Is the Yamaha TW200 a Good Beginner Motorcycle?

Choosing the right beginner bike is very important, but luckily there are a lot of different bikes that I’d say qualify as a good beginner bike.

The Yamaha TW200 is the perfect beginner motorcycle. The TW200’s small engine, low seat height and light weight means it is not intimidating for a new rider starting to learn balance or clutch and throttle control. The low cost and reliability of the TW200 is another great benefit for beginner riders who is still unsure whether biking is for them.

There’s a bit more to it than that. Check out my post on what makes a good beginner bike. In this post, however, let’s look at the reasons why the Yamaha TW200 is a good beginner bike by judging it by the following criteria.

A good beginner motorcycle should be easy to handle, forgiving, and comfortable for new riders. Here are several factors to consider when choosing a beginner motorcycle:

Yamaha TW200 Engine Size and Power

Smaller, less powerful engines (usually single-cylinders smaller than 500 cc) are generally more suitable for beginners. The Yamaha TW200’s 196 cc 2-valve engine is no powerhouse and new riders don’t have to worry about being overwhelmed when they accidentally grab a fist full of throttle.

When you start learning to ride, the first challenge will be clutch and throttle control. On a powerful bike, it is easy to make a costly mistake, like dumping the clutch too quickly or twisting the throttle too far. This might cause you to lose control or worse.

On the Yamaha TW200, a beginner rider can practice slowly and quickly progress to more aggressive riding, because there is just so little power. And believe me, it is actually more fun riding a slow bike fast, than having to hold back on a fast bike.

You will also become a better rider faster as you try and get as much out of the puny little engine as possible.

Yamaha TW200 Weight

Lightweight motorcycles are easier to maneuver and control, especially at lower speeds. They also make it easier for a new rider to pick up the bike if it’s dropped. Yes, you will likely drop the bike at some point. We all have.

At only 278 lbs (126 kg), the Yamaha TW200 is super light. That means you’ll be able to hold it upright easily and have no trouble pushing it around in your driveway. And in the event of a topple, you’ll be able to pick it up with one hand without straining your back.

The Yamaha TW200 is the perfect beginner bike with its low seat height and small engine (Image: Yamaha USA)

This might seem trivial, but when my wife learned to ride she had a BMW F650 ST. The thing was heavy! She dropped the bike many times and I always had to help picking it up again. So when she went for her motorcycle test, she chose a Yamaha TW200 and passed the first time.

Yamaha TW200 Low Seat Height

A lower seat height allows the rider to comfortably touch the ground with both feet when stopped, which is important for stability and confidence.

With a seat height of only 31.1 inches (790mm), the Yamaha TW200 is lower than the average street bike even though it has decent ground clearance and offroad capabilities. This is particularly welcome for shorter riders and ladies (although I know some long legged girls).

The low seat height of the Yamaha TW200 is perfect for new or shorter riders (Image: Yamaha USA)

Being able to put both feet flat on the ground on either side of the bike really inspires confidence. And confidence is the name of the game when you first learn to ride. Once you’ve gained some experience it doesn’t matter how tall your bike is or whether you can put both feet on the floor.

Yamaha TW200 Ergonomics and Controls

A comfortable riding position is important for beginners. Upright seating positions and easy-to-reach handlebars can reduce fatigue and improve control.

The Yamaha TW200 may look quirky, but the upright seating position makes it very easy to reach all the controls. A neutral position is exactly what you want when you first learn to ride.

The Yamaha TW200’s controls are easy to reach (Image: Yamaha USA)

The forward leaning position of sports bikes or the lazy-boy backward seating position of a cruiser is not comfortable at all when you are still trying to figure out how much throttle is necessary or how fast the clutch should come out before you start moving.

You will also not get tired so quickly on a TW200, except if you plan on riding long distance. But for practicing pulling away in your yard or a mall parking lot, the TW200 is perfect.

Yamaha TW200 Clutch and Transmission

A smooth, easy-to-modulate clutch and a friendly transmission can make learning to shift gears less intimidating for new riders.

While the clutch is a normal cable-operated clutch, the gearing is perfect for a beginner rider. The low-geared Yamaha TW200 was not geared for speed, so you can ride hard in each gear without gaining too much speed. That is the perfect setup for someone wanting to learn how to pull away and change gears for the first time.

Street bikes have tall gearing, so by the time you shift to second gear, you are already going much faster than what you want to fall at. To give you an idea, I once tested the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade and reached 96 mph (155 km/h) before I hit the redline in 1st gear! Even though that sounds like fun, it’s not. I’d much rather redline a small bike in all the gears without braking the speed limit or getting hurt.

Yamaha TW200 is Cheap and Reliable

Beginner motorcycles should be relatively affordable, taking into account the purchase price, insurance, maintenance, and fuel costs.

At $4 899 (in 2023), the Yamaha TW200 is one of the cheaper new bikes you can buy. I would, however, suggest to anyone just starting out to do so on a second-hand bike. You will lose less value if (or when) you sell it a year later to upgrade to your dream bike.

You will also not feel so bad if you drop a bike that already has a few dings on them. TW200’s are notorious for their reliability and how cheap they are to maintain. So I would not worry too much buying a good, clean second-hand TW.

A reliable motorcycle will also require less maintenance and will be less likely to leave a new rider stranded.

Yamaha TW200 Quirky Character

While this might seem silly, choosing a motorcycle that makes you feel good is worth a mention. In the end, that’s part of the reason why you want to start riding anyways. To feel a certain way. Get a bike that makes you smile. Unless that’s a 1 000 cc sports bike, in which case I’d rather get a TW200 and ride it for year.

You will struggle to find a cheap bike that is more fun than the Yamaha TW200 (Image: Yamaha USA)

Yamaha TW200 Aftermarket and Community Support

A motorcycle with a strong aftermarket and community following will make it easier to find replacement parts, accessories, and advice from experienced riders.

The Yamaha TW200 has been in production since 1987, so there aren’t many other bikes that has as big a following as the Tee-Dub. And because the TW200 is such a unique-looking bike with that big 18 inch rear wheel at the front, and the 14-inch quad-bike wheel at the back, TW200 riders tend to be interesting people.

I doubt you’ll ride your TW passed another TW rider without a wave or a smile.

Yamaha TW200 Specifications

In case you are interested in a Yamaha TW200, here is the specifications of the latest model.

Engine TypeAir-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC, 2-valve, single-cylinder
Bore x Stroke67.0mm x 55.7mm
Compression Ratio9.5:1
Fuel SystemMikuni 28mm carburetor
Transmission5-speed constant-mesh
Final DriveChain
FrameSteel cradle-type
Front SuspensionTelescopic fork, 6.3 inches (160mm) of travel
Rear SuspensionSingle shock, 5.9 inches (150mm) of travel, adjustable preload
Front Brake220mm hydraulic disc
Rear Brake110mm mechanical drum
Front Tire130/80-18
Rear Tire180/80-14
Length82.3 inches (2,090mm)
Width32.3 inches (820mm)
Height44.1 inches (1,120mm)
Seat Height31.1 inches (790mm)
Wheelbase52.2 inches (1,325mm)
Ground Clearance10.4 inches (265mm)
Fuel Capacity1.8 gallons (6.8 liters)
Wet Weight278 lbs (126 kg)
Yamaha TW200 specifications

Not much has changed over the decades that the Yamaha TW200 were in production, so these specs should be close to any TW you buy second-hand too. The older versions had a cable-operating drum in front.

What Does Yamaha TW200 Owners Say?

I’ve been looking for a TW200 for some time now, but I have not found the perfect clean one. Instead, I bought the TW’s closest cousin, the Yamaha AG200 (check out my playlist on my Youtube channel). They share the same 196 cc engine and a lot of other parts.

In my research on the Yamaha TW200 I found the following information from TW owners on forums like Horisons Unlimited, ADVRider, Quora and Reddit:

  1. Off-road capabilities: Many riders appreciate the TW200’s off-road capabilities, particularly its ability to handle a variety of terrains due to its wide, dual-sport tires. You can literally go anywhere you can go on foot and some places where you can’t.
  2. Reliability: Users often praise the Yamaha TW200 for its reliability and low maintenance requirements, making it a great choice for both beginners and experienced riders. The bike has been in production for more than 35 years without major changes. That has to mean something!
  3. Fun factor: Many riders find the TW200 to be a fun and easy-to-ride bike, offering a unique experience due to its design and the “fat” tires. You can chuck this thing around tight corners and over any obstacle, and where you can’t ride anymore it is small enough to push through.
  4. Customization: Owners enjoy customizing the TW200 for various purposes, including adventure riding, commuting, and even hunting. The aftermarket support for this motorcycle is strong (35 years, remember!), with many available accessories and modifications.
  5. (Dis)comfort: Some riders find the TW200 to be comfortable for shorter rides and commutes, while others mention that the seat could be more comfortable for longer rides. If you plan on riding long distance, you will have to stop often but that does not stop people from touring for weeks on their TW200s.
  6. Power: While the TW200’s 196cc engine is adequate for most off-road situations and lower-speed street riding, some (honestly, I’d say most) riders feel it lacks power on highways or for carrying a passenger. To be honest, it is terrible at two-up highway riding, but it’s doable.
  7. Beginner-friendly: That’s what you are here for right? Many users find the TW200 to be an excellent beginner bike due to its easy handling, low seat height, and forgiving nature. That’s why so many riding schools use TW200s for their learners.
  8. Fuel efficiency: Owners often mention the TW200’s excellent fuel efficiency, making it an affordable option for commuting and exploring.
The Yamaha TW200 is known for it’s quirky ATV tire in the rear (Image: Yamaha USA)


Overall, I think it is hard to find a bike more suitable for a complete beginner rider than the Yamaha TW200. They are sought-after, so you will easily be able to sell it once you move on to a bigger bike. Hey, you might even love the fun character of the Tee-Dub so much that you keep it as your second (play) bike.

Whatever you decide, make sure you get proper gear and ride safe!



Francois Steyn

I've been riding motorcycles since I was in school and have traveled thousands of miles on various bikes through more than 10 countries. For more info, check out my about page:

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