Classic Scrap - Class of 1990 - KR-1S V RGV250 - 90s 2-strokes - 2

The Japanese locked horns in a techno crazed 250 shoot-out. Kawasaki upped the stakes with their new KR-1S in a bid to oust Suzuki’s glorious RGV from the 2-stroke top spot

Posted: 19 April 2010
by Simon Bowen

 2 of 5 

Kawasaki had to react and uphold the honour of their excellent KR-1, which was still relatively performance fresh, but outdated in design terms. The S version arrived without any serious visual enhancement and was merely fettled with more power and a stiffer chassis. A show of confidence or an opportunity missed? Either way, the less radical KR-1S still cut a dash compared to the sports bikes available and would be no pushover in this dust up. It had already proved itself to be, despite the odd excitable moment and reliability issue with cold seizures, a damn fine day-to-day screamer thanks (largely) to its half-sensible riding position.

Though neither 100% original, the two examples here are a stunning, provocative, minimalist glimpse back to a period when the purest form of engineering integrity was found in relatively affordable machinery. Classy bikes with yob tendencies were the order of the day and it wasn’t a difficult concept to grasp. They were attractive, physically manageable for the short and though expensive for their size, not necessarily out of reach for the young guns and not too expensive to maintain either.

The Suzuki in particular is a visual feast and possibly the finest race rep to leave that factory. The design and detailing is so pure and uncompromising – skinny, sculptured race bodywork with a tiny frontal area wrapped around a minimalist, all-aluminium chassis boasting factory-spec frame rails that proudly shrouds the first ever sports bike engine to manage 200bhp per litre. Yep, only a couple of years after the 4-stroke boys looked to be sounding the final death knell of the two-stroke, out pop the upstarts armed with this Uzi on wheels. It’s a devilish cocktail that sets a scene full of expectation.

Adorned with the classic Kawasaki square edge, the slightly cheaper KR-1S was less radical and prestigious perhaps, but just as serious in its intentions. The styling and paint scheme look fine until it is parked it next to the pretty Suzuki and that’s where it ends. There’s seemingly nothing much to separate them in terms of dimensions, weight and power and with no concessions to luxury or convenience, it’s surely just a matter of assessing the performance characteristics and deciding which one is aesthetically more appealing.

Click next to continue

Previous page
Classic Scrap - Class of 1990 - KR-1S V RGV250
Next page
90s 2-strokes - 3


Discuss this story

I had an RGV250M and a KR1S in the 90's. The KR was so much useable though, but the RGV handled better but didn't sound so nice. So some years later, I built my own KR with some great customised suspension and brakes and a modified motor. Even though its over 20 years old, it can still show a clean pair of heals to R1's in the advanced class at Brands

Posted: 29/02/2012 at 20:34

Talkback: Classic Scrap - Class of 1990 - KR-1S V RGV250

Busiest motorcycle review conversations