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Ha ha ! We're nearly halfway through the year and I've yet to post anything on here. Sorry. Just in case anyone's still reading this, I do still own 4 KR's, plus an LC, a GSX-R and a couple of Gag bikes. They (mostly) all run too, but only the GSX-R and LC are on the road at the moment as I have very little spare time to be able to use them.
I still run Diff'rent Strokers and am also regularly on the KR250 Forum which is still the best place to swap advice and parts etc. There's a number of other KR owners on there sharing their build photos at the moment.
As I type this, there are still a couple of KR's for sale on Ebay. Strangely, they're both green/white, they're both missing their side-fairings, and they both have 'S' motors. They're also both vastly overpriced : Tokyo Trading still has theirs at £5895 (see Jan 2014 ) and Blaylocks Motorcycles has one at £6000 (they're not far from me so maybe I should go for a look). Be assured that there are other bikes out there at more sensible prices, if you want one. And you should.
So, as I've got nothing to tell you about my bikes, let's have a look at someone else's. This KR is nothing to do with me, but owner 'Smeg' kindly said I could share his words and pictures with you all :
These pictures were taken at the Barry Sheene Festival (Eastern Creek, Australia, Mar 2016) where I took my KR to be run in and set up. The swingarm is stock but mounted upside down and plated, the supports for it were welded and re-drilled to get the angle right. The wheels are off a Suzuki GSX250F Across, the anti-dive on the forks has been disconnected, and I've fitted a steering damper. The fairing is from a Honda RS250 extended with fibreglass, as is the seat unit. The bike runs a total-loss Ignitech ignition, the carbs are RGV250L slightly modified to fit, and the reed valves have been removed so the engine is just rotary disk. As far as the engine goes, the sleeves for the main bearings in the cases were replaced so that the main bearings do not spin, the primary drives have been custom made so that they engage both sprockets on the clutch drive. At the top-end, the transfer ports have been cleaned up and ported (nothing too radical) and it has over-length rods. Because the original water pump is driven off the end of the crank, it would cavitate at 12000 rpm, so the oil galleries that were no longer needed were sealed, a machined tooth drive was fitted to the end of the crank, then an external water pump was fitted driven by a toothed belt. The radiator was custom made in China, it has around 4 times the capacity of the standard radiator, the water flow has also been reversed. The jetting is almost done, it pulls clean through the gears and engine temp is good (at least it didn't go bang), but it will visit the dyno shortly to optimise the jetting and check the ignition is set up correctly.
Not my KR on the Diff'rent Strokers stand at Stafford this time, it was Darin's (and it's for sale at a realistic price, contact me if you're seriously interested). It was spotted by Jerry Lodge who was on a nearby club stand and he popped over for a chat - if you scroll back 14 years you'll realise that this whole website wouldn't exist without him. Also nearby was a KR750 and that was for sale too, at a less-realistic price...
KR's popped up in the media this month. Classic Mechanics Magazine run a Retro Reboot feature each month, where Kar Lee (PB journalist and graphics whizz) dreams up a virtual fantasy bike inspired by an old one. Would you buy a new 145bhp/145Kg square-four two-stroke ? That prompted James Whitham to write in with a very brief review of the KR he raced at the TT. And Scott Redmond did one of his felt-tip doodles especially for me!
KR owner Terry also sent me this photo of a brand new KR250 still in its original crate in a motorbike shop in NSW Australia !
It's Christmas ! Well, nearly. The latest issue of Racers Magazine is all about the KR250/350 race bikes. I got my copy direct from Japan as soon as it was published. Typical of his countrymen, the seller included a hand-made origami crane as a symbol of good luck.
As I've so little to say on here lately, it doesn't seem worth creating a new diary page so I'll just extend this one. With winter over, I dug the KR out of the garage and got it running again. There's no reason it wouldn't pass an MOT, but should I bother ? I used to try and keep all of my bikes running and legal all year round, but with so little time to use them it seems pointless. My 750RK and 350LC are both MOT'd and taxed as is the wife's 250 Hornet, so that's most bases covered if I want to go out on one.
I was at the Stafford Show again, manning the Diff'rent Strokers stand as usual and chatting with mates about ideas and (stalled) projects. As you know, I tend to be all talk and no action, but an idea for next years show was discussed and - in my case - it'd be KR-based. I really want to do it, but I'll need help, and I'll also need to dust off my dormant FromJapan account...
Christmas Eve, and I dug the red/black KR out of the far corner of the garage with a view to finally getting it on the road, and then making my proposed plan happen. It hadn't run since October 2011 though. The green one came back to life pretty easily though, and shortly afterwards, so did the red/black one !
So it runs, but there's a nasty fuel leak from the bottom left seam of the tank. The front brake calipers were previously removed for servicing but then left neglected. But I'm hopeful that it'll get through an MOT with a bit of work. First, a wash, and some bodywork stocktaking.
The weather has been awful. No useful progress made with the red/black bike yet. In the meantime, I bought another two partsbooks from Japan - just the early red and green ones to find now. And check out this Z250-based Kork, erm, replica I spotted on Ebay!
I took the green one to the Endurance Legends event at Donington, where it was displayed on the Diff'rent Strokers stand. I didn't venture out on track, but I did ride it round the paddock so people could hear it running.
Huge thanks to Viktor, who wrote and photographed an article about his KR for Hungarian magazine Motor Klasszic, and gave both me and this site a mention !
You've probably noticed that there's very little activity on this site these days, for which I apologise. I've not actually had any of my KR's on the road for a few years now, though they get the odd trip out to a show or trackday sometimes. The project bike hasn't been touched for a long time, and the red/black one has been at my mate's place for 20 months waiting for him to gather the enthusiasm to fix the basic faults and get it through an MOT.
Hopefully, a significant step has been made this month into breathing some life into my bikes and this site - we've moved house ! We had 12 bikes and all my tools and spares crammed into a single modern brick garage at the old place, so if I wanted to take one out for a ride or to work on it, I had to move lots of others out of the way first. And with a narrow drive I could only just squeeze my van down coupled with too many nosey neighbours, it wasn't easy to get stuff done. At least that's my excuse...
So, we've moved. I've got a longer/wider garage now, and a longer/wider drive too, with few neighbours. I'll stick some pictures up soon, but everything's still packed away in boxes at the moment. I rented a local storage unit (in lime-green, naturally !) so I could move everything into it in advance, to minimise the amount of stuff we had to shift on moving day. Well, 'day' would have been good, we actually had a 90-minute window to get it all done, but that's another story. For now, here's a photo of the 2 neglected bikes dragged out into the sun, and a couple of moving pics.
Remember my red/black KR that I let my mate take away in Jan 2018 ? There was a very specific plan for it, but he lost interest and gave me it back. However, he did do a bit of work on it first, and so for the first time since I acquired it, it ... wait for it ... has an MOT ! The original tank was too leaky so he fitted the dented KR250S one I had spare. He also fettled the brakes and managed to improve the sealing on the front exhaust. I taxed it immediately, I'm looking forward to actually riding this one for the first time !
So, Covid-19 happened. Seems like a good opportunity to get into the garage and finally get some stuff done, seeing as we're not allowed to leave the house for a while. I'm hopeful that I might update this site a bit more often now. Stay safe everyone, and be kind to people. In particular, don't be tempted to start profiteering like some...
Oh yeah, very much against my better judgement, I've volunteered to take over Doug's KR250 Owners Page on Facebook so feel free to join in on there if you wish.
With a rare day off work, nice weather and a ban on leaving the house, I pulled the KR's out of the garage to see what's what. I put the red/black tank and sidepanels back on the second bike, and then raided my spares stash for the most lurid combination of mismatched colours I could find. I think it looks ace like that, frankly. The main green bike fired up first kick and I let it warm up and managed to ride it a few yards down the drive. Then I gave 'em all a very half-hearted wipe with a rag and took some photos.
How cool is this ? I knew there was a factory race kit manual available back in the day, to instruct racers how best to tune their bikes for the track. I'd never managed to get hold of a copy myself though, but fellow KR owner Dan has got one and very kindly scanned the whole thing for me to share on here. Incidentally, Dan manufactures high-quality gaskets for a variety of bikes, including the KR - check out Gasket Guru and tell him I sent you.
Download the complete Factory Race Kit Manual here, courtesy of Dan !
I have a bit more space now. Not enough, obviously...
I have a confession to make. Yes, another one. The red/black KR has been road-legal for a year but I've never actually found time to take it for a ride. I needed to put that right. I discovered that my mate had fitted push-fit inline fuel filters which - as usual - started leaking straight away, so I added some clips to temporarily hold them in place. I pumped the tyres up, added a splash of fuel, and kicked it into life. Then I donned my helmet and ventured out onto public roads for the first time since I bought it in Oct 2008 ! I just did a short spin round the block, so I could check it over before venturing further. Sadly, that's as far as I got. Although it ran nice and crisply, the temp needle quickly shot up and it started dripping coolant. It was difficult to see where from, and suspecting the lower rad hose, I removed it to check it out. Though it doesn't explain the initial leak, you can see in the pic below that the cast stub on the water pump housing has crumbled away to dust. Looking at the state of the coolant, ok, rusty water, it's not surprising.
A long-overdue update. Wish I had something to say though. My job, my family, my home life and the lingering global crapfest that is Covid-19 have all conspired against me doing anything at all with any of my bikes. Frankly, if I had even enough spare time to do that, I'd be getting most of them into suitable shape to sell them. I managed a great day out on the LC at last September's Yorkshire 2-Stroke Day but that was literally it. I did consider pulling the plug on this site altogether last month, but in the end I renewed my domain/package for another 2 years. Not entirely sure why.
For now, here's some sample pics from the KR250 Owners Page on Facebook - feel free to join in there.
At last ! With no advance warning, Hasegawa have just released a 1:12-scale model kit of a KR250A ! Needless to say, I ordered a couple the same day and they arrived safely from Japan in less than a week.
Anyone still here ? You may remember I reluctantly inherited the Admin rights to the KR250 Owners Community on Facebook that Doug Hughes set up a few years ago. Because he set it up as a 'community' rather than a normal 'group', it's proved very difficult both for me to manage and for any of the members to interact with it. I tried to get it converted to a group but that proved impossible. Understandably frustrated by that, one of the members set up his own KR250 Owners Group on Facebook back in July 2021. I've only just discovered it, and have joined it and been made an Admin on there too. The intention is for everyone on the community to now join the group, and migrate as much of the useful info across as possible. Then I'll let the community page die, and possibly even delete it altogether. So please join the 'new' group and help make it the best-known and most-useful Tandem-Twin resource on the net.
Exactly 20 years to the day that I first rode home in the pouring rain on my quirky new toy, I dug it out of the garage, pumped the tyres up, freed off the brakes, kicked it into life on 18-month-old fuel, and rode up and down the drive a couple of times.
Anything new to report ? Not really. It still runs. One of the other bikes in the garage has now been sold, which is hopefully the first step towards getting a grip of my life.
It's probably been 25 years since I last bought a bike magazine that's devoted to modern bikes. To say I'm out of touch with current biking trends would be to understate it massively. I'd never have even glanced at the March 2024 issue of Bike, but someone on the excellent KR250 Owners Group on Facebook drew my attention to the back page. If some of the text feels uncomfortably familiar, it's because it's plainly been copied directly from this site...