Additional photos of this NSR250SP Rothmans are available here for your perusal.
In the mid-to-late 1980s, the small-displacement race replica market in Japan was booming. Legions of bright-eyed young riders were lining up to fork over their hard-earned yen for competition-derived road-legal runners like Yamaha’s TZR250, Kawasaki’s KR-1, and Suzuki’s RGV250. Manufacturers on the island were battling it out on the race track and in showrooms in an ongoing arms race to produce the most trick race bike for the streets. In 1985, Honda launched the NS250R MC11, laying the foundation for its line of quarter-liter oil-burners that followed. The NS featured a box-section aluminum frame and swingarm, disc brakes, full GP-style bodywork inspired by Honda’s RS250R factory race bike, Honda’s Astralight rims, and a liquid-cooled, 249cc, 90-degree V-Twin engine, two-stroke engine that made 45 hp (at 9,500rpm) and utilized the ATAC (automatically-controlled torque amplification chamber) power-valve system.
Constant competition led to quick improvements in the model line, leading to the MC21 generation that was unveiled in 1990. Timing of the RC Valves were now controlled by a PGM-III ECU, it featured the iconic Gull-Arm swingarm, close-ratio gearbox, and smaller wheel diameters, which dropped from 18″ to 17″. Performance enthusiasts were glad to hear that the “SP” model made a return, differentiated by the dry clutch, adjustable suspension, and gold Magtek wheels. 1990 SP’s had a Cabin Cigarettes livery, 1991s were adorned with a Pentax paint job, and 1992 brought back the legendary Rothmans scheme for 1,500 units.
This Rothmans (VIN: MC21-1066306) has a Montana salvage title (on which it is titled as a 2000 model), which it unfortunately earned on a ride to the Rock Store. The bike had been in his possession since 1993. After insurance totaled it, the owner tore it down to the frame and restored it himself. If you’ve followed the Iconic Motorbike YouTube channel, you’ve probably seen the previous owner yourself – our acquisition of this bike was documented in Episode 1!
We still ride this beauty every once in a while, including a charity-focused trip to Ride for Kids:
Upon seeing this bike, Australian stunt legend Robbie Maddison asked if we were “taking it back to Doohan“, and gave him thumbs up of approval. Nick Ienatsch walked by and said “now, that’s a man’s bike.” This little NSR gets more than its share of admiration and respect from those in the know!
It’s not just lovely to look at, but it runs great and there’s several modifications to improve the performance – HRC airbox and filters, a Fox shock, and full Tyga side by side exhaust. In addition, it’s equipped with a KISS de-restrictor.