Expedition Bike? Not really, it's just WTHIJ's TW200.

I recently purchased a new bike for myself- an somewhat unimpressive 2008 Yamaha TW200.
Is it a massive GS globetrotter? A big flashy Austrian beast? No, but it is Expedition White... does that make it cool?

Seriously though... I recently attended a group ride in Death Valley with a big group of other guys and gals from an online forum revolving around adventure motorcycling. The bike that I took on the trip was what many feel is the ultimate 550lb V-twin dirtbike- a KTM 950 Adventure. When it was running well, it was IMO a pretty decent machine. A bit heavy for real off-road riding, and not as comfortable on-road as a straight up street bike, but it was a fair compromise, and did the job. However, on the first real ride with it, is broke down. I did what I could in the middle of nowhere, but never got it going well enough to ride with my friends, and my day was over.

Back at camp I dug into the bike, and so did several others. One of them was a professional KTM mechanic. Nobody could figure out what was wrong with it. Around the time that it became apparent that the bike was not going to ride out, it occurred to me that perhaps the mighty 950 is a great bike for a guy who has a full-on Paris-Dakar race team following him around to keep it running like a top, but not all that great for a guy like me who doesn't.

Just when it looked like my weekend of riding was over, someone else on the ride mentioned that if I wanted, they had a spare bike that I could use for the weekend... a Yamaha TW200. Now it's not a big flashy motocross or adventure bike like I was used to, and I have to admit that I wasn't all that sure about it, but heck... 2-wheels is 2-wheels, and I came to ride DV!

Surprise: After a day on the pudgy little T-dub I LOVED that bike! It's not trying to be anything that it's not. Fast? no. Powerful? no. Impressive looking? no. It's BASIC on/off-road entertainment that's it. As an added bonus, it achieves +/- 80mpg, and could probably be completely rebuilt in the middle of the desert with a primitive toolkit, some duct tape, bailing wire, and an instruction manual no thicker than a Tuesday newspaper in some podunk town. The long and short of it: It's elegance in simplicity. Now I'm not saying that I'd want to tour on this bike, quite the opposite really, but back roads, dirt roads, and mild trails- you bet.

After returning from the DV trip (which BTW you can read about on Dave's (adventureduo) blog), I decided that I just had to have a T-dub. My only bike? nope... but it has it's place.
I looked through CL, but didn't find anything, so I posted a "WTB" as here on ExPo and also over on ADV. Within 24 hours, a guy contacted me from Walla Walla, WA. He told me about a bike that he had- how he bought it new for his wife, and she didn't take to riding. He also mentioned that the bike had been sitting for a couple of years, which of course meant to me that it'd need a battery, oil change, carb clean/rebuild, and tank flushed and cleaned. The price was right though, and a deal was struck.

So here's what I ended up with...


...a 2008 Yamaha TW200 with 146 miles on it. Yep, 146.

When I went to go pick it up, it was in even better condition than the seller stated. Aside from being a bit dusty from sitting without being used fr so long, this little bike was brand new! The seller was able to fire it up, and it ran great... well, aside from the fuel pouring out the carb overflow. The seller was sympathetic to the issue, and knocked another $100 off the agreed upon price. Money and paperwork changed hands, and off I drove toting my new "so unimpressive, it's awesome" motorcycle.

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Getting things going...

The first order of business was to get the little 'dub running properly. As I mentioned, there was some work that needed done since the bike had been sitting for so long. On the way back down south, I picked up a needle and seat kit for the carb, since by the way that fuel was spewing from the carb vent, it was pretty obvious that the bike had either a stuck or tweaked needle. Turns out that it was the former, and all it took was pulling the bowl, giving it a bit of a flick, and presto... unstuck. For good measure though (not to mention peace of mind), I went ahead and replaced the needle and seat anyways.

Even though the previous owner was kind enough to drain the tank and put some fresh 91 in it, I went ahead and drained and cleaned it again anyways. Not that I think that the other guy didn't do a good job, it's just that now I know that it was done to standards that I'm confident in. While I was at it, I went ahead and replaced the fuel line, and installed a fuel filter between the carb and tank. One can't be too cautions when it comes to grime in your gas. Since there wasn't much room, I ended up using a filter with a 90* flow direction, and was able to shoe-horn it in to the cramped space between the petcock and the carburetor.


I like this filter, as it's easy to see when it needs replacing. Not to mention that it cost all of a couple dollars, so it's easy to swallow buying a second to keep in the spares kit that'll go with the bike when I use it in more remote areas than downtown San Francisco.

The TW comes with a 7 amp hour flooded lead acid battery... which I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan of. I don't like battery maintenance, and I forget to do it. Also, flooded batteries can leak, and in my experience are much more susceptible to corrosion- both of the terminals, and where the acid leaked onto the bike or your pants the last time that you fell over. Naturally, I thought I'd go with a gel-battery, since they've been good to me in the past. In particular, the BikeMaster Tru-Gel has provided great results in both motocross and supersport bikes that I've had. I called all over trying to find a gel battery for this bike, but it seems that EVERYWHERE was out of stock... they could get me one in a couple of weeks though. This wouldn't do.

I stopped by my friend Tom Watson's shop in Hood River, OR on the way back down south and picked up what I think is probably the best battery within reason on the market: A Shorai lithium iron battery. If you've never heard of Shorai, check them out- very cool. Here's the box that it came in, as well as everything in it:

ShoraiBox.JPG InTheBox.JPG

They send you lots of stickers... big ones too. I guess they're hoping that it'll help get the word out. And what about all of that foam to keep it all padded up in the box during shipping... seems like a waste, no? Well, it's not. The Shorai is a fraction of the size of both the lead-acid and the gel-type batteries. Here's the stock battery next to the new Shorai litium iron:

SizeCompFront.JPG SizeCompSide.JPG

Aside from the size, the Shorai is also a LOT lighter- the bike dropped almost 7 lbs (of lead and acid) when I went from the old to the new battery! Now it's smaller and lighter... but wait there's more! It's also a 9 amp-hour battery instead of the stock 7 amp-hour. Sounds good? Well, it is. Fair warning though- when things get smaller, lighter, and more powerful, they also tend to get more expensive. At a little over $100, it's almost triple the price of the stock lead-acid.

So back to all of that foam. It's not just a bunch of useless packaging, but rather, it's there to stick all over your Shorai so that you can bring it up to the size of your factory battery, thus keeping it from bouncing all over your bike's battery box. All foamed up, here's what it looks like on the bench and installed:

Foamed.JPG Installed.JPG

What are those extra wires you say? Well even though the Shorai is supposed to be able to sit all winter without losing its charge, I figured what the heck, I'll throw a BatteryTender lead on there anyways- even if I don't use it for charging, I'll at least have a good fused 12V connection for my APRS unit. A good place for the connector end's storage just happens to be conveniently located behind the right side cover where the tool kit is, which tells me that this mod was meant to be.


All of this and an oil change, and it was ready to go for the break-in 600!

More to come soon...
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One of the endearing things about the T-dub is how chunky and clunky it looks... kind of like a two wheeled ATV. However, that chunky-ness also seems like it could also get in the way a bit. For kicks, I laid the bike down on its side, just to see what I might break on it if I dropped it on a trail. The only real concern that I noticed, was the rear turn signals made ground contact. They have a built in flexy shaft, but if I dropped the bike, they might break. Not really a big enough deal to do anything about though, except maybe throw an extra indicator in the spares bag.

However, I was looking for something completely unrelated at CycleGear lately (a cylinder leak-down tester for another bike), and came across these:


They were on sale for 50% off, which made them something like $6.50 a set. How could I say no?... I bought 3 sets- 2 that went on the bike right away, and a set of spares.
It took all of about 15 minutes to swap out the signals on each end of the bike. Here's what they look like... stock on the left, aftermarket on the right:

DSC_0207.JPG DSC_0209.JPG

DSC_0210.JPG DSC_0211.JPG

I guess they'll do for now, but I'll probably try and come up with something a little different... I don't know what though. The hollow bolt that the wires run through and that attaches the indicator to the bike is smaller in diameter than the factory ones, and honestly, they're pretty cheap-o turn signals. When I lay the bike on its side now, these ones don't make contact with the ground, but I'd bet that if these were struck by a hard object such as a stick or rock that got thrown up, they'd be just as likely to break, if not more so, than the stock indicators that Yamaha put on the bike. I'll keep a look out for another option, and post up here with the results when I figure out what it is.


Explorer, Overland Certified OC0020
Awesome Little Motorcycle!

I have fond memories of my TW200. This build has got me thinking about another motorcycle! Looking forward to more updates.
LED's... now I'm cool.

So a package showed up the other day... and here's what was inside:


In case you have no idea what these are, they're LED bulbs that I ordered from superbrightleds.com- one each for the neutral, hi-beam, and turn signal dashboard indicators, and one for the speedometer. Will these make a significant difference in drain on the battery? no. Am I a geek? yes.

This was another quick-n-easy project for the little 'dub.... maybe 15 minutes if you're lollygagging. Getting to all of the indicator lamps on this bike is a snap, so I'll fore go the description of exactly how to get to them.

The LED's for the indicators were a bit bigger than the original incandescent bulbs, but they fit fine just the same.
Here's the size difference...incandescent bulbs on the right and left, LED in the middle:


Original incandescent indicator bulbs vs LED's without the indicator lens housing:

IncBulbs.JPG LEDBulbs.JPG

Notice that I got green and blue LED's, and not white ones.
LED's work best when color-paired with the lens that they'll be behind; in this case, green for neutral and turn indicators, blue for hi-beams.
Here's what these look like after final installation of the indicator lens housing:


A difference? A little bit, the LED's are brighter... but not by a lot. I don't really know if I was hoping for anything other than to be a geek and install LED's, so I guess it's a successful mod. What I'd do differently: One step up in brightness for the turn signal indicator. Why? because I like a big flashing light reminding me to cancel my turn signals after a turn. After 25+ years on bikes, I still find myself occasionally not hitting the cancel button right away.

Next up, the speedometer light. This one made a difference to me, and I find that the LED is easier to read at night, but not bright enough to be a distraction.

Incandescent vs LED size and light output comparison, uninstalled in the speedometer housing:

IncSpeed.JPG LEDSpeed.JPG

And here's the comparison after installation was complete (incandescent on the left, LED on the right):

IncGauge.JPG LEDGauge.JPG

I tried to make the part numbers for the bulbs visible in the picture, but in case they're not, here's the part numbers of the bulbs that I used from superbrightleds.com...
Turn signal and neutral indicator bulbs: BA9SF-G-12V (although I'd recommend a bit brighter one for the turn indicator)
Hi-Beam indicator bulb: BA9SF-B-12V
Speedometer bulb: WLED-NW5


Expedition Leader
Ah I just got all excited about putting LED's in my TW200 and then remembered that I don't have a speedo. :Wow1:

But I will be following your tweeks with interest.
Something's missing...

While pondering what other improvements I might do to make the bike a little more suitable to my needs, that is, both more useful and perhaps even more reliable, I noticed that there was something missing... something that usually goes right here on many dirt-bikes and dual-sports (heck, even some street bikes):


Hardly noticeable from afar, but here's the up close picture:


My first thought was Are you kidding?! Maybe there was some sort of mistake here. Why would there be a place for a kick-starter, even permanently marked in the case casting, yet have no lever to do the job? Well, as it turns out, the TW's used to come with kick's, but no more. With a bit of searching, I found that Yamaha equipped US bikes with kick-starters in the 80's and part of the 90's, but discontinued them for the North American markets a long time back. Apparently Yamaha feels that since the bike has a happy button (electric starter) there's no need to have a kick-starter too... they still use the same case as other markets though, of which some still come wth kick-starters, but for the North American market they just plugged the hole where the shaft used to stick out. But what if your starter fails? What if your battery becomes damaged or drained to the point where it's unable turn over the starter? What then?
Get kickin'

So after looking around, I found this online somewhere:


Armed with a bit of ambition and perhaps some lies from the internet, I decided to go for it. I researched what parts would be needed for a complete kick-starter assembly. I wanted all OEM parts (not cheap-o parts from a no-name Chinese knock off bike that would probably fit just the same), so it took a bit of time to compile the list. Shortly after I had the whole thing all planned out, I read somewhere that a Yamaha dealer in Oregon had connections to Yamaha in Japan through a friendship formed at an annual dealers' meeting. I got in touch with Bay Area Yamaha in North Bend (not Bend) Oregon, and was happy that I did. A guy named Ron helped me out- not only did he confirm that a kick-starter could be installed on my bike, but he told me that he had even installed one (actually, several) himself... what luck! A couple days later, I received a bunch of washers, springs, gears, seals, and a gasket in the mail. Ron was kind enough to go ahead put together the assembly for me, to assure that there was no confusion- now that's service! Here's what showed up:



Man, that is service, very cool. The XT225s are the same way, possible to retrofit a starter. Very possible that they both use the same assembly. The newer XT250s come with a place for the kickstart to fit, but the hole is not simply a plug, the case would have to be machined. To my knowledge, ALL 250s around the world (including the tricker) are electric start only, so no one is even sure what parts would be required to get one in).

Keep it coming, I'm enjoying this.

Oh, and FYI, while not a direct bolt on, I have read write ups of fitting a larger Clarke XT225 tank to the TW.
Kick-starter install...

While someone might be intimidated by the installation of a kick-starter on their T-dub, let me just assure you that it's a snap. The only special tools that you'll need is a torque wrench that can go from as low as 5 ft/lbs to as high as 36 ft/lbs, a set of lock-ring pliers, and a 24mm socket. If you have that, and can change your oil, then you can do this mod. If you can't change your oil, then perhaps motorcycles aren't for you, and should consider another hobby such as rollerskating or curling... not that there's anything wrong with those!

So you can change your own oil right? Good, because that's where you'll start... drain your oil, and remove the filter cover and filter. While you're at it, remove the engine starter and the bolts that hold the right side foot-peg assembly (can you call it a rear-set on this bike? I dunno.) in place, and swing it out of the way.


I taped the bike's ignition key to the oil that I'd need to refill the crankcase with before starting it again. Why? Because I knew that after getting the bike put back together with the fancy new old-school kick-starter, I'd probably forget to put oil in it, kick it over, and celebrate my success... right before seizing the engine. Have I done this before? no. Am I cautious? yes.

After a few minutes of the oil draining, and you're pretty confident that it's all out, it's time to remove the right side engine cover. This is easy, but keep in mind that many of the bolts are different lengths. A good idea, if you think you might get them confused, is to draw a pattern of the case by tracing the new gasket on a piece of paper or cardboard. When a bolt comes out, poke it through its proper location on your template. After removing all of the bolts, gently pull the engine cover straight off of the engine.

Your clutch is that big round silver thing looking you in the face, and it needs to come off too. Remove the 4 outer screws and springs, and the clutch cover and disks will come right out. Do not remove the center bolt from the clutch cover. Once the clutches are out, you're left with the clutch basket... which also needs to come off. There's a retaining washer that needs to be bent out of the way to remove the big bolt in the middle, which holds the basket on. Once you have the tabs bent down, remove the big nut. There's a special tool for holding the clutch basket, and you can go buy one if you want. You can also use an impact wrench, and that bolt will come right off. I didn't have either of those, so I got creative. I remounted the rear wheel brake lever, put the transmission in gear, used my foot to hold the brake, and turned the bolt off with a socket. Worked flawlessly:

Inst2.JPG Inst3.JPG

Clutch basket removed, here's where you're at:


Time to install your kick-starter axle assembly, and the idle gear. I did the kick-starter axle first. It's good practice to lubricate axles and bearing races as you assemble, so don't forget to do that. There's a horseshoe clip on the backside of the axle assembly (sorry, no pics) that has a barb sticking out of it. this faces the engine, and fits into a groove that's there just for it on the bottom of the case. Make sure to line this up properly, or things won't work right and you might even damage something. Cock the spring around clockwise and place it over the shaft as shown in the picture below. To install the idler, remove the lock-ring washer that Yamaha has placed over the idler axle, as well as the spacer behind it. Install your new washer, idler gear, another washer, and new lock-ring.

Inst5.JPG Inst6.JPG

And that's pretty much that. Reinstall your clutch basket in the same manner as you removed it (utilizing your brake while the bike is in gear), making sure to follow your factory manual's torque specs. It's good practice to use new lock-washers, so make sure to have one handy. It's a funny looking little guy, and fit's only one way. Don't forget to bend those tabs back up. Reinstall the clutch discs and plates, as well as the cover and springs. Follow your factory manual torque specs. Make sure that the mating surfaces on both the engine and the engine cover are spotless, that is, with NO residual material from the old gasket, then place your new gasket over the roll-pins that align the two engine parts. If the roll-pins came off with the engine cover, just pull them out and stick them in the holes on the engine case. Drive out the plug that Yamaha installed on the engine cover to fool you into thinking that your bike shouldn't have a kick-starter. I used a 3/8" socket extension, and a light whack with a hammer on the backside of the plug. Place the engine cover back on the engine, making sure that you have the right bolts in the right spots. Torque to spec using a criss-cross pattern... much like torquing lug-nuts. Reinstall the oil filter and cover... torque to spec. Once the engine cover is good to go, install the oil seal over the kick-start axle. Make sure that the U-channel with the spring in it is facing towards the engine. Seat the seal.

Inst7.JPG Inst8.JPG

You've got it on the run now... install the kick-start lever assembly onto the axle, and torque the bolt to spec. Reinstall the foot-peg assembly (or rear-set or whatever) using thread-lock on the bolts, and torquing to spec. Reinstall the starter and torque to spec. Presto!

Here's what you should be left with... a TW200 with a fully functional kick-starter, and a couple of parts that came off during install:

Inst9.JPG LeftOvers.JPG

Now where are my keys? Oh right! Oil... I almost forgot!! :sombrero:
Finish up that oil change, and give it a Kick!
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I fell in love with the tw200 after riding one for my motorcycle safety course, they are such a simple, plain little moto that is all too often overlooked. The other guys at the course were making fun of me because i was so excited to get to ride one, but its a very confidence inspiring little bike.

Someday i will have one but for now my (kick start only!) plated drz is my trusty steed. i will be very interested to see where you go with this build.