Good and evil. Can something be both? This month I’ve found the proof: Kawasaki’s KR-1R. A what, you say? Less than 200 of these SP two-strokes were built so they may not be familiar but, trust me, it’s a bike you most definitely need on your radar.
Imagine a KR-1S – the fastest ever road 250 with a malevolent reputation – with race-spec motor, close-ratio ’box and huge 36mm carbs. That’s the 1R; it’s only purpose, to lap circuits as fast as possible. That’s exactly what Mike Walker’s was used for in Japan before he picked it up as a shabby project. Now rebuilt, it’s as sharp and single-minded as a Kawasaki stroker can be.
Another big name in two-strokes, Aprilia, was growing almost as fast as its strokers back in the early 1990s – from humble beginings as a moped maker to multiple GP title winners in a little over a decade. Phil West charts the rise (and fall) of the Noale firm.
It’s not only 2Ts in the issue though. Far from it. We take to the trails on three big thumpers (XT600, DR600 and NX650) around Somerset, bring you the world’s horniest Laverda, finally swing a leg over Project Ducati 888, and show you why you need a CBR250RR in your life. Oh, and it’s your first chance to enter your bike into Special Build of the Year 2018 too.
Enjoy your PS.
Jim Moore, Editor
Special K - Kawasaki KR-1R
Only 200 were made, perhaps as few as 180. The KR-1R is the white rhino of charging 250cc strokers. A Japan only delicacy, never brought to the UK, and existing only in some people’s imaginations. Here it is, for real, in all its big carb, close-ratio glory.
They used to be called ‘Big Trailies’ but with 1200cc the new ‘big’ norm, they’re now trail bikes and just as capable (or not) as they ever were. They’re still a whole lot of fun
Aprilia - The Giant Killers
What a difference a decade makes – at least it does if you’re Aprilia. From serious rivals to the ‘Big Four’ in 1994 to being in serious financial trouble by 2004. But what a journey it was.