Having owned 20 bikes since I was 16 and ridden many more, I like to think that I know
quite a bit about both the bikes I grew up with and those I lusted after but could never afford. I remember the KR250
being brought in by Huddersfield Kawasaki but I was 18 at the time and my budget only ran as far as it's baby brother, a
secondhand lime-green AR80. When I got mine, the only other one I'd ever seen was at the NEC Bike Show (turned out to
be Doug's on the VJMC stand) and most people I mentioned it to thought I meant KR-1, the later and completely-different
250cc parallel-twin. I needed to find out more about them and determine whether I could get spare parts etc. if
necessary. This website represents everything I've managed to find out so far. Not all of these contacts/links
have been of use with my KR but I include them here in case they can help you or are of interest.
Information Sources, Suppliers and Useful Contacts
Ebay has been very useful indeed in searching out and obtaining KR information. Many of the magazine articles and brochures were sourced like that, as were the workshop manual, owners handbook, parts book and some of the KR-related collectables. There's more than just documents on there though - I've bought new and used parts from Australia and the USA and found various parts including top fairings, frames and complete engines all over the world, although P&P costs to the UK mean that they're not worth bidding for. But I can always point more local owners at these bits so they go to a good home. I've seen several complete KR's for sale on there too, someone selling a pair of them as one item and even a KR-engined off-road buggy !
In Japan Yahoo Auctions is much preferred to Ebay as the favourite online buying/selling site. There's loads of KR stuff on there : complete bikes, used parts, brochures and magazines, even exotic aftermarket tuning parts we can only dream of in the UK. Click the Yahoo link above to see some of the interesting items I've found for sale in the past, and some hints on how you might be able to buy them for yourself...
Jerry at Earnshaws Motorcycles sold me the bike in the first place
and later tracked down the Kawasaki part-number for the factory workshop manual for me. He reckons he can get any
brand-new part from Kawasaki Japan if I'm prepared to wait long enough (and particularly if I have the part number) though
I've not yet put him to the test. Brian at Kawasaki Autorama
in Batley used to work for Huddersfield Kawasaki and once owned a KR himself for a while. He remembers my actual bike
and co-incidentally found it parked alongside his classic trailbike at the Lotherton Hall Show (which he helps to organise).
I bought the book The Kawasaki Story (by Ian Falloon) which covers the racing tandem-twins (as well as the square-four GP KR500 and watercooled triple KR750) and gives a brief mention of the KR250 road bike. Later I bought Kawasaki Racers by the same author which goes into much more detail about the race bikes and riders. Both are highly recommended.
You can request the history of any vehicle you own (for a fee of £5) from the DVLA. I did this even though I knew who both previous owners were from the logbook, but it was a worthwhile exercise anyway. Basically you get a copy of all the information the DVLA has - in my case printouts of the previous owners, addresses and dates of transfer, and copies of the logbook each time it's changed. I also got a copy of the 'application for first registration' and the 'declaration of newness'. I recommend doing this, especially if your bike has several previous owners and you don't know where it's been - the history of my second KR turned out to be interesting if a little worrying ! If you're having trouble getting an age-related registration for your classic or imported bike, I've been told that Classic Services can help with an official certificate recognised by Swansea. I think the VJMC can do the same thing.
RWHS Classic Bikes always have a decent - if expensive - selection of old bikes in and have listed 2 KR's in the past. Both of these bikes were snapped up by Alfons (see the Owners page). There was a red/white one for sale at Bristol Bike Direct for a while but that bike's now owned by Andy Bolas. I found an interesting website advertising what can only be described as a lottery winners toyshop. George Beale has a variety of classic racing bikes for sale, including Eddie Lawson's 1980 AMA KR250 and two KR350's (one of which is the 1981 World Championship winner). On a similar theme is Racing Motorcycles.
Z-Power are well-respected suppliers of parts and information to the Z
and Triple communities so I contacted them. They'd sold Doug Perkins his KR and said they had the parts fiche that
listed all the part numbers. I've bought a few new parts from them but there is not an endless supply and a lot of
parts are no longer available, even via their parts-warehouses in the UK, Holland and Japan. But give them a try
anyway - ask for Phil and supply the part-numbers which you'll find on here. Dave Marsden told me he knows of someone
with 4 KR's...
I contacted some of the the best-known grey-import dealers in the UK looking for KR advice, manuals and parts. BAT Motorcycles were really friendly though the only information they had to hand was that the plugs should be NGK B9ES. They do have a comprehensive parts-catalogue for it though so give them a try for parts too. West Coast Salvage had a KR250 listed on their website under their 'broken bikes' section so I rang them to enquire about it. To cut a long story short, I went across and bought a few bits off it and six months later, went back with a van and bought everything they had. See the Diary page for the full details and pictures of what I ended up with. But FastLine Motorcycles and Seastar Superbikes both failed to reply to my emails.
I tried ordering a microfiche from my local Kawasaki Dealer, having been told the part number for it by Alfons (see Owners page). It didn't show up on their computer so they couldn't order it. Someone recommended Peterborough Kawasaki for KR250 bits so I contacted them - they tried hard but in the end they couldn't help either. I found a link to the official Kawasaki Japan Motorcycle Museum which was interesting but didn't mention the KR. It might be worth contacting Kawasaki UK sometime to see if they could assist me in any way even though they never imported the KR themselves, or even the South African or Australian Kawasaki importers.
An advert for DK Spares suggested they'd be worth a call. I submitted an enquiry via their website and they responded to say they had some KR parts. I emailed them back with a wish-list but they never replied. I did the same with grey-import specialists Nightingales and they came back with a quote of £160.67 each for the silencers. They quoted "left/right" rather than "top/bottom" or even "front/back" though so I'm pretty sure they're for a different model (KR-1 ?), especially as I now know that the alloy 'end-cans' are just sleeves over the ends of the expansion chambers. I got in touch with Kevin Keld who has a vast array of microfiches, parts books and manuals for "practically every model ever". He was friendly but he couldn't help. I also emailed Powerslide Bikes after failing to find mention of the KR250 on their web-site of downloadable parts-books and service information but they never responded. A "95% complete" UK KR came up at Telford Motorcycle Breakers having been broken for gearbox problems - I was going to go check it out but pointed another owner at it instead - he sensibly bought the whole thing for spares. I came across Apex Leisure who specialise in grey-import two-strokes - they tried hard to help me obtain KR parts direct from Japan but the situation regarding new parts isn't good at all and used ones seemed like too much hassle. But check out Reservoir Cogs if you're after spares in the UK or just fancy a laugh...
I found Brakes 4 U very helpful in identifying and
supplying a full set of EBC brake pads for my bike. If you email them first and tell 'em I sent you, they'll knock you
5% off your order. Inox Fasteners were also helpful
in identifying the piles of nice shiny nuts and bolts I needed to replace all the scabby rounded-off ones on my
bike. Pro-Bolt are another company
selling anodised aluminium and titanium fasteners. I contacted Sunrise Graphics, a respected supplier of original-spec decals for restoration. They didn't list
anything for the KR but I'm working with them to get this sorted - watch this space ! I keep hearing good things
about Rapier Paintwork who are fairly
local to me so I'll be popping down there on the KR soon for a quote for a full back-to-factory paintjob, and the LC boys
recommend Awesome Wheels for polishing/painting your bike
wheels to your requirements
I was contacted by a chap called Michel who'd bought a KR fairing off Ebay to fit to his nicely-restored NS125R. Despite this (!) I helped him out with a subframe and headlight to go with it and pointed him at a couple of places that might be able to supply a screen. He told me that Skidmarx can supply a screen for any bike if you send them an old one to copy, even if it's in pieces. Apparently they'll try and accommodate variations too, so could be worth a try if you want something a bit different. I saw a picture of the KR screen they made for Michel and it looks pretty good.
Thanks to the talented Antoine of ArtKore who created the fantastic caricature of my KR shown on the home page - he'll do the same for your bike if you ask nicely (and pay him !). I can also recommend the services of TShirtStudio who made all of the T-shirts and mugs that I took as presents to the KR meeting in Japan - a perfect example of how internet shopping should be.
Insurance ? Boring but necessary. I've got a classic policy with Footman James that's flexible and inexpensive. Before that I had a similar scheme with Carole Nash. I'd recommend 'em both.
Of course, no list of contacts would be complete without a mention of every two-stroke fan's best mate, Stan Stephens. Having foolishly dabbled in the world of those rattly diesels for a while, he's now back specialising in proper engines. His website doesn't specifically list the KR but he must have worked on at least one you would think ? He's even got a Helpline (£1.50/minute) so you can ring him up and pick his brains about your favourite stroker. I haven't tried this yet but I'll let you know what he says about the old tandem-twin. Someone also recommended Stan's old rival Bob Farnham as someone with KR experience so I'll give him a try too.
Did you know they're still making and selling brand-new tandem-twin engines by the way ? No, Kawasaki aren't, but BRC make a 250cc one for kart racing which appears to be a development of the old Rotax tandem-twin. Pretty high-tech, and 90bhp ! Don't ask how much though...
Finally, thanks go to my local bike shop R.M.Motorcycles for their support over the years with all my bikes. Good service from enthusiasts and a common-sense approach to servicing and MOT's.
Australia and New Zealand got the KR as a mainstream model in the 80's so there are quite a few around on the 'wrong' side of
the planet. When they were originally imported into Australia, the indicators had to be replaced in order to meet the
legal regulations. Netbikes eventually
acquired all the surplus items and I found them listed them for sale. I obtained a set as they're unique to the
tandem-twin (I think) and the first things to go in a crash. At the time they still had 3 sets left. They can
also supply proper locking fuel caps much cheaper than from Kawasaki and they also had a couple of used KR wiring-looms
too. Finally, they know someone who can re-sleeve your KR barrels if necessary - if you contact them, please tell 'em I
sent you. Also of interest is Z-Power Australia complete
with Z-Power Forum specialising in all classic Kawasakis. A
very helpful chap called Ken sent me a nice KR top fairing and bellypan from Down Under too, and he now has a site selling
various new and used bike parts - check out BikeNut. And an Aussie KR owner (thanks Aaron !)
found Shaggy Dog Fairings offering replacement
KR bodywork for sale.
I found three places advertising decals for the KR : MotoGraphix, Racers Den and Motorcycle Graphics - could be handy for that respray. Bikescreens.Com advertise aftermarket screens for the KR. Tiaro MC's might be worth trying for parts too. And here are some breakers Down Under which list the KR under their stock of broken bikes : ACT Motorcycle Wreckers (30 Yass Rd, Queanbeyan 2620. Phone 02 6297 7075, Fax 02 6284 2231), Jap Dismantlers (412 Tuam Street, Christchurch, NZ. Phone 64 3 377 2199, Fax 64 3 365 5001), Team Show & Go (236 Brighton Road, Somerton Park, South Australia 5044. Phone (08) 8376 0333, Fax (08) 8376 1334), Timaru Motorcycle Wreckers (53 North Street, Timaru. Phone & Fax 03-684-4355), Andrews Private Collection (Motorcycle Graveyard, Phone 021-106-8693 or 09-236-3723), 4 Spares Central Otago Ltd (299 Springvale Road, RD 1, Alexandra. Phone 0274-363-982, Fax 03-449-2821 AH), Darwin Motorcycle Wreckers & Repairs (Unit 2, 1 Durrand Court, Coconut Grove, NT 0810, Australia. Phone 0061-8-8948-0995, Fax 0061-8-8948-1925), Anderson Motorcycle Wreckers (PO Box 5114, 44 Tallyho Street, Rotorua. Phone & Fax 07-347-0804).
Predictably I suppose, most of the results that come back from a 'KR250' web-search are for Japanese websites. Or they relate to the KR-1 parallel-twin which was known as the KR250 in some countries and has a 'KR250...' frame/engine number. The excellent KR Forum at KR1S.NET disappeared some time ago, but it's been re-launched at KR-1S.CO.UK and has the same useful and enthusiastic members - although it's aimed at owners of the KR1/KR1-S/KR1-R, it also covers the original (and best !) KR. I've included some of the more-relevant tandem-twin links here in case there's something of interest - if you know of others please let me know :-
Kawasaki Canada Kawasaki Racers Replica Fairings Airtech AMA Cycle AMA BikerNet Green Meanies KR150 Kwaka Info Mr.Bonk Nozuka GP500 Racers 602-S Redbook ScooterShop Southland MCC Klasmo
My love for the old tandem-twin doesn't prevent me being a big fan of all two-strokes. So here's a few stinkwheel sites that are useful and/or interesting. There's a whole bunch of good and knowledgeable people on the Yamaha RD Owners online forum. These people know their strokers and are always willing to offer advice - I've met up with some of them a few times. On the same lines there's RD LC Crazy, LC Club, TZR250 and RD350.NL. Suzuki fans should check out RGV250.CO.UK, RG250, RG500.ORG, RG500.COM, RGV500 and RG500. No, I haven't forgotten that even Mr Honda sometimes forgets he's in the tractor business and turns his hand to something really nice - see NSR World, NS400R and MVX250. There are many generic two-stroke specialists out there too - here's just two examples : AK and Racing SM. I'm also involved in a little enterprise called Diff'rent Strokers which aims to celebrate all the oddball two-strokes ignored everywhere else. And don't tell anyone, but I'm even partial to the occasional four-stroke too so I'm gonna plug KatWeb here - it's a very smart site, the bikes are amazing and he's a mate of mine.
I joined the Kawasaki Triples Club years ago when I first got a KH250. It eventually turned into the Classic Kawasaki Club and big Zed's started appearing alongside the lovely H1's and H2's in the club magazine. Very recently though it got too big to handle for the club founder 'El Presidente' Rick Brett so it's been relaunched as Triples only. I suppose that means the KR is excluded too but I'll remain a member anyway as I've always liked their non-precious attitude to these classic bikes. Rick's said nice things about this site and told me he'd always fancied a KR himself. Rick is the undoubted guru on all the Triples and runs his own little business RB's to supply services and hard-to-find parts for these bikes - he should definitely be your first contact if you've got one or are looking to buy one.
I also joined the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club and noticed that the club expert on 'Kawasaki 2-stroke road machines' was Doug Perkins. It had been his KR featured in the 1991 Classic Mechanics road test (and the 2003 one too) so I wrote to Doug to see if he still had his bike and whether he could help with parts and advice. He left me a message advising me to clean the carbs out regularly and thoroughly. He also said that most parts are still available if required and confirmed that Z-Power are the best people to obtain them from. He also left his contact numbers in case any further help was needed. I put a 'wanted' ad in the VJMC club magazine but nothing came of it - however I did track down another KR that someone was trying to sell in the same way and found someone else wanting to buy one too. I've since spoken to Doug at a couple of bike shows and helped him find a KR brochure after someone nicked his !
There's a KR Owners Group based in Japan who love the parallel twins just as much as the tandems. Their website is Japanese-only but you can get a feel for it using the AltaVista Babel Fish web-page translator. I was lucky enough to be invited to KROG's 2005 KR Meeting in Japan and very honoured to become a member of their club. They're a great bunch of people and massively enthusiastic about all things KR.
Kawasaki themselves produced some KR-specific items to help promote the bike when it was first launched. You could
buy a KR helmet in various colours to match the bikes and two-piece leathers, gloves and boots to go with it. Kork
was wearing a KR250 paddock jacket in Japan and I've now managed to get my hands on a brand new one for myself ! One
chap who used to work in a Kawasaki dealers in Melbourne Australia kindly sent me his old KR promo T-shirt (thanks Jeff)
and I also managed to get one of the large workshop clocks that were available in Japan. I have two of the single-seat
cowls that were an option with the bike plus an original paddock stand, I'd still like to get the keyrings and anything
else that you know of.
Anything else KR-related that's of interest ? I found some pictures of a cute KR friction-powered 'Chorobike' toy and managed to get hold of one via Ebay - later, Darin Frow very kindly sent me another. Gary Pullinger sent me some pictures he'd found of a 1980's DIY 'Bandai' kit of something similar but a bit larger - I've since got hold of one of those too. Also in the '80's, Protar released 1:9-scale model kits of Mang's works KR250 and 350 racers, one of which I eventually managed to get from Germany. And of course Tamiya did one of their excellent 1:12-scale kits of the KR500 racer which I remember building many years ago - this is no longer in production although they turn up regularly on Ebay and you might even still find one in your local model shop. More recently, Minichamps have released a nice 1:12-scale moddel of Mang's KR350. Also on Ebay, a 1980's jigsaw-puzzle of Balde on the 250 racer turned up, along with a pack of Top Trumps cards from the 80's featuring a couple of Kawasaki race bikes. The last picture is a screenshot taken from the PS2 game 'Riding Spirits 2' which features a KR amongst the line-up of bikes you can buy, ride, tune-up and race - I got myself a copy of this and although it's not the most realistic racing simulator, the KR sounds great carving past all the TZR's and RGV's ! If anyone knows of any other KR collectables, promo items or toys etc, please let me know.
Kawasaki themselves produced some KR-specific items to help promote the bike when it was first launched. You could buy a KR helmet in various colours to match the bikes and two-piece leathers, gloves and boots to go with it. Kork was wearing a KR250 paddock jacket in Japan and I've now managed to get my hands on a brand new one for myself ! One chap who used to work in a Kawasaki dealers in Melbourne Australia kindly sent me his old KR promo T-shirt (thanks Jeff) and I also managed to get one of the large workshop clocks that were available in Japan. I have two of the single-seat cowls that were an option with the bike plus an original paddock stand, I'd still like to get the keyrings and anything else that you know of.