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Original Big Wheel: 1985 Yamaha BW200

I never really thought about it before, but with the 1980s being an era when where starting and owning a business was a real goal for a lot of people, even the names of a couple of motorcycles reflected that period of time. This 1985 Yamaha BW200 Big Wheel is listed here on eBay in Athol, Idaho and there is a single bid of $2,600 and no reserve.

I know that the name of this bike is related to the “big wheels” rather than being a business big wheel, but it’s a little coincidental that Honda’s version, the TR200 Fat Cat is also a business-related nickname for someone who has made it to the top. I tried a few business ventures in the 1980s before one of them took off but I was more of a medium wheel than a big wheel. Whether you were a big wheel or a fat cat in the 1980s, if you were into unusual ATC rides, you may have owned one of these two-wheelers. They weren’t even on my radar back then for some reason.

Enough with trying to relate a couple of fat tire motorcycles to business tycoons in the 1980s! I guess the Yamaha Entrepreneur wouldn’t have been a good name for this one. The Big Wheel came out in 1985 and they offered three different sizes, this BW200 is the mama bear and/or Jan Brady (i.e., middle) offering. The smallest was a two-stroke 80 cc version, then this four-stroke 200 cc and a bigger 350 cc four-stroke big wheel.

There was a BW200ES with electric start and I can’t believe that I haven’t owned one of these yet, having been a Yamaha fanatic for the last 4+ decades. I have never ridden one of these bikes and can’t remember the last time I saw one in person. I wish I had one. Or better yet, one of each size, plus a Honda Fat Cat, and 100 other bikes that come to mind…

The seller says that this one is mostly original other than a new seat cover, new tank decals, and a new handgrip on the left side. It looks fantastic overall with just a few scratches and I’d maybe grab some new graphics for everything other than the tank to really make it look great. The engine is a Yamaha 196 four-stroke two-valve single-cylinder with just over 15-hp. It runs great and it sure looks good to me. Have any of you owned a fat tire motorcycle, or were you a business big wheel or fat cat in the 1980s?!


  1. Howard A Member

    Pretty sure, these were the machines that most 3 wheeler riders gravitated to, once their injuries healed, that is. 4 wheelers were around, ( a friend had a “Moto 4”, that was RWD) but not near to the extent of today, and these were much more predictable, and a blast to ride. Got you back to where the 3 wheeler( or 2wd, 4 wheeler) couldn’t go, and light enough to get out of a jam. It’s a neat “once you get there” bike, I bet I could go pretty far back in the hills with this, gas being the main concern. Guy I knew bought the modern version of this, the TW200, and am told, he was disappointed with it. I think he was trying to RIDE it to the trails, and it’s not made for that. Certainly not meant for any adults, but for a kid, it wouldn’t get much better.

    Like 4
  2. Alex L.

    I have a custom tw200 that has been converted to utilize the bw front end. It is an absolute riot to ride. It performs amazingly on the trails. But the main reason I own it is that I live on a beach and it eats up sand like no other bike.

    Like 2
  3. T.Saffery

    I had one of these early 2000 bought it in pieces in the bed of a truck and was more excited about the bike than the truck lol, my cousin and I got it together in a week. That was such a blast! Ended up selling it years later tho. I miss that bike and my cousin.

    Like 3
  4. RexFox Member

    As you mentioned Howard, the Yamaha TW200 uses this same 196cc engine, and has been in continuous production since 1987. Its tires are not as fat as the Big Wheel (4” in front and 7” – 180-80s in back), which makes it very street-able. They have electric start, but many owners add a kick starter. I daily ride my Harleys (a Road King and a Dyna Low Rider), but I also have a TW200 that makes me really smile the 4 or 5 times it’s ridden each year. It doesn’t take up much garage space and it fits in the 5’ bed of my pickup with the tailgate closed, which was the original reason for the purchase. When my wife and I visit National Parks, we check into the lodges, park the truck and use this bike to get to hiking trails, ranger talks and for fun evening rides. It cruises easily at 50 mph with both of us, but we’ve hit 55 together and I’ve hit 65 by myself. It’s quite capable off road too. Get this, they’re still air cooled and still have carburetors! Anyone who is interested can check out TW200Forum.com for more info. My goal is to ride Harleys until I’m 80, but I don’t think I’ll ever sell my TW.

    Like 3
  5. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this one “sold” for $2,650 but has been relisted again with an opening bid price of $2,600.

    Like 0

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