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Kawasaki posted by

KR1S KR0S: California-Titled 1991 Kawasaki KR-1S for Sale!

Here in the US, the entire class of 250cc two-stroke sportbikes was long nearly impossible to come by and, let’s be honest, probably not much missed by the majority of the riding public. In a land of GSX-R1100s being ridden by guys who considered a mullet and wraparound shades to be adequate protection, the market for 45hp two-strokes was always going to be pretty limited. But if you were just the right kind of motorcycle enthusiast, it must have been excruciating to read about bikes like today’s Kawasaki KR-1S in the pages of Fast Bikes and other European magazines of the period.

It’s easier to get a number of these formerly forbidden fruits here these days, now that they’re legal to import. After all, the Honda NSR250R was in production from 1987 until 1996 so, if you’re not too picky about which particular NSR you get, it’s not really all that rare a bike in its home market: nearly 100,000 were built in total. But Kawasaki’s entry into the class is rare, even in Japan, and was only rarely seen outside its domestic market. And even then, just 10,000 were built between 1988 and 1992, the bike’s entire production run.

By the time the 90s had rolled around, Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha had all shifted to v-twins, but Kawasaki stuck with a parallel twin configuration, with the engine hung completely beneath the typical aluminum beam frame of the class. Like every other two-stroke two-fiddy, the KR-1 was light, agile, and involving to ride. Technology in the hotly contested class was cutting edge, and Kawasaki brought their KIPS powervalve and a slick six-speed gearbox to the party. Power was officially limited to a government-mandated 45hp, but the bike was naturally capable of much more when derestricted.

There were three versions of the KR-1 available: the base KR-1, the KR-1S seen here that included wider wheels at the front and rear, and a few hundred examples of the KR-1R that featured larger carburetors and a close-ratio gearbox. Top speed was a frankly incredible as-tested speed of 139mph!

From the original eBay listing: 1991 Kawasaki KR-1S for Sale

A Very rare 17 digit frame (Australia) CA titled 1991 Kawasaki KR1S 250 two stroke bike. Bike is in excellent condition. Bike will come with a lot of NOS parts and engine parts as well. Feel free to message me if you have any questions thank you very much.

The price for this two-stroke unicorn is a steep $17,900. Is it worth it? Well that’s hard to say: if that Cali title is easily transferred and if that cache of parts is extensive, I’m sure it will be to the right buyer. You may have heard that there are lots of well-heeled enthusiasts here in California with more money than sense… If you’re interested, move fast: there’s just about one day left on this auction!

-tad

19 Comments

  • God, this thing is cherry Someone buy it please, before I do…

  • I enjoy this site and visit almost daily but the dip into effete snobbery is uncalled for. The reason the market was limited was because the bikes were unobtainsble – not because of the preferences of a tiny percentage of squids that make up the riding community, however coiffed.

    • I’m sincerely glad you like the site, but no need to resort to name calling. There’s nothing “effete” about my snobbery… and honestly I’m usually being snarky, not snobby in my posts. If we bikers can’t unite in making fun of squids riding hideously fast motorcycles without protective gear, what will unite us? By the way, do you ride a Slabbie or a Slingshot GSX-R1100?

      I think the problem here is that you have things backwards: it’s not that these bikes are rare in the US because you couldn’t buy them here, it’s that you couldn’t buy them here because the manufacturers didn’t feel enough people wanted them. Ask yourself: if Honda made almost 100,000 NSRs, then why are they rare here? Are you suggesting there was massive, pent-up demand for little two-stroke sportbikes here in the US and Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki were just missing out? Two-strokes were gradually being made illegal anyway, so maybe it wouldn’t have made much sense to bring them over even if there had been interest. But the now-desirable 250cc and 400cc four-cylinder four-strokes from the same period never made it to the US either. Kawasaki sold its prehistoric, parallel-twin Ninja 250 in virtually unchanged form from 1986 for over two decades, even though they had a wonderful 250cc four cylinder all tooled up and ready to go. They chose not to sell them here because they thought no one would want them. High gas prices, tiered licenses, and taxation based on engine size helped to drive that market in other countries, but not in the US. Bottom line: Americans in general don’t want smaller-displacement bikes. Don’t confuse your own preferences with that of the larger motorcycle market.

      And my stereotype is still plenty true. Most riders you see on the road, sportbikers included, aren’t exactly AGATT and, if you live in a state without helmet laws, you’ll get plenty of chances to critique their hairstyles. Again: don’t confuse your own preferences with that of the larger motorcycle market.

  • Had the wrap around Oakley Pilot shades, had the mullet, just no GSX-R 1100 sadly.

  • I owned 2 of these and raced them back in the early nineties. I was the only KR1S in my field; up against 30+ RGV’s
    These are rare because they only made them for 1-2 years and we’re not popular as the RGV
    This is a gem, I WANT IT but cannot justify that price

  • The price is what it is, and the condition is what it is, BUT the Cali title is what will cost you dearly. Unless your girlfriend works at the DMV…

  • I wonder what my uber rare Zuess Blue mint Cali plated KR-1S is worth?! Not that Ill ever sell it!

    • I still covet that bike of yours…

  • Actually, those (NSR, RG/RGV, KR-1, TZR) are becoming quite rare in Japan, too. Sometimes you can find a pristine example, but prepare to pay more than what it cost new back then. Still, easier to find them there than here, that’s for sure.

  • Fun bike soon I’ll be able to have my own mini shoot out of all 4 brands. The Kr1s engine intake design is nearly perfect for a parallel twin 2 stroke.
    It has a sweet sound especially with some aftermarket pipes.

  • Don’t know if this is the right place for this…
    I have a Yamaha RZ 350N – 1985, red and white .
    Great 2 stroke of the 80’s , I bought in October 1985.
    Looking to maybe sell it for the right price. It’s in excellent conditions and is very clean , runs perfect with 10,700 mi. on it. Changed pipes only. Tucson AZ. Area
    Would anyone know market value?

  • It is a wonderful example, in the perfect Kawasaki green /blue & white color scheme. Here in the states,17 digit vin titled . Rare anywhere in the world in this condition.BTW the white is a white pearl , beautiful. I got my 1970 Royal Enfield Interceptor up for sale to partially fund an offer.

  • The comments section would not be the right place. Do some of your own research. Its frankly pretty lazy to just ask’ do you know price’. There are piles of listing boards from craigslist to ebay sold listings to get an idea on pricing. You can also pay to list it on this site. The following is super wide and is totally worth the minimal charge for the marketing value.

  • Yahoo japan and google translate will give you options if you want a 2t sportbike rider. But few bikes from japan have aged well in the salty air for 30 years. Tim at Moto2imports can help you out. Still not cheap or pristine but riding them is a unique revelation. The benefits on the street won’t compare to a trackday, but this is bucklist indulgence.

    Kawasaki here if unbelievable. I have never even seen a thrashed one on Yahoo japan.

  • Tad has got to the most eloquent writer out there. His passion for these bikes oozes. Always pick up some tidbit i didn’t know.

    • I really appreciate that. We’re definitely doing things for the love around here, and our readers are one of the best things about working for this site.

  • You want to see something interesting search for Kawasaki x-09 their last real 250 two stroke factory bike. There was both an B and C model the C has an upside down v-twin. Some believe it was going to be their possible production version. Since all the other Japanese brands had made the switch to production v-twins all ready.

  • Tad your post isn’t snobby at all – it’s honest. If some tuxedo-language-speaking snob doesn’t realize that then it’s his loss.

    Hell yeah open class sportbikes ruled the roads here during the supersport frenzy, because we have no tiered licensing and a lot of Wide Open Spaces. Not enough die-hard corner freaks to make it worthwhile to import CA-illegal smokers. It just is what it is. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks! I sometimes come off as snobby, but you guys know I’m not. I love pretty much all bikes, even the occasional Harley…

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