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Happy New Year KR fans ! It's three days into 2011 and I'm updating this place already. But as usual I find myself apologising for the lack of progress last year, and the infrequent new content on this site. I'd like to think that I'll do a lot better this year but I wouldn't blame you for doubting it...
Anyway, where am I up to with my KR's ? Erm, well the main bike hasn't been run for 8 months and the MOT and TAX have expired. It shouldn't take too much to put it back on the road, though I never got round to fixing any of the niggles - the slow puncture, the oil leak, the crank-timing, the dragging clutch...
The red/black bike hasn't been touched since Sep 2009, when I fired it up but the throttle cables had stuck open. I would love to get both bikes out - legally - on the road this year. Should be possible, if I pull my finger out. The KR250R project has progressed nowhere for, erm, 4 years now and the spares bike is still tucked away at my Dad's place (I hope).
I've not even made any progress with sourcing pistons, rings or gaskets - which is what I get asked about the most.  But I am very pleased that plenty of you have signed up with the excellent KR Forum and are using it to swap advice and parts. Those of you that haven't discovered it yet, get on there immediately - my username on there is 'StrokerBoy' and you'll probably get a quicker answer on there than by emailing me here.
Due to lack of use (ahem...), the throttle on the main bike had got a bit sticky too. So one Sunday I pulled the carbs off and removed the cables, not forgetting the oil-pump cable of course. Having detached the slides and disconnected it from the twistgrip, the cable did seem a bit stiff. It can probably be saved with a careful strip and some oiling, but luckily a new throttle cable is one of the few bits of KR 'NOS' I've managed to get. Strangely though, when I compared them alongside each other, they're quite a bit different at the handlebar end. Whether this gives me a problem or not remains to be seen...
A couple of weeks later I got chance to find out. I'd stripped and cleaned the carbs so they were fitted, then refitted when I realised I'd got the two fuel pipes mixed up. The new cable was fitted at the handlebar end and then correctly routed through the various clips down the right hand side of the frame. I reattached the slides and then slotted those into the carbs. Except I'd mixed up the carb tops too, so then they had to be swapped over - the rear one has more of a bend to clear the frame. Finally I reattached the oil-pump cable and adjusted it using the two alignment marks.
I twisted the throttle. It was heavy, and didn't return on its own. Oh. Annoyed, I decided to ignore it and go for a ride anyway. I checked the airfilter, refitted the tank and the other bits of bodywork, pumped up the flat front tyre, topped up the transmission oil and splashed some fresh fuel in. A couple of kicks and it started - not bad for 10 months of neglect. I threw a helmet and jacket on and set off on my usual 11km test route.
Despite the heavy non-return throttle, the bike was running nicely so I detoured and went off for a longer ride, stopping at one point to take a couple of photos. Well, you'd never believe me otherwise would you ? But what about the lack of tax and MOT ? Well, oddly I'd forgotten that they'd expired, only just realising whilst typing this now. Eeek ! Luckily I'd not seen a single police car during the 42km ride...
I'd better book an MOT then. But it'd never pass with a throttle that sticks open. So I pulled the cable out of the handlebar end again, only to discover that the twistgrip was glued to the bar with old grease and a bit of corrosion. A clean up with WD40 and emery paper, a dribble of light oil under the grip and all was well. I don't think it needed a new cable after all, though the red/black bike definitely does so it'll inherit the old one.
MOT booked, and passed. Only 64kms on the clock since the last one, most of that done last month (ahem...). £29 for that and another £35 for 12-months tax and it's legal again. And the throttle action is spot-on now.
A week later, I popped down to the Stafford Classic Bike Show. The April event has more of a British/Italian focus and I don't always bother going, but I'd arranged to meet a couple of people there. Andy Bolas had his lovely white/red KR on the VJMC stand complete with 'Highly Commended' rosette. He asked me how I was getting on with the red/black bike (he's the previous owner) and I confessed I'd done nothing to it for ages. The next day (Easter Monday), consumed with guilt, I dug it out from the far corner of the garage for a fettle.
First step was to remove the battery, top up the water and put it on charge. Then I took off the lower exhaust in an attempt to remove the broken stud from the barrel. I'd bought a cheap stud-extractor set at a previous show with exactly that purpose in mind. It didn't work - about 1cm of stud remained but it refused to grip it and spun uselessly. Defeated, I refitted the exhaust with two old gaskets, a generous smear of Loctite Instant Gasket and the one 8mm allen bolt I used before. Next up, the seized throttle cable. As per the green bike a couple of weeks earlier, I removed the cable along with both carbs, cleaned and checked the floats and jets, and re-routed the fuel pipes correctly. Then I refitted everything, using the old cable off the green bike and some brand-new drain tubing to replace the nasty brittle stuff that came off. I couldn't remember what the airfilter was like so checked it again.
I refitted the battery, and with the tank back on and half-a-gallon of fresh unleaded in it, I gave the kickstart lever a swing. It burst into life after only 3 or 4 kicks, but the revs rose rapidly and it was quickly apparent that the slides were being held open even though the twistgrip seemed OK. I shut it off and had a rethink. I hadn't been able to calibrate the oil-pump correctly using the new (old) cable and it'd been difficult to fit to the twistgrip end. And yes, I had checked that the twistgrip wasn't sticking to the bar this time. I checked the seized cable that'd come off and decided I had nothing to lose by trying to unseize it. You can split it in the middle, where the top cable splits into 3 for the carbs and oil pump. I did this and found it was the top bit that was stuck. With patience and liberal helpings of light oil, I managed to restore smooth movement to the whole cable. I refitted it and it certainly seemed a better match to the bike - I think they redesigned the cable slightly during the model run. This time, it started first kick and responded to the throttle properly. Pleasingly, there seemed to be no leakage from the exhaust/barrel joint either. There was a bit of fuel leaking from the new overflow tubes but a sticky float is quite common when the carbs have been apart.
So what else is needed to get the bike on the road ? It still looks a bit rough but I think it's worth attempting to MOT it and see what the boys at the bike shop think. It might need a tyre or two (the back one goes flat pretty quickly) and the brakes should be stripped and cleaned and the fluid changed. I checked all the electrics - the battery is being charged when the engine is running but it might need replacing soon (it's not the right one anyway, having the vent pipe at the wrong end). The indicators light but don't flash and the horn works as do both headlight beams and the pass switch. I replaced the rear bulb (stolen to get one of my other bikes through an MOT once) and the brake light works off both levers, but the taillight and numberplate light don't and nor does the front sidelight. Ten minutes with my multimeter unplugging and testing various connectors failed to unearth (!) the cause. Vaguely pleased with my day's progress anyway, I gave the bike a half-hearted wash with some degreaser and a bucket of hot water. Then I plugged the Optimate in to charge the battery fully and put it away for the night.
Four days later, and a bonus day off work thanks to the Royal Wedding. Anxious to avoid all the flag-waving nonsense, I headed back into the garage determined to fix the lighting problem. I'd studied the wiring diagram and found that the suspect area was the ignition switch. And so it proved to be, though I had to remove the fairing, bars and top-yoke to be able to test it properly. The R and R/W wires are supposed to be connected when the key is at 'On', providing 12v to the side/tail lights via the light switch. That wasn't happening. I couldn't fix it, and although I have a couple of spare ignition switches, I don't have the keys nor any means to remove the old switch from the yoke. So I cut the relevant wires and soldered in an external join that can be unplugged if necessary. The lights now work. Then I fitted the brand-new numberplate that I'd bought at a previous show along with a spare exhaust heatshield whose tattyness perfectly matches the rest of the bike.
After that, I took the green bike out for a run. I taped my cheap chinese spy-cam to it to try and get some action footage - the pictures are fine but the sound is terrible, especially the wind noise when forward-facing. Nevertheless, I stuck the clips on YouTube : Front View / Rear View / Rear View 2.
I didn't touch the bikes this month, not the KR's anyway. But I did put another 50p in the KR250.ORG meter - well, it cost a bit more than that actually but I've renewed the domain and web-hosting package for another two years. Is there anyone out there still reading this except me ? (Apparently there is - thanks mate, you know who you are !).
I unearthed the 'S' top-end from my parts stash to take some photos for another KR owner. He's done some amazing modifications to his bike already so I'm very keen to see what he's planning next.
I also needed to get some up-to-date photos of all my bikes for insurance purposes, so the project bike finally saw the light of day again. I promise to make some progress with it as soon as the red/black one is on the road. I do still have the other parts bike by the way, it wasn't photographed as it's at my Dad's and isn't insured anyway.
Fellow KR owner Saeid asked me if I had a port-map of the KR barrels. I'd never seen one, but with my 'S' motor sat on the bench I thought I'd give it a go. I rolled some clean white paper down the barrel and then carefully rubbed around the ports with an oily hand - the results were not as good as I hoped for so I'll give it a better go sometime. If anyone else has tried this with better success, please send me a copy of it.
I went to the Uttoxeter Show with Diff'rent Strokers again, helping arrange a great display of Suzuki RG's (for which we won 3rd Best Club Stand). More relevant to this site was the presence of Kork Ballington, who had been flown in as Guest of Honour and did the presentation of the trophies. I managed to get a few chances to catch up with him over the weekend as the show was fairly quiet, and I got him to autograph the radiator panel off my red/black KR that I'd taken along especially. I noticed Andy Bolas had also got him to sign the seat cowl on his white/red bike, which was on display on the VJMC stand again with another rosette. In the autojumble I spotted a NOS rear sprocket marked KR250 - it turned out to be for the KR-1 (KR250B) as I suspected, but as I have a KR-1 rear wheel fitted to my KR project bike I knew it'd come in useful anyway. Kork was also one of the guests at the Festival of 1000 Bikes a week later but I couldn't make it to that sadly.
I swapped the back wheel over on the red/black bike and gave the rear brake a clean and check. Now I need to do the same to the front and then I can think about taking it for an MOT. I also had to put the battery on charge again - new battery time soon I think.
Editor Jim from Practical Sportsbikes magazine contacted me to see if I could get a KR for him to test against a Mk.1 RG250 for an article. My bike is running and legal and I would love to see it in there, but I couldn't get things arranged in time to meet the ridiculous deadlines that magazines operate to. I contacted all the other UK KR owners I know to see if anyone else could help. Did I manage it ? You'll have to wait for the September issue to hit the shelves to find out...
Also this month, I took the plunge and signed up for a trackday at Cadwell Park on the KR. Darin (the KR owner who I run Diff'rent Strokers with) set up Classic Bike Trackdays aimed at people exactly like me - people who would like to take their bikes out on track without feeling intimidated by hordes of idiots on tuned hyperbikes looking for novices to hassle. I've done the Yamaha Race School at Cadwell twice but it was a long time ago now. My excuses were picked off one by one - I've been given a free set of garish 80's leathers, booked a van and got a pair of new tyres fitted. There was plenty of tread remaining on the mismatched Dunlop/Metzeler tyres already on, but they were feeling pretty old after nearly 10 years and it turned out there was a big nail in the rear. £170 for new Bridgestone BT45's in the correct 100/90-16F and 110/80-18R. I gave the bike a once-over and scrubbed them in for 20km. Wish me luck...
So, my first ever trackday. Cadwell Park is only an hour away from me, but with rider registration starting at 7:30am it was decided to leave work early, pack everything into the hired van and head down the night before. Which would mean camping. A cheap pop-up tent was duly purchased, along with some disposable BBQ's and cans of cider. We arrived just before 7pm and parked up at the top of the paddock with the TDR boys. I let Tom and Rob each take the KR for a spin round the paddock - not sure if they want one more or less than they did before now ? Darin kindly lent us a big canopy which kept the weather off the bikes and us awake all night fearing it was about to take off and cause a UFO incident over Lincolnshire.
Up at 7am Friday to grey misty skies. Duly signed in and allocated a green 'novice' wristband, it was back up the hill to collect the KR for noise testing. The limit was 105db and the KR was surprisingly loud at a round 100 - for comparison, a VJ22 was 94 and a tuned TDR on racing pipes was 98. But the essential sticker was obtained so it was time for the rider briefing. Another grey wristband duly attached, the first session began with the 4-strokes going out, and me getting changed into my leathers in the back of the van. Rob had kindly donated these to me for nothing, when I used a lack of such as an excuse not to take part on the day. I'd got my local leather specialist to rework them to fit me a bit better, and although I wouldn't have chosen those colours or that design, for an all-in cost of £80 I can hardly complain. Especially as he also threw in some kneesliders, although I wouldn't be needing those...
The 2-strokes went out next, and I nervously waited to be called for the first novice session. Wary about how difficult the KR can be to start sometimes, I fired it up easily and rode down to the holding area a bit early. I sat there in pole position with it ticking over for quite a while, watching the coolant temp needle rising ever higher. When it was just about to hit the red and I was thinking about switching it off, we were waved off for 2 sighting laps behind the instructors. In my group were a couple of LC's, a 350F2 and a racing MZ as well as some 4-strokes. By the end of the first slow lap, the cool air through the radiator had brought the temperature back to normal. Following a quick stop in the pits, we were waved out again for our first proper session. It seemed to be over fairly quickly, and I headed back to the paddock with a feeling of "well, that was OK but I can't see why people get excited about these things".
For my next session, I deliberately held back in the assembly area so that I was the last one out on track. This was a smart move, as I could see the rest of the group ahead of me and quickly a natural order was established, with the faster people on bigger bikes disappearing off into the distance. That gave me a few bikes to chase, and there were a couple of VFR400's and a CBR600 that were holding me up in the corners but leaving me behind on the straights. Eventually I managed to get past them one by one, which meant I finished that session with a bit more idea of why these things were so popular. And so it continued for the next four sessions, with my lines and speed improving, though I didn't feel inclined to join the faster boys in the 2-stroke session. Maybe next time. I gave my last session a miss, deciding to quit while the bike was still running nicely and all my bones were still on the inside, and put the bike back in the van with 137kms added to the odometer. Incidentally, it became harder to start throughout the day, to the amusement of the rest of the paddock, though it didn't miss a beat once running.
With the Yorkshire 2-Stroke Gathering rapidly approaching, it was time to peel off the scrutineering stickers, refit the mirrors and numberplate and give the bike a quick once-over. The new front tyre doesn't go flat any more though it does lose a few psi over a month. The gearbox oil also needed a small top-up. Oh, and I now know why it was so loud at Cadwell - there's a small hole in the lower seam of the rear exhaust. A smear of my old friend 'Chemical Metal' has effected a temporary fix, though the pipe will need to come off to sort it properly.
A great turn-out of over 100 strokers met up at Squires, then about 40 of us went on a 40-mile back-roads blast to Seaways, both local biker cafes. Although the KR started first kick when I set off, it sulked every other time and I had to push-start it twice. But once running it went really well, clocking up over 200kms on the day. It's blowing from the exhaust again though, and there's a bit of oil leaking from the front pot somewhere.
I seem to get involved with Practical Sportsbikes magazine almost every month, one way or another, and I noticed they had a shopping list of parts they wanted for their GPz750 project. I had a ZXR400H rear-wheel complete with all the fittings going spare, acquired for my KR project but then superceded by a more-suitable KR-1 wheel, so I sent it off to them. A grateful Editor Jim turned up at Stafford with the anti-dive units and footpegs off the GPz for me, as they are similar to KR parts.
Speaking of Stafford, I was very pleased to be involved with Diff'rent Strokers again, who pulled off the display I've been hoping to see for all the years I've been attending the shows. KR250A, B, C and D - as far as I know, the first time this line-up has been seen outside Japan. It was my KR naturally, and I had the KR-1R in my van too but it's sadly not mine ! We also had an AR125 and AR80 on display, and even a little 80cc KS-II gag bike. The illuminated showroom sign from my garage finished the stand off nicely.
Since Stafford I've been too busy for any more KR activity, and the weather's horrible now anyway. A couple of KR owners asked me if I could help them out with spares though, so I looked through my stash for handlebar risers and a sidestand switch. And as Santa overlooked me again, I treated myself to a new tool cabinet. Merry Christmas !
2002/2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 <-> 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016+