Given that it was Kawasaki's best-selling sporty bike for a number of years, the EX500 is a popular mount for road racing, offering low price and availability of spare parts. It also offers a wide but forgiving performance envelope suitable for new riders or even veteran club racers, eschewing the significantly higher expense of campaigning 600 cc or larger supersport machines.
In the spring of 1988 I picked up my brand new Kawasaki EX-500. It was my first new bike and just the second bike I'd ever owned. Up to that point I'm pretty sure I fit right into Kawasaki's marketing plans. Here's a little perspective: In 1987, when the EX debuted, the hot Yamaha middleweight was the air cooled FZ-600. The Kawasaki 600R Ninja was in it's second incarnation in '87, the first Ninja 6R wasn't even a twinkle in an engineers mind. Compare that to the Kawasaki Ninja 500r, still powered by a dissected Ninja 1000R motor (circa 1985), still using tires that were skinny even in the old days, and still using suspension components that were bargain basement when it was new. The bike does have its plusses. In 140,000 miles I have not had an internal engine part fail-not one. Combine the quick steering with the skinny tires and the Ninja will show its cornering limits quickly. Suspension? Back in 1987 Kawasaki broke the code. If you used half of your top liter class sportbike engine as the foundation for an entry-level machine, you could have a bike that was more than the sum of it's parts.