Best at anything? No. Fun to ride? Yes.
Here’s the thing about a good motorcycle: It only has to be good to YOU. Sure, if your entire purpose in buying it is just to show off to a bunch of other people, you’ll have different considerations. However, I’m assuming you want to ride and enjoy it. Going solely by the criterion of your enjoyment, what makes a good motorcycle?
The answers to that may vary widely, even within a person. Does the bike amuse you? Is it simply the most beautiful thing you’ve ever laid eyes on? Is it intimidatingly beautiful, so you love to look at it but are actually scared to ride it because you don’t want to risk damaging it in some way, even if it’s just a stupid little tipover?
In this video, SRK Cycles makes a solid argument for the seemingly omnipresent Yamaha TW200, and why you need one. When you consider that it was meant as an agricultural ride, suddenly many things make a whole lot of sense about it. It’s a dual-sport with big, knobby tires, and the rear tire is particularly wide for this type of bike. It’s no screaming speed demon, but Mr. SRK got it up to an indicated 73 miles per hour on the highway. Adjusting for usual speedometer optimism, that’s probably about 67-ish?
Highway riding isn’t why you’d buy one of these though. You’d buy it because it’s just as happy on road as off, and while it’s a bit heavier than some off-road bikes, at about 279 pounds at the curb, it’s not a gigantic beast. I will say, having ridden one, that I do have to one-foot it because tiny inseam and fairly wide saddle for this type of bike. It’s not totally impossible, though, and I’m sure I’d get better at using its powers off-road if I spent more time in the saddle.
The beauty of a TW200 is that it takes a licking and not only keeps on ticking, but it’ll last generations if you want it to. Parts are plentiful, it’s not difficult to work on, and you won’t be upset if you do beat it up because that’s what it’s for.
That goes into this: Probably the smartest piece of advice you could ever give someone who’s just getting started in their motorcycle interest is this: Even if you get the opportunity, don’t buy your dream bike as your first bike. You’ll never forgive yourself if you drop it or something else happens to it, and things are a lot more likely to happen when you’re new and don’t know what you’re doing just yet. Get used to riding, get decent, and then get your dream bike. You and the bike will be a lot happier that way. In the meantime, a TW200 is a great thrasher that’ll give you plenty of amusement for your buck. It’d be great to build your skills on for any number of reasons.
One more note: This video is from October 2019, so SRK already sold their TW200. You’ll have to find one somewhere else if you want it, but that shouldn’t be too hard since they’re everywhere. Just a quick search on Facebook Marketplace right now yielded over 10 options across a wide range of years.