KR250 Road Bike
To celebrate their 4-year domination of Grands Prix, Kawasaki designed and built a road bike inspired by the racers. It shared no common components with them but did feature the same tandem-twin watercooled layout - but with the carbs on the right hand side - and the reed/disc induction system which Kawasaki had christened 'RRIS' and which also featured on the AR125. Looking at the design sketches shows that the underslung rear shock came about late in development and that a multitude of different exhaust configurations and routings were considered. The bodywork styling appears pretty consistent from the beginning but the KR500 racer-inspired front mudguard design didn't make it through to production. The 'KR250A' first appeared in public at the 1983 Tokyo Bike Show in production-ready spec.
Kawasaki UK chose to celebrate the factory's fantastic racing achievement, not by importing the new KR250 but by releasing a limited-edition lime-green-and-white version of the dreary and utterly irrelevant Z250 four-stroke twin. The KR was never officially imported by KMUK - however, in 1984, John Smith the enterprising manager of Huddersfield Kawasaki decided there was a small market for this high-tech machine and brought in 18 bikes himself, to the disgust of KMUK who threatened to take his franchise away (they didn't though). Along with Padgetts of Batley who also brought in 6 KR's, this was possibly the first UK example of 'grey-importing' that was to become so popular later on. They priced it at £2799 which was exactly the same price as the officially-imported GPZ600R alongside it in the showroom. Its rivals in the marketplace were the similarly-exotic V3 Honda MVX250 and the more conventional Suzuki RG250 Gamma. Yamaha's TZR250 was still some way off, their nearest comparable bike at that time being the first RD350LC YPVS.
The original 1984 model was designated 'A1'. In 1985 the 'A2' replaced it - the changes were limited to an upgrade of the primary gears. There are small differences to cater for the legal requirements of the importing countries so the Australian/New Zealand models have a longer rear-mudguard, fairing-mounted mirrors and separate indicators on stalks instead of the small square integrated indicators on the Japanese and South African models. The 'Huddersfield 18' came from South Africa I believe and others have since come in direct from Japan so all bikes in the UK seem to be the same. Standard colours are green/white, silver (with a red seat), white/red, black/red and red/grey. I don't think the KR has any kind of deliberate power or top-speed restriction - if you know different please let me know.
A year later, Kawasaki released the KR250S. It was the same as the 1985 'A2' model apart from the addition of 'KVSS', Kawasaki's version of the 'powervalve' system. The objective seems to have been increased bottom-end power as it appears to have no effect above 7000rpm. The 'S' also had fairing-mounted mirrors (instead of bar-mounted) and was available in black/red and blue/white.
I've not been able to find out the details of how many bikes were built in total or to which countries they were exported (I suspect just Australia, New Zealand and South Africa). I'd also like to obtain a list of the frame/engine numbers for all of the original 18 Huddersfield Kawasaki Centre KR's. Please get in touch if you have any of this information or anything else interesting or relevant.
|Engine||249cc (56.0 x 50.6mm) watercooled 180º tandem-twin two-stroke|
Rotary Reed Induction System with Mikuni 28mm flat-slide carbs
6-speed gearbox, vertically-split crankcases
|Chassis||Aluminium square-section double-cradle frame|
UniTrak rear-suspension (adjustable damping and 5-way preload) with underslung (extending) shock and braced aluminium swingarm
Air-assisted 35mm forks with 3-way adjustable AVDS anti-dive
100/90-16 front & 110/80-18 rear tyres, cast alloy wheels
twin front 260mm and single rear 240mm disc brakes, single-piston sliding calipers
|Dimensions||2.035m (l) x 0.685m (w) x 1.185m (h), 1.360m (w/b), 0.790m (s/h)|
27º rake, 84mm trail
|Performance||45bhp @ 10,000rpm, 26.8ft/lb @ 8000rpm|
A mate of mine was at Huddersfield Polytechnic (now University) back in 1984/5 and told me about the KR250's he'd seen in the Kawasaki Centre showroom. He took some photographs for me at the time (thanks Stevo !) and I found them recently whilst looking for something else. John Smith sadly died in Dec 2016 but the original sign is still present on the old Albert St shop, see below. I'm not sure what happened to the Queensgate shop they moved to later.