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Rothmans Replica: 1991 Honda NSR250 SP for Sale

Racing fans naturally gravitate towards sportbikes that feature graphics and colors associated with their favorite racing teams. Since those designs are often chosen for their visibility over any concerns about taste, it's rare that a design stands out for being both striking and classic. It's a shame that some of the most memorable and iconic color schemes in racing history were those designed for tobacco products, but it's hard to argue with the good looks of today's Rothmans Replica Honda NSR250R.

This MC21 NSR250R was powered by Honda's familiar 90° liquid-cooled 249cc two-stroke v-twin with a six-speed "cassette" style gearbox that allowed for quick gearing changes at the track. Obviously not something that's all that useful on a roadbike, but still very trick and cool. The updated MC21 version of the NSR250 wasn't just a restyled MC18, it was an extensively redesigned machine. It used a distinctive gull-arm swingarm to allow the expansion chamber on the right side of the bike to tuck in close for maximum cornering clearance, while the carburetors were controlled by Honda's very sophisticated PGM-III system that used a three-dimensional map based on throttle-position, revs, and gear selection to adjust the RC valves and ignition timing for excellent flexibility compared to rivals.

Power output was bang-on the government-mandated 45hp, but that still gave the sub-300 pound [dry] machine plenty of pep and more is available with de-restriction. How much is available? Well, how much do you want to spend, and how long do you want it to last between rebuilds? This SP version added a dry clutch and an uprated rear shock to the mix for even more performance, exotic, rattling noises, and exclusivity: just 1,500 NSR250R SPs were sold during 1991, making this a rare machine in any market, let alone North America, and this one is in superlative shape.

From the original eBay listing: 1991 Honda NSR250 SP for Sale

Immaculate 1991 Honda NSR250 SP w/ 5,000 miles from Moto2 Imports

Available only from Moto2 Imports, this fully restored 1991 NSR250 SP two-stroke is our nicest machine to date! Beyond a standard R model, this SP features fully-adjustable front and rear suspension, trick dry clutch, and a close-ratio gearbox. A complete service and safety check has been performed by our partner Speedwerks. The electronics have been de-restricted and the engine makes full power. All gaskets have been inspected and engine compression & leak down tests were performed with no issues. New tires, chain, battery, brake pads & spark plugs. Carburetors cleaned, rebuilt and re-jetted. Fuel, oil and coolant systems drained, flushed, & refilled. All other mechanical & electrical systems checked and operating properly. Fairing and tank were just resprayed and are of the highest quality - see Hi Res images. Expansion chambers have been ceramically coated and aluminum wheels freshly powdercoated (Magteks available). Bike starts/runs/operates flawlessly. Additional pics and video available upon request. You will not find a nicer NSR. With just 5,000 original miles, you can bid with confidence on this amazing machine.

All Moto2 bikes are legally imported and come with a clear US title with the proper 11 digit VIN (frame number and title match). Buyer will receive the US title, Bill of Sale, Customs and importation paperwork, and a copy of the original Japanese title. Feel free to ask any questions about this bike. Moto2 Imports provides post-sales support including spare parts for our bikes now and in the future. We sell and ship globally. Visit our website for more information.

The asking price of $9,299 seems very reasonable, considering the ever-upwards trend of prices for these grey-market two-strokes in general and the fact that is is both the coveted Rothmans Replica SP model and in exceptional condition. Sure, the paint isn't original but, considering the apparent quality of the work, that might not be a bad thing, and the bike has obviously been extensively reconditioned. If you've been waiting to add one of these to your collection, you won't find one nicer outside of a museum.

-tad

25 Comments

  • 9200 no way not for any mc21 and I’ve owned two Thier worth like 6 max. For that price you could import one yourself for less.

    • Certainly $9200 is at the higher end, but these have gone up quite a bit from the “6 max” you mention. And importing a bike is a pretty big headache if you don’t have the right expertise, so I think these sellers are banking on the fact that people will pay a premium not to deal with all that red tape. Awareness and popularity of the class seems to have spiked over the past year.

  • Great bike – but these are not $10K bikes. Or are they? Are we at that stage where the 250’s we thrashed around as kids are now worth $10K??

    If they are then my real RS250 NF5 in perfect running condition with spares kit must be worth $20K.
    LOL

    • Yeah, shockingly these ARE pretty much $10k bikes at this point, especially in this kind of condition. Even non-Rothmans/SP bikes aren’t selling for all that much less. From what I’ve seen, the only way to get into 250cc two-stroke sportbikes inexpensively is by getting an MC16 NSR or by picking up an earlier TZR. And I don’t see RS250s come up for sale all that often, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t all that far off!

  • Is the body work original? Did this vin number start out as a rothmans sp,or is it a respray on a regular sp?.Bike looks real clean.why such an extensive go over with such little miles?Final question what happend to the last stripe on the tank it is supposed to be blue.Did they forget to paint it?good luck with sale i like the rothmas colors.

    • When these come over from Japan, even low-mileage bikes seem to have a lot of surface corrosion and sun damage from sitting outside in the humid, salty air, so a respray and cosmetic makeover make plenty of sense.

  • Hmm – $9200 without the Magteks??? That’s a little bit of a note to pause on.

    If it is a “perfect SP restoration” why are the Magteks not included for that premium price?

    And the description says “gone over” not “all seals and bearings replaced”. If these bikes have been standing at all, then the rubber squishy bits are still liable to “just let go” one day.

    That is the sad reality – which is why I have been accumulating piles of spares for the RS250 – just in case 🙂

    • Good catch: I forgot about the wheels.

  • The non magtek wheels are what separates an sp from an se outside of colors. So without the magnesium wheels it’s just an se in Rothman colors.

  • The engine wasn’t torn down and gone through properly. They “inspected” gaskets and they did a leak down test and they claim it passed, but I wouldn’t trust that bit of information if I was buying the bike. You’re buying a bike with 26 year old crank seals. Keep that in mind if you are considering this bike for your collection. I’ve rebuild enough smokers to know that I would not ride that bike around the block without properly overhauling the engine. Anything else risks ending with an expensive bang.

    I have experience with Jap spec imports and have owned some myself. Low mileage examples often suffer from serious corrosion and damage due to poor outside storage. This bike is shiny now, but be careful you aren’t buying lipstick on a pig. It looks pretty, but a full mechanical teardown (they didn’t do one), front to back. would be needed. It is a 26 year old bike. This bike was refreshed. It wasn’t restored. Knowing that it does make the high asking price look kind of ridiculous.

    • Very, very good advice. “Lipstick on a pig”. Good one!

  • It could still be an SP.

    an SP came with the following:

    Dry clutch
    Adjustable rear shock
    Magtek wheels

    A clean set of Magtek wheels will run you up to $2,000. I would take off $1,500 just for the hassle of finding a set.

  • The forks are not from an SP. If they were they would have the finger adjusters, not the screw ones shown.. I’ve got an original mc28SP Rothmans…..I’ve replaced every seals and hoses. $5 left crank seal has a lip which meant splitting the case. While apart I even put in ceramic hybrid transmission bearings. Best bike I’ve ever owned.

    • I believe the finger adjusters you mention are unique to the 28 SP forks….anyways I guess people have not been watching what NSR’s are selling for in Japan these days…or RZVs RGs etc etc. They are no longer cheap, and few good ones are left.

      By the time you source a bike, pay a commission, pay to ship it, pay a broker to properly import and file HS7 and EPA forms then get a title…do the the math.

      Really surprised any true business enterprise is bothering to do it, not really enough profit in it when all the work is taken into account…for the love of the bikes, yes, to get rich? No way.

      Anyways, looks like a nice bike, 91 was pentax colors, and missing magteks is an issue but not a lot of good titled NSRs for sale.

  • OK – I got out my MC21-100//102/106 parts book (covers R, SE & SP ) model NSR250R7L, R8L, R8L-III, R9L & R7N, R8N, R8N-III and R9-N models.

    If the frame number in the eBay auction is correct (MC21-1022228) this bike is either an NSR250R (R7L) which where part of the frame number range MC21-1000001 through MC21-1024051…. or it is an NSR250R SE (R9L) model which is part of the shorter run that are included in frame numbers MC21-1020502 through 1023751.

    If this was an MC21 Rothmans SP it would be an NSR250R SP (R8N) model, that was 1 of an unspecified run of bikes from the group of frame numbers MC21-1060012 through 1069021.

    Here is a little SP lore to help future SP sellers and buyers 🙂

    Official Honda advertising showing the original Rothmans SP being a late March 1988 MC18 model followed by the MC18 Terra Racing SP appearing in April 1989 MC18 adverts and being limited to 3000 units.

    The next SP was the MC21 Cabin Honda first appearing in April 1990 as a 2500 unit limited run, with the next MC21 SP edition being the 1500 Pentax SP bikes in December of 1990, followed by the Rothmans MC21 SP in January of 1992 (which contradicts the 1991 bike in this listing).

    The July 1992 HRC color SP (released as a 1993 model) and is the final MC21 SP edition.

    The MC28 range was graced with a single SP for each model year – the December 1993 launch MC28 Rothmans 1994 bike, the January 1995 launch MC28 HRC colors 1995 bike and finally the 1996 MC28 Repsol SP edition that was launched in January 1996.

    I suspect this MC21 is not a real Rothmans SP, it is not an MC21 SP at all.

    • I meant to conclude:

      I suspect this MC21 is not a real Rothmans SP, it is not an MC21 SP at all. But rather an HRC color MC21 SE, with dry clutch, adjustable suspension and aluminium wheels. Which in its own right is an attractive bike and should be sold as such, not as a made up Rothmans SP.

    • I wish I could give you a star! An incredibly good information, thank you!

    • That is some damn fine detective work sir!

    • THANK YOU! This is why I come to this site, for information! I’m actually in the market for an MC28, and this is very helpful. Probably will have to wait for a few more years ’till we get late 90’s bike showing up in USA.

  • @August – those 1 Million Yen priced bikes seem to be for very good condition low mileage SP and SE units – the rest of them end up sold as spares by Spongebob etal. Just this week they parted out another MC21 SE. The bikes was not a trashed bike, just higher miles and not 100% perfect and as such does not seem to sell very easily in Japan.

    And to think all these bikes ranged in price from 400,000 to 700,000 yen brand new back in the day 🙂

    • RC45 you are pretty much correct. I bought a handful this year, mostly it is the 28s that sell for the upper range, especially the true SP. Not all that many are actually being broken down but more than should be imo. Most of the bikes go to Europe or NZ, Oz etc, the Americans in their Walmart/Harbor Freight mentality are too cheap to pay for much of anything today (Tho I wonder how HD keeps selling people $25k geezer glides every year when there are boatloads of used ones).

      What survives of the uncrashed/raced MC28 SP’s should be over $10k bikes if they are nice, same with clean unmolested 21 SE bikes and if they are titled here in the States…with a California Title?! Even more. Just my opinion obviously but they did not make a whole lot of these and I think all the great 90s era stuff will continue to appreciate.

  • August, you hit the nail on the head in 1st paragraph. Last post. That’s OK. More for us hardcore. Great info RC45. We’ll keep the sellers on their toes. No fake news here. Just fake bikes?

  • Sold with BIN @ $9300, I think some of you guy’s should look to CNN for some part time work.

    • It sure did sell. For $9200. As a supposed Rothmans SP.

      But to be accurate the buyer bought an SE model (that was an HRC color scheme SE serial number) not an SP model – so I hope he/she went into the deal eyes wide open and got what they expected.

      There is nothing wrong with the SE – they are fantastic bikes, and if it is as good as the ad says its going be a blast.

      But if you where expecting a pucka Rothmans SP and paid what you might have expected was a premium for what you thought was a proper credentialed Rothmans SP and got an HRC color SE (without the HRC color scheme) instead, one might feel duped.

      I would expect to pay more for a decent SP and would expect an SE advertised as an SP to be discounted to reflect the incorrect listing – but that’s just me. 🙂

      There where probably 50,000 MC21s sold over the life of the model and only about 1/3 where SPs and SEs – and maybe 1/3 of that where SPs – I kinda expect the seller and price to accurately reflect the actual bike for sale 🙂

  • Make it shiny and it will sell.

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are now being moderated. Constructive comments pertaining to the listing will be gladly accepted, but expect some delay between comment submission and publishing. Comments will automatically close after 30 days. Thank you. -dc

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