Reader Question: Yamaha

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Mark asks: What do you think of the Yamaha TW200? Though it doesn’t have a kick start, it does have a Mikuni 28mm carb with CDI. That’s about as basic as you can get in these days and times. Even for the 2019 model year, the TW200 dual sport still comes with a carb and CDI – all for $4,600 new! If you shop Craigslist, you can find used ones for a lot less. I think that the TW200 should be on your list.

My reply: I used to own a similar bike, a Kawasaki KL250 (and also a Honda XL250) and had great times on both. These bikes are what almost all bikes used to be – simple, inexpensive and fun! They have much more power than a standard Moped or small scooter and can do things – and go places – they can’t. The dual-sport layout lets you ride to work on a paved road and ride home through the woods, if you feel like it.

These bikes all have guts enough to maintain 70 MPH, too – assuming street tires – and clearance/suspension articulation to play in fields, ride through streams and over rocks/obstacles that would stymie the most manly 4×4 truck.

The engines are air-cooled and as durable as a block of granite. Change the oil/filter every so often, clean and lube the chain, keep the carb clean – and that’s pretty much it. They last basically forever and can be rebuilt for almost nothing, assuming you’re handy with a wrench.

I agree with you in re the absence of a kick-starter on some of these bikes – it’s a sop to women and metrosexualized men. With a kicker, you never have to worry about a croaked battery – and off-road, that matters. A lot. I once ran my XL250 through what I thought was a puddle that turned out to be a small pond – about three feet deep. After dragging the bike out – and pulling the plug – I manually used the kicker to get the water out of the engine, then reinstalled the plug (which was wet) and used the kicker to get the engine started again. If I had been forced to rely on an electric starter, I probably would have run out of juice before the engine fired – and had to walk the bike out of the woods.

Otherwise, triple aces on this and any similar bike.

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