Page 1 of 10 123 ... LastLast

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

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    CRG
    Posts
    963

    Default 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...

    TDubProfileNew.JPG

    ...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.

    Samurai_TW200_Shasta.jpg
    Last edited by WhereTheHellIsJames?; 06-01-2012 at 10:51 PM.
    James

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    CRG
    Posts
    963

    Default 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.

    FuelFilter.JPG

    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.

    BatteyTenderLead.JPG

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

    More to come soon...
    Last edited by WhereTheHellIsJames?; 06-02-2012 at 12:17 AM.
    James

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    CRG
    Posts
    963

    Default Indicators

    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:

    DSC_0213.JPG

    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.
    James

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Southwest Colorado
    Posts
    630
    Very nice!
    Moto's, Bikes, Cruisers, and Overland Vehicles

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    San Marcos, CA
    Posts
    1,404

    Default Awesome Little Motorcycle!


    I have fond memories of my TW200. This build has got me thinking about another motorcycle! Looking forward to more updates.
    Justin Pitcairn 
    https://www.instagram.com/pitcairnoverland/
    2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon
    Ursa Minor Vehicles J30 #204

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    CRG
    Posts
    963

    Default LED's... now I'm cool.

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

    SBLED.JPG

    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:

    SigSizeComp.JPG

    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:

    IncInd.JPG LEDInd.JPG

    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
    James

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,062
    oh man, those things are a blast off road!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Phoenix AZ
    Posts
    1,647
    Ah I just got all excited about putting LED's in my TW200 and then remembered that I don't have a speedo.

    But I will be following your tweeks with interest.
    2007 Freightliner Dualcab Ambulance conversion. Check it out here
    FJ75 Landcruiser 6 wheeler (Converting to an AmboCamper)
    1963 BMW /2 with a Ural Sidecar.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    CRG
    Posts
    963

    Default 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):

    WheresItAt.jpg

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

    PluggedHole.JPG

    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?
    James

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Middle of Nowhere, Outer Skin of Space Ship Earth, 1 A.U. from Sol, Outskirts of Milky Way.
    Posts
    6,059
    Quote Originally Posted by WhereTheHellIsJames? View Post
    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?


    motorcyclePUSH.jpg
    ...
    ...
    Current: 76 E-250, bubble-top, self-contained|couple of old Yamaha enduros
    Previous wheelers: 41 Willys|78 FJ40|78 Bronco|84 Bronco|74 Ramcharger|78 Ramcharger|79 D150 PowerWagon|77 D100|79 D400 dually, converted to 4WD, utility bed, 10' Lance|75 Westy|69 Scout, RHD|bunch of others|bunch of bikes|couple of boats|couple of motorhomes|blah blah|so what|not my idea|just doin' what I'm told|wank wank|this space for rent|candy is dandy|but liquor is quicker

Page 1 of 10 123 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •