2023 Yamaha TW200 Review
Despite the adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” it’s hard to believe that the Tuning Fork brand has been manufacturing its TW200 dual sport, with one careful, but modest set of updates for over three decades. But that’s the beauty of Yamaha’s 2023 TW200 ($4,899). A simple and affordable street-legal, dual sport motorcycle, the “Trail Way” last saw an revision for the 2001 model year, adding a disc brake and electric start.
Editor’s note: Readers asked for it, and we delivered. Find out what other new motorcycles our US community wants us to ride this year in the Top 5 Motorcycles You Want Us To Review 2023 article.
The reason why these TW200′s are cool is because of its now retro styling. It offers a handsome ‘80s vibe reminiscent of other popular rectangular headlight bikes from that era (think Suzuki’s DR-Z). What’s old always becomes new and these bikes are back in style.
A classic dual sport, the TW200 can be ridden on and off-road. Oversized Bridgestone all-terrain balloon-style tires (18-inch front, 14-inch rear) and a surprisingly peppy 196cc four-stroke SOHC two-valve engine gets it moving. An air-cooled design is nothing fancy, but it is reliable, and the engine has enough pep for freeway-legal speeds.
Getting the single fired is as simple as twisting the old-fashioned but signature Yamaha Motor mechanical key. Flip the ignition switch and let’s go for a ride. This engine features a counterbalancer but it certainly doesn’t quell all of the engine’s vibes, especially at high running speed. A five-speed manual transmission with a cable-actuated clutch puts back the power to a 14-inch rear wheel via chain final drive on the left-hand side of the vehicle.
It drinks from a 1.8-gallon fuel tank, but there is no fuel gauge, nor low fuel level light. There is a petcock valve which allows you to alternate from “on,” “off” for transport, and “reserve” fueling. This is a remnant feature of the mechanical carburetor. We’ve averaged around 60 mpg during the course of our stop-and-go ride through the city. If you’re a cruiser, and can keep the speeds lower, Yamaha says you can get upwards of 70 mpg.
You’d be surprised how much pep this little thumper is. This 13-some horsepower engine feels more powerful than some 250cc liquid-cooled engines we’ve ridden. It’s surprising how much torque the engine offers. Ten pound-feet isn’t much but it’s capable of propelling it to highway speeds. It has a top speed of upwards of 80 mph. Obviously, at those engine running speeds, the engine vibrates considerably, but based on its price point and more rudimentary engineering (within the modern streetbike class), having a bit of engine vibration is par for the course. The rearview mirrors do a nice job of showing what’s going on behind you at slow speeds. However at freeway speeds the mirrors shake immensely.
Our testbike was fresh with 25 miles on the clock. So the transmission is a little sticky. It’s definitely broken since we began our test. These older-school motorcycles generally require more break-in than a modern bike. With modern motorcycles, the tolerances are usually tighter. Not a big deal. The one thing we do like is the solid shift feel. You really know when you’re selecting the next cog.
Clutch action is light and has a decent level of response. Realistically you’re not going to squeeze the clutch lever once the bike is moving. Still, if I wanted to learn how to ride on a forgiving motorcycle, this TW200 would be a good option. Factor in its low seat height and it’s a no-brainer for new riders.
This Yammie rolls on a 18-inch front and 14-inch rear spoke wheel with Bridgestone Trail Wing rubber. The tires are meaty and look cool. With the taller sidewalls, they provide a second set of suspension. Primary suspension consists of a telescopic fork and a coil spring shock that functions without a linkage. It mounts directly between the frame and swingarm with just over 6 inches of suspension travel up front, and just under 6 inches at the rear. Despite its diminutive size and shortish wheelbase (for a 278-pound road bike) it rides well over bumps.
Seat height is amiable to new riders and we like that the saddle is a bit wider than a conventional dirt bike. You’ll want to get off it after 60 or more miles. But realistically for short couple-hour jaunts around town it performs A-OK. There’s also room for a friend. The passenger seat area is relatively long and the seat tapers more widely toward the back. For jetting around with the missus or mister or running quick errands with one of your best friends, this motorcycle is fully capable. There’s also a flat storage rack that’s suitable for mounting a crate or other form of luggage.
Serrated footpegs are a nice touch for off-roaders, but they’re a little teensy. The steel handlebar offers pleasing rearward bend, but is another piece that we’d replace with a crossbar-pad-type aftermarket bar.
Brake hardware consists of a single hydraulic disc front brake and a mechanical drum rear. The master cylinder offers good response. Conversely, the back brake is not quite as responsive in terms of modulation, but the stoppers get the job done and we value the feel of the front brake. This time we didn’t get to ride this motorcycle after dark. It’s worth noting that since it was manufactured originally in 1987 it does not include LED anything.
Yamaha is renowned for its durability and its ability to manufacture products with extreme quality, and this TW200 is no different. Service-wise, after the initial service at 600 miles, Yamaha recommends changing engine oil at 4,000 miles. After that, service intervals are every 3,000 miles. Every other oil change, clean the oil strainer and replace the filter. It’s also advised to check the air filter. Oddly enough, Yamaha says the valve clearance should be measured every 3,000 miles.
In spite of its age, the $4,800 TW continues to demonstrate its worth. It’s practical and has that old-school ‘80s vibe that is very much in style. Plus it holds its value. You wouldn’t believe how expensive these bikes are on the used motorcycle. Would we spend our dough on the 2023 TW200 from Yamaha? You bet. It’s a worthwhile addition to the garage for motorcyclists seeking a durable little errand runner, or a recreational runner to supplement to the mothership when camping or traveling by RV.
Helmet: AGV Sportmodular
Jacket: REV’IT! Blackwater
Gloves: REV’IT! Kinetic
Pant: REV’IT! Piston
Boots: TCX Dartwood Waterproof
2023 Yamaha TW200 Technical Specifications and Price
|ENGINE:||196cc, SOHC, air-cooled single-cylinder; 2 valves|
|BORE x STROKE:||67.0 x 55.7mm|
|FUEL DELIVERY:||Mikuni 28mm|
|FRONT SUSPENSION:||33mm telescopic fork; 6.3 in. travel|
|REAR SUSPENSION:||Single shock; 5.9 in. travel|
|FRONT BRAKE:||220mm disc|
|REAR BRAKE:||110mm drum|
|WHEELS, FRONT/REAR:||18 in./14 in.|
|TIRES, FRONT/REAR:||130/80-18 / 180/80-14|
|SEAT HEIGHT:||31.1 in.|
|FUEL CAPACITY:||1.8 gal.|
|CLAIMED WET WEIGHT:||278 lb.|