The 2024 Kawasaki Z500 builds on the success of its predecessor Z400 by addressing its shortcomings and enhancing its strengths - SUV VEHICLE

The 2024 Kawasaki Z500 builds on the success of its predecessor Z400 by addressing its shortcomings and enhancing its strengths



  • The 2024 Kawasaki Z500 addresses the Z400’s shortcomings with improved performance and refined styling.
  • The new 451cc engine offers better throttle response and power, making it ideal for beginners and experienced riders.
  • At $5,599 for the base model and $6,299 for the premium SE, the Z500 balances accessibility, power, and price well.

There wasn’t a lot wrong with Kawi’s Z400. The baby Zee offered less experienced riders a low seat height, slim chassis, and light handling with just enough power to keep things interesting. However, the tires (on the UK version I rode in 2021) felt like they were made from glass for all the grip they offered, and, at higher revs, the buzzy touch-points made highway riding a test of endurance. Enter the 2024 Kawasaki Z500, the latest of its lineup to utilize its versatile 451cc parallel twin engine.

The same powerplant drives its Eliminator lightweight cruiser and provides the combustion-derived power on the Ninja 7 Hybrid we recently tested at its global launch in Barcelona. It is also the engine at the heart of the new Ninja 500, offering a sport-focused alternative to the naked Z. The 2024 Z500 comes in two trims: the Candy Lime Green and metallic Graphite Gray base model with an MSRP of $5,599 and our premium-equipped Candy Persimmon Red and metallic matte Graphenesteel Gray SE test model, with an MSRP of $6,299.

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2024 Kawasaki Z500

The 2024 Kawasaki Z500 builds on the success of its predecessor, the Z400, by addressing its shortcomings and enhancing its strengths. Retaining the slim chassis and low seat height favorable for less experienced riders, it introduces a more powerful and efficient 451cc parallel twin engine, shared with Kawasaki’s other models like the Eliminator and Ninja 500. Available in two trims, the base model at $5,599 and the premium SE at $6,299, the Z500 features improved styling, including a new triple LED headlight array and more sophisticated instrument displays. An updated engine offers more performance and improved throttle response in the lower rev range, while still being beginner-friendly. The bike’s handling is agile, and the ride is comfortable, with effective braking and improved tire quality. Technologically, it includes features like improved LCD instrumentation or a color TFT display in the SE model, along with smartphone connectivity. The Z500 stands out for its balance of accessibility, power, and price, making it an attractive choice for new riders, commuters, and those seeking a fun, efficient motorcycle.



MSRP (As Tested)

451cc Liquid-Cooled, DOHC, Paralell-Twin

51 HP @ 10,000 RPM

32 LB-FT @ 7,500 RPM

6-Speed w. Multiplate Assist and Slipper Clutch

O-Ring Chain Drive

Fuel Economy
62 MPG (claimed)

229 (est.)
  • New engine offers improved performance across the rev-range
  • Minimal weight and light handling are ideal for beginners and commuters
  • Low seat and easy ergonomics suit shorter riders
  • Excellent value for money
  • Handlebar vibration remains an issue at highway speeds
  • Basic suspension less suited to experienced riders
  • TFT display only available on SE trim
  • Base model only available in lime green

Note: In order to provide you with an honest and unbiased review, the vehicle reviewed in this article was ridden on a daily basis throughout the course of daily life for a period of one week. For detailed insight into testing procedures and data collection, please review our methodology policy.

2024 Kawasaki Z500 First Impressions

It won’t surprise anybody that the new baby Zee hasn’t strayed far from the proven formula behind the outgoing Z400 model. Its basic dimensions are nearly identical, as are many of its components. The slim tank is much the same, and the angular design concept, shared by all Kawasaki’s Z models, carries over to the latest model. However, the Z500 benefits from more sophisticated styling, and, even those of us with an acute aversion to lime green might give the base model a second look.

The most striking addition to the Z500 is its new triple LED headlight array, which is more compact and, consequently, more appealing. For a bike that costs less than $6,000, the finishing is excellent and, although small, its balanced dimensions lend it a ‘big-bike’ appearance. The base model’s LCD instruments are much improved, offering better contrast and a contemporary format. Our SE test model includes tail and lower engine cowlings, a slightly taller wind deflector, and color-matched wheels, giving it a refined appearance. The SE also gets a color TFT display and LED indicators.

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Engine and Performance

2024 Kawasaki Z500 SE with more power and improved styling
Kevin Wing

In labeling the 451cc a “500,” one can only hope that Kawasaki’s financial team is less generous in their rounding up than their marketing team. Nevertheless, this isn’t just the 399 engine with a longer stroke. Kawasaki’s brand-new parallel twin benefits from a newly designed airbox and asymmetrical intake funneling, offering superior engine response across the rev range. New fuel injector positioning brings them closer to the combustion chamber, providing improved efficiency and performance, while a new balancing shaft promises less vibration. The engine block’s open-deck design allows more coolant to circulate, reducing engine heat, and precision forging techniques allow for sleeveless plated cylinders, usually reserved for more expensive machines.

In European markets, the Z500’s power output will likely be curtailed to meet A2 licensing regulations. However, here in ‘Merica, the Z500 produces a peak horsepower of 51 and a maximum torque of 32 pound-feet. While this means the Z500 is a little more pokey than its predecessor, the difference is most noticeable in the lower rev range, where the increased torque helps prevent the wee Zee from getting bogged down between gears. It also means that the latest entry-level Z is as much of a beginner’s bike as the 400 while offering a little more giddyup for experienced riders.

2024 Kawasaki Z500 SE with downtown San Diego in the background
Kevin Wing

Talking of beginners, the Z500’s excellent assist and slipper clutch received an upgrade to account for the extra power but still offers the same super-light lever action as the old 400. You could have the forearms of a six-year-old and still never tire from using the Z500’s clutch lever. Its slipper function steps in when excessive engine braking due to overzealous downshifts (or rider error) asks more of the rear tire than is reasonable, ‘slipping’ the clutch to prevent any back-torque from destabilizing the rear wheel. The standard six-speed gearbox worked well in the city and on the backroads but (inevitably) feels too short on the highway, a sensible compromise for a bike of this size and purpose.

Engine And Performance Specifications



Liquid-Cooled, 8V, DOHC, Paralell-Twin



Bore x Stroke:

70 x 58.6 mm

Compression Ratio:



6-Speed w. Mutiplate Assist and Slipper Clutch

Final Drive:

O-Ring Chain Drive


Maximum Speed

98 MPH (est.)

0-60 mph

4.8 seconds (est.)

Peak Horsepower:

51 HP @ 10,000 RPM

Maximum Torque:

32 LB-FT @ 7,500 RPM

Ride And Handling

2024 Kawasaki Z500 SE produces 51 HP
Kevin Wing

Because the 500’s twin is nearly the same size as its predecessor, Kawasaki utilized the same steel trellis frame, which uses the engine as a stressed member, and the extended box-section swingarm from the Z400. The latest entry-level Z is still an exceptionally light bike, weighing 366 pounds, fuelled and ready to ride. Its sporty 24.5º rake and 3.6-inch trail combine with a 54.1-inch wheelbase to provide light and agile steering. Nevertheless, the 500 feels more planted and less skittish than its predecessor. In addition to its low weight, the Z’s highly accessible 30.9-inch seat height, and flat handlebar take the anxiety out of slow-speed maneuvering, making it an appealing choice for new and shorter riders.

A traditionally mounted 41mm Showa fork and a KYB monoshock, adjustable through five preload settings, offer supple suspension on the Z500, ideal for daily use on all types of road surfaces. We expect the Ninja version to receive higher spring rates, offering better mid-corner precision and feedback, but for what the Z gives up in feel, it makes up for in comfort. A single, dual-piston Nissin caliper clamps a 310mm disc at the front wheel, and for the rear brake, a smaller dual-piston Nissin caliper clamps a 220mm disc. The braking feedback is good, and the brakes do a solid job of stopping the bike. Both models now include ABS as standard or, more accurately, Kawasaki no longer offers a non-ABS version (upsetting nobody).

2024 Kawasaki Z500 SE ideal for beginners and commuters
Kevin Wing

The Z500’s five-spoke, 17-inch wheels are hand-me-downs from the 400 but, thankfully, the Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300F tires they come shod in are a vast improvement on the previous model’s. Our test ride in and around San Diego was a dry affair, and, under these conditions, the tires offered confidence-inspiring grip in the corners. Overall, the new Z500 is a worthy successor to the 400, offering an ideal platform for less experienced riders, commuters, or weekend fun-seekers with modest performance expectations. Nevertheless, although vibration is less of an issue than the 400, the handlebars still get buzzy at highway speeds, and taller riders will find the ergonomics a tad cramped on longer jaunts.

Chassis Specifications


Steel Trellis Bridge-Type


54.1 inches


24.5º / 3.6 inches

Seat Height:

30.9 inches

Suspension – Front/Rear:

41 mm Showa Fork / 5-Way Preload Adjustable Showa Monoshock

Brakes – Front/Rear:

310mm Floating Disc, Nissin 2-Piston Calipers / 220mm Disc, Nissin 2-Piston Caliper

Wheels – Front/Rear:

3.50 x 17 inches / 6.00 x 17 inches

Tires – Front/Rear:

110/70 R17 / 150/60 R17

Curb Weight:

366 pounds (SE Trim 370 pounds)

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Technology And Equipment

The base model’s old-school LCD instrumentation is one of the best we’ve seen, offering sharper contrast and an updated display format, including a bar-style tachometer over a digital speedometer. Our SE test model gets a full-color TFT display with a customizable light or dark background and a factory-fitted USB-C charging port. Both trims offer wireless smartphone connectivity via Kawasaki’s RIDEOLOGY app, and Kawasaki would probably like me to mention that both models also benefit from an Economical Riding Indicator. But since the Z500 is one of the most efficient motorcycles available, I’m not convinced it adds much value.

Standard Equipment

  • ABS
  • LED Headlights
  • Wireless Smartphone Connectivity

Riding Style

2024 Kawasaki Z500 SE and rider in Dainese Jacket and Boots and AGV Helmet
Kevin Wing




Dainese Super Speed 4


Tobacco Archetype Riding Jeans


Dainese Torque D1 Out


Dainese Carbon 3

The Kawasaki Z500 Vs. Its Competitors

2024 Kawasaki Z500 showing base (lime green) and SE (red and black) models
Kevin Wing

According to Kawasaki, who surveyed owners of the outgoing Z400, new riders tend to dominate the sub 500cc market, which offers the most accessible machines for honing their skills. It is also a class that attracts a higher proportion of women searching for a bike with a lower seat and less weight to heft about. The same category is also a popular choice with urbanites looking for a cheap and efficient option for the daily commute. Royal Enfield’s updated Bullet 350 is among the most affordable and accessible. However, its limited performance also limits its longevity as a learning tool, and the Bullet is not a bike new riders can grow into. There are countless dual-sport bikes in the sub-500 class, but most have higher seats, and their off-road styling is not to everyone’s taste. Two of the Z500’s closest competitors are the Honda CB500F, a longtime favorite of beginner riders, and the newer KTM 390 Duke.

How The Kawasaki Z500 Compares To The Honda CB500F

  • 2024 Kawasaki Z500 2023 Honda CB500F
    Model Z500 CB500F
    Engine 451cc Liquid-Cooled, DOHC, Paralell-Twin Liquid-Cooled, DOHC, Parallel-Twin
    Transmission 6-Speed w. Multiplate Assist and Slipper Clutch 6-Speed
    Horsepower 51 HP @ 10,000 RPM 47 HP @ 8,600 RPM
    Torque 32 LB-FT @ 7,500 RPM 32 HP @ 6,500 RPM
    Driveline O-Ring Chain Drive Chain Drive
    MSRP $5,599 $6,799

The Honda CB500F has garnered a solid reputation for offering versatility and accessibility, suitable for new and experienced riders. It features a 471cc parallel-twin engine, which provides 47 horsepower and 32 pound-feet of torque, offering similar performance capabilities to the Kawasaki Z500. The Honda benefits from a more advanced suspension setup, thanks to its Showa SFF-BP fork and nine-way adjustable monoshock, reflected in its $6,799 MSRP. The $1,200 new riders save on the Kawasaki goes a long way to buying some decent gear. The CB500F also weighs 50 pounds more than the Z500, a significant disadvantage in a weight-sensitive class.

How The Kawasaki Z500 Compares To The KTM 390 Duke

  • 2024 Kawasaki Z500 2024 KTM 390 Duke
    Model Z500 390 Duke
    Engine 451cc Liquid-Cooled, DOHC, Paralell-Twin 399cc, Liquid-Cooled, Single Cylinder
    Transmission 6-Speed w. Multiplate Assist and Slipper Clutch 6-Speed
    Horsepower 51 HP @ 10,000 RPM 44 HP @ 8,500 RPM
    Torque 32 LB-FT @ 7,500 RPM 29 LB-FT @ 7,000 RPM
    Driveline O-Ring Chain Drive Chain
    MSRP $5,599 $5,899

The KTM 390 Duke has a lot going for it. Its $5,899 MSRP includes ride-by-wire throttle management, all-around LED lights, TFT instrumentation, and adjustable WP Apex suspension. The Duke’s 399cc, single-cylinder engine produces a claimed peak horsepower of 45 and 29 pound-feet of torque. Despite using a single, KTM quotes a dry weight of 364 pounds, making the 390 Duke heavier than the Z500. It also has a 32.3-inch seat height, making it more suitable for experienced riders looking for a canyon carver.

Should You Buy The Kawasaki Z500?

2024 Kawasaki Z500 SE at home in town or on the backroads
Kevin Wing

The Kawasaki Z500 is especially attractive to new riders on a budget, looking for an approachable bike with enough power to grow into. Its lightweight design, low seat, and comfortable ergonomics are easy to handle at any speed, and the new 451cc parallel-twin offers just the right amount of power to be both unintimidating and exciting. Buzzy bars are still an issue on the highway, but the Z will spend most of its time darting through the traffic and zipping along country roads, applications for which it is ideally suited. Taller riders may struggle with the low seat, but I’m six-foot-two and found the Z500 more accommodating than expected. The new baby Zee excels at providing all the basics, with none of the fluff, in an appealing package.


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