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Old 04-26-2004, 05:11 PM   #1
turbonotch OP
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Eh? Yamaha TW200 review... no really - - (beware, long)

BACKROUND INFO:

Before I start this, I just wanted to say 'hi' to everyone. I guess I'm technically a newbie here... But I've been lurking for months, I've been riding motorcycles of all types for 15+ years, I've worked in a few motorcycle shops back in the 90's, and I've been a moderator on a techboard for turbocharged motors and drag racing for 4-5years. So I'm no newbie to motorcycles or performance... this just happens to be my first post.

I've been doing the dual-sport thing for close to 10 years now. I've been trying to buy a 'newer' bike in the fall while holding onto the 'older' bike until spring and sell it for what I payed the year before. That way I have a different bike every year, they never get so clapped out they aren't worth anything, they are really easy to maintain (only requiring basic lube and filter jobs), and I pretty much sell them for what I payed after a year of hard use.

Anyway - I got caught in the lurch this year. I was looking into buying a house so I had to unload the toys during fall and winter. I talked to my old boss at the cycle shop and located a clean low mileage DR350S for a steal. I gave him a down payment and said... "I'll pick it up in the spring after this house business is squared away".

Winter comes and goes...I go the balance of the money to pick up the DR350. "Oh - sorry about that, I sold it to a friend". WTF was the downpayment for then... it wasn't a beer money - we had an agreement!? You've got to be kidding me! So here I am in the sweet spring weather with no bike and every dualsport I call for was sold within a day or two of being for sale :(

I was looking any of the popular bikes: DR350, DRZ400, KLR650, XR650L, DR650, KTM 640,etc,etc. I even was willing to take a chance on a some of the 400-600cc enduro bikes converted to dualsport with 'grey market' DOT titles. At this point, they all fit the bill - even at rip off spring time pricing... but EVERYTHING I called for was sold. I was reluctant to buy a brand new bike because I don't like payments, I didn't have enough cash on hand to buy a $5-7k bike outright, and I have a really hard time riding a brand new bike hard... I just feel guilty. Dunno why



WHAT I ENDED UP DOING:

So I saw an ad for a 2003 TW200 with 250 street driven miles, all new gear IN THE BOX, and a really fair asking price that was what I would expect to pay for a downpayment on a new bike. I would normally have never given it a second glance... when I worked in the business they were referred to as 'Turkey Whistle 200's'. Written off as good for motor vehicle rider tests or worth borrowing when the girlfriend/younger sibling wanted to tag along. I'd honestly never ridden one myself... why would I? I am an experienced rider with a motorcross and enduro backround that is six foot tall weighing in a 190 pounds!

I agonized over whether to even go LOOK at it for a few days. Finally, after hearing 'sorry it's been sold' for the 8th time in an hour of calling... I gave in and called about it. It was still for sale, the guy was motivated to sell, and he swore it was garage kept and flawless top to bottom. I took a few hundred less than asking price out of the bank as my personal limit to keep my dignity... and figured if he would take that, I'd have something to ride for the summer and I could sell it to a new rider or kid for what I payed and pick up a lightly used DRZ400 in the fall.

I got there... the thing was in showroom condition down to the little 'nubs' on the factory tires. The guy lived just outside Baltimore and used it for town touring once or twice. I told him how much cash I had with me and that it was the best I could do for that bike. He agreed and we loaded it up. At this point, it was sunny and 80 degrees... I was happy to have a bike... ANY bike. I brought it home and got it insured and tagged first thing the next morning.

WHAT I THOUGHT:
After riding this thing hard for a weekend... I am REALLY impressed - it is a kick ass little bike! As long as you acknowledge that it isn't a motorcross bike with tags or a bmw touring bike... it is a load of fun for dirt cheap. I put 250 OFFROAD miles on it in one weekend. And I don't mean railroad beds or gravel roads. I mean 2 track Jeep trails, whooped out 1 track enduro trails, really tight firetrails/breaks, and more than a few 'make your own trail' type situations.
I started out treating it like I was riding a kids bike and if I pushed it hard it would break in two. After Saturday, I realized I was spending alot of time at less than 1/2 throttle and only using a fraction of the suspension travel. For Sunday, I did a quick lube job on the bike and loaded it up for the day... I hit toughest trails I've come across without mercy - just to see if it could hack it. And hack it the bike did!!!!

On 2 tracks the super wide 130 and 180 series tires meant I could push the bike really hard (for a dual-sport) in the corners and it didn't even flinch. The super light weight, wide tires, and low seat height meant I would WHIP the bike down bar-wide fire trails... jumping logs and stumps like they weren't even there! When things got really tight I would find myself in situations were I would've easy gotten caught off guard and layed a topheavy 650 on it's side... on the TW I just drop both feet and stop the works... if I couldn't go forward anyfurther... there was more than one occasion where I planted my right foot, pointed toward the berm of the firetrail, popped the clutch, pulled the front wheel up and did a 180 degree turn in one move and one spot just like I was on a BMX bike lol. On other occasions, I would hit a deep bike or truck rut and wedge the bike in there by it's case and footpegs... which happens all the time in the pine barrens. The only way out was straight up... which with a 650 would normally be a two person job, but with the TW200 I could break it loose, yank it up myself, and be on the trail again in seconds.

On hills, I was impressed. At one point I went down a hiking trail to a stream with a bunch of log breaks to prevent erosion... toward the bottom the logs were EXACTLY wheel length apart and I was dragging the skid plate over them. No way in hell was any type of motorcycle getting back up that... unless you happen to be running the pine barrens on a trials bike lol. So I found myself at the bottom of a washout ravine with sand walls on one side and deep water on the other.... not enough room to get more than a second gear running start. I was beginning to wonder if I'd be carrying the bike back up the trail one terrace at a time. 'Oh what the hell'... I lined up the wall of erroded of sand next to the trail, backed up as far as I could, and got a second gear running start. I was way over the bars trying to keep from going over backwards. I got all the way to the top (it was a long climb for being in the pinebarrens) before loosing traction... at which point I shifted back on the seat a little, the WIDE rear tire grabbed the sugar sand, and I carried the front tire over the crest with a second gear 'thumper chug' wheelie. I've NEVER owned a dualsport that would've made that hill on stock tires... if at all.

Later that day, I found myself taking crazy medium speed sidehill lines in the pine barrens 'beach consistency' sand. Lines that would've washed out the front tire on any other bike... different it definitely the word! Sand and gravel corners were different to... it was not race bike by any means... but once I realized I could use the outstanding traction to lean and bank through corners rather than darting through them like I normally would it was alot faster than an average dualsport. I didn't have power to do the trail brake in and power out drill, but it DID have a ton of tire. By the end of the day I realized I could enter a fairly tight corner at the top of third and roll out at the bottom of third gear carrying my speed like I would while open-tracking a streetbike or road race car. On tight fire trails these days, my speed is limited by my ability to weeve the bars through the trees and avoid obstacles with the front tire... so I was back to the style I had when I preferred two-stroke enduro bikes (as long as the didn't hit hairpin corners.

WHAT I DID LIKE:

- super light weight - it does things i would only expect from a two stroke or BMX bike
- super wider tires with SIDEWALL LUGS mean outstanding traction in all conditions while still having tread with really good street manners (good thing because they are the only tires available for the bike)!
- low seat height kept me upright in slow speed, offcamber, sandy situations where I would been playing gopher on any 650 I've ever owned.
- simple, proven, air cooled motor suggests great durability and low maintenance.
- low first gear meant I never had to work the clutch hard... ever.
- cheap buy in... one of the cheapest bikes on the market in ANY catagory.
- great mileage! 225miles... less than 2.5 gallons... you do the math ;)
- looks... i'm usually a function over form kind guy... but the wider tires, black frame/rims, and white/black/silver/yellow paint scheme gets alot of compliments, which is rare for a dual sport. here a link for factory pics for those of you that aren't keeping up with yamaha's sorry line of dual sports lol: http://www.yamaha-motor.com/products...y&cid=6&mid=10
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:

- no 6th gear... didn't like to cruise (comfortably) above 55mph... luckily first gear is rediculously low and I could easily get away with an extra tooth on the front sprocket - I'll I may even add two if it can hack it. Here in *South* Jersey most roads are two lane roads without ANY traffic or lights... and everyone drives 10-15mph over the speed limit - so 55mph makes you a road hazard. I'm sure it'll pull 65 with more gear.
- weak power - enough that it is still fun offroad and i never expected it to be fast so i can't say i am disappointed... just realistic and honest.
- fair suspension... it looks weak on paper... but honestly it isn't any worse than an *average* stock japanese dual-sport suspension. It could handle the rolling over whoops in third gear without bottoming. if spaced correctly, you could even pull the front tire and skim through them in 4th gear motorcross style if they were spaced JUST right. IF they weren't space right? well it would bottom out, overwhelm the suspension and let you know... but it never felt violent like I was going to hurt it. The only reason I file the suspension under 'dislikes' is because there really isn't a way to upgrade it without custom fabrication.
- small tank... 1.3gallon ouch! I mean that is still a 150 mile range offroad... and it keeps weight down... but that is tiny. No big deal... two bungie cords and a $1.95 gallon fuel tank strapped to the tail fixed that.
- no kickstarter... but hey, with 250 pounds and a small motor - it push starts like a dream.

WHAT I WOULDN'T USE IT FOR:
- high altitude (west coast) rides will probably make the motor feel even more inadequate. ouch. I'll try some east coast mountain rides this summer... I expect it'll fair well with the gearing set back to stock - but still not a powerhouse.
- motorcross or competition enduro riding styles... true to it's name - it's a trail bike and nothing more.
- high speed on-road touring or desert/dune/quarry running... I could only imagine it would be frustrating, between no power and a low speed suspension.

WHAT I WOULD USE IT FOR:
trail riding in tight woods conditions with alot of DEEP sand and/or mud good for those looking for a tax refund purchase price and maintenance/operations costs for less than the cost of a six pack of beer :) I never thought I could have so much fun on $3 of gas.
Needless to say I'm impressed. It is cheap thrills and reminds me why I started riding trail bikes in the first place. Considering what it cost me... it may be the first bike in years to have a permanent home here. If I do keep it for a few years and it gets worn out - you can bet I'll be using my race car fabrication skills to swap an enduro suspension and wedge a worked 350+cc engine in there... I love frankenstein contraptions :).

But for now the plan is an aftermarket rear luggage rack, soft saddle bags, a 1 tooth larger front sprocket, hand grip guards, a tank bag, and a FUN summer. I may even try using my hiking gear to go camping off of it for a weekend excursion or two.

GREG.


EDIT - the end product when I sold it:
90% offroad miles - owned it for 2 seasons





I bought it for about $2600? Put 2k offroad miles on it and then sold it on ebay for $2,400. The rack is from cycleracks.com very sturdy for ~$135 and the handguards are just repainted old Acerbis ones I had around.

The bike was best with +1 tooth in the front. I added a -3 tooth in the rear and it was way to sluggish. Sure it would regularly return 90+mpg and it now had a top speed of 75+, but it wasn't fun anymore. No wheelies, more clutch work, no wheel spin. Stick with only the +1!

I really enjoyed the bike and I would like to have kept it. Ultimately, I sold it to fund a 10k mile crosscountry sport touring trip. Definitely a worthwhile trade!

When I came home I bought a KLX300R with a bunch of suspension work and a street title. I decided I wanted to try enduro riding... the TW200 was a good time. But I needed more power, a 6th gear, and a suspension that didn't scream bloody murder when you hit whoops.

I'm still looking at TW's though. If I can find a 90's model for under $1000. I buy it - throw tire screws in it and use it for goofing off in the winter... then pull the screws out and use it to run errands in the summer... would make a good 'guest' bike to go riding with inexperienced riders because it is SO user friendly.

Keep ridin'

turbonotch screwed with this post 12-09-2006 at 07:36 AM
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Old 04-26-2004, 05:17 PM   #2
Linzi
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Thanks for the review, Greg! I am looking for a dual sport, but I can't yet afford the 640 ADV that I really want, and I've loved the TWs for a while...but, I've never ridden one.
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Old 04-26-2004, 05:23 PM   #3
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I would like to find one cheap someday for my wife or bikeless newbie friends when we go camping, and also for a pit pike when we're at the dragstrip. I've always thought they were pretty cool in a geeky sorta way
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Old 04-26-2004, 05:42 PM   #4
turbonotch OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linzi
Thanks for the review, Greg! I am looking for a dual sport, but I can't yet afford the 640 ADV that I really want, and I've loved the TWs for a while...but, I've never ridden one.
what type of riding to you do down there in Florida?

before I went to look at this TW200 I went to my buddies shop at sat on an XT225 to see if I could stomach the short seat height at six foot tall. The XT225 offers slightly more power, a 6th gear, and slightly more suspension travel. But TW200 would definitely do better on soft surfaces.... and new I think the XT225 is something like $500 more.


The DR200SE, KLR250, and XT225 all fall in the $4k range. A TW200 is $3500 new. Just for reference all the TW200's I've seen in the past week or two fell in the $2-3k range. I payed $2500 for this 2003 with real low miles and no of-road use and a full set of riding gear that fit me
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Old 04-26-2004, 06:37 PM   #5
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Right now, I'm taking my CB-1 (so I know about the no power stuff ) off-road in places like the Ocala National Forest (sand) and the North GA mountains (gravel). Needz me a dual sport, and I've always loved the TW.
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Old 04-26-2004, 07:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linzi
Right now, I'm taking my CB-1 (so I know about the no power stuff ) off-road in places like the Ocala National Forest (sand) and the North GA mountains (gravel). Needz me a dual sport, and I've always loved the TW.
nothing wrong with the CB-1, they are fun... for what they were designed for :LOL: which isn't what you are doing (i've seen the pictures). I almost bought one a few years ago just for the hell of it.

i've ridden down there some... more southern georgia though - just south of Macon and Warner-Robbins AFB. I'd think the TW200 would be a bunch of fun in those areas....

Georgia has some areas that a real close, if not identical, to the New Jersey Pine Barrens... really thick sand and short thin pine trees. But most of it is hard packed red clay and mud as I remember.

If you expect to be doing any top gear blasts over terrain - you'll probably want more suspension travel though. If exploring trails and cruising at 50-60 down those georgia dirt roads... the TW200 will be great.

Like I said though, with as far apart as things are in Georgia (at least where I go) - you're going to want to swap the front sprocket for sure.
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Old 04-26-2004, 07:16 PM   #7
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BTW - I just finished college a year or so ago. Between the cheap initial purchase price and LOW operating costs... I would have LOVED owning this bike in college.

I lived on the other side of the pinebarrens at the Jersey shore. A cheap efficient dual sport while living with the beach one-side and miles of sand trails and woods on the other side... it would've kicked ass.
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Old 04-26-2004, 07:16 PM   #8
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Greg,

Excellent review! Thank you for taking the time and effort to put forth such an outstanding piece of work. One thought though. Include a picture or two so people can see what you're talking about:







Marc
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Old 04-26-2004, 07:29 PM   #9
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My Super Sherpa is sold, but you should still buy one!

It was a fantastic bike. I sold it as I wasn't utilizing the light weight of the bike anymore and wanted a bit more power. The bike is a 250cc and has been compared along side the XT225 for years. Every report I've read stated the same thing... Super Sherpa is better. Better top end, better brakes, better build quality, etc...
I had one and can say that it is the best dual sport under 250 lbs. you can buy. I used mine for technical trail runs and commuting on the hwy. It really does do it all. Now, when you start putting it against a DRZ or something bigger... it will loose. If light weight and simplicity are your requirements... get the Sherpa!

Problem is... they stopped selling them in the US. Still in Canada and allover the world, but not here in the US... Man, how many bikes have we (USA) lost like that! Used Sherpas can be found for a very good price.

Just my .02,
Michael
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Here's my old bike (lots of mods done to it):
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Old 04-26-2004, 07:38 PM   #10
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The last dual sport I had before this TW200 was an older Kawasaki 250. I liked it... it was a good all around off-road bike that could still do ok on-road. It was also VERY durable and low maintenance.

Here in NJ the light weight was a big plus BUT the narrow tire were a real drag in the sand.

The problem you run into is that deep sand demands speed to float across... but around here you some REALLY dense woods WITH deep sand. So you have no choice but to frequent 1st and 2nd gear. At those times, the narrow tire, low power Kawasaki would get ugly... it's weight was the one good thing you had going for you because you could catch your balance easy and keep from going down.

But the rest of the time is was a really fun ride.
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Old 04-26-2004, 08:42 PM   #11
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You'll see the odd TW on the back of a motorhome here & there (hint hint.) A friend had one ages ago, and it was a fun bike. Probably not something I'd take cross country, but it could be done.
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Old 04-26-2004, 08:52 PM   #12
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yeah - i wouldn't spend much time on the road with it unless i lived in a town or city were low speed driving was the norm.

typically i do about 90%dirt/10%street... but if it cruises better regeared, i may do more like 80/20 or 75/25. but i rarely drive more than an hour at a time on the pavement, otherwise it is loaded in the back of the Ranger.
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Old 04-27-2004, 09:55 AM   #13
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Took my MSF course on the TW and bought one right away. Power wheelies too! Lots of fun, great mileage, cheap, and motors up rutted jeep trail hills a little better than the screaming skinny tire CR bikes. Rather than spinning the rear wheel all the way up the hill, it just thumps along with no complaints. Rather than power sliding around turns, it tracks like it's on rails. Try to power slide it and you'll get thrown. Too slow for the highway tho. Only problem was there's only one tire choice available.
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Old 04-27-2004, 10:37 AM   #14
Linzi
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Ack... I will have to get more than one dual sport.

I love the TW200, but I have no way to get it to the North GA mountains other than riding it there, and that would be miserable on back roads, because a) it would take for bloody ever, and b) most of GA is really, really boring. I guess I'll have to get a TW200 for my Ocala National Forest runs and something else (maybe a KLR Six Fiddy) for the longer trips. Hmmm... I guess I should probably get a job or something.
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Old 04-27-2004, 10:40 AM   #15
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there is a guy in the cmra that rode a tw from NY to Dallas. I would not do something like that.
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