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Is the Yamaha TW200 Right for you?

Is the Yamaha TW200 Right for you?

Up until 2019 I had never touched a motorcycle. As a hunter and outdoorsman I knew that my competition were mostly hunters with side-by-sides and ATV's which prompted me to look for something similar. I picked up a wrecked Polaris Sportsman that had rolled out of a pickup bed when it was T-boned. The drivetrain was fine but the body and frame was tweaked. It was also a horrendous purple camo color. They came from the factory as a typical Realtree camo color, but were notorious for turning purple after years of UV discoloration. 

After fixing it up I took it out to Vernal, Utah with my hunting buddy Jon where we hunted his spike elk tag. Me with my loud, bulky, gas-hogging 4x4 and him with his 2018, compact, nimble, fuel efficient, and much quieter Yamaha TW200. Up until this point I didn't know much about it, other than I had made a mistake by going with the Sportsman. Sure the 4-wheeler had much more cargo and passenger capacity, but it was so big. It filled my entire 6.5' F-150 bed with the tailgate down. It took up half a car spot in the garage, and the worst part: I couldn't do anything with it unless I took it into the mountains.

Fast forward two months, I sold my Sportsman and was enroute to Twin Falls, Idaho to meet a guy selling me his 2018 T-dub to pay for his girlfriends engagement ring. Up until then I had yet to even try riding any kind of motorbike. When I met the seller he expressed how pained he was to sell it, and told me to take good care of it. I had him load it up the ramp into my bed to avoid wrecking it in front of him. It was a good call because I soon found riding took some getting used to and I did wreck it... a lot.

In the first month of ownership and teaching myself to ride a clutch and twist throttle I ender up having to replace a speedometer assembly, headlight cowl, front fender, clutch pedal, a mirror, and 2 brake levers. Let me make it clear, it was all due to user error. Trial by fire turned out to be the best learning method for me and I managed to stay out of the hospital. 

My whole point of starting out this way is to say that I was as green as they come to riding, and the Yamaha TW200 was probably the best option I could have gone with as someone starting late in life, at least when compared to a lot of others who started at age 6. 

When it comes to dual-sport motorcycles, the Yamaha TW200 is a standout option that has garnered a loyal following over the years. Its unique design, versatility, and performance have made it a popular choice for riders of all skill levels. If you're in the market for a new bike or considering adding another to your collection, here are five compelling reasons to consider buying a Yamaha TW200.

  1. Versatility

The Yamaha TW200 is known for its remarkable versatility. Whether you're cruising on the highway, tackling dirt trails, or navigating through city traffic, the TW200 can handle it all. Its compact size and lightweight design make it easy to maneuver in tight spots, and its low seat height accommodates riders of various sizes. So, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned rider, the TW200 offers an enjoyable experience on a variety of terrains.

This is what made me quickly fall in love with my T-dub. Unlike the Sportsman, I could take the T-dub anywhere I wanted, anytime. Sure many dirt bikes will climb hills without breaking a sweat, but you'll have to put a ton of extra work and money into making it street legal if you want to run some errands around town. Sure a Kawasaki Ninja will get you around town a lot faster and will make you look cooler while hunched forward but good luck taking it on any roads with anything larger than pebble gravel. 

When living in Provo, Utah I would leave my apartment, drive on 10 miles of pavement to the canyon, proceed to take rough single-track for 20 miles, then pop-back out on the pavement and cruise back home. No need to trailer out to the trail staging area like most dirt bikers. Although they would usually pass me somewhere on the trail at some point. 

  1. Fat Tires

One of the standout features of the TW200 is its iconic fat tires. With a front tire measuring 130/80-18 and a rear tire at 180/80-14, these oversized tires provide excellent stability and traction. This makes the TW200 an ideal choice for off-road adventures, including sand, mud, or gravel. The wide tires help you stay balanced and confident even when the going gets tough, setting it apart from other motorcycles in its class. 

The rear fat tire is iconic. It catches everyone's attention. It is also a very capable tread pattern and there is really no need to swap it out until it's time for a replacement. However do keep in mind that depending on your type of riding you may want to consider upgrading the stock front "Trail Wing" tire as it is known to be a little squirrely in off-road conditions. I kept if for about three years before swapping it and while I think some people excaudate how bad it is, there are better tires on the market. 

  1. Approachable for Beginners

The TW200 is often hailed as one of the most beginner-friendly motorcycles on the market. Its low seat height and easy-to-ride nature make it a great choice for new riders who are still developing their skills. The forgiving power delivery and manageable weight allow beginners to build confidence while learning to ride, without feeling overwhelmed. Furthermore, the gentle throttle response ensures a smooth learning curve.

I don't think I could have learned on a bigger bike without hurting myself. Coming from riding an automatic 4-wheeler I found that it took a lot of getting used to the twist-throttle and clutch. In the beginning I whisky-throttled it into a couple fences. A smaller bike would not have been a great option either because any smaller than the TW200 and I would have soon been looking for a replacement as soon as I was comfortable with it.

  1. Iconic Design

The TW200 has a unique, retro-inspired design that stands out from the crowd. Its classic round headlamp, distinctively shaped fuel tank, and distinctive rear rack give it a timeless, rugged appearance. The combination of modern engineering and vintage aesthetics has made it a favorite among riders who appreciate style as much as substance. They've been made almost exactly the same since launched in the late 80's. Every several years they swap color schemes which helps identify how old it really is. Other than that and a few minor changes they have remained un-tainted from trending generation changes throughout the years.

I think this is the #1 reason why there is such a big following of this little bike today. It looks sweet. Unlike a street bike it has fat tires, and motocross-style plastics, but unlike most dirt bikes it has a metal gas tank and a low stance. The 4x6 rectangular headlight really ties it together hailing back to it's classic 80's style. I cannot tell you how many times I have been stopped at a gas station or intersection with someone commenting how good of condition my T-dub is in. Everyone unfamiliar with the TW200 is fooled into thinking my 2018 is a classic vintage bike. 

  1. Reliability

Yamaha is renowned for producing reliable and durable motorcycles, and the TW200 is no exception. Its air-cooled, 196cc four-stroke engine is known for its longevity and ease of maintenance. With proper care, these bikes can last for years, making them a cost-effective choice for riders looking for a dependable and long-lasting motorcycle.

I have heard some wish for a larger or fuel-injected variant of the T-dub, but the truth is that it's purely mechanical nature has left me feeling much more safe from an unexpected breakdown. Especially when paired with a few upgrades such as a lithium ion battery, a quick-connect jump starter kit, and some spare fuses. The worst part of any carbureted system is when cold-starting in very cold weather. Still this has yet to be an issue on my bike when properly choked and with a good battery.


The Yamaha TW200 is a dual-sport motorcycle that appeals to a wide range of riders due to its versatility, fat tires, beginner-friendliness, iconic design, and reliability. Whether you're a novice rider looking for a friendly introduction to the world of motorcycling or an experienced adventurer seeking a dependable and versatile machine, the TW200 has something to offer. Its unique character and capabilities make it a compelling choice for those looking to add an exciting and versatile motorcycle to their collection. So, if you're considering a new bike, don't overlook the Yamaha TW200 – it might just be the perfect ride for you. It has been for me. 

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