Kawasaki GPz 500S / EX 500R Ninja


Make Model

Kawasaki GPz 500S / EX 500R Ninja


1994 - 95


Four stroke, parallel twin cylinders. DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder


498 cc / 30.4 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 74 x 58 mm
Cooling System Liquid cooled,
Compression Ratio 10.8:1
Lubrication Wet sump
Engine Oil Semi-Synthetic, 10W/40


2x Keihin CVK34 carburetor


TCI (Transistor Controlled Ignition)
Spark Plug NGK, DR9EA
Starting Electric

Max Power

60 hp / 43.7 kW @ 9800 rpm 

Max Power Rear Tyre

54.7 hp @ 9500 rpm

Max Torque

46.1 Nm / 4.7 kg-m @ 8500 rpm
Clutch Wet, multiple discs, cable operated


6 Speed 
Final Drive Chain
Frame Iron, Double cradle frame

Front Suspension

38mm Telescopic forks
Front Wheel Travel 130 mm / 5.1 in

Rear Suspension

Swinging arm, single shock adjustable for spring preload
Rear Wheel Travel 100 mm / 3.9 in

Front Brakes

Single  270mm disc 2 piston caliper

Rear Brakes

Single disc
Trail 91 mm / 3.5 in

Front Tyre

110/70- 17

Rear Tyre

130/70 - 17
Rake 63°
Trail 91 mm / 3.5 in
Dimensions Length 2095 mm / 82.4 in
Width     700 mm / 30.3 in
Height: 1160 mm / 45.6 in
Wheelbase 1435 mm / 56.4 in
Seat Hieght 775 mm / 30.5 in

Dry Weight

176 kg / 388 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

15.9 Litres / 4.2 US gal

Road Test

Motosprint 1994

Tuttomoto 1994

A partial redesign of the 500 was done in 1994. The changes made include the following:

  • Bigger 17-inch wheels with wider tires replaced the original 16 inch wheels
  • Redesigned front and rear fairing
  • Redesigned instrument cluster and dials
  • New rear disk brake replaced rear drum brake
  • Firmer suspension tuning
  • Minor changes to the engine to improve reliability such as changes to the alternator. More importantly the CCT (Cam Chain Tensioner), flywheel & transmission, all three of which may be installed with minimal modification to fit any 1st generation bike(1987-1993).

With today's economy still barely climbing out of its late-'80s doldrums, the so-called budget-bike market has enjoyed a relatively healthy existence. People looking for the most capability for the least amount of money in a new motorcycle have been drawn to bikes such as Kawasaki's EX500, which could probably lay claim to being the harbinger of this now increasingly popular class. A sprightly performer wrapped up in an economical, easy-to-live-with package, the EX struck a chord with the frugal-minded buying public. However, the other manufacturers have since jumped on the bandwagon, and after many years of heading the list of best buys, the EX500's position has dropped a notch or two.

Rather than start with a fresh sheet of paper, Kawasaki decided to keep the proven basic formula and revise the supporting ingredients. You don't want to mess with success, and coming up with a brand-new bike that could match the EX's sensible appeal could prove to be a difficult proposition. So, by raiding the parts bins of some of the EX's more upscale brethren, along with adding some upgraded chassis pieces and swoopier bodywork, Kawasaki created an EX500 with a sporting attitude serious enough to warrant the addition of the Ninja label.

The EX500's liquid-cooled, eight-valve, double-overhead-cam twin engine hasn't really changed much since its inception (with the exception of a digital electronic ignition replacing the previous analog version), but then again, it doesn't really need to. With a quarter-mile time of 12.98 seconds at 99.0 mph and a 118-mph top speed, the Ninja 500 clearly has the most bang for the buck of any bike in its class. The engine is a willing revver, with a generous amount of midrange grunt and an even more surprising top-end rush that belies its "entry-level" status. Even with this type of power, the 498cc mill can be coaxed out of 50 miles per gallon under a mellow throttle hand.

The Ninja 500's chassis, however, received a thorough going-over for this year. Wider 17-inch rims replace the skinny 16-inch hoops of the original EX, and the 37mm Kayaba front fork boasts 1mm larger stanchion tubes than last year's. The brakes were also upgraded, with a new twin-piston caliper grabbing a 280mm disc up front, and a disc setup replacing the previous drum components in back. A redesigned swingarm, pirated from the European market KLE500 (Kawasaki's Paris-Dakar replica), supplants the original's somewhat wimpy-looking stocker.

The original EX500's bodywork was deep-sixed in favor of a nicely redesigned front fairing that offers slightly more wind protection, along with a headlight sourced from the ZX-6 that projects a much better beam at night than its forerunner. The rear tail section and side covers were also carefully reshaped, with turn signals, taillight and mirrors courtesy of a ZX-7 completing the picture.

Starting up even in some of the colder mornings requires only a bit of choke, with the engine accepting throttle almost instantly. Once you're underway, the light, agile handling combined with a very spirited motor make the Ninja 500 a joy to work with in the urban jungle of the city or the tightly swooping curves of a canyon road. The brakes offer more than adequate stopping power and feel, although the stock Bridgestone Excedras are somewhat budget-grade in the traction department. The updated chassis components inspire enough confidence for the rider to try more aggressive cornering maneuvers, but until premium rubber is fitted, those moves should be approached with some discretion. The ergonomics are plush, with a fairly flat, wide, well-padded seat and a wonderfully contoured semi-sport riding position combining to provide enough comfort to give the bike significant touring capabilities. Unfortunately, the mirrors are positioned too far away from the rider and are a bit too small, giving a narrow field of vision rearward. However, smart little touches abound, such as adjustable brake and clutch levers, dual tripmeters and retractable bungee cord hooks.

All of the various improvements to Kawasaki's budget bullet could not be achieved without a price: at $4399, the new Ninja 500 costs $700 more than its predecessor. But when you take into account that the Kawasaki delivers performance easily topping everything in its class (while basically sipping its fuel), and that the host of improvements have created an even more comfortable, capable and fun motorcycle that experienced riders as well as novice pilots can enjoy, then the song still remains the same: Kawasaki's new Ninja 500 is one of the best motorcycling deals around.

Source Sports Rider