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Big Wheels Rollin’: 1986 Yamaha BW200ES

080116 Barn Finds - 1986 Yamaha BW200 - 3

This 1986 Yamaha BW200ES is a bit newer than we usually show here at Barn Finds, but it’s unusual enough and rare enough that I thought I’d take a chance. It’s located in Hamburg, New York and is listed on eBay with five days left on the auction and a Buy It Now price of $1,875.

080116 Barn Finds - 1986 Yamaha BW200 - 1

The “BW”, of course, stands for big wheel, which this one has in duplicate. The “ES” means that there is electric start. I’ve never had a motorcycle this small with electric start, but I’ve also never owned one this “new” before. These are pretty rare bikes and the seller says that this one “runs and drives excellent.” The BW was produced from 1985 through 1989 and Yamaha also made an 80 and 350 version, along with the 200. It’s the mama bear of BWs: not too big, not too small; just right. They say that it “shifts through all the gears well, it sounds great, and is 100% ready to ride.”

080116 Barn Finds - 1986 Yamaha BW200 - 2

One thing they do mention is that there is a “plug in the rear (it holds air fine and has been in there for years. These are original BW200 Dunlop tires, not incorrect replacement ATV tires.” I know that most of the Barn Finds community isn’t into restoring vehicles just to put them on display, they dang well want them to be usable and they plan on actually using them! So, I would try to source an original-spec set of tires in the off-chance that the plug gives way, because I know that I’d sure as heck want to ride this bike rather than to let it just sit there looking pretty. Who’s with me on that?

080116 Barn Finds - 1986 Yamaha BW200 - 4

This BW200ES looks to be in fairly good condition, but you can see some paint chipping and the seller says that they have a replacement chain guard included with the price. The BW200 has a 196 cc four-stroke engine with about 15 hp. It doesn’t sound like a lot but I’m pretty sure you could do a wheelie if you’re not careful. This looks like a great, original, fun motorcycle to goof around on. The original owner was a “a farmer who used it to check his cattle and mend fences”, so that’s what these were made for, it was more of a working bike than a trail bike, although you could use it for either. How would you use this big-wheeled bike?


  1. JW

    If I still lived in the country I would be all over this for my grandsons to ride when visiting.

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  2. Howard A Member

    Hmm, never saw this model. I think for certain applications ( like mending fences) this may be ok, but 2 things, 1, it needs more power ( just like 750 is the bottom line for road bikes for me, 400 is the bottom line on dirt bikes) and 2, those tires are going to be a pain at any speed greater than 20 mph. Might be ok for slogging through the rough stuff, but I like to go fast on dirt bikes ( or at least, have the power on tap, just in case). Plus, it doesn’t have the suspension travel for us old guys. Those trails seem a lot rougher now than I remember as a youngun’. I’ve ridden many small dirt bikes, and you end up pushing it because the power just isn’t there. Besides, a powerful dirt bike is a rush, this, not so much. Cool piece, but for mending fences, ( and such) I’d go with a 4 wheeler, and I don’t care for 4 wheelers, but they are handy.

    Like 0
    • Dave Wright

      Howard, These are cruisers……..not racers. Quiet, comfortable easy to operate. We see them in the pitts at my kids and grandkids moto cross races………my kids race mostly 250’s with the 8 year old grandsons racing 125’s. There are few 400’s that keep up with them. Everything isn’t about power.

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      • Howard A Member

        Hi Dave, almost hit the thumbs down, but then what kind of hypocrite would I be. Dave, when it comes to bikes, it’s all about power. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. When going through the mud, just try and push one of these. I think that’s why the Rokon, which this obviously resembles, wasn’t very popular. Too little power, and the tires were too big.

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  3. TSaffery

    I had one in pieces that I got in the bed of a project truck I bought. I thought it was parts from a 3 wheeler. I started putting the bike together as soon as I got home and to my amazement it was complete except for the seat which I went back for the next day. He still had it wrapped up in the garage. I was more excited about the bike than the truck I got.

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    • John

      How did it ride? I’ve ridden Yamaha it amd Kawasaki KDC dirt.bikes when I was a kid. I was.thinking this would be fun to go hunt on when the trails are.too narrow for an ATV

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      • TSaffery

        It rode really nice over rocks and trail use. The bigger tires actually makes it like a second suspension. Also it was a 4 stroke so no premix gas to deal with and electric start was awesome too. Really great trail bike I wish I kept it.

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      • Kevin

        It gives you a feeling of barely being in control, as if your inner ears (sense of balance) are out of whack. The BW’s were available 1986-88. A 3 year run of an unstable, accident prone machine is 2 years too long.

        Compared to the Yamaha TW200 Trailway there is no comparison as the TW is superior in every way. Made 1987 to present.

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  4. Dave Wright

    I bought half a dozen of these from Yosemite a couple of decades ago. They have plenty of power. Run quiet and smooth. Electric start and a low center of gravity. They are fast enough to bring the hair up on the back of your neck on the road with those fat tires. They are very popular with the RV crowd like the step through frame Honda 90/110’s. They are obviously much better in the woods than a quad and fit on the common motorcycle wracks on an RV. They are fast enough for a quick trip to the store and quiet enough to carry on a conversation. I sold mine for more than I ever dreamed they would be worth. This one will close well over 2,000. There is a dedicated fan club for them and this one looks nice.

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  5. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    The Rokon failed as it had no gears and the TC lacked, though the Front and Rear wheel drive seems to have a cult following.

    These big tire bikes work great in sand and wet stuff in the Spring.

    Why exactly is a plug bad considering we use them on cars, was it on the sidewall?

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  6. Kevin

    These sold relatively well and kids were thrilled to ride them in spite of their handling nightmares. Decent in the sand dunes and on flat ground but a wreck waiting to happen everywhere else.

    These were NOT any kind of competition for the go anywhere Rokon 2×2’s.

    They were simply a not well built fad with limited use.

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  7. Die Klockwerken

    I have to say, I am one of those people who really love these bikes and from the picture I included, it would be difficult to disagree. My passion is in the cosmetic and mechanical restoration of the Big Wheel Series. I have several 350’s and even more 200’s in every variant and one BW80 thrown in for good measure. My experience with these is rather extensive and they make the best trail bike one could ask for. This is no jumping bike: this is a low-and-slow but is no slug on a riding trail. It can climb a wall and with the large tires, it can go in virtually any terrain; snow & mud or dramatic changes in elevation one would encounter.

    Rokon’s are even slower. Comparing the Rokon with any other vehicle is like comparing a Sherman Tank with any other vehicle. The Big Wheel is more like a 4X4 Mudder Truck…not very fast but that’s not the point.

    The BW350 is the Big Daddy in the line-up but it is a heavy difficult-to-maneuver machine that really doesn’t add that much more to the “Fun-Factor,” versus the BW200 variant. The BW350 is like guiding a Rhino in a gift shop. The BW200 is like riding a draft horse…slightly more maneuverable and slightly more controllable.

    Any Big Wheel Series is a smart purchase since you’ll never really lose money on these since they have such a cult following but buy one that is complete. Parts are very expensive and un cracked plastic body parts are difficult to source.

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    • Kevin

      You make it sound as if the rear wheel drive BW’s are comparable with the Rokon’s 2 wheel drive. BW’s were in no way built for hunters. The Rokon was and is still being built specifically for hunters and are painfully slow for good reason.

      All of the BW’s were a failure by Yamaha, thus their short 1986-88 run. The TW200, 1987 to present is obviously a much more user friendly machine.

      We agree that they are a good investment for resale or parting out. Every oddball vehicle ever made has a following.

      Like 1
  8. John

    This would be cool to hop on with a rifle and hunting pack..

    Like 0
  9. Brice Ueckert

    I happen to own a 1986 bw200es its a brute love it only tide it up and down my street once in a while.

    Like 0

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