For those who plan to start riding, Suzuki keeps providing the ideal sport bike on which experience can be easily gained without the muscle to be ripped. Known as the GS500F, this is one of the best user-friendly fully-faired motorcycles out there and the long history behind it shows this fact.
The only reasons why the 2010 Suzuki GS500F doesn’t feature an “X” in the model name is the twin-cylinder engine, a half of the GSX-R 1000 powerplant – as we like to consider it – and the upright riding position that is almost worthy of a standard motorcycle rather than a sporty one as the GS likes to consider itself.
Suzuki proved the versatility and life-long performance of the GS500F almost two decades ago, so the 2010 model year is worthy of being proudly celebrated…by owners, as the Japanese maker only ads new graphics and a slightly modified White/Blue color scheme.
Dragging its roots from back in 1989, when Suzuki would have presented a naked bike equipped with an air-cooled 487 cc two cylinders engine derived from the one on the 1980 Suzuki GS500E – which was among the first Suzuki four-strokes –, the GS500E, as it was also called, stood out from the very beginning as the continuation of a success. The four-stroke DOHC formula was used but this time there were only two cylinders, with a 270 degree crank. The bike was widely used for commuting purposes thanks to its good horsepower, decent torque, and light weight, but what made it so great was the highly reliable engine and exceptional fuel economy.
The 1990 model year saw the replacement of clip-on handlebars with standard bars, while the rest of the bike remained the same.
For 1994 Suzuki considered that the GS500E should be easily refreshed, so the rims were now gunmetal-colored and the frame color was different for that precise model year.
Bulletproof built and ideal for a variety of riding purposes and preferences, the Suzuki GS500E saw no major revisions during its glory days.
In 1996, the bike would have featured an upgrade at the front braking system.
In 2001 the GS500 was as close to a revision as it could get. Its carburetor changed from a two-circuit design (pilot jet and main jet) to a three-circuit design (pilot jet, mid-main jet, main jet) to help with better carburetion through the rev range. This model year also featured a redesigned tank, rear plastics, seat, and tail light but its overall design remained pretty much strict. Note that the “E” designation was removed as a preamble of an upcoming change.
The bike sold for one more year before it was removed from the U.S market in 2003.
In 2004, after a year of absence, the GS500F came to fill in the void left by the GS500. The bike was very similar to the previous E model, but now features a fully enclosed fairing that gives it a sportier, more aggressive look, and implicit more wind protection for the rider as it radically improves aerodynamics. This is also the year when an oil cooler was added.
The recent years didn’t brought any upgrades apart from scheme and graphic changes, something that makes us reckon that Suzuki follows the same recipe as in the case of the previous “E” model, enjoying as much as possible of the reliable motorcycle.
If this was a perfect world, we would have all started on a GS500, no matter year or version, but as it is not, Kawasaki was also in for a piece of the cake. The bike with which the GS had, and still has, to share the success of practicability and ease of riding is the Kawasaki Ninja 500R. The competition’s bike is as fun as it is sporty and as user-friendly as it is comfortable. As you will see, the Ninja is similar to the GS in many aspects. For example, at the heart of this excellent platform is the Ninja 500R’s 498cc liquid-cooled, inline twin-cylinder four-stroke engine. Its dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, make for a robust motor that is both great for starters and rousing to expert riders. Claiming 51 mpg, the Kawasaki engine is less economical than Suzuki’s 59 mpg engine. The Kawi looks indeed as more of a gas eater, so it’s either that or appearance what’s going to help you make a decision as the MSRP for a 2009 model year is exactly the same as for the 2009 Suzuki GS500F – $5,499.
The 2010 Suzuki GS500F features styling that is inspired on the GSX-R championship-winning machines as, starting with 2004 it presents a full fairing with the purpose of increasing rider comfort by providing an aerodynamic sport appearance.
In order for the bike to really stand out with its new fairing, Suzuki also redesigned the fuel tank, seat, and rear end of the motorcycle. It resulted into a versatile entry-level model styled like a superbike machine but which still retains the comfort given by the relaxed riding position of the handlebars and seat.
Despite the presence of a full fairing, the Suzuki GS500F isn’t as aggressive looking as the competition as the last is inspired on those Ninja models from the 1990s and isn’t as refined as the subject of this review.
The main color combination remains the same as in 2008 – White/Blue – while graphics discretely change.
The Suzuki GS500F is engineered to deliver predictable power and easy to get accustomed with versatility at the lowest possible price. Having a 31.1 seat height, it is destined to middle-sized riders, but can also become the dearest friend of short or female riders.
Its four-stroke, twin cylinder, 487cc, air cooled DOHC engine provides it with all the needed power while it is still economical, but most importantly, dependable. Those 34mm Mikuni carburetors should receive all the credit for that as they are the needed element from a chain of pieces that form a reliable engine with smooth power delivery.
While experiencing corners I opened up the throttle in order to see if the strong acceleration affects in any way, but the bike remains properly balanced. I wanted to see how the bike behaves under these conditions because beginners often do similar mistakes and their ride has to be very forgiving so as they won’t meet the asphalt. The Suzuki GS500F certainly is, and its riders won’t have the “joy” to notice they haven’t made the right choice.
A more experienced rider will tell you that the bike is great for in-town cruising or highway use because it features a six-speed transmission which shifts smoothly and allows the rider to extract the best out of that twin cylinder engine. I did exactly that and I have to say that once you get used to it, transformation is the word my friend.
Steering is very precise and this completes the bike’s friendly character. I have tried to simulate some usual mistakes but this motorcycle has the tendency of establishing its cornering line and if the rider doesn’t lean enough or it leans a bit too much, it is very easy to correct and rearrange during the corner.
One of the systems that contribute to the super friendly behavior is the suspension system. The telescopic front fork and link-type rear suspension feature both adjustable preload and provide great comfort while efficiently going from point A to point B or running down the highway in top gear.
The bike could have got a little better in what concerns the front and rear braking systems because, although efficient, they seem a little week, especially at the back.
Overall, the Suzuki GS500F is a great, reliable package offering performance and handling in a cheap mean of personal transportation. It is exactly what a beginning rider would want from it and more that an experienced one would expect.
Beginner bikes have to be cheap in order to sell and until now the GS500F made no exception as a 2009 model year featured the suggested retail price of $5,499, just like the competition. Suzuki presents it as the first solution to your commuting needs and motorcycling passion, so we reckon a 2010 model won’t get over $6K.
Setting a successful balance between racing style, day-long comfort and performance to back it up, the 2010 Suzuki GS500F is, unmistakably, the second best decisions that someone who wishes to start riding can do. The first best decision would be to buy protective gear.
Engine and Transmission
Type: twin-cylinder, 4-stroke, air-cooled DOHC
Bore Stroke: 74.0 mm (2.913 in) x 56.6 mm (2.228 in)
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Fuel System: BSR34, twin
Lubrication: Wet Sump
Ignition: Electronic ignition (Transistorized)
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Final Drive: D.I.D. 520VM, 110 links
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension Front: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
Suspension Rear: Link type, coil spring, oil damped
Brakes Front: Disc brake
Brakes Rear: Disc brake
Tires Front: 110/70-17M/C (54H), tubeless
Tires Rear: 130/70-17M/C (62H), tubeless
Overall Length: 2080 mm (81.9 in)
Overall Width: 800 mm (31.5 in)
Overall Height: 1150 mm (45.3 in)
Seat Height: 790 mm (31.1 in)
Ground Clearance: 120 mm (4.7 in)
Wheelbase: 1405 mm (55.3 in)
Curb Weight: 199 kg (439 lbs)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 20.0 L (5.3/4.4 US/Imp gal)
Features & Benefits
Low 31.1-inch seat height