OK, I've been talking about it for long enough, I need to arrange a KR Day this year. Who's up for it ? We should be able to get 6 working bikes together fairly easily, maybe a few more if we include dead ones and projects etc. Paul Wilshaw asked me about it so choosing his pub as a venue seems the obvious thing to do, especially given the success of his Two-Stroke Sundays. So, Doug, Gary, Darin, Andy, Mark, Mick et al - get your bikes polished up and we'll sort something out for the summer !
Meanwhile, another KR top fairing appeared on Ebay so I had a bid and won it. It's undamaged apart from a couple of scratches and it came complete with the screen and a pair of indicators. And whilst at the local autojumble I spotted a pair of KR footpegs - actually they're probably off a GPZ or something but they're the same part.
Another bike show, another KR. The Bristol Classic Show this time, at the Bath & West Showground near Shepton Mallet. Long way away for me, but almost on Darin's doorstep so Diff'rent Strokers booked a stand and we put his KR on it along with some other cool bikes. A couple of familiar faces dropped by to say hello and some new ones were spotted peering curiously at the KR engine and wondering why it was so complicated.
Also this month, the VJMC's 'Tansha' club magazine features an article written by me about my trip to Japan for the KROG Meet back in 2005. They'd been running short of features for publication and asked the club members to submit some - mine was one of those chosen and Dennis (the Editor) made a smart job of choosing photos off my site and laying the article out over 4 full pages. On the back of that, I've already been contacted by a new KR owner and I've had a chat with someone else about spending some time with a works KR250 racer...
Not much chance of me ever finding a 'S' head to go with my recently-acquired barrels is there ? That's what I thought anyway, until I spotted one being sold on Yahoo Auctions Japan with a few other bits and pieces. A quick bid, and a couple of days later it was mine for only 900 Yen ! Of course, all the additional charges push the cost way up and I also splashed out on a pair of sidepanels and some original owners handbooks (as new, in the Kawasaki bag !) too, but I'm pretty happy with that. The balance pipe is there too so I'm only missing the control unit now. Although I don't know if the exhausts are the same ?
Also this month, Andy Bolas' mint red/white KR got a 5-page feature to itself in Classic Mechanics Magazine and they plugged this site a couple of times too. Shame they didn't get my name right though...
Not much to report this month, though I did pop along to the Stafford Classic Bike Show to meet Kork. He was there as guest of honour and I bet he's sick of signing copies of his new book by now ! Chris Wilson's KR500 provided the backdrop, although sadly didn't take part in the outdoor part of the show where they fired some old race bikes up.
Plenty of bike-related stuff going on but not with the KR's sadly. You can read about my Suzuki's and Yamaha (and my wife's Honda's) elsewhere.
A tax-disc renewal letter for the KR reminds me that the MOT is due too. Checking the previous certificate reveals that it's covered just 6kms since the last one. And I think the last time it ran was when I fired up so that Fred could hear it at the Uttoxeter show last July. Disgraceful.
So I booked it in for a MOT. There should be no reason for it fail though should there ? Well, I checked it over the night before and obviously the tyres were flat again, especially the front one. The rear brake was sticking causing the lever to stay down and the front brakes were very spongey with the lever was coming back to the bars. And obviously it's still leaking gearbox oil - it looks worse than it is though 'cos the level is still right in the middle of the sight glass. I pumped up the tyres, freed off the rear brake and bled the front ones, although they remained a bit lifeless. All the lights, winkers, horn etc. still worked OK - the battery is topped up regularly with an Optimate charger that takes turns on all 6 bikes in the garage. And I splashed a bit of fresh fuel in too.
Despite the lack of use, I was confident it would start and run OK the next morning, and sure enough it burst into life with only a few kicks. I took the long-ish route to the bike shop and all was well, apart from a non-functioning fuel gauge. I was half-expecting it to fail on soggy brakes but it passed OK and I took the same route home too to give it a bit of a run. It's not the fastest or best-handling bike I own but it's probably the one that puts the biggest smile on my face and I'm feeling guilty for neglecting it so much.
The clutch started dragging towards the end of my ride making gear-selection tricky but I should be able to adjust that out. The exhausts are still blowing (those new gaskets have sat on a shelf for 3 years now waiting to be fitted...) but oddly the bike always started first kick even when warm. I still need to check those crank dampers though, for research as much as anything else. And I think I'll fit that set of new brake hoses I ordered a couple of years ago - I didn't like the look of them at the time but the original ones look very tatty now and new bleed nipples, banjo's and washers should hopefully put the power back in the brakes. I also need a pair of new master-cylinder bolts as the originals are pretty mangled now. And now it's taxed again I need to keep putting a few miles on it now and again.
I saw a couple of KR parts for sale on Ebay and contacted the seller. He was breaking a complete bike and sent me some pictures. Kinda purple innit ? Some of the desirable parts had already gone (cheers Mick !) but we struck a deal for the carbs (complete with throttle and choke cables and the inlet stubs) and the crank dampers. Also the kickstart lever, though I shall have to get the paintstripper out for that ! There's still some parts left I think - find his ads on Ebay or ask me and I'll put you in touch.
How many KR250's is too many ? I think I've just agreed to buy another one. Watch this space...
An idle moment browsing Yahoo Auctions Japan saw a silver RH sidepanel pop up for sale. You may remember that I've been trying to collect these in all the original KR colours but I didn't have a silver one. So now I do. The only one I'm missing now is the red/black one from the Aussie-only model. Fellow anoraks will notice that I do have a red/white 'RRIS' one but the white bit has been sprayed black for some reason. Yes, I know, I should get out more. I took a snap of all my spare bodywork at the same time, just because I can never remember what I have.
Simply because I hadn't heard it running for a while, I fired the bike up too. Wanna hear it ? Well, I've put
it on YouTube ! It's not a very
exciting clip and it's quite poor quality, but it's a start. And why is the project bike out in the sun ? Well,
I've been constructing a raised platform for the bike shows we do and I needed a bike to test it with. As the KR-R
doesn't have an engine it was the obvious one to use, just in case weight was an issue. I know I haven't done much
with it for a couple of years, but I still look at it and think it looks great, in a hidden-potential kind of way...
A couple of months back I suggested another KR was on it's way to my already overstuffed garage. Here it is. Someone offered it to me a couple of years ago via this site but at the time I didn't fancy it, so I pointed a couple of other people at it and it was bought by Andy Bolas. He managed to get it running but then stole the lower exhaust off it for his green bike and recently decided it was surplus to requirements. It's UK-registered on a 'D'-plate but was last on the road in 2001. It's got 19000kms on the clock, and seems to be all there apart from the exhaust and the heatshield off the upper silencer. There's a few bits of rust, not least on the left hand side of the tank.
So why have I bought it ? Well, I'm not sure really ! The original red/black paint was definitely a factor, as was the knowledge that it does run and is already registered. Plus I didn't like Andy having more of 'em than I did - ha ha ! It could be a doner for my project KR or instead I could fit the exhaust off my parts bike and try and put it back on the road, tidying it up without restoring it properly. I don't really want another standard KR but it does look kinda cool in those rare ZX750 Turbo-style colours. And I'm a sucker for white wheels, although they should really be dark grey like all the other models. Hey, I've just thought - I could even swap the trick bits off the project straight over to this bike and have my KR250R running earlier than expected !
Also this month, I saw someone advertising 'KR250 full replica sticker kits' on Ebay. I bought one (£11.99 inc P&P)
just to see how good it was, as no-one else this side of Australia seems to make them. The kits are aimed at owners
of the green/white models, but do not include the pinstripes or the smaller logo's - you get a pair of 'Kawasaki' decals
for the tank, a smaller one for the front of the fairing and the pair of 'KR250 Tandem Twin' logos for the sidepanels.
When they arrived, the quality looked quite good but the sizing was off - see the photos below. But the suppliers Signs Services acted on my constructive feedback and have amended the sizing in future kits already, so I can definitely recommend them if you're restoring your bike. The existing sticker sets suit the silver model too by the way, and I'm working with them to help owners of the other colour schemes too. They're already offering the 'KVSS' fairing decal to all you lucky 'S' owners...
There were two extra options you could order with your new KR250 back in 1984 - a single seat converter and a paddock stand. I managed to get a seat cowl ages ago - in fact I've got a couple - but thought that all the stands would be long gone now. But an idle moment browsing Yahoo Auctions saw one pop up in the list of items for sale. I hesitated about bidding on it as it was quite expensive and the potential shipping costs would be high too. But in the end I couldn't resist it and it duly arrived a few days later. I thought it might need repainting but considering how old it is it's actually in very good condition and I'm going to leave it as it is. Of course, I could have bought several brand new universal stands for what it cost me but I've got an obsession to maintain here !
I spotted a new head-gasket on Ebay and the seller also had a used footpeg - they've been added to my spares box. I've not done much to the red/black KR yet by the way. I've charged the battery and proved that most of the electrics seem to work. The tyres leak quite badly but I might swap the wheels over from the spares bike to 'fix' that. I've treated the worst of the rust spots on the tank and tapped the damaged sidepanel lug on the frame. I was about to remove the naff tank pad but noticed it's a 'Daytona' item so might leave it fitted as a bit of aftermarket Japanese cool...
A few quiet hours after Christmas is all I've managed this month. I'd set myself a goal of getting the red/black bike running before the end of the year, so as time was fast running out I dragged it out of the garage. The rear tyre goes flat overnight although the front one seems OK now. I pulled the tank and a few panels off, and jotted down the engine number as it's not been recorded on the logbook up to now. Surprisingly, not only was the airfilter still in place but it looks perfectly usable. There was also a pair of new BR9ES plugs fitted. I'd already fitted an Optimate charger lead to the battery (all my other bikes have them) and put it on charge for a couple of days. A quick test of the various electrics showed there was no taillight, no sidelight and no rear brakelight - everything else seemed OK.
Of course, I also needed to remove the lower exhaust from the spares bike and fit it to the red/black one. Oddly the old gasket was still in place but one mounting stud was missing and the other one was too short - snapped off or sawn off ? With nothing to lose I slapped on some instant gasket and fastened it up as good as I could with a new allen bolt in place of the missing stud. The tank appears to be just as rusty on the inside as it is on the outside. A half-heated attempt to swill out some of the cack with some fresh petrol didn't really bode well for the state of the carbs.
Just as I was about to attempt starting it for the very first time, some old mates turned up to wish me a Happy New Year. With many years of 2-stroke ownership and experience behind them, the pressure was on. Moment of truth then. Tank back on, a splash of fresh fuel, ignition on, kick it... nothing. But after a minute or two, a cough suggested it was worth continuing so with Dave's leg taking over the duties it spluttered a bit on one pot then chimed in nicely on both ! Didn't sound too bad with the leaky exhaust either. I hurriedly pumped some air into the rear tyre and rode it under its own power a few feet down the drive a couple of times, just for the sake of it.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to anyone still reading this nonsense. Will I finally manage KR Day in 2009 ? Will Tono and the boys arrange a 25th Anniversary meet in Japan ? How many KR's will I own this time next year ?
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