Big boys toys aren’t necessarily massive machines with great amounts of horsepower. Fun machines are often small and attractive looking, kind of like the ones in the pictures attached.
Being referred to as “Yamaha dirtbike on steroids”, this odd beastie is a versatile machine usable on any kinds of terrains but most of all, ridden by any kind of rider. The term “workhorse” might not be the best way of introducing a motorcycle, but it does sum up the TW200 perfectly. Officially labeled as an “agricultural machine” it is also the preferred choice for weekend trips with many finding the TWs unthreatening package the perfect family companion.
This is a great little bike with a rich historic heritage.
The TW200 Adventure Trailway appeared in North America in the early Eighties and was launched on the Japanese market in 1987 when Shinji Kazama reached the North Pole on it. It was equipped with a 196cc 4-stroke single cylinder engine that already could be found on Yamaha XT and SR series (125 to 650cc), known more for its simplicity and extreme reliability than for its performance in terms of speed and acceleration.
Known as a “beach bike”, like its other ancestor Yamaha Big Wheel, the TW200 suffered big changes along the way but they were made in a single year: 2001. A disk replaced the drum brake in front and they also went to a CV carb, higher alternator output with a 55 watt headlight instead of 40 watt, and a no maintenance cam chain tensioner together with an electric starter. These features can also be found on the 2008 model which means that the bike didn’t suffer any other changes since its rebirth in 2001.
The subject of this review was a great product from the very beginning so any other motorcycle that would come near it like Suzuki DR200SE would remain just an attempt of obtaining the same success but which can only be gained with heritage on an already filled drawing board.
I’ve always wondered if the beach buggy has a 2-wheeler equivalent and now I am convinced it does. Like the beach buggy, Yamaha TW200 has big, wide tires which are meant to gently guide the bike through various kinds of terrains but that isn’t all, is it? Of course it isn’t! The idea of this vehicle is a job well done, fun included, and this reflects on the design: everything is positioned exactly were you would expect to find it. Yamaha TW200 has always been characterized by its aggressive, “I can do anything” look although the engine doesn’t deliver a great amount of power. I wonder what it reminds me of.
Another thing that catches my eye is the square shape that ended up characterizing this little beast. I’ve noticed that apart from mirrors and wheels, everything on this beauty has edges which give the bike its unique design: aggressive and wide front fender, headlight cover, headlight itself, rear fender and let’s not forget the cube-shaped torque engine that is ready to take you anywhere.
I first tested the TW in-town and I have to tell you that it is an admirable motorcycles. The thing I like best about this bike is that the controls are light and small. Shifting doesn’t involve any effort and this means you can ride the bike in city traffic without getting fatigued. After clunking into first, I was off to face the first part of my journey to the dirt. The first gear is extremely short and is testament to the TW off-road intentions with a real surge of power kicking in after engaging second. The tall riding position places you way above the rest of the traffic, offering you a panoramic view of the road ahead. However, despite the TWs high center of gravity and perched seating position, it is suspiciously accurate in lane-changing shenanigans. It might not have the commuting credentials of a scooter, but the TW was comfortably diving into small gaps. This makes the TW a perfect alternative commuting machine, while still being able to tackle the rough stuff along with the open road, to a certai
n extent. I believe that you’ve already drawn your own conclusion about the bike not being a supermoto.
The TW won’t help you win the traffic light battle as it has low-down pull but it won’t embarrass you either. The power is enough to make the TW an exciting prospect although it is clear that it lacks top-end punch. The needle jumps up with ease as you race through the gears at low revs but as soon as the speed begins the climb significantly, the TW hits the doldrums and the needle slows considerably until it hits the 60mph roof. The unrestricted space provided by the low, narrow tank and wide seat instills rider-confidence that should make the TW a hit with novice and experts alike. The pace of the TW might not be fast and frenetic, but its smooth delivery is only offset by the very mechanical five-speed transmission which in my opinion is very adequate for this bike although some people need a six-speed transmission but maybe they also need another bike.
One of this bike’s biggest advantages is its price tag of only $3,799 which makes it very affordable. Remember that for the money you will receive a thumper which will satisfy every single commuting need that you can encounter and it will do it cheap and fun.
TW200’s low, thick seat, sport/plush suspension and those distinctive fat tires all work together to serve up a smooth ride over all sorts of surfaces. You only need to gas up and go.
Engine and Transmission
Engine Type: 196cc, air-cooled, SOHC, 4-stroke; 2 valves
Bore x Stroke: 67.0mm x 55.7mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Carburetion: Teikei MV28
Transmission: Constant-mesh 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Chassis and Dimension
Front Suspension: Telescopic fork; 6.3-in travel
Rear Suspension: Single shock; 5.9-in travel
Front Brake: 220mm single disc
Rear Brake: 110mm Drum
Front Tire: 130/80-18
Rear Tire: 180/80-14
Length: 82.3 in
Width: 32.3 in
Height: 44.1 in
Seat Height: 31.1 in
Wheelbase: 52.2 in
Ground Clearance: 10.4 in
Dry Weight: 260 lb
Fuel Capacity: 1.8 gal
Those big fat tires deliver great traction and rider comfort over a wide range of terrain, and they make the TW200 the most distinctive-looking dual purpose machine around.
A low seat and compact chassis inspire confidence in anybody who rides the TW200, making it one of the most user friendly on/off-road bikes on the market.
Electric start and full street equipment meant it’s super convenient to ride the TW200 just about wherever you need to go.
Strong-pulling 196cc air-cooled, four-stroke single delivers torque low-and mid-range power perfectly suited to off-road exploring.
Smooth-shifting 5-speed transmission with manual clutch puts potent powerband to the ground for maximum on- and off-road performance.
Internal engine counterbalancer keeps vibrations down for greater, all-day comfort.
Maintenance-free CDI ignition system ensures precise, reliable spark for peak engine performance at all RPM.
Easy, reliable, pushbutton electric starting.
Automatic cam chain tensioner means minimal maintenance and longer engine life.
Chassis and Suspension Features
33mm telescopic front fork with 6.3 inches of travel soaks up the bumps for a plush ride.
Lightweight box section swingarm and single rear shock with 5.9 inches of travel help enhance handling and overall comfort both on- and off-road.
Hydraulic front disc brake ensures greater stopping power with less effort.
Long, two-tone, motocross-style seat creates a balanced riding position for optimal rider movement and comfort.
Durable and Wide front fender is designed to keep mud and dirt off the rider off-road.
Frame-mounted passenger footpegs provide two-up riding capability.
Enduro-style, 60/55-watt halogen headlight features high/low beams.
Flex-mounted turn indicators for greater durability against breakage.
Durable fork shrouds help prevent rocks and debris from damaging fork sliders.
Small, bikini-style fairing reduces wind buffeting at highway speeds and provides added protection against weather.
Standard instrumentation includes a speedometer with odometer and resettable tripmeter as well as indicator lights for neutral, high beam and turn signals.
Easy-to-use choke lever.
Standard dual rearview mirrors.
Dependable, low maintenance battery.