Kawasaki had a tiger by the tale in 1988, and for a season or two the KR-1 bested every RGV, TZR and NSR. Coming out of a collection, this KR-1 looks to have missed the scrapes most 250cc two-strokes got caught up in.
Kawasaki’s 249cc two-stroke might have been furthest from a real race bike, as there wasn’t a factory presence in the 250 category. Still the snappy parallel twin, with balance shaft, was eminently tuneable and the package very light. The 55 hp produced by the Integrated Power Valve System worked beautifully with just 271 lbs. of dry weight. The frame looked overbuilt but was a light alloy, and 41mm forks were up front with dual discs. Out back there was the Uni-Trak monoshock and an 18-inch rear wheel. Pillion accommodations put the lie to racey looking bodywork.
This Seattle owner has a few classic sportbike auctions going, and goes into detail about their KR-1:
Recently completely serviced and detailed with clear Washington state title. The KR-1 is considered to be the fastest and more lively two stroke 250 sports bike compared to all the other models in its class. The model was never imported in to the USA and is probably the rarest model in the 250cc two stroke sports bike category around the world. This particular Kawasaki KR-1 has just 8,298 miles, the bike is mostly all original and in exceptional preserved condition.
The body work is all original and is in very good condition, there are absolutely no cracks on any of the body panels but there are some minor nicks and scrapes. The wheels are perfect with no rock chips or scratches anywhere. The frame and engine have no major corrosion and are nice and clean. Overall cosmetically this bike is in very nice condition.
The bike runs and rides great, and shifts smoothly through all 6 gears. The carburetors were recently ultrasonically cleaned and adjusted, and a full service tune-up was performed which included new spark plugs, chain, air filter, brake pads, oil change, new tires, and fluids flushed. All of the lighting, switches, and electrical components work as they should.
These bikes were never imported into the USA, and very few were exported outside of Japan to any other countries so this is a very rare Kawasaki model.
Kawi and Suzuki traded the “fastest 250” back and forth a few times, with the KR-1S snatching it back before the factory decided to focus on their four stroke offerings. Though Suzuki had staying power, the KR-1 stole the moment in the very late -80’s. Early interest in the auction says the hammer might fall at a high price, but the new owner will have a sparkling and rare example.