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Doc Sarah's Motorcycle Pages


Kawasaki GPZ500s (EX500)

Honda 90

Kawasaki GPZ500s

Yamaha SR125

Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat

Kawasaki EL250

Yamaha YZFR1

Ducati M600

And Stephen's GSXR600
Honda VFR400 NC30  

My first ever brand-new bike, this was going to be my concession to practicality. I'd read lots about this bike being suitable for people who had just passed their test, and I could certainly get a toe down on it, so with my growing confidence, this was a sufficiently low bike for my needs. I needed a bike for commuting, because the VFR400 gets rather warm in traffic. The GPZ seemed like a good buy.

However, I wasn't prepared for the great all-round capabilities of this bike. It may be an old design, and looked on as a beginner's bike. But it has many other virtues. A super-revvy twin engine with a good top end as well. Super-light steering and very well-mannered handling. And a comfortable riding position and seat making it much more practical for long journeys with luggage. I took this bike on a track day and it wasn't out-performed by other larger bikes. It is good for cruising all day at 85-90mph, and had noticeably more mid-range than the VFR400. There are some down-sides, and it is a bit top-heavy. The suspension is a bit soft and there are problems with corrosion on the discs and exhausts. It certainly does lack ground clearance, and you have to learn to blip the throttle on downshifts. You also learn to "back it in" to bends.

Good points:  

  • light, low seat
  • centre of gravity not too bad
  • high pegs and zorts considering low seat - only just managed to ground my hero blobs once on this bike, despite being on the edge of the tyres (on the track....no I'm not a hooligan!)
  • great at low speeds in town
  • good suspension and comfy seat
  • great revvy twin engine with a good top end! 
  • very light steering, holds its own on the track 
  • Very practical - good boot under the seat and bungee points

Bad points: 

  • doesn't have full fairing as standard - I had to fit this separately
  • variable tickover sometimes a problem just like the EL250
  • doesn't really like the damp, but can usually be coaxed into action.
  • reserve tap a bit fiddly
  • Brakes not the tops - I had braided hoses fitted to sort this out
  • Slightly soft shock
  • Corrodes in the British winter
  • Handling isn't fantastic - you need to blip on the downshift and learn to"back it in" on occasions.
  • Limited choice of tyres for this bike - none of the really good sports tyres are available.



Copyright © 2004 Dr Sarah Walters
Last updated March 17, 2004