Yamaha TW200: “Underrated” is an Understatement

2015 was a year of many “firsts” for me. First Regatta, first marathon, and first time doing some real off-roading. I’d been wanting a dual purpose for awhile, and there was never any question of the one I wanted – the Yamaha TW200. I hadn’t ridden one, I didn’t know anyone who owned one and even online reviews were few and far between.

The online articles I was able to find pretty much branded the TW as a “pitbike”; a plaything to strap to the back of an RV and explore a few trails here and there. Sure, it’s good at that. But the TW can be so much more, especially for novice dirt riders. The TW200 actually has two more horsepower than the ubiquitous CBR125, and it’s much more versatile. So why aren’t they more popular?

“Those fat tires must be awful on the street”

Most people who approach me when I’m on the TW ask something along the lines of “how do those tires handle on pavement?” In a word…amazingly. If you look closely, the tire tread continues right up the sidewall of the tires, giving them incredible grip on pavement. Twisty roads are an absolute hoot – there are certain sharp turns on my regular haunts that I can take faster on my TW than I can on my YZF600R.  When you go offroad, the fat tires really show their worth, providing amazing traction and stability in any kind of environment. Mud, bog, sand and crawling over rocks, the TW is up for it.

20151005_171534

Those tires give amazing traction on pavement and off.

“But it’s not a real dirtbike”

No, it’s not. And it’s really quite unapologetic about it. No one buys a TW200 thinking that they’re going to rail around turns and fly over berms on a motocross track, same as no one buys an Electra Glide with the thought of getting their knee down on a track day. Wrong machine for the task. TW stands for “Trail Way”, which is where the bike excels. When the going gets tough (and believe me I’ve had the going get quite tough) the TW will hold its own against much more modern and expensive machines. And it’s still light enough to manhandle or – heaven forbid – pick up after you drop it.

20151219_100849

In the right hands (not mine) the TW is stable even on glare ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can’t take it on the highway”

Well that depends on how good your nerves are. The TW200 is rated for 105kph (65mph) top speed with stock gearing. Switching out sprockets can boost the top speed a little, but at the end of the day the TW is not fun on a long highway ride. Lacking 6th gear, the bike gets a bit manic at speeds over 85kph (53mph) but can happily chug along backroads all day at around 70. Which is way more fun anyways…you know…the “road less travelled” and all that.

roadless

The quintessential road less travelled: Abandoned highway on the North East Coast.

 

 

 

“The gas tank is tiny”

The gas tank holds 6.8L (1.8 gallons), but the bike is such a fuel-sipper that it still has a decent range. I’ve never ran the TW out of gas (knock on wood) but I’ve gotten to 130km on the trip meter  without a hitch. The TW is so ridiculously good on gas that it’s become my most commonly used bike for commuting.

“It’s funny looking”

20151005_183614

I prefer “quirky”. And as my Instagram account can testify to, the TW has become my most photographed bike. That little thing is so photogenic, and brings me to some very scenic places. The huge tires give the bike an adorable characteristic, like a puppy with oversized paws. Ok, I can see how a large person would feel a bit ridiculous riding a TW though. I fit the bike quite well at 5’5″, but someone 5’10” and taller would probably feel a bit cramped, and look a little like a circus bear on a tricycle.

So hopefully I’ve dispensed some of the attitudes surrounding the TW200. It’s a great first bike, and the ultimate bike to learn off-road skills on. And it’s just so much FUN. Which is why you started riding motorcycles in the first place, isn’t it?

****To read about the adventures of another blogger on a TW200, please head over to Two Wheels Two Feet.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on December 30, 2015, in Behind the Visor and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. That last image is beautiful! Hope you had a Merry Christmas and wishing you a happy New Year!

  2. Gordon K Baker

    I recently bought a used TW, and am looking forward to getting back into biking on it, after many years away from it. I’m dreaming of all the “off the beaten path” places we’ll go together, soon as it warms up just a little.

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