That's my 500 on the right, behind the Ninja 250 that my buddy Al was riding at the time.
I traded my 500 for the Vee. I wish that I'd kept it in addition to the Vee instead. I loved riding that bike!
The Vee has about, I think, 12 more horsepower than the 500. However, the 500 was lighter and had a totally different power band. The fun really started on the 500 around 8,000 rpms. From there up to about 10,500, the thing ran like a scalded dog. When I'd hit the throttle in 5th or 6th gear, it would be fairly quick as it ran up the scale, but when it reached a point beyond 7,500 rpms, it would seem like an afterburner kicked in. It was definitely quicker through the quarter mile and had a slightly higher top end as well. I'd say it was close to a second faster through the quarter. Some of that gain was because it was a lot easier to come off the line without doing a wheelie, but also due to lighter weight, and the acceleration when I was 'on the cam'. The Ninja handled like a flat-tracker on dirt - I could easily break the back end loose and slide it sideways through a high speed turn. The 500 was a ticket magnet, simply because it was so fun to run fast. I loved the feeling that the bike gave when it hit the cam and took off.
Of course, straight line acceleration is just part of the fun of riding. The Vee has strong, smooth power from around 2,500 rpms right on up the scale to red line. I rarely take it past 7 or 8 thousand, simply because of the torque that lets you kick butt no matter where you are on the scale. Of course, it is a bit stronger above 5,000, but you don't get the 'four barrel kicking in' sensation that was there on the 500. What it does is let you snake through the twisties at a very good clip without worrying about playing the gears in the middle of a turn. It's not as easy to flat track on dirt - it has a much higher center of gravity and shorter wheel base - but the taller suspension lets you rock out on dirt in a way that would have quickly trashed the 500. The 500 set low enough that I had to really be careful to watch for protruding rocks while riding dirt. The belly fairing would sometimes drag when crossing into a parking lot - had to watch that too.
The Vee isn't as fast in the quarter mile, but on the other hand, it's a ball to wheelie. The smooth torque makes it easy to do roll-on wheelies in first that you can carry for a long distance. In second, I have to put my weight back a bit further, but again, it's ready to skywalk if I want.
What it came down to for me when deciding to trade was that the Vee offered a lot more aftermarket goodies for touring. I like to travel and it was hard to pack much gear on the 500. I also like the tire options a lot better on the Vee - the 500 ran a small tire and the swingarm was too tight to put a bigger skin on it.
They are both awesome bikes. The 500 isn't for everybody, since it is a 'retro' style ride - the styling is still the same as when it was introduced in the 80s for the most part. Though the 500 is quicker through the quarter mile, the Vee may have the advantage through paved twisties because of the smooth power delivery, but that is apples and oranges.
One other thing, for me (I'm 6'5"), the Vee is a lot more comfortable. The upright riding position and comfortable seat (after I did the mods on the seat) make 500 or 600 mile days easy. The 500 would always leave my shoulders aching at the end of a long ride - I guess the leaning ride position caused that.
I miss the 500 though - man, that thing was fun to ride fast!