The Kawasaki KR-1
There are few bikes that garner as much talk at Shepster Towers than the Kawasaki KR-1. In fact, Shep Shepster is quite the expert so will be interesting to see just how much of this write-up gets redacted!
Around the time that Nirvana were belching out Bleach in the studio, Kawasaki were starting the road to motorcycle heaven <Ed – We need to have a chat about your laboured introductions> and producing road racing replica motorcycles, so much so that the KR-1 looked like it had rolled in for a pit-stop. Prepare yourself for a one way trip to KR geekdom! The KR-1 opted for a parallel-twin engine instead of an in-line twin of its predecessor, the KR250A. It was liquid cooled, had reed-valve induction, an aluminium chassis and superb semi-floating disk brakes. It wasn’t long before the initial B models, already causing palpitating wallets across the globe, were being evolved into the KR-1S (affectionately known as KRIS) and KR-1R, which is effectively the C and D series, with presumably the KR-1A series left somewhere on the factory floor (We’ve spotted a pre-production paint scheme and rearsets so we know one existed after the KR250A and before the KR-1B). At the same time the Suzuki RGV, Honda NSR and fantastic looking Yamaha TZR were all coming to the fore, so there was plenty of battleground for the two-stroke sports bikes. Like some kind of Police Academy series where you’re bewildered as to what happened after the original few, Kawasaki were batting their eyelashes and seducing the masses with their B1s and B2s, C1s, C2s and C3s, and finally D1s and D2s over the four-year period up to 1992.
Now comes the differences between the models. There are some great write-ups about it HERE
on Shepsters, but effectively the models used the same engine but with minor updates and then changes to the standard pieces such as brakes, colours, wheels et cetera. Now comes the D models, a very limited run indeed. Only 180 R models with their unique Ebony/Green(Black/Green) colour scheme were produced making them staggeringly-wantable. And yet, before you chuck all your hard-earned at it one on ebay, there was the do-do rare KR-1SP Sports Production. A variant of the S yet borrowing carbs from the R, less than 12 were ever produced and as always, the bloody Kiwi’s got the lot.
Despite the now-classic 250’s it was competing against, the KR-1 became the fastest mass-produced two-stroke ever at 139mph. But the story doesn’t end there, as the KR-1 is still winning almost thirty years later by being just so damn collectable – yes, there was a limited run worldwide of only 10,000 across all B/C/D series which helps, but they have a huge following because they were also easily modifiable, the engine being easy to continually tweak to gain maximum performance. It was also incredibly lightweight at only 131kg. . . they will remain nameless, but there are definitely staff at Shepster Towers that have dated heavier! <Ed - Unlike those romantic interludes, the Kawasaki though had exquisite handling>
Finding KR-1s in good condition is a rarity, basically because they were excellent small racing bike with a short run of a few years and without that much in the way of reliability. If you can find parts and a fully functioning one, contact Shepsters! The KR-1R is as rare as it gets, like Margaret Thatcher’s tears, unless you hop on over to one of the countries they were sold (Japan, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Mexico) where they still have on occasional barn-find in multifarious states of condition (bikes, not Thatcher’s tears). And yes, all those fairings and plastic is a pain in the arse when it breaks or cracks, and finding replacements isn’t easy in any way. But keep an eye out on Shepsters, because plans are a-foot!
Thanks for the Support
Photo's provided by Briegoos, R and Beacock, D.
B1 models VIN/Frame Finish and Engine numbers
1988 KR250-B1 Frame range: KR250B-000001 through KR250B-004000
1988 KR250-B1 Engine range: KR250BE000001through KR250BE003700
1988 KR250-B1 Base service manual ID: 99924-1084-01
B2 models VIN/Frame Finish and Engine numbers
1989 KR250-B2 Frame range: JKAKRMB11KA004001 through JKAKRMB1XKA005623
1989 KR250-B2 Engine range: KR250BE003701 through KR250BE005805
1989 KR250-B2 Base service manual ID: 99924-1084-01
C1/2/3 models including VIN/Frame Finish and Engine numbers
1990 KR250-C2 Frame range: KR250C-001001 through KR250C-006800
1990 KR250-C2 Engine range: KR250BE003701 to KR250BE
1990 KR250-C2 Base service manual: 99924-1084-02
1990 KR250-C2 Base supplement service manual: 99924-1135-51
D1/2 models including VIN/Frame Finish and Engine numbers
We’re still researching