Yamaha TW200 2020 review: the forgotten bisport bike
2020 Yamaha TW200 Review: Big Tires Live!
Sometimes a bicycle has been around for so long that it blends into the landscape, even when it sticks out like a sore thumb. Half-bike / half-ATV, the Yamaha TW200 dual-sport motorcycle has been under the radar since the 1900s. However, with the onslaught of new bikers to the trails, we felt it was high time to give it another go. look to this tired and beginner friendly motorcycle.
The retro-futuristic look of the TW reminds us of the 1970s designs of the bikes of the future. In fact, the Yamaha TW200 dates back to 1987 with the concept of a tiring dual sports bike originating from the 1972 Suzuki RV-90 Rover. Since there is no competition for the TW, especially now that the Suzuki VanVan 200 is gone, we don’t have to wonder if the TW is the best bike in its class. Instead, we’re just judging if it’s good enough.
In many ways, the TW200 can be the perfect beginner’s bike for someone who needs a street-approved machine. Virtually every aspect of the 200’s design focuses on ease of use.
The engine is a novice’s dream. An electric starter prevents frustrating kicks, and the power doesn’t intimidate anyone. The rider will need to learn the intricacies of a five-speed clutch and gearbox, although the lightweight levers help matters. Plus, because it’s carburized, using a choke is another key skill to master, especially in cold climates.
It really is a fun canyon and neighborhood motorbike. Keep him off the freeway, as he’s not thrilled to be going above 55 mph and tops out at around 70.
Again, these are the big round profile tires to the rescue, as the 200 will lean into a bend at angles that would make a traditional dual sport bike slide. While street acceleration isn’t stunning, an aggressive twist of the throttle will put some space between you and nearby cars exiting a red light. The front disc brake and rear drum are perfect, given the TW200’s light weight, along with its limited engine performance and large footprint tires.
You can go on city walks all day and enjoy every minute. People smile at you, and if you have to navigate your way not strictly approved by the authorities, the Yamaha TW200 gracefully obliges in an accommodating manner. I was able to take the TW200 on city trails surprisingly close to downtown Los Angeles without attracting negative attention. A local saw me and smiled at my cute whispering little steed. This wouldn’t have happened if I had been on a KTM 500 EXC-F – the LAPD would have been in a helicopter.
Thanks to an ultra-low seat height of just over 31 inches, which is almost an inch less than the Yamaha XT250, the soles of the rider’s boots will be with dirt in the first place. This translates into a serious confidence building. If there is a problem, it’s easy to put down an assertive foot or paddle out as needed. While the 2020 Yamaha TW200 isn’t particularly light, its center of gravity is low enough that its 280 pounds rarely dominate the rider.
Two factors keep the seat height of the TW200 low. First, the suspension is short – only about six inches at each end. Second, these big tires have mini-size diameters – 18 inches in the front and 14 inches in the rear.
Bridgestone Trail Wing tires perform much better off-road than you might think. They slow down handling to a pace suitable for beginners, and they’re more than happy to get out of ruts and find traction where the narrower, standard-size dirt tires will slip. If mud or sand is on the menu, the TW gobbles them up nicely, as it puts a lot of rubber on the pitch.
We can’t quite muster the same enthusiasm for the suspension. It’s hard and short. You will be familiar with every rock on the trail and every ripple in the pavement. If you push the TW hard, which no sane person would, the forks flex like a gymnast as the shock shakes you in predictable ways.
Still, if you’re patient and persistent, the TW can take you almost anywhere. It has something of an off-road pedigree thanks to the tires – anywhere you can’t drive it you can easily get down and push it! We were surprised on several occasions to see where the little 196cc engine was ready to take us.
In a world where wives, girlfriends and daughters (no, you shouldn’t have all three) go off-roading, the 2020 Yamaha TW200 offers a street legal option that goes out of its way to accommodate the most senior beginners. It certainly won’t take you off your traditional dual sport frame. Still, if you’re compelled to take a ride, you can hand the tired squatty dual sport bike to your significant other with a generous smile on your face.
Photography by Kelly Callan
Headset: HJC DS-X1
Glasses: Serengeti Sassari
Jacket: Olympia Hudson
Gloves: Alpinestars SMX-1 Air
Jeans: Joe Rocket Accelerator
Boots: Gaerne Stelvio Aquatech
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Specifications Yamaha TW200 2020
Bore x stroke: 67.0 x 55.7 mm
Compression ratio: 9.5: 1
Valvetrain: SOHC, two valves
Refueling: Mikuni 28 mm carburetor
Transmission: 5 constant mesh speeds
Final drive: Chain
Front suspension; travel: non-adjustable fork; 6.3 inch
Rear suspension; Displacement: Non-adjustable shock absorber; 5.9 inch
Front tire: 130 / 80-18
Rear tire: 180 / 80-14
Front brake: 220 mm disc
Rear brake: 110mm drum
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
Wheelbase: 52.2 inches
Rake: 25.8 degrees
Trail: 3.4 inches
Seat height: 31.1 inches
Ground clearance: 10.4 inches
1.8 gallon fuel capacity
Estimated fuel economy: 78 mpg
Curb weight: 278 pounds
Color: Sand beige
2020 Yamaha TW200 Price: $ 4,599 MSRP
2020 Yamaha TW200 Photo Gallery