500cc motorcycles are many times either the first motorcycle or the first step up for many motorcycle riders. At 500cc, motorcycles just start edging into interesting performance levels, while still retaining the easy handling characteristics of a smaller motorcycle. Fun is the most noticeable factor for a 500, but lower motorcycle insurance rates and great fuel mileage are a big draw as well. The number of 500cc bikes offered is far less than in the past as manufacturers are leaning towards the 600 and 650 range to satisfy many customers, but there are still a few new models available and a plentiful supply of used bikes.
How would you like your cc’s served, in 1 piston, 2 parallel pistons, or in a V-twin arrangement?
This is a common question and the answer lies in the type of performance that you require. All motors are different and they can be tuned for specific applications, but in general:
- Single piston motors have most of their power in the low end torque range. They tend to be a drag at highway speeds, but they’re great in town or in the dirt where torque is required.
- Twin pistons in a parallel configuration lack low end torque, but once they’re wound up they tend to really shine. These motors may feel weak in town, but are really a smooth pleasure to ride.
- V-Twins are in between. They have good low end torque, but run well on the open road too. They tend to vibrate more at high rpm.
The Royal Enfield 500cc Thumper
“Thumper” is slang for a single piston motorcycle and Royal Enfield is the most popular new motorcycle offering a 500cc thumper now. Royal Enfield was originally a British motorcycle, but the brand sold out to an Indian company. These are beautiful motorcycles with old school engines. They are great for budget minded riders that don’t mind tinkering a little with the old technology. They make great bikes for commuters. I could see a new rider with mechanical skills taking great pride in riding one. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not inclined to break down, they just need more regular maintenance than computerized modern motorcycles. At an average 85mpg and most models costing only around $6300, they are a great deal.
500cc V-twins Are Now extinct.
There are no more 500cc V-twins being sold as new motorcycles in the United States now. The most popular was the Honda Silverwing in the 80′s. These motors ran easily over 100,000 miles with little or no problems and many are still running to this day. I suspect that they stopped making them due to the fact that the lasted so long. If you can find one and the idea of hunting for parts doesn’t scare you off, these bikes are great for commuting and highway travel.
500cc Parallel Twins Are Easy To Find
There are a couple of models of 500cc parallel twin motorcycles that are well suited for commuting and sport riding. The most popular are:
- Suzuki GS500 (GS600 is the only model available for 2012)
- Kawasaki Ninja 500
Both of these are fun bikes. Do some research to figure out which one’s attributes are the best for you. If you’re buying a 500cc to save on insurance, don’t expect these bikes to be much lower than some other sport bikes. Even though they don’t compare to their larger counterparts, they’re still considered a higher risk motorcycle just because of their design.
Bigger isn’t always better.
With motorcycles, bigger isn’t always better or even faster. Buy what you can afford and what you need. With 500cc, you just may find the sweet spot that fits your riding style and budget.