Exploring the Unknown

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ode to MR. T - My 1990 Yamaha TW200!

Photo © Freerepublic.com
I have been going through what can only be described as a "mid-bike crisis" as I am uncertain if another cruiser is really the kind of bike I want. I also find myself shying away from larger displacement engines and have been romanticizing over the days when folks wrenched on their 350cc BSA's and travelled all over Europe instead of polishing their 1800 cc + bikes whilst sipping coffee at Tim Horton's. Not that there is anything wrong with the latter. However, websites like Adventure Rider and Horizons Unlimited have been feeding my interest in motorcycling vacations off the beaten track, so to speak. Simply put, I want mud, not chrome on my engine.

As you know, I looked at the all new 2014 Yamaha Bolt earlier this summer. However, I can't see myself riding through river beds with it much; at least, not without leaving parts of the bike behind me. Don't get me wrong, I haven't crossed it off my list. Rather, lately I have just been looking towards roads less traveled. My trip down memory lane last summer also reminded me of my more adventurous side so naturally I began looking at retro classics like the Triumph Scrambler and even Royal Enfield again. After all, taking a motorcycle tour with Blazing Trails is on my bucket list! 

Photo © Yamaha.com
Logically, I suppose I should simply remain 'bike-less' until I can afford what I want. However, arguably, being without any kind of bike would just be pure torment for a fella like me. I am not even sure sometimes of what I want simply because present commitments in my life make any long distance riding prohibitive at this point in time. Nevertheless, I still found myself pouring over all the usual websites until just by chance, more so out of curiosity than anything else, I decided to look at dual-sport motorcycles. These are strange looking beasts to me and though I am afraid to say that I find the majority of them eye sores, I cannot deny that I admire their abilities to go where no other motorcycle can go, with few exceptions of course. It wasn't until I came upon the Yamaha TW200 that I actually seriously considered even buying one of these bikes.


Photo © Shinji Kazama
I am not going to lie to you. I like the big beefy tires, especially on the back of the bike. The bike looks like something straight out of a Mad Max movie or better yet, something that the A-Team would have thrown together! Apparently, according to tw.sinophilia.org "in 1987, the Japanese Shinji Kazama reached the North Pole on a modified version of it." Also referred to by some as a mini-scrambler, I found myself becoming increasingly interested in the bike's versatility as an all around commuter with off road abilities that would come in handy here in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. If you find the bike's overall appearance to be very retro inspired, don't think it was intentional on Yamaha's part. Apparently the bike has been relatively unchanged since its debut in 1987; with the exception of some minor changes including but not limited to a front disk brake.

Photo © TW200 Forum
Thus, the bike has garnered somewhat of a cult following over the last 26 years. Forums like the TW200 Forum and the Noisy TWBastards also lend to a community of folks who have tried and tested this motorcycle in a variety of ways which are probably illegal in most parts of Canada. ;-) Adding to the bike's versatility is the incredible aftermarket parts and accessories available for this bike in Japan! Unlike here, the TW200 is sold as an urban assault cruiser in Japan which lends itself nicely to a variety of customization options including seats, swing arms and the like that would give Blue Collar Bobbers a run for their money. However, the idea I had was to maintain the TW200's existing off road capabilities whilst trying to make it...more attractive?!? In order to do so I knew I would have to find a second hand bike, preferably a kick starter model, and most importantly, it had to be mechanically sound and cheap!

As if by divine intervention I found a 1990 Yamaha TW200 for sell at Motos Illimitées in Terrebonne. I say divine intervention because apparently these bloody bikes are next to impossible to find second hand here in Quebec. Admittedly, compared to newer model colour schemes, the bike at present is anything but pretty. However, with some elbow grease and tasteful modifications; including a new set of black fenders and side panels from Pro Cycle; I am thinking that this could be quite a good looking and affordable motorcycle. However, brace yourself as the following pictures will indeed separate those who can see the bigger picture from others who can't get past the turquoise and grey colour option from 1990!

A Diamond in the Rough?
Equipped With Street Tires
Personally I am Not a Fan of Square Headlights
Sexy Rear End IMHO... ;-p
Overall Impressions TBD
Photo © Jazwares
The bike fits the aforementioned criteria and now I have a winter project to keep myself occupied and you reading! As the bike's new name suggests, I am being heavily influenced by the A-Team when it comes to colour and modifications; in particular their van. The show not only made vans cool but the red and black on this angry little motorcycle promises to be both aggressive and spectacular! Like Mr. T himself, it may not be the biggest bike but it has proven to be one of the toughest; not least of all because of it's off road capabilities. I can't help but be excited at what the end product will look like. Boys will be boys and both my sons and I are looking forward to making this motorcycle our own. Whilst I have no illusions that a 200 cc will have its limitations; I also can't deny that trying something so completely foreign to me is very appealing. After all, if Shinji Kazama can ride this machine up to the North Pole than I reckon I could at the very least make it to Jelly Stone Park. ;-)

31 comments:

  1. Have fun with that thing!

    Cuban

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  2. Awesome! Thats for sure Bug, and nothing wrong with the TW200! Thats a fun little bike, I've often thought about picking one up for the dirt roads.

    Solrider

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  3. I know, right? Can't wait to take this thing off road and chase some trails...

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  4. nicely written dahling.xxx

    Kitten

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  5. So...you just couldn't wait eh? :0 Bad, bad Mario! ........Enjoy your new winter hobby!

    Wolf

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  6. Did I tell you the family invested in some dirt bikes! I bought myself a CRF150R, Calem's is a CRF110 and the little ones are a CRF50~ Mean Machines LOL~ Lots of fun... had my first wipe out the day I bought it, but landed on my feet you would of been proud! Well I was proud~ lol

    J

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    1. What? How could you forget to tell me such an important thing?! Do tell me all about it! I was thinking of getting my son started too, this bike eventually becoming his!

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    2. Nice...Joel will love it! Calem asked for a Jaguar for his birthday lol one that we could all fix up together for his 16th. Actually sounds like great fun, its a thought he's put into our heads since he was 6. No kidding. So we actually looked around but nothing cheap enough yet!

      J

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    3. Send pics J! Would love to see that! The kids must be loving them! Good on you for riding too! What did the hubby buy himself?

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    4. I will send some pics Bug... so much fun, really bad when the bike gets away from you lol Im not road safe yet... I best stay in the dirt!

      J

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    5. Don't put ideas in his head jackie if he could find a little pink bedazzled baby motorbike tabitha would already be studying for her bike test!

      Jennifer

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    6. Lol Oh gosh I saw a picture not long ago I so have to find it ... pink n all... I don't think we'd find little Tabitha under that helmet though!

      J

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    7. However I must say Jen, would make some fun family pictures of all of you in your bike gear!

      J

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    8. It will happen soon enough... been looking at side cars even!

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    9. Ok I so love it ... We need to find Tabitha a little leather jacket and bandana lol

      J

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  7. I am happy for you and your boys for having a dad that will teach them something really cool and that I only wished we lived closer so that I could "help you " hahaha..Congrats my friend..I think she will look SOOO COOL when your done and I can't wait to see your progress over the next several months...

    Percy

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  8. oh nice!!! motocross endure.. congrats and enjoy!

    Harry

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  9. Hi, Thanks for the congrats! Yes, just two weeks to go before I go and collect it! Joel in particular is very excited. We even started sourcing a helmet for him not to long ago as he is of age finally. Percy, your always welcomed any time to come and play in the garage with my bike and us... We do have a guest room, don't forget!

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  10. Cool bike - agree with the change of colour scheme. A-team always a good place for inspiration, especially Mr T!

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    1. Hey Bruce! Actually, this would be a great bike for travelling around on your property in South Africa! It's been described as a quad on two wheels by most who have one! ;-)

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  11. Congratulations!

    Let's see some pictures, and keep us posted on your mods.

    TW-Brian

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  12. That looks like a pretty nice bike! Congrats and welcome to the club. Can you convert the odometer clock to miles? It sounds like a lot but if it is running good then I would just go have fun until it needs a rebuild. Post a few pics when you get a chance.

    GaryL

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  13. Vas- y , car si tu ne l'achète pas , ca sera moi qui ira le chercher à Terrebonne . Je suis aussi à la recherche d'un TW et je constate comme toi qu'ils sont tous hors de prix ici . Le turquoise en passant c'est horrible . Salut !

    stromeur

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    1. Je savais que ça ne durerait pas longtemps donc oui, j'ai sauté sur elle! Juste à temps apparemment trop! J'adore le Québec, mais les prix ici sont tout simplement terrible! J'ai l'intention de changer la couleur du réservoir ou au moins l'achat d'un réservoir Clark en noir pour le T-Dub. Permettez-moi de savoir comment va votre recherche.

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  14. Looks like a very clean example,BSJ.I wouldn't fret too long over the price paid;the TW market doesn't 'play' by Kelly Blue Book,et al rules......IMO,the main thing here is that you've secured a nice example,apparently within close proximity,and now the 'hunt' is over(unless you enjoy that sort of thing). It's time to enjoy your 'catch'.....

    Landser

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    1. The hunt is always part of the fun but the customizing/restoring is even all the better! Already forgotten about the price paid, just wish it was already in my stable. I am thinking of up grading the front end to the wider triple clamps but we will see. As neat as that would make it (a meaner and faster looking version of rokon maybe?!?) but at the same time, really just love the little fella for what he already is. Thanks for the encouragment; definitely going to be worth every single cent!

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  15. moi aussi j'en ai un de la meme couleur 8900 km payé 1300$ mais j'ai changer la tank a gaz cette semaine pour celle d'un 2001 et wow ca change le look du bike pas mal !!

    Bizz

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    1. Salut Bizz,

      Je suis d'accord, en changeant la couleur fait une grande différence! Je ne peux pas attendre pour commencer à changer les choses. Penser d'aller en noir et rouge, style A-Team. Nous devrions rencontrer un certain temps au printemps prochain et rouler ensemble! Votre anglais est très bien! Merci de partager vos pensées et grand pic!

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  16. nice bike! and a good pick. very cool motorcycles. but it did come in Black and Red from the factory. an 88 or 89 model. totally awesome looking....google it. some TW enthusiasts call it the black widow. Bruce Willis had one. it's the best looking TW ever made. good luck.

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