Test ride: Cruise control – Kawasaki Eliminator 500 SE

Nostalgia is a big seller so no wonder many brands put a modern spin on past favourites.

Kawasaki is particularly good at it. The retro Z900RS is a huge hit, the red and black GPZ900-inspired Ninja 40thanniversary models are eye-catching and now Kawasaki has revived another blast from the past.

Meet the Eliminator 500 and SE, the latest low-slung cruiser to bear the name, which has returned to the range several times, in widely-diverse power outputs, since first launched in the mid-80s.

While the Eliminator harks back to Kawasaki’s heritage, it heralds the arrival of the new 500 parallel twin engine.

Well, to be exact, 451cc. It’s derived from the 399cc unit used in the Z400 and Ninja 400 and will also go in their successors, the Z500 and Ninja 500.

It still delivers an A2-compliant 45.4PS at 9,000rpm but maximum torque rises to 42.6Nm at 6,000rpm.

This new engine feels eager and willing, pulling from low revs, with perky mid-range throttle response and very little vibration.

It makes pleasing progress from low revs, which suits the Eliminator’s character. I did not work the demo bike’s brand new engine hard but the signs are that it will rev happily if you want to get a spurt on.

The riding position is more traditional motorbike than the 650 Vulcan S cruiser with the footpegs set further back for a more conventional riding position.

A standard super-low 735mm seat height means short riders will have no issue getting both feet firmly planted on the ground. There is the option of raising the seat 30mm or lowering it 20mm.

A kerb weight of 177kg means the Eliminator feels light, manageable and manoeuvrable which will appeal to novice riders moving up to a bigger bike.

The low centre of gravity makes it stable, even at low speeds, and it handles confidently, responding crisply through corners on the 18in front and 16in back wheels.

Single 310mm front and 240mm rear discs are up to the job.

It copes well with bumpy roads, no mean feat given the front forks have no adjustment and the twin rear shocks can only have the preload tweaked via traditional five-position stepped collars.

The Eliminator is pure and simple, no riding or engine models, no traction control and no quickshifter.

That’s what appeals to me. It’s a bike you connect with and how it rides is down to you. It’s the kind of bike I grew up riding.

The controls are easy to use and the slip/assist clutch has an incredibly light action. Combined with an easy-shift six-speed gearbox, it makes light work of heavy traffic.

Short rear-view mirror stalks mean you see more of your arms than what is behind you! Some nice bar-end mirrors might solve the problem and add to the stylish look.

The circular LCD is clear and simple with a digital speedo, scrolling rev counter, clock, trip information, bar fuel gauge and gear indicator.

Kawasaki’s Rideology app connects via Bluetooth to send ride data to your phone and will alert you to incoming calls and messages via the speedo but you cannot respond to them.

Like the new Amy Winehouse biopic, the Eliminator is also back to black.

The standard £5,999 Eliminator comes in metallic flat spark black with exposed bright forks.

The £6,399 SE model is finished in metallic matte carbon gray and flat ebony, with black tops to the forks and lower rubber gaiters, a headlight cowl and dark exhaust heat shield and end cap.

The Eliminator is a dark horse, a simple pleasure and far more fun to ride than I had expected.

Find out more about the Kawasaki Eliminator at orwell.co.uk/kawasaki/new-kawasaki-motorcycle-range/cruisers/eliminator-500/2024

Check out the Eliminator SE model at orwell.co.uk/kawasaki/new-kawasaki-motorcycle-range/cruisers/eliminator-500-se/2024