2024 Kramer GP2 890RR First Ride Review
Quite possibly the ultimate supersport track bike
The approach to turn one at the Brno Circuit comes at the end of a long straight. A series of marker boards alert you to the start of the turn. First there’s a 300-meter marker, then 200. The throttle’s been pinned for a few seconds already by the 300m board, and you keep it there at 200m, too. The punchy 890cc parallel-Twin is screaming at the top of fifth gear, and it’s not until the moment you pass the 100m board that you let off and reach for the brakes. It’s scary at first, as the first apex is coming at you quickly, but you learn to trust the brakes.
Two downshifts later, and you approach the 180-degree right hander that is Turn 1. You’re on the side of the tire forever it seems, which gives you time to put your elbow on the ground – if that’s your thing. The light and nimble chassis makes it easy to tighten your line again to clip the second apex before tilting the bike left and powering out over the paint through Brno’s Turn 2. Power is building steadily now, not rapidly like on a 200-horsepower superbike, and it’s addicting. The accompanying 270-degree, twin-cylinder bark from the exhaust is intoxicating.
2024 Kramer GP2 890RR
The purpose-built track bike for those looking for the pinnacle of performance from KTM's 890cc parallel-Twin, the Kramer GP2 890RR is the closest many of us will get to riding a grand prix bike.
Editor's Score: 92.0%
- There's nothing like a purpose-built track bike
- The hopped-up 890 engine really comes to life
- Open-source electronics is a game changer
- Heavy brakers could overheat the discs
- Some might consider the graphics kit a little hokey
- They're only making 125 of 'em
I’m only two turns into the Brno Circuit, and I’m already in love with the Kramer GP2 890RR. It’s precise, accurate, light, and purpose-built. And, of course, it’s fast. It’s everything a track-focused supersport should be.
And that’s the point. The GP2 890RR is as close as I’ve ever come to riding a grand prix motorcycle. And it’s probably as close as many of you will get, too. All for “only” $39,995. There’s nothing quite like a purpose-built machine to do a job and do it incredibly well. Without the compromises inherent in homologated production motorcycles, we simply have it in our heads that something so razor-focused as a grand prix motorcycle will turn us into the next Valentino Rossi. But, of course, that’s just a dream.
Except, it isn’t. Kramer Motorcycles has been in the business of making track-focused motorcycles powered by KTM engines since 2013, and I’ve been such a fan of its debut model, the EVO2, that I bought one (which conveniently answers the question I often get about which bike I’d buy with my own money). And I’d buy this one, too. If I could.
How We Got Here
Following the EVO2 platform, Kramer introduced the GP2 Prototype, powered by KTM’s then-new 790cc parallel-Twin from the 790 Duke – and I was lucky enough to be the first person outside of Kramer to not only ride it, but race it. KTM surprised many when it announced the 890 Duke not long after the 790 version, but as far as engines are concerned, the added bump in power was welcome, and its placement in the GP2 chassis created a bike in the GP2 890R that’s quickly become one of my favorite track bikes.
But evolution is the name of the game in the sportbike world – especially when we’re talking about track-only machines. As good as the GP2 is, there were some inherent downsides. Its standard 890cc parallel-Twin lacked power up top compared to the middleweight competition. Further, the GP2 didn’t have any rider aids. And lastly, the GP2 just doesn’t look much different than its EVO2 sibling.
The Peak of Performance
Kramer Motorcycles is known for its lightweight – consistently being much lighter than other bikes it would compete against. At just over 300 lbs, the standard GP2 890R has its supersport competition beat on the scales. However, Kramer has been campaigning a standard GP2 890R in the British Superbike Championship in a special class called, wait for it, the GP2 class. Running concurrently with the supersport championship, these races have shown that, while its bikes are certainly light, the supersports still pull away once the engines are able to stretch their legs.
As Ducati has shown us, it’s much easier (and safer) to pass other bikes on sheer horsepower, so the obvious next step for the GP2 platform was to bulk it up – and boy have they.
With the EVO2 and GP2 platforms, powered by the LC4 690cc Single and LC8c 889cc parallel-Twin respectively, Kramer has mainly stayed away from changing any of the engine internals, electing to dedicate its limited resources (it’s a small company) to chassis development. That mold changed when KTM tapped Kramer to rebadge the GP2 as the RC8c – and now the GP2 890RR is the latest beneficiary.
With the RR, engine changes (compared to the GP2 890R) include Pankl titanium connecting rods, a high-compression Pankl piston (to the tune of 14:1 compression ratio!), titanium valves, and new, more aggressive camshafts for the intake and exhaust. The RR’s also come with an oil cooler – a needed upgrade as these LC8c engines tend to run hot when subjected to track use.
That’s not all. Apart from the physical part changes, the cylinder head gets CNC machined, throttle bodies grow to 48mm (from 44mm), there’s an improved ram-air system, and the exhaust has been optimized to satisfy this newfound power. All-in, Kramer says this new-and-improved 890 Twin pumps out 138 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque. And here’s an interesting tidbit: because the larger throttle bodies are feeding more air into the engine, a more powerful fuel pump was required – up to 5 bar of pressure over 3.5 bar previously. The fuel injectors haven’t changed, however, and are now at the peak of their output capacity.
A new quick-turn throttle only needs 55º of rotation (compared to 90º previously) to reach full stop. This is a result of feedback from customers who wanted the power to come on sooner, without added wrist rotation. However, it’s not as simple as just changing throttle tubes. Quicker throttle response could lead to more abrupt power delivery. Hence, Kramer took significant time to smooth out the power delivery request from the throttle to the tire. The flat torque curve – as it relates to throttle mapping, not just engine power – remains smooth throughout.
In the real world, this means that keeping a neutral throttle position delivers a set amount of power, regardless if you hit a bump that jostles your throttle hand or you lean the bike quickly onto its side, which could trigger a spike in power as the smaller radius of the tire at lean can cause the engine rpm to climb suddenly.
All About Electronics
While the engine updates over the standard GP2 are a big deal, equally as impressive is the electronics package of the RR. The double-R ditches the Bosch ECU used in the standard GP2 and replaces it with a Mectronik ECU, complete with a six-axis IMU. This is a similar computer to the ones used in World Superbike. The benefit here is greater flexibility and computing power over all the bike’s systems, including the nine-level traction control system (10 including off), plus the wheelie control (which will have different levels come production time, but did not on the pre-production models we rode).
Beyond the safety systems, the Mectronik ECU delivers better engine performance through the use of a closed-loop O2 sensor. Similar to Auto-Tune in many piggyback ECU tuners, the Mectronik ECU, in conjunction with the oxygen sensor, is constantly monitoring engine combustion and checking for lean or rich conditions. It can then adjust automatically to ensure the engine is running at the optimum air/fuel ratio.
Kramer owners constantly ask if they can reprogram – or flash – their ECU. The answer has always been no. Until now. One of the most interesting features of the new Mectronik ECU is the fact that it’s an open system, meaning customers will be able to flash their ECUs themselves, with downloaded updates direct from Kramer – or even develop tunes themselves. The best part? Kramer will constantly be updating and upgrading this software and will make these updates available free of charge. This is unheard of anywhere else.
Relaying information to the rider is the duty of the AiM MXS 1.3 dash and data logger. The full-color TFT screen does more than just show you what gear you’re in and what lap times you’re doing – it’s a full-on data-logging computer that, in addition to tracking lap times, also logs water temperature, oil pressure, airbox pressure, front and rear wheel speeds, lean angle, throttle position, throttle butterfly position, and much more. It’s even set up to accept data inputs from suspension potentiometers. But you’ll have to buy and install those on your own.
The Kramer chassis has historically been the company’s highlight, and the same is true for the GP2 890RR. Sharing the same basic steel trellis frame as the standard GP2, the RR continues the Kramer tradition of allowing the rider to make a bevy of changes to suit their style or needs. This includes the ability to adjust swimgarm angle, steering head angle, triple clamp offset, seat height, rearset position, clip-on angle, and clip-on length. All of these adjustments can be made fairly easily with no special tools required, either.
Being partnered with KTM on the engine side, Kramer also utilizes KTM-owned WP suspension at both ends. The fork is the WP Apex Pro 7543 with 43mm tube diameter. As expected, it’s a fully-adjustable, closed cartridge system. However, it’s not simply the fork from the standard GP2, or even the RC8C KTM. All three bikes share the same spring rate, but the RR’s valving has been changed to give a little softer compression damping while also allowing a greater window of adjustability.
In the rear sits a WP Apex Pro 7746 shock with full adjustability, including high- and low-speed compression damping, and right height adjustability. If you aren’t familiar with Kramers, one of its distinctive features is utilizing the molded plastic subframe as both a seat unit and the fuel tank. As such, there’s a cutout in the tank that aligns perfectly with the adjusters for the WP shock. You’ll just need an elongated allen key to reach it. New for the RR is a progressive shock linkage replacing the linear linkage on the standard GP2. This gives a softer feel at the top of the shock’s stroke, getting firmer and adding more support as the shock goes through its stroke. This was a request from the Kramer team competing in the BSB championship.
Rounding out the chassis components are Brembo Stylema calipers, MotoMaster 290mm x 4.5mm dual rotors in the front (230mm full floater in the rear), and a Brembo RCS19 master cylinder. Lightweight forged aluminum Dymag UP7X wheels wearing Pirelli Diablo Slicks are what the bike rolls on.
Aero is the big buzzword in the sportbike scene these days, with wings and such sprouting up everywhere. Aero is a big deal for the GP2 RR, but not quite in the same way. You won’t find winglets on the RR. Instead, when you look at the RR, you’ll recognize the shape from past Kramers and yet realize its subtle differences. This is the result of extensive CFD analysis on how to streamline the standard GP2 fairings.
What you have with the RR is a reduced front cross section that still covers more of the rider’s body from the wind. This gives the double-whammy of higher top speed and less fatigue on the rider. Actually, the triple-whammy is the new fairing’s increased ram-air effect. The overall effect of the 9% more aerodynamic bodywork combined with the higher-horsepower engine is a top-speed increase of over 9 mph compared to the standard GP2 890R.
What About The RC8c?
Naturally, KTM RC8c owners will be curious how the GP2 890RR stacks up. Seeing as the RC8c is basically a Kramer GP2 with orange paint and wings, it’s a natural comparison. For starters, the GP2 RR has a lower rev limit compared to the KTM – 11,500 rpm vs. 12,000 rpm. This was done on purpose, says Markus Kramer. However, despite the lower rev ceiling, the GP2 actually makes more power than the RC8c – and it does so throughout the rev range.
Suspension settings are slightly different, too. As mentioned earlier, the spring rates between the two bikes are the same, but the valving and shim stack inside the fork and shock are not the same. Again, the RR allows for softer initial compression damping and a wider overall range of adjustment. In the rear, the RR’s progressive shock linkage is different from the KTM’s linear piece.
But by far the most significant difference comes in the electronics department. Sure both bikes use AIM data-logging dashes, but the Kramer uses the MXS1.3 system while the KTM has the MXS1.2. It’s not a huge deal, as both provide a significant amount of data logging, but it’s a difference nonetheless. What sets the Kramer apart from the KTM is the Mectronik ECU on the RR, and all the capabilities it provides. It’s not just the fact that the Kramer has IMU-assisted traction and wheelie controls, but the open system aspect is a real game changer.
To spare the build-up – the GP2 890RR is simply awesome. You can’t go wrong with 138 horsepower only pushing 313 lbs of fully fueled race bike down the track. However, I will admit a little bit of intimidation before I threw a leg over the bike. I couldn’t help but walk up to the bike and notice all the buttons and all the expensive hardware. It was one of those moments where I had to take a breath and collect myself. Adding to the nerves was the fact we were at the famous Brno circuit in the Czech Republic to give it a proper shakedown.
I’d never been to the Brno circuit before, however the day before I was able to learn the circuit aboard the single-cylinder Kramer EVO2 R model. This was great since we wouldn’t have to learn where to go when it came time to ride the RR. The Brno track is relatively easy to learn, but incredibly hard to master. There aren’t any slow corners on the track. Everything is taken in third gear or higher. Plus, there are significant elevation changes. If you want a fast lap time, you have to commit. Commitment takes trust. And trust comes from a properly designed and built motorcycle.
I trusted the GP2 890RR. Lap after lap the long, the sweeping radius of turn 1 goaded me into building the confidence to attempt to drag my elbow on the ground. I didn’t. But I’m confident the limiting factor was me. Glory photos aside, the short run between the second and third turns requires two, sometimes three upshifts. With the RR, you can rev the engine nearly to redline before clicking down on the shift lever for an upshift (it’s reverse shift, as race bikes are meant to be). Just two weeks prior to riding the RR I raced a standard GP2 at Laguna Seca, and one of the first things I noticed was a distinct lack of power upstairs. Power plateaus well before redline and the engine just decides to sign off. Revving any further is pointless and short shifting is more beneficial. With the RR, you can use the entirety of the rpm band before shifting.
Interestingly, the standard GP2 felt as though it packed a little more punch on corner exit compared to the RR – but just in the initial throttle opening. When I mentioned this to Kramer staff like test rider, and German Superbike competitor, Finn Chapman, and Kramer’s Head of R&D Felix Richter (who is also one of the lead engineers and race technicians for Kramer’s BSB efforts), they both explained to me that what I was feeling was the difference in throttle mapping between the two bikes.
Because the standard GP2 has a longer throw, I was turning the throttle more, thus giving me more power. With the shorter throw of the RR, the initial power delivery is smoothed just a little, which accounts for the softer hit. It’s a strange coincidence that I found that crossover point between the two throttle settings. Of course, if I wanted to feel more initial power I could always follow Richter’s advice and, “just turn the throttle more.”
Once past that initial throttle opening the difference in power was clearly in favor of the RR, as you’d expect. The power builds until redline, then you click into the next gear and do it all over again. Unlike a fire-breathing 1000cc superbike, the GP2 RR doesn’t shove your eyeballs into the back of your skull. It’s quick, but your senses still have time to keep up. To me, this is the threshold of fun.
The RR would earn my trust in from turns 5 through 9. This downhill rollercoaster is approached with a heavy head of steam, and you’re asking a lot of the front tire to get you through. Gravity is working against you, but again, if you want a fast time, this is the section where you have to commit. As such, there’s a lot of trailbraking involved. The Brembo RCS19 master cylinder gives you the adjustability to change pivot points, but I left it alone. The lever travel stayed consistent, though a little more aggressive initial bite from the pads would have been nice. The deeper I got into these corners, with my knee on the deck and the brake lever still pulled in, the RR chassis never flinched. It could clearly go even faster into these corners without a hitch, as evidenced by the faster journos I was surrounded by. If I needed to correct my line, a light brake tap or even a simple head movement would get the job done.
With the accompanying IMU-assisted nine-level traction control, there’s plenty of confidence to get back on the gas as soon as possible on corner exit. We were rolling on the standard (and quite excellent) Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC1 slicks, so if the traction control system did engage at any point, I didn’t feel anything.
It’s worth noting that I didn’t make a single suspension change at all. It was nearly on point from the moment I thumbed the starter. I could have taken out a little compression damping in the fork to use more suspension travel under braking, but I was having too much fun to come in and make the change.
However, the differences in shock settings between the RR and the single R is worth mentioning. Having gone full soft with the high-speed compression damping on the R model, there was no more I could do in terms of adjustments, and I was still feeling the hits through the seat. Granted, I rode the bikes at different tracks, but the WP shock on the RR never transmitted any high-frequency vibes. And as much as I’d like to say I noticed a difference with the progressive linkage, I’d have to ride both bikes back-to-back to even attempt to claim as much.
Being a track-focused motorcycle, I expected the GP2 RR to excel as a collective whole around Brno. What I wasn’t expecting was the AIM MXS1.3 dash to goad me into going faster. Apart from showing all the usual info on the screen, the track and racer crowd will really appreciate the corner of the screen with segment times and indicators to tell you whether you’re going faster or slower than the lap before (or compared to your best lap) and by how much. This is serious racer territory.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m smitten by this motorcycle. But as impressive as the GP2 890RR is, it’s not without its faults. Granted, they’re pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.
- For starters, and perhaps the bike’s biggest downfall, is the MotoMaster brake discs. The same as the discs used on the standard GP2, some might criticize the 290mm diameter as being a problem, given the supersport field wears discs at least 20mm bigger. At 5.0mm thick, they can overheat at tracks with heavy braking. I’ve seen it happen. Larger discs would be welcome. Maybe thicker ones, too.
- While we’re on the topic of brakes, I would personally opt for more aggressive pads. I like a strong initial bite. The stock pads provide plenty of power and consistency and are a safe option for a wider swath of riders. Of course, this is a very personal preference and is hardly a negative.
- The graphics kit. Kramer fans should be happy that the RR actually comes with some sort of graphics kit instead of the plain white or black gel coat offered currently on its other bikes, but it looks cheap up close. It’s quite literally a vinyl kit, without even a clear top coat to seal it in place. If you’re a glass-half-full kinda person you could say this gives you the option to peel it all off (or never have it applied in the first place) and add your own graphics to the base Brno Blue bodywork (a second option, Brainerd Black, will be available to the US market), but if I’m paying nearly $40,000 for a bike, the graphics should be the least of my concerns.
- If you intend on racing one, you might have a hard time finding a suitable race class. These belong with supersports, but club organizations are slow to modify their rules, and not every club will allow that. You might end up on the grid with bikes carrying much bigger engines. Personally, I'd just enter the supersport class and deal with the ramifications later.
- Only 125 will be made. If you’re 126, sorry. You’re SOL.
What drew me to buying a Kramer EVO2 a few years ago was the precision that comes with a purpose-built track bike. Nothing else quite compares to the level of accuracy I got when I rode a Kramer for the first time. At least, nothing that comes off a dealership floor. And while I bought my EVO2 because the power was perfect for competing against mid-displacement twins like the Yamaha R7, Aprilia RS660, and Suzuki SV650, I’d simply get smoked when put up against a 600. Forget about the 1000s.
The GP2 890RR (and the standard GP2, frankly) puts those concerns to rest. Now, you have the power to match the agility and not feel like a moving chicane at your next trackday. And for the racers out there, the RR is every bit a contender to put you in the fight in the supersport class.
Another bonus? Kramers are engineered with all aspects of track riding in mind – and that includes crashing. Common contact points when a bike crashes are either reinforced, protected by sacrificial pieces, or placed out of harm’s way as much as possible. This is another huge and underappreciated aspect of Kramer motorcycles.
As far as pure enjoyment goes when riding on a track, I can’t remember a bike that has impressed me as much as the GP2 890RR. It’s simply everything I’d look for in a supersport-level track bike. It’s fast (but not otherworldly), and it’s lighter than any other supersport. As a result, it’s extremely agile and responsive. Combine that with the important electronics track riders love, and the fact you’re unlikely to find another one at your next track event, and what more could you want? I don’t know. That’s why I want one.
2024 Kramer GP2 890RR Specifications
Four-Stroke, Twin-Cylinder, DOHC, 8-Valve, Liquid-Cooled
Bore x Stroke
90.7 mm x 68.8 mm
14:1 with High-Compression, Two-Ring Pankl Piston
Stainless Steel 2-1, 105 dB (103 dB with Insert)
Dell’Orto 48mm Throttle Body
Mectronik MKE7 ECU with Ride-by-Wire and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)
AiM MXS 1.3 Race GPS with Data Logger
Adjustable Traction Control (9 Levels + Off), Adjustable Wheelie Control (5 Levels + Off), Pitlane Speed Limiter
Adjustable Engine Braking and Throttle Maps
PASC Slipper Clutch, Cable Actuated
Chromoly (25CrMo4) Steel-Trellis Frame, Powder Coated Red
138hp @ 10,100 rpm
100 Nm @ 8,200 rpm
313 lbs / 142 kg
16 Liters (4.2 US Gallons)
CNC-machined, 26mm or 28mm Adjustable Offset Triple Clamps
Standard, Hyper Pro RCS
DID ERV 520 Racing X-Ring Chain
WP Apex Pro 7543, Closed-Cartridge, Fully Adjustable, Split-Function Damping with Krämer Shim Stack
WP Apex Pro 7746, Fully Adjustable, High & Low-Speed Compression, Remote Preload, Ride-Height, with Progressive Linkage
120mm (Front) / 140mm (Rear)
Dual 290mm Full-Floating Rotors with Brembo Stylema Calipers
Single 230mm Full-Floating Rotor with Brembo P2 Caliper
Forged Aluminum Dymag UP7X 3.5" x 17"
Forged Aluminum Dymag UP7X 6" x 17"
Fibreglass Fairing with Carbon/Kevlar Reinforcement (Painted), XPE Fuel Tank/Seat
CNC Handlebar Clamps with Replaceable Tubes
Cleanable Racing Air Filter
Frame, Forks, Fuel Cell, & Brake Lever Guard