The Yamaha TW200 is an on/off road motorcycle
April 25, 2020 2:48 AM   Subscribe

The Yamaha TW200 is an on/off road motorcycle... The Yamaha TW200 is an on/off road motorcycle that has been produced largely unchanged for 30 years - it has a carburetor. It has a headlight and turn-signals. It has a very small single-cylinder air cooled motor, tuned for whatever the opposite of speed and power is. It has cartoonishly large tires. It will go anywhere you want it to. ANYWHERE.

TW200 enthusiasts are… different than other dirt-bike fans. Youtuber TdubsKid sets the example, taking long, fun rides ending in camping trips in the Rockies and performing maintenance and repair upon his bike in a relaxed and certain manner during the winter months.

If you’re feeling cooped up and you’d like to tour the Rocky Mountains on a dirt-bike that purrs rather than roars, and can get you to wherever you want to go, well, TdubsKid and his TW200 motorcycle delivers with genial conversation and comment.
posted by Slap*Happy (15 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I owned one of these for a year or two a while back. I ended up liking the theory of the bike better than the reality and eventually sold it -- there are parts of the design that work very well off road (gearing, tires, etc.) but the suspension just isn't up to the job at anything more than a walking pace. In the video linked above, there's an early scene where the rider is coming towards the camera across a rough surface, and you can see him almost getting bounced off. The low gearing helps compensate for that by allowing you to go incredibly slow offroad, but is also kind of comically undergeared on the road.

It's a distinctive design and as long as you are ok with going slow, it will go almost anywhere. I think it's about the only "farm bike" still sold in the US; worldwide there are quite a few agricultural models sold (example), intended for practical, slower riding while carrying loads.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:01 AM on April 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

Mr. Ant has had a TDub for about a decade. It's not his everyday ride (that'd be an R1200GSA) but he loves the little bike so, so much.

The TDub community is a little different. For several years Mr. Ant hosted a rally called Turtlepalooza. He has a sticker on his bike that says Super Duper Tenere (the Super Tenere is Yamaha's delightful 1200cc big trailie.) Serious dirt bike riders will mock you mercilessly but they just don't know what they're missing. We live on 34 forested acres in the Great Smoky Mountains, and if the TDub won't go there we probably can't walk there either.

The little bike is surprisingly competent of pavement as well. We're a stone's throw from Deal's Gap and you have to chisel the grin off your face after zooming through on a TDub. It is utterly gutless, though, above about 50mph.

Sometime in the 90s Yamaha updated the TDub and replaced the (frankly awful) front drum brake with a disc brake. If you want to pick up a used TDub, make sure it has the front disc. The limited range of the bike can be a problem, but with some modifications you can fit a Clarke 4.1 gallon XT225 tank.
posted by workerant at 6:08 AM on April 25, 2020 [9 favorites]

A friend once sent me a TW custom magazine? Catalog? from Japan. Full of glossy photospreads, parts lists, and text I can't read. Never wanted a tiny, impractical* motorcycle more in my life. This kind of thing, but 100+ glossy pages of it, with ads and lists of parts and kits if you wanted to get into the scene. Very effective, if it weren't for language and geography…

Speaking of the fuzzy line between of art, journalism, and commerce, the ANYWHERE video is from Fortnine, the biggest Canadian online motostuff emporium. They put out a surprising amount of good content.

*Extra tiny and impractical since I think most or all were the even smaller TW125
posted by rodlymight at 8:55 AM on April 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

If I were to own a motorcycle again, this might be the one!

I used to have a 1970 125 Enduro. You had to sit kind of cockeyed on it because the pipe was really hot on the right side, but that made mine feel balanced since the forks were bent or something and you had to turn them slightly left to go straight. I loved that thing for casual trail riding though.
posted by Foosnark at 9:28 AM on April 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Would love to have one of these in the stable. I have a deep and abiding love for going fast on asphalt, but plunking along through the high desert sage seems just about perfect. I can smell it now.
posted by calamari kid at 10:02 AM on April 25, 2020

after my buddy got a DRZ and has been having extreme supermoto fun on it, I'm considering a dirt bike / "dual sporps" to complement my 90ssomething ninja 250 and a TW is definitely in the running due to the intense Honda Civic energy it exudes. "underpowered" bikes R fun
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 10:17 AM on April 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

For sure, nixon's meatloaf. It's more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow.
posted by workerant at 10:21 AM on April 25, 2020 [6 favorites]

Jay Leno recently ran a video on a quirky farm bike that's been largely unchanged for over 50 years. Apparently they can be made street legal, despite being essentially a really over-engineered old school mini bike. I don't think a two wheeler gets any more "go anywhere" than the Rokon.

But I've wanted a TW200 for years. I used to love exploring out in the desert on a motorcycle when I was a teen, and have longed to do it again for decades. Unfortunately, whenever I had the money, I didn't have the time, and when I had the time, I didn't have the money.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:30 AM on April 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Lovely video, just wish there was a way to edit the narrator out. “I’m looking for the open range out there, and in here [points at heart].” 🙄
posted by migurski at 11:10 AM on April 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

These things are taking over in my area, and I get it, they look really cool, but wouldn’t you rather have a new TW200 and $1500?
posted by q*ben at 12:54 PM on April 25, 2020

Cartoonishly large tires, you say?
posted by TedW at 2:48 PM on April 25, 2020

I was trying to make this a TdubzKid post, failed, happy that TdubzKid perseveres. That exhaust note, tho.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:59 PM on April 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

FortNine content was a surprise. Ryan is relentlessly Canadian, and takes every opportunity to announce he's 6'3", and his Harley review was the most painful Canadian Nice thing ever. You OK there, bud?
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:36 AM on April 26, 2020

@TedW reminds me of the 2WD Rokon Trail Breaker
posted by nickzoic at 6:44 PM on April 26, 2020

The telelever/chain drive patent... I saw modded Rokkons with both front and rear suspensions slammed down hard by patent courts. Once the patent expires, those cheap Russian and Chinese clones... will have better suspension, and at least a lawn tractor motor that can put out the ponies. My personal ride-on has 20hp, and all it's doing is mowing the lawn, because it broke the last time I tried to haul stuff.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:06 AM on May 2, 2020

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