How reliable are the Honda Fat Cats?
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Thread: How reliable are the Honda Fat Cats?

  1. #1
    Senior Member GaryL's Avatar
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    How reliable are the Honda Fat Cats?

    I am just finishing my latest project of rebuilding a Yamaha BW 350. Quite a project and a very nice bike with gobs of low end grunt for sure. I have a shot at picking up a similar Honda Fat Cat but have no real knowledge about their reliability or parts availability so I ask the guys here who know this Honda model. The BW project was a real hard one but because I know the basic Yamaha designs it was pretty straight forward for me. Honda's tend to be a very different animal and I am a bit unsure if I want to even bother learning new tricks.
    Who has had a Fat Cat or still has one they wrench on to keep it it going and can offer an accurate assessment of these machines in general.

    Thanks

    GaryL
    Be Decisive! Right or Wrong just make a decision. ​ The road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn't make a decision.

    Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
    If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

    1987 Yamaha BW350 Big Wheel
    2017 Snowdog Track sled tow motor for ice fishing
    Kubota BX2370 Subcompact tractor with snow blower
    Wilderness System Ride 115 fishing Kayaks

  2. #2
    Senior Member stagewex's Avatar
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    Between the information you originally sent me when I picked-up my BW200 and this article link below, the Honda (and I'm kinda a Honda guy) seems less desirable. Produced just 2 years but not sure if that makes it rare or as collectable as a BW? Seems like Honda produced it as a "we can do that too" answer to the BW but really didn't care to continue production.

    Auto-Clutch is a turn-off for me. Fine for a mini-bike but for something this massive size...

    Having two (2) of these beasts in running condition would certainly be a rarity.

    https://www.bike-urious.com/all-terr...d-honda-tr200/
    2008 Vespa 150"S" (Elec & Kick Start)
    2007 Ural Patrol (2WD, Elec & Kick Start)
    2006 Yamaha TW200 (Elec & Kick Start)
    1995 BMW K75 (Elec Start)
    1991 Honda XR250L (Kick Start Only)
    1986 Yamaha BW200ES (Elec & Kick Start)
    1969 BMW r60/2, US Model (Kick Start Only)

  3. #3
    Senior Member GaryL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stagewex View Post
    Between the information you originally sent me when I picked-up my BW200 and this article link below, the Honda (and I'm kinda a Honda guy) seems less desirable. Produced just 2 years but not sure if that makes it rare or as collectable as a BW? Seems like Honda produced it as a "we can do that too" answer to the BW but really didn't care to continue production.

    Auto-Clutch is a turn-off for me. Fine for a mini-bike but for something this massive size...

    Having two (2) of these beasts in running condition would certainly be a rarity.

    https://www.bike-urious.com/all-terr...d-honda-tr200/
    Thanks Mike, I had forgotten that you recently acquired a BW200 but not sure if you have it in up and running condition just yet. If it ever stops raining around here I will get a shot at riding along side of my neighbors 2 Fat Cat 200s. Not a fair comparison against my 350 power plant for sure but I should get some idea regarding how they ride and perform. IMO the BWs are a pretty stout machine and the 200 BW has a very similar engine to our TWs that tend to be fairly bullet proof if properly maintained. The BW 200 carb seems to be a bit wonky to me but my 350 has almost the identical carb as on the TW but just a few MMs larger. That made it real easy for me to clean and rebuild it and get it tuned right. Funny how they say the Honda FC should be easy sourcing parts while the BWs not so much. The 350 BW is the odd ball only having been a 2 year model and parts seem to be made from that rare metal called Unobtanium.
    The BW 200s share a lot of the TW parts and most seem to still be available. Fat tire conversions has a lot of high quality upgrade parts for the BWs and they also do a lot with the Honda FCs. My neighbors Fat Cats are in very nice condition and not beat to death at all but all the ones I have run across outside of here are in pretty rough condition at any price. I have also looked at a few BW 200s in very rough condition and passed them up. I probably would have bought one of the ones Placerload sold because he steers clear of the hammered machines and goes for the good stuff. I could see me and him going round for round over price but that was a non issue with the distance between us. Think I will pass on the FC I found because he wants too much and it needs too much IMO. I can't wait to hear your assessment of the BW 200 and still have not really had a chance to run my 350 except for short spins just making sure all systems are go after the rebuild. I hope to be back in riding form in a week or two and by then the weather might be better so I can get out and do some romping. Let me reiterate something I have warned about before where buying stuff off Ebay for these bikes are concerned. If you search for parts, new or used, all of these jack wagon sellers make the claim "Fits the BW 200 or 350". Most are full of shit! I still have not heard back from the fool selling the radiator cap that fits my BW350 as to where exactly the radiator cap goes on an air cooled motorcycle. He also sells wheel spokes for my bike that has no spokes in the wheels. I have a couple decent China petcocks that work perfect and are said to fit the BW 350 which they do. They would also fit the TWs. A Petcock is just a simple 2 stage valve for tank or reserve so no real rocket science involved. I am waiting now for the OEM petcock to arrive at 5 times the price because these China ones are just a hair too long for my 350 engine and actually hit the head of the motor. The OEM stock one better be a tad shorter so it is not touching the head and getting overheated while riding. They would work fine in the TW tanks for sure.

    GaryL
    Be Decisive! Right or Wrong just make a decision. ​ The road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn't make a decision.

    Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
    If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

    1987 Yamaha BW350 Big Wheel
    2017 Snowdog Track sled tow motor for ice fishing
    Kubota BX2370 Subcompact tractor with snow blower
    Wilderness System Ride 115 fishing Kayaks

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  5. #4
    Senior Member stagewex's Avatar
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    "Up-And-Runnin".

    It came running and starts easier kick-starting and magic button starting than ironically all of my bikes. Just making some minor maint. improvements before it moves on to it's next parent. I love it but have extremely limited use for it in my area. And I'm not going through all that Vermont registration plating for it either though I believe it can be done.
    I want to ride it off-road at least once before it moves on.

    Today I'm draining the fuel in it and introducing ethanol-free with a big dose of Seafoam. Greasing all the zerks too.

    Did you see my post asking (primarily you and TW Brian) about the "tool" to do the one time inner Jack-Shaft chain adjustment? I want to do that or if done already just buy a new inner chain before this baby moves on, The secondary (normal to us) chain is fine/perfect. I don't have the factory tool kit so don't have this tool.
    Smitty Blackstone likes this.
    2008 Vespa 150"S" (Elec & Kick Start)
    2007 Ural Patrol (2WD, Elec & Kick Start)
    2006 Yamaha TW200 (Elec & Kick Start)
    1995 BMW K75 (Elec Start)
    1991 Honda XR250L (Kick Start Only)
    1986 Yamaha BW200ES (Elec & Kick Start)
    1969 BMW r60/2, US Model (Kick Start Only)

  6. #5
    Senior Member GaryL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stagewex View Post
    "Up-And-Runnin".

    It came running and starts easier kick-starting and magic button starting than ironically all of my bikes. Just making some minor maint. improvements before it moves on to it's next parent. I love it but have extremely limited use for it in my area. And I'm not going through all that Vermont registration plating for it either though I believe it can be done.
    I want to ride it off-road at least once before it moves on.

    Today I'm draining the fuel in it and introducing ethanol-free with a big dose of Seafoam. Greasing all the zerks too.

    Did you see my post asking (primarily you and TW Brian) about the "tool" to do the one time inner Jack-Shaft chain adjustment? I want to do that or if done already just buy a new inner chain before this baby moves on, The secondary (normal to us) chain is fine/perfect. I don't have the factory tool kit so don't have this tool.
    I missed your question to me and Brian but just went through the pains of hell getting my 350 inner chain adjusted. There is no special tool required to do it on my 350 but all the bearings were frozen and rusted solid and took me 2 full days to get the swing arm off so I could replace the adjuster cams. I don't know what the procedure is for the BW200 but if it is the same as the 350 you better hope the cams are not rusted and frozen like mine were. I posted all the info in the thread titled "What was your latest garage project. Go check that thread out. I did buy that Stockton chain tool kit you recommended and it was a life saver for this project. My inside chain is the 530 heavy size and the outside chain is 520. Both were replaced with DID X rings and both required removing links and rivet masters. I spent a total of 3 full and super laborious days getting all the chains and sprockets replaced plus a small fortune doing it. I love wrenching on bikes but will never tackle this job again for any dollar amount.

    GaryL
    Be Decisive! Right or Wrong just make a decision. ​ The road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn't make a decision.

    Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
    If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

    1987 Yamaha BW350 Big Wheel
    2017 Snowdog Track sled tow motor for ice fishing
    Kubota BX2370 Subcompact tractor with snow blower
    Wilderness System Ride 115 fishing Kayaks

  7. #6
    Super Moderator JerseyJeeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryL View Post
    I missed your question to me and Brian but just went through the pains of hell getting my 350 inner chain adjusted. There is no special tool required to do it on my 350 but all the bearings were frozen and rusted solid and took me 2 full days to get the swing arm off so I could replace the adjuster cams. I don't know what the procedure is for the BW200 but if it is the same as the 350 you better hope the cams are not rusted and frozen like mine were. I posted all the info in the thread titled "What was your latest garage project. Go check that thread out. I did buy that Stockton chain tool kit you recommended and it was a life saver for this project. My inside chain is the 530 heavy size and the outside chain is 520. Both were replaced with DID X rings and both required removing links and rivet masters. I spent a total of 3 full and super laborious days getting all the chains and sprockets replaced plus a small fortune doing it. I love wrenching on bikes but will never tackle this job again for any dollar amount.

    GaryL
    I use this:
    bw swing arm pivot.jpg
    Smitty Blackstone likes this.
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  8. #7
    Senior Member GaryL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JerseyJeeper View Post
    I just installed that exact kit on my 350 and it works perfect. My problem began when the swing arm bolt holding on the frame refused to come out so I could install the new kit. I had to completely drill the bolt out to get the swing arm off the frame.

    I was not aware but they do make this kit for the BW 200 also. Much better than the stock set up. https://www.fattireconversions.com/d...singarmbushing

    GaryL
    Last edited by GaryL; 04-30-2019 at 10:22 AM.
    Be Decisive! Right or Wrong just make a decision. ​ The road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn't make a decision.

    Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
    If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

    1987 Yamaha BW350 Big Wheel
    2017 Snowdog Track sled tow motor for ice fishing
    Kubota BX2370 Subcompact tractor with snow blower
    Wilderness System Ride 115 fishing Kayaks

  9. #8
    Senior Member PlacerLode's Avatar
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    Fat Cats' are awesome factory auto clutch and Honda reliability but scarce as hell for bikes and parts

    if you noticed BW350 parts were few and far between wait til you start looking for FatCat stuff

    I'd love to find one but no projects I'd only buy a showpiece lifes too short otherwise lol
    "It's Like Warm Apple Pie"

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  10. #9
    Senior Member NVcowboy's Avatar
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    I had a Fat Cat when I was a teenager. Loved it. I used to push cows, climb mountains, everything I do now with the T Dub was inspired by my days on the Fat Cat. The auto clutch was nice because I didn't have the patience for a normal clutch back then. I remember once, haulin' ass through the desert and a big hunk of sagebrush got snagged in the chain and sprocket. Stopped the bike dead in its tracks and I went sailing through the air. When I landed, I looked back and it was still standing for a moment before it slowly puttered down and fell over. Cartoon like. One day I came home from school and it was gone. My mom had sold it and bought a $1200 Kirby vacuum. I was PISSED. She said what, would you rather have a motorcycle or a clean house? I was 15. What kind of F*&%ing question was that. My dad just sat there looking at the floor nodding in agreement with everything she said. Thanks Brad!
    If you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk. - Tuco Juan Ramierez aka "The Rat"
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    2018 TW200 - LCpl. Rex T. Dubber
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  11. #10
    Super Moderator JerseyJeeper's Avatar
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    WOW - That's' rough.. and Kirby's suck.. - NOT

    Quote Originally Posted by NVcowboy View Post
    I had a Fat Cat when I was a teenager. Loved it. I used to push cows, climb mountains, everything I do now with the T Dub was inspired by my days on the Fat Cat. The auto clutch was nice because I didn't have the patience for a normal clutch back then. I remember once, haulin' ass through the desert and a big hunk of sagebrush got snagged in the chain and sprocket. Stopped the bike dead in its tracks and I went sailing through the air. When I landed, I looked back and it was still standing for a moment before it slowly puttered down and fell over. Cartoon like. One day I came home from school and it was gone. My mom had sold it and bought a $1200 Kirby vacuum. I was PISSED. She said what, would you rather have a motorcycle or a clean house? I was 15. What kind of F*&%ing question was that. My dad just sat there looking at the floor nodding in agreement with everything she said. Thanks Brad!
    Husqvarna TE300i Fuel Injected 2-Stroke 2019
    Yamaha XT225 - 1999 Serow
    Yamaha TW200Z - 2010
    Yamaha BW200 Electric Start! - 1986
    Yamaha TTR225R - 2003
    Husqvarna 701 Enduro - 2017
    Kawasaki Prairie 650 - 2002

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