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Rare Team Green Two-Stroke: 1988 Kawasaki KR-1 for Sale

1988 Kawasaki KR1 R Side Front

Well this one’s pretty exciting: the recent influx of two-stroke sportbikes has been notably lacking in Team Green Kawasakis like this KR-1, thought by some to be one of the best, or at least the craziest, of the breed. Considered by the press to be a significantly better performer than the RGV, the KR-1 was very fast, but flawed and somewhat fragile: reliability was pretty sub-par even compared to other highly-strung two-stroke whippets, and the bike was notoriously tank-slappy over uneven surfaces, something that affected road riders more than track users.

1988 Kawasaki KR1 L Side

Although it followed the very familiar “249cc, six-speed, liquid-cooled two cylinder” formula common to every bike in the class, that little motor was noticeably more oversquare than the Honda NSR250: bore and stroke of the parallel-twin were 56mm x 50.6mm and the bike put out a claimed 55hp which, in the KR-1, was good for a top speed of 131mph. The later KR-1S saw a slight bump in power and a max velocity of 139mph, making it the fastest 250 by a pretty wide margin, considering the virtually identical specs of the bikes in this class.

1988 Kawasaki KR1 Dash

The 271lb dry weight helped, of course, and the cassette-style 6-speed gearbox was an exotic piece of kit, if basically useless on the road. But on the track, the bike shined and it was very successful in British Supersport racing at the time.

Today’s example looks very sharp, except for a few minor cosmetic imperfections like that discolored pillion seat and those possibly non-standard rear indicators. Many recently-imported two-stroke sportbikes are selling for very reasonable sums, but the seller is jumping right in with a $6,500 starting bid on this one.

1988 Kawasaki KR1 L Side Rear

From the original eBay listing: 1988 Kawasaki KR-1 for Sale

Nice original KR-1 for sale.

Good for Collection or Track days.

Not recommend on street too fast! No title bill of sale only.

Bike runs well.

Will ship worldwide, export shipping papers available.

Ultimately, the KR-1 is missing some of the trickness found on the TZR and NSR. It doesn’t feature reverse-head wizardry and banana swingarms are also conspicuously absent, but these have that reputation for being unruly and wild, which made up for the more pedestrian components. And since two-strokes always require a bit more effort to run, the lack of reliability didn’t seem to negatively affect the bike’s image when new and doesn’t seem to affect it now.  The 18” rear wheel does limit tire choice somewhat, although manufacturers are starting to offer some grippy rubber in that size, owing to two-strokes’ popularity in vintage racing.

1988 Kawasaki KR1 Cockpit

The KR-1 lacked the later KR-1S’ nickel-plated cylinders, which might help when the time comes to source engine parts. It was also supposed to be a bit roomier than competition from Suzuki and Honda, something that might help it appeal to US riders, assuming they can get it titled. Just fit a steering damper and have at it. No seriously: you’ll be fine. I’m sure. Safe as houses.

More Kawasaki weirdness in the pipeline for tomorrow, so stay tuned!

-tad

1988 Kawasaki KR1 R Side

6 Comments

  • Wow! Yesterday was NSR from my boyhood, and this time KR-1!! KR-1s are so much rarer than the rest of 2-stroke little racers, because, at least in Japan, only a group of hardcore lime green squad bought them – I feel, back then, Kawasaki probably had the smallest, but the most devoted fan base. One guy in our little group of touge racers had KR-1, he was a bit of nutter! It’s funny that there were sort of “types,” I guess, stereotype about particular makes…Honda people would want the best no matter (you know, HRC had the biggest budget, and the fastest race bikes at the time, NSRs, RVFs, etc), Yamaha appealed to the fashion crowd (thanks a lot to Tadahiko Taira and Tech21 team), Suzuki guys (me included) just didn’t want to be seen on Yamaha or Honda (because we just loved Schwantz and the legend of Pop Yoshimura), and Kawasaki folks just didn’t touch anything that is not Kawasaki. (It’s not at all accurate, but it’s fun to think about.) Kawasaki people were devoted because, compared to other Honda and Yamaha, Team Green operated with incredibly smaller budget, so they were definite underdog, and the underdogs always have the most passionate fans. Before the KR-1, Kawasaki sort of stayed away from the race-replica street racer war, and their bikes were sporty and fast, but not overly racy, like ZX-4 (which I really liked), so KR-1 kind of came out nowhere. Kawasaki wasn’t racing in GP racing (and also Japanese 500/250 championship series, Team Green’s focus was TT F1 class, today’s Superbike class, I think, and endurance racing at the time, they came in third at Le Mans in 1989), so KR-1 was like a race replica that really wasn’t a replica of anything, so it’s kind of a mystery how it became so good from the get-go. Weird, it’s one of those really rare things that makes me feel I was younger again!!

    • Interesting stories JB.!

  • Very cool bike. One of the few GP replicas not readily available on the import sites. the ‘S’ looks even better but this is a fitting listing for the site!

  • “Not recommended on the street….too fast.” Thanks for the laugh!

  • I get to ride one of these often it’s physically smaller feeling when I jump off my rgv vj22 the kr1 feels like I jumped on to a 125. It’s like the first Gen tzr 250 or the rg 250 the later model 250’s are bigger in size.

  • Not recommend on street too fast! No title bill of sale only……..giggles !

    No title bill of sale…..

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