KAWASAKI KR1S (1990-1992) Review

Published: 20 January 2010

"The quickest mass-produced, 250 two-stroke ever"

Kawasaki KR-1S

"The quickest mass-produced, 250 two-stroke ever"

  • At a glance
  • 249cc  -  53 bhp
  • 38 mpg  -  38 miles range
  • Insurance group: 10 of 17
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  • Medium seat height (755mm)

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

Kawasaki’s KR-1S was the quickest mass-produced, 250 two-stroke ever (139mph being recorded in a 1990 speed test), being quicker than both Suzuki’s RGV and even Aprilia’s later (but RGV-powered) RS250. On the downside it came with slightly questionable reliability and handling that could tank slap you into casualty. Dangerous, but hugely addictive.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

Again, the Kawasaki KR-1S is very ying-yang. On the one hand it’s very light, flickable and tiny, like riding a mini race bike. But on the flip side it’s capable of sending the bars into a mighty tank-slapper. The rear shock is on the soft side, and the suspension basic, and you were stuck with a 18inch rear wheel.  But once set up with a good steering damper the Kawasaki KR-1S was a flyer and rewarding to ride fast.

Engine 4 out of 5

In many ways you could be very mean and rate the Kawasaki KR-1S’s engine as poor. The preceding KR-1 suffered from iffy reliability, and KR-1S got nickel plated cylinders which are expensive to re-bore or replace. That said, if you service the engine regularly and use quality two-stroke oil, you have the quickest 250 two-stroke out there. 

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

1988-1990: Kawasaki KR-1: with different wheels, brakes, non-Nikasil barrels and other detail changes

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

Kawasaki’s KR-1Ss seem to be increasing in price consistently as good examples become rarer. Early models at less than £1500 might seem attractive but you’ll be buying problems. Instead, find a low mileage, well looked after, late model and it’s sure to go up in value. You’ll have a bargain, true mini race bike that can still cut it on track today, with a true two stroke race engine – just be sure to cover that clutch! Find a Kawasaki KR-1S for sale.

Insurance group: 10 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

The Kawasaki KR-1S never had the mouth-watering appeal of the RGV or RS 250 from Aprilia which copied the lines of their 250GP bike relatives, so, looks-wise, the KR-1S is slightly disappointing. Nor are there any special parts, like the sculpted swing arm of the Suzuki or twin high race exhausts of the Priller. That said, the KR-1S’s brakes are not half bad. Compare and buy parts for the KR-1S in the MCN Shop.

Owners' Reviews

1 owner has reviewed their KAWASAKI KR1S (1990-1992) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KAWASAKI KR1S (1990-1992)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

13 December 2015 by mattsta

Was fantastic to ride, it seduced you into riding it fast, got me a lot of tickets. Would tank slap in a straight line over bumps at any speed (really scary) but i couldn't stay off it. Brakes were awesome. After a couple years of ownership i sadly... Read more traded it in on a RGV250p to race, should have raced the KR1S instead.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Wrists would ache after 5 minutes, pillion no way.
5 out of 5
Ring a ding ding, all or nothing loved it.
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
Needed a new power valves and crankshaft at 27,000km
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Get a steering damper.
Buying experience

Bought new.

Read all 1 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1990
Year discontinued 1992
Original price -
Used price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 10 of 17
Annual road tax £39
Annual service cost -
Max power 53 bhp
Max torque 25 ft-lb
Top speed 139 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 38 mpg
Tank range 38 miles
Engine size 249cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled two-stroke parallel twin, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium twin beam
Fuel capacity 16 litres
Seat height 755mm
Bike weight 131kg
Front suspension pre-load only
Rear suspension Single shock fully adjustable
Front brake 2 x discs, four piston calipers
Rear brake Single disc, twin piston caliper
Front tyre size 110/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 140/60 x 18

History & Versions

Model history

1990: Kawasaki KR-1S introduced
1992: Model deleted

Other versions

KR-1 (1988-90)

Photo Gallery

  • Kawasaki KR-1S
  • Kawasaki KR-1S
  • Kawasaki KR-1S
  • Kawasaki KR-1S
  • Kawasaki KR-1S
  • Kawasaki KR-1S
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  • Kawasaki KR-1S
  • Kawasaki KR-1S
  • Kawasaki KR-1S
  • Kawasaki KR-1S
  • Kawasaki KR-1S
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