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.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

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 sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

The new Ram 1500 blends capability and convenience better than the rest

The Ram isn’t the most powerful, spacious, or affordable of the light-duty, full-size pickup herd, but a modestly equipped version walks all over rivals in terms of ride quality, technology, and cabin comfort.
Home Theater

Yamaha’s MusicCast Vinyl 500 turntable spreads analog joy throughout your home

It can be tough to listen to your favorite analog tunes anywhere besides the room where your turntable is located. With its MusicCast Vinyl 500 turntable, Yamaha allows you to stream your tunes throughout your home.
Mobile

Do these Geekbench results accurately represent the Moto G7?

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.
Cars

Prices for using Tesla Supercharging just skyrocketed

Tesla is updating their Supercharging pricing based on local electricity rates and customer demand, which has lead to an increase in charging costs by as much as 33 percent in some regions.
Cars

Can electric motors finally make three-wheeled cars great?

Every few years, someone tries to sell a three-wheeled vehicle to Americans. Historically, it hasn’t gone very well. We’ve got our suspicions about why people don’t buy trikes, and they boil down to this: a trike is just not a real…
Outdoors

Is Uber planning to put its self-driving tech into bikes and scooters?

Uber reportedly has its eye on building autonomous electric bikes and scooters that ride to a user when summoned by an app. The technology could also be used to make its two-wheelers safer with obstacle avoidance systems.
Cars

Someone just paid supercar money for the very first 2020 Toyota Supra

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.
Cars

Lincoln’s stately, limited-edition flagship sedan sells out in a month

The 1961 Lincoln Continental became a design icon thanks to center-opening "coach doors" (also known as "suicide doors"). Lincoln is bringing those doors back for a special edition of the 2019 Continental.
Cars

Volkswagen is planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car will head to the Nürburgring for a lap-record attempt. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car with the I.D. R.
Home Theater

Report: Spotify preparing to launch $100 in-car streaming device

According to a report, people familiar with Spotify's plans say the company is readying a dedicated in-car music streamer that will cost $100. It will work with any Bluetooth-enabled audio system and can be controlled by voice.
Cars

Tesla given go-ahead to start deliveries of Model 3 to Europe

Tesla has been given the green light to start deliveries of its Model 3 electric sedan to Europe, giving it the chance to compete more effectively with the likes of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz in the region's premium car market.
Cars

Royal fans bid big money as Prince Philip ‘car crash parts’ hit eBay

A couple of days after a car crash that involved the 97-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, debris apparently from the scene of the accident showed up on eBay. And people wanted to buy it.
Cars

If Batman became a race car driver, he’d hit the track in the Vuhl 05RR

Mexican sports car Vuhl revealed the hardcore 05RR, a roadster that blurs the line between a track car and a street-legal car. The 05RR stands out with a design that looks right out of a video game and a 385-horsepower engine.