The Krämer GP2-R is the sister bike to KTM’s limited-edition RC 8C, which got sold out in less than 30 minutes. The Krämer uses a KTM 890 parallel twin engine housed in a chassis designed for the track only. The GP2-R is a high-spec race bike which inspired the RC 8C, but, unlike the KTM, is available to buy and comes ready to race or just to have fun with
Story: Adam Child “Chad’
Photography: Tim Keeton (Impact Images)
Do not worry if you have never heard of Krämer, most have not. The company was set up by Marcus Krämer, a former KTM employee, to build race bikes using KTM’s engines as their platform. This is not the first bike to come from Krämer, they already produce a single-cylinder 690 EVO2-R, which weighs just 125 kilograms and makes 85 hp, and a 790 twin using the engine from the 2018 KTM Duke.
However, this is the latest bike to come from the German factory: the bespoke GP2-R, using the latest 890 unit which normally powers KTM’s 890 Duke R. And, yes, this is the sister bike to KTM’s £31,000 (Rs 31.62 lakh) RC 8C, which was produced in a limited number (100 were built) and sold out almost immediately. The RC 8C was built in partnership with Krämer — they are essentially the same bikes — apart from the different bodywork and wings. However, unlike the KTM, you can buy a Krämer today for a more reasonable £26,480 (Rs 27 lakh) — just paint it orange (http://www.kmc-uk.com).
Simply put, a ready-to-race track bike. It was never designed to be Euro-5 compliant or take luggage or a pillion; it was designed specifically for the track. This suggests the design team could focus directly on lap-times and did not have to worry about comfort or mirrors.
This means it makes 130 hp like KTM’s road bike but weighs just 140 kg (dry). This is a very tricky motorcycle: fuel-tank under the seat, slick Pirelli rubber, lightweight Dymag wheels, WP fully adjustable suspension front and rear, multi adjustable chassis… Yes, seat height, rake angle, and fork offset can all be adjusted. There are also Brembo Stylema brake calipers, wet and dry engine maps, plus adjustable engine braking, an up and down quickshifter, a steering damper, serious crash protection, a brake guard, and a GPS dash/logger. Even the titanium bolts are pre-drilled and lock-wired.
The Krämer is a track-ready, over-the-counter race bike. Just turn up at a track-day or race meeting; no trolly starter or pit crew required. The standard KTM engine starts on the button just like a road bike — but that is where the similarities end. Agreed, £26,480 (Rs 27 lakh) is a lot of money for a bike you can only ride on the track. It is essentially a toy, like a high-end kit race car. But if you were to buy a road bike and convert it into a race bike with a similar spec to the GP2-R and capable of (reliably) lapping a racetrack at the same time, then you would need to spend between £20k (Rs 20.40 lakh) and £30k (Rs 30.60 lakh) extra.
From the box, the GP2-R is capable of lapping mid-pack in the highly competitive British Supersport Championship against GP2 bikes which are mainly expensive former Moto2 machines and highly tuned road-based Supersport 600s. This was proved during a “demonstration” at the BSB meeting at Donington Park. A standard Krämer ran in the top 25 despite its standard KTM 890 twin, standard suspension setting, and a rider who had never sat on the bike previously.
Adapt the multi-adjustable chassis, get the rider in tune, and this is potentially a top 15 or even top 10 bike at national level, with a stock motor. Suddenly £26,480 (Rs 27 lakh) seems to be a bit of a bargain. This is where Krämer have worked their magic. If you want to make the perfect cake, you need the right ingredients — and Krämer have done just that. To start with, the GP2-R tips the scales at only 140 kg. Then we have fully-adjustable, high-spec WP suspension front and rear. Add lightweight Dymag wheels, slick Pirelli Superbike rubber, Brembo Stylema brakes, Hyper Pro steering damper, lightweight racing chain — it has every box ticked. You can change the fork offset between 26 and 28 millimetres, rake and trail, the seat height too, bar position, and obviously suspension. Everything is there to make the perfect cake.
But if you are intimidated by the prospect of tuning suspension, do not be. We purposely rode the bike in standard trim and it certainly delivers. I was unsure what to expect of a machine only slightly heavier than a road going 125, with huge slick rubber and the very latest suspension and brakes, but even on standard settings you have to recalibrate to what you can get away with.
The steering is incredibly light. Fast direction changes are effortless. But this is not a pocket-size race bike with tiny clip-on bars; in fact, the ergonomics make the GP2-R user-friendly, which allows you to point and throw the Krämer around with toy-like ease. On several occasions I turned in too early, hitting the apex sooner than I wanted. But once you are dialled in to the lightweight chassis, it is electric. Fast direction changes are so easy and, after 30 minutes on track, you are not out of breath as you would be on some bikes.
Mid-corner ground clearance worries are non-existent. The Krämer just wants you to let go of the brakes and carry maximum corner speed. There is so much grip and feedback you feel happy to dial in the power on the apex and start to accelerate. You do not need to push the bike up on to the fat section of the tyre, wait, and hit the power with fear — instead, accelerate early, feeling the bike’s grip exploit the engine torque, and start to overtake larger bikes. There is an almost perfect balance of grip, feel, and power for getting on the power early.
As mentioned, we wanted to run the bike in standard trim and it impressed beyond all expectations. But, for my weight, I wanted to change the front a little, so that I could carry even more elbow-dragging lean. And although brilliant on the brakes running into the turn, I wanted a little more control on the fork rebound coming off the brakes. But I suppose that is the beauty of the Krämer: it is so easy to adapt and change, the perfect set-up for every rider and the conditions is just a click or two of the suspension away. With similar weight of a road-going 125 and the same brakes as a 200-kg superbike, plus changeable engine braking maps, excellent front forks, and slick rubber, it is safe to say the GP2-R stops!
One finger on the powerful, three-way adjustable Brembo lever is all that is needed to haul up this lightweight race bike. You can change the feel, reach, and travel of the track lever — personalize to your taste. Again, if you are used to road bikes on track, it takes a little getting used to. You can brake later and let off the brakes earlier and carry immense corner speed. Plus, with so little weight, the Brembo Stylema stoppers are not overworked — therefore, there is no fade. There is no ABS, the Hel Performance braided lines run directly from the lever to the caliper.
The front discs are slightly smaller than you would normally see on a sportbike: 290-mm on the Krämer, compared to 320-mm on, say, Yamaha’s R6, but the smaller discs save on weight. And bear in mind that the R6 weighs another 40-50 kg on top of the Krämer. As mentioned, the engine comes directly from KTM, their 890 LC8c twin as used in the 890 Duke. With a different air-box and exhaust peak, power is quoted at 130 hp.
This may not seem like a huge number of horses and it is down compared to highly tuned Supersport 600s (140 hp) or even Moto2-inspired GP2s in BSB (130-140 hp), but the Krämer is lighter, which gives it an impressive power-to-weight ratio. Torque is also impressive, its 100 Nm output more than a Moto2 or Supersport bike. But the KTM lump is standard and, therefore, should prove reliable. The gearbox and standard slipper clutch, too, are both standard, which reduces cost and keeps things simple.
Krämer could have tuned the engine or chosen a different donor engine with more power, but they wanted to make the bike usable, cost-effective, and not just for experts. Due to noise restrictions at Brands Hatch, we had to fit a noise cancelling exhaust which not only muffled the Krämer’s bark, but also strangled the power slightly. However, I was still impressed by the power. So too 23-time TT winner John McGuinness, who grabbed a few laps. ‘That’s quicker than I was expecting,’ said a beaming John afterwards (see box).
During my first laps, I was riding the Krämer incorrectly, treating it like a Supersport bike and using only the top 25 percent of the rev-range. That is not the way to ride the GP2-R. It is much more forgiving and easier to ride than the highly stressed Yamaha YZF-R6 or Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R. The key is to use the torque of the 890-cc parallel twin; you do not need to dance around on the (smooth) quickshifter.
It does not feel quick, but it is. You do not need to rev it to the red-line; in fact, you almost short-shift through the gears. It feels controlled and manageable, reminiscent of a good Ducati 996, with usable torque low down and a lovely spread of power. It is certainly a pleasing contrast to a screaming 600-cc Supersport bike. That usable power makes it easy to ride and unintimidating, yet still quick. With slick rubber onboard, you can apply the throttle super-early, giving the Krämer the jump on larger, more powerful bikes out of corners and feeling a bit like running a 160-km race with an 80-km head start.
There are two throttle maps to choose from, rain and road, which give full power but soften the fuel delivery. They do not link to any electronic rider aids, because there are not any.
Today, we are used to bikes coming with multiple rider aids, launch control, lean-sensitive traction control and braking, wheelie, and rear wheel prevention… The list is almost endless. And the very latest rider aids on 1,000-cc and above sports bike machines are excellent, meaning it is incredible what you can get away with. But those are road bikes, designed for the road, on road-based settings with around 200 hp.
The Krämer makes 130 hp, wears slick tyres, and is designed to be ridden on track. So, like most race bikes of this size, rider aids are simply not needed. There are two engine maps and two engine brake strategies and a track pit-lane limiter — but that’s it.
You could argue some track-day enthusiasts may want some traction control, especially for the wet. But with race wets fitted and the softer engine map deployed, I believe the majority of riders will not miss the lack of electronic assistance.
As this is a pure track bike, there are no indicator buttons or horn. There is simple racing switchgear to change the engine maps, engine braking and to activate the pit-lane limiter. The dash is a race Tacho AIM MXS 1.2 Race GPS with a built-in logger and GPS function. The dash displays lap-times and live information such as sector times and best lap. Everything is recorded, meaning that once back in the pits, you can flick through your lap-times. Racers can delve further — look at speed, throttle position, and mechanical temperatures.
Krämer have even thought about crash protection. There are spindle protectors, traditional frame crash bungs on the under-seat fuel-tank, and swing-arm, but also neat little tricks like steering stops that are rubber-mounted to keep the frame from getting damaged when the bars are on full lock during a crash. There is even a small swing-arm protector plate behind the foot-rest, so the peg does not damage the swing-arm in case of a fall. Whilst we are talking about foot-pegs, the plates which hold the pegs are identical on both sides — therefore, you only need to carry one as a spare.
Arguably, you might need a spare set of wheels for racing, already wrapped in race wet rubber, but apart from that, it is ready to race. There is even a one-touch rain light at the rear.
Interestingly, the 16-litre fuel-tank is under the seat, with the ¼-turn filler cap located just behind the rider, on the lip to the tall racing seat unit. Having the fuel under the rider helps to improve mass centralization of the bike. Despite the fuel-tank supporting the seat — it is effectively the subframe — the seat height can still be increased for taller riders. There is also a fuel drain plug at the bottom of the tank that allows you to drain the fuel and measure the precise amount of fuel for a track-day or race (each litre of fuel is about one kilo).
Despite being a narrow, “lightweight” bike, the riding position is surprisingly roomy; this is not a Moto3-size bike built for midget racers. John McGuinness, who, to be fair, is not your average size racer, was impressed and actually wanted to lower the bars and make the Krämer racier. I had no aches or pains after a full day at Brands Hatch — it is surprisingly roomy with a decent, almost TT-like, screen.
The more time I spent with the Krämer GP2-R, the more I appreciated its mechanical beauty and simplicity. The carbon front mud-guard, Moto2 style, and details like a spoiler on the rear to help cool the radiator. The bike comes completely lock-wired, a neat little rain light, a pit-lane limiter, even a brake-lever guard. It is ready to race — and an impressive package.
You do not have to be an expert to ride the track-only GP2-R, though. It is easy to manage, ultra-light with an unintimidating engine, and a lot of torque. The chassis allows you to make mistakes, yet an experienced racer can get onboard, dial in the multi-adjustable suspension and geometry, and run at the front.
Despite having relatively roomy ergonomics, it is possible that if you are a heavy rider or you ride fast at GP layout tracks like Mugello, then, maybe, the Krämer is not for you. But for everyone else, this is a pure and compelling race bike and track toy. Despite running a stock 890 KTM engine, the GP2-R is capable of getting within a few seconds of a pole in a British Supersport race and is available directly to you, the customer.
KTM’s RC 8C, the sister bike to the GP2-R, got sold out in less than 30 minutes and I can see why. The Krämer is essentially the same bike, only not orange and cheaper. And, yes, I want to race one.