But – on with the details …….
The first thing I noticed about the TW225 were the dimensions – it feels just like the 200, rides just like the 200, but there the similarities end. It’s mostly to do with the lump as you’d expect, which is a lot more than simply 25 extra cc’s. Cosmetically it’s nearly identical, but the closer you look, the more you start to appreciate the finishing touches. No more JIS screws, this thing uses proper bolts to hold the casings together – and then there’s the rather cumbersome de-compression lever, designed to be automatically activated just by the kick starter. Again, like the bolts above, you can debate the usefulness, but it looks far more like a “finished” product than the TW engine.
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It’s a bit smoother and quieter too, both on tick over and on “full chat”. With the 200, the revs are only limited by how much noise your ears can take, and how much faith you have in the resulting vibrations not tearing the bike apart from under you. On the 225, you can actually hear the detonations getting louder as you open the throttle as a distinct and quite separate noise. This means that you can “read” the engine revs through your ears, rather than frantically stabbing the gear lever into the “phantom 6th” in desperation at the overall noise.
The power band (yes, we are still taking about TW’s) seems to come in bit lower, perhaps around five and a half instead of six, and is still noticeable, but this time as more of a “surge”. This is perhaps more detectable simply because you’re no longer pushing the engine so hard, relying on the torque for the most part until the revs find their “happy point”, and you find yourself winding the throttle back down in response. It’s not until you get it up to 50 or 60mph that you really need it, at which stage you’ll find yourself propelled uphill at 65mph with ease (certainly compared to the 200). As previously mentioned, there are less futile searches for that elusive 6th gear, as the corresponding lack of noise keeps you in tune with the combustion side of the engine, so there’s less temptation to search for 6th to stop the engine from blowing up – I think I looked for 6th twice in three days, whereas on the 200 it would be more like twice a day.
But first gear on a “racing start” will have you leaning forwards to keep the front tire on the deck as it starts skipping, and it feels as though deliberately pulling a wheelie would be fairly easy. Partly to do with the “launch torque”, and partly to do with the power band kicking in – combine the two and it goes off like a sparrow with a rocket up its arse. On the 200 with its shorter first gear, this would result in frantically trying to engage second, but not so on the 225.
Although you are still on what is unmistakably a “TW”, you find yourself adjusting to the differences of the engine, and changing your riding style and techniques accordingly. We spent three days last week taking these two TW’s down just about every kind of road imaginable, gravel tracks, pebble beaches, mud, grass, the lot. At one point, a woman looked on in disbelief as we continued on past her house, down a lane that a horse would have struggled to negotiate. Through the “rough stuff”, there was little to distinguish between the two bikes, both of them will still shake your teeth loose, and on the 225 I was too busy trying to keep it upright to even notice the difference in gearing. It was only on the open roads (where at least some tarmac remained visible) that you could appreciate the subtleties of “torque” and start to explore the bike rather than the terrain.
They handle the same, brake the same, both equally capable of covering the same ground – both even give you that familiar “arse ache” after a few hours in the stock saddle. It’s only out on the open road that the difference seems to matter, and even then only at speeds of 30mph and above.