I’ve owned my TW200 for over a year, so I’m still a novice when it comes to off-road riding. As confidence-inspiring as that bike is, there are still situations where I feel anxious and completely incompetent as a rider.
One of those situations was riding in sand. What better place to conquer that fear than in Musgrave Harbour, with its miles of sandy beaches!
Mark literally grew up riding on the beach, and had these words of instruction: “keep your feet down in the soft sand, then get closer to the water where the sand isn’t as loose.” OK then.
So I managed to get through the soft sand without going down in a pile, and gradually picked up some speed when I got on the firmer sand. Though I *know* that it’s a fact that a bike is easier to control when it’s going faster, there comes a point when that fact gets pushed aside by the thought of “if I’m going any faster than this and crash, it will ruin my entire summer”. So I found a happy balance, puttering down the beach as the waves gently rolled in.
Learning to ride off-road as an adult can be a daunting task, but good instruction, determination and the promise of a soft serve afterwards can do wonders for self-confidence!
I’m old enough to remember the trains in Newfoundland. It’s kind of hard to forget really, when the tracks were less than 150 feet (45m) from the house where I grew up. The daily rumble stopped in 1988 when the railway was officially abandoned for economic reasons, and the rails and ties were removed. In 1997, the trail was “re-purposed”, and the 883 km (549 miles) of railway bed became the T’Railway Provincial Park, a multi-use trail spanning the island from St. John’s to Port-Aux-Basques. Within St. John’s and Conception Bay South the T’Railway is enjoyed by walkers, runners, cyclists and cross-country skiers (motorized vehicles are prohibited), but the rest of the trail is open to ATV’s, dirtbikes, side-by-sides and snowmobiles.
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?
Port Dover, Ontario holds a motorcycle rally each Friday the 13th. Though I’ve never been there, it’s become sort of a tradition with me to go for a ride on these occasions as long as the weather is somewhat civilized.
This past Friday the temperature got to a balmy 5 degrees C (41 F) with overcast skies and a brisk wind off the water…nothing that merino wool and an electric vest couldn’t handle. We bundled up, grabbed a couple of take-out subs and headed for a nearby trail.
I immediately noticed the difference in soil consistency. A few cold nights had made the mud super slick and clumpy, filling the tire treads and flicking up on the fenders, engine and seat. I had to ride even slower than I normally would, and be really careful on off-camber sections of trail.
I bought my lovely little Yamaha TW200 back in April, and took to the trails bedecked completely in street-riding gear. I didn’t want to jump completely into a whole new wardrobe, so it took a little time for me to realize what dirt-specific articles I truly needed. I was wearing my old Harley boots off-road (I couldn’t bear the thought of getting my Elsinores covered in mud), but with the Regatta and a marathon looming in late summer I was ultra-paranoid of busting up a foot or ankle. Boots became the first thing on the shopping list.
One evening in August myself and Mark left the house on the dual-purpose bikes without a clearcut destination in mind. We took a trail leading from Kenmount Road, crossed under the Outer Ring Road and were picking our way over the rocky terrain when Mark spotted something just off the trail. Finding junk in the woods is nothing strange, unfortunately. I could’ve started a blog solely with pictures of garbage that I’ve found in the woods while riding. But this was old junk, and basically in the middle of nowhere. HUH???
We continued along the trail and within minutes found ourselves in what I can only describe as an automotive graveyard. And I don’t mean Sunbirds and Topaz’s either. Many of these cars were from the 1940’s and 50’s.
…and I don’t mean because they’ve been sitting in the back of the fridge for a week too long. What I’m getting at is when you have a dual-purpose bike, even something as mundane as having leftovers for supper can be amazingly fun.
Case in point: yesterday was a beautiful early fall day, feeling more like early September than October. With the days growing steadily shorter, it becomes a bit of a crunch after work hours to get some riding in, especially when you have a pesky habit of eating decent meals at regular hours. The solution: reheat some of Mom’s homemade veggie lasagna in the microwave, then pack in into the tailpack of the bike along with a couple of bottles of water and hit the trails. Read the rest of this entry
I currently own three bikes that serve three distinct purposes. I’m often asked what bike I like the most, and while I can’t really answer that question in a straight-forward way, I have to say that I have the most fun on my Yamaha TW200. If you’ve never ridden a small off-road bike, you may not fully understand where I’m coming from. So here are a half dozen reasons why it makes sense for a motorcycle enthusiast to add a dual-purpose bike to his/her garage. Read the rest of this entry
I can’t remember the last time I sat down to write something on this blog. I’ve wanted to, believe me…but I’ve had too many interests vying for my time, and a very busy period at work that left me too mentally drained each day to string together sentences. I’ve been meaning to announce the change in my garage demographics for a few weeks now: The Sportster is sold, and in her place is a 2010 Yamaha TW 200.
To some it may seem like a strange switch. But the big-tired dual purpose caught my eye the first time I saw one almost six years ago, and it just so happened that the right deal came along at the right time.
The first ride was hardly awe-inspiring for me. The fact that we live in the centre of the city means riding through a fair bit of traffic to get to a trail. The lack of power riding on-road was a little unsettling, I was actually afraid of getting run over when the light changed from red to green. But I soon learned that with a bike this small, I need to be aggressive with the throttle and flick up through the gears very quickly, and had no problem at all keeping with traffic. I even hit the TCH for a very brief spell last weekend, from Cochrane Pond to Donovan’s. It takes a little while to get there, but she will do about 110km/hr (69 mph).
The bike started to grow on me when I got off the pavement and realized how stable it is off-road. Up to that point, the only off-road experience I had was on my Vstrom, which is more than a handful. Those big tires and the super low gearing make the TW almost unstoppable over any sort of terrain, and it’s low and light enough to allow me to put a foot down when I have to. It’s the perfect novice dual-purpose!
Do I miss the Sportster? A little, I guess. I had it for almost six years, and it was on that bike that I learned where a motorcycle can take me, and discovered how much I love touring. But the Vstrom handles the touring duties much better, and I didn’t use the Sportster at all last year so the sensible thing was to sell it. I can’t say that I’ll never have another Harley (I’m not getting rid of my Harley shirts yet!), but for now I’m quite content with what I have.
We’re hoping to pack up the TW and DR650 this May 24th weekend and head to Musgrave Harbour to do some off-roading and explore a bit. I’m so looking forward to it! I’ll be keeping a journal so expect a ride report and lots of pictures!