratched a pillar on her way down.

            Keep us updated on the green meanie!

            • Glad it didn’t do more damage to you or the bike!

              Just after I took the 9r out, literally the first time I opened it up turning off my driveway, it all got very squiggly! I shall include it with my next compilation on YouTube! 🙂

  4. Just bought a GPz500 (downsizing and upfunning from a Yamaha TDM900) and it is great to read that I’ve a lot to look forward to. Nice to hear that it is simple to maintain and lots of fun!

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