If it’s not broken, don’t change it — Yamaha carries on the TW200 for 31 years

Posted 6-18-17 (updated 6-19-17)

Update: The TW200 has not gone entirely unchanged since 1987. In 2001 Yamaha switched the front drum brake for a disc brake, switched to a CV carburetor, added a cam chain pre-tensioner, bumped up the alternator and headlight, and added electric start.

Yamaha’s TW200 isn’t the only motorcycle that has stayed pretty much unchanged from year to year. The small dual-sport bike may, however, be the only motorcycle on the market today with almost exactly the same specifications in 2018 as in 1987, when it was first introduced. That’s 31 years, folks.

The TW200 is a basic bike for basic purposes and people keep buying it just as it is. It has no pretensions of being more than an extremely useful utility bike and its continued success shows, as Yamaha has no problem moving units. People buy them to ride around town, campus, field, and farm.

The Yamaha’s single cylinder 4-stroke 196cc engine is air-cooled and has a single overhead cam (SOHC) with a 9.5:1 compression ratio, which means you can use regular gas. The bike has a 28mm Mikuni carburetor, a five-speed transmission, and chain drive. So no fuel injection, liquid cooling, shaft drive, or continuously variable transmission (CVT).

This bike was dual-sport before the term even existed, which didn’t occur until Suzuki introduced the DR350 in 1990 and promoted it as a DualSport or “dirt bike with a license plate.” Unlike more recently conceived dual-sport bikes whose manufacturers often focus on how great they are on the highway and digging out of the worse possible off-road conditions, the TW200 is a different breed.

The TW200 is a utility bike, not a racer. You won’t drive the Yamaha on the highway, or at least not for long, because at just 278 pounds fully fueled, you can be pushed around by the wind. Plus the top speed is unofficially in the low 70s (when the wind is right). The Yamaha isn’t a real dirt digger or a mudder, either, as it isn’t loaded with torque.

The first thing most people notice about the TW200 are the huge tires, which measure 18 inches in front and 14 inches at the rear. They’re fat and knobby all over — all set for any terrain.

The TW200’s motocross-style seat is 31.1-inches high, low for a dual-sport bike, and it seems even lower, because the bike is so narrow your legs don’t have to go around much bodywork or engine to reach the ground. The TW200 has full street-legal equipment and Yamaha added electric start in 2001.

Just like the 2017 version, the 2018 Yamaha TW200 starts at $4,599, so that is a slight bump up from 2015 and 2016, when the price was $4,590. Each year the color changes, which is probably the only way for dealers to tell the years apart without checking serial numbers. The 2017 TW200 had blue bodywork, and this year it’s a light brown that Yamaha calls sandy beige.

Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.
Home Theater

Huawei’s FreeBuds are an unapologetic ripoff of Apple’s AirPods

Huawei's highly AirPod-esque FreeBuds look almost identical to Apple's fully wireless buds, but apart from water resistance, they don't bring much in the way of new features to the table.
Home Theater

Here’s what’s new on HBO and what’s leaving in April 2019

Whether you're a cable lifer or a staunch cord cutter, there's never been a better time to get down with premium TV. April 2019 brings Game of Thrones season 8, BlacKkKlansman, and Crazy Rich Asians to HBO.
Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?
Cars

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.
Cars

Tesla revives its referral program with chances to win a Roadster

Tesla has revived its referral program that ended in February because of cost pressures. This time around the perks aren't quite as diverse, though it does offer regular chances to win a Roadster or Model Y.
Cars

From cars to computers: How data is transforming F1 racing

After a single weekend of racing, a Formula 1 pit crew typically pulls around 2TB of data from the car. Everything, from tire pressure to the temperature of the track, is recorded and analyzed in the name of boosting performance -- and not…
Cars

Tesla ends scheduled servicing because electric cars need less maintenance

Tesla will longer offer scheduled maintenance plans, switching to an "as needed" model. This reflects the fact that electric cars need less regular maintenance than gasoline or diesel cars.
Cars

The go kart-like Mini Cooper will soon add zero emissions to its resume

Mini is in the final stages of developing an electric version of the Cooper. The 2020 Cooper SE will receive powertrain components from the BMW i3, including a 181-horsepower electric motor and battery technology.
Product Review

By adding features, tech, and all-wheel drive, Mazda puts the 3 in a class of one

Since its introduction in 2003, Mazda’s compact Mazda3 has been a mainstay of the brand’s driver-oriented strategy. Mazda now plans to move upmarket, and the all-new 2019 Mazda3 offers some clues about how that’s going to work.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Cars

Tesla Model 3 vulnerability exposed at Pwn2Own; hackers take home the car

A Tesla Model 3 vulnerability was exposed at the Pwn2Own hacking competition. The hackers, who were able to display a message on the electric vehicle's internet browser, won $35,000 and took home the car.
Cars

Is this electric car startup the next Tesla, or will it go the way of Coda?

The electric car startup formerly known as EVelozcity has changed its name to Canoo. It also announced a lineup of four cars including a commuter-friendly model and a lifestyle-oriented car. Its first electric vehicles will begin to appear…
Cars

Ford’s born-again Bronco off-roader will soothe your 1990s nostalgia

Ford confirmed it will bring the Bronco back to American showrooms in 2020. We haven't seen the truck yet, but dealers who got a preview of it during a private event say it's a true off-roader aimed directly at the Jeep Wrangler.