Holy Shit, Yamaha Still Makes The TW200

Photo: Yamaha Motor Corporation

We are a nostalgic culture. We like to look back and think about how good things used to be, to watch old movies and pretend like they aren’t really terrible. Auto companies know this, and that’s why they sell us the throwback designs. The look and feel of the ‘60s without the drum brakes and carburetors? Yes, please.

The typical way to do this is to sell a great vehicle for a few years, stop selling it for a few decades, then start selling a similarly-styled vehicle with the same or similar name. The Japanese motorcycle companies are all doing this; there’s the Honda CB1100, the Kawasaki W800, and the Suzuki TU250X among others.

Recently I was at a motorcycle dealership and noticed the unmistakable gauge cluster design of 30-odd years ago. The rolling odometer, the bold 55 mark on the speedometer, the indicator lights that are coloured lenses with white pictures on them, illuminated by a weak incandescent bulb.

Photo: Yamaha Motor Corporation

It was on a Yamaha TW200. I remember this bike; I remember a friend had one on his farm when I was growing up.

I was pretty jazzed to see a new one in a dealership. Oh, nostalgia! Did Yamaha start making this bike again? No, it did not. It never stopped making it. Don’t call it a comeback. There have been a few minor changes; in 2001 it added electric start and a front disc brake. But most of the bike is exactly the same. Yamaha has been selling this bike, basically unchanged, for 32 years.

The TW200 is a great little single-cylinder dual sport with a fat rear tire and a low seat height. It will go about 70 if you really want to, and it still has a carburetor. It is a go-anywhere motorcycle, and it often gets used for utility (read: a farm) or strapped to the back of off-road campers. I found this one in Telluride a few years ago:

Photo: Author

Nostalgic design with zero development cost. Genius move, Yamaha.

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