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15 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
When I was researching TWs before buying my own, I was curious about the differences between model years. The following two posts seem to be the go-to for this information...

from Purple...
"Trying to think of various changes by year to the USA TW200 – so feel free to chime in on this …..

1987: One off electrical system, some of it AC, such as the head light. Reports of CDI failure. “Unsubstantiated” reports that this year was the fastest, but the ’87 did have a slightly tweaked CDI advance curve.

1988: Revised electrical system, mostly DC.

1987 to 1991 and 1992 to 2000 front brake shoes different sizes - choose replacements with care (see post #33 on this thread)

1996: Front fork drain screws discontinued.

2001: Changed to disc brake model. Rear foot peg off set changed. Charging system upgraded from 35W to 55W. CV carb introduced, with throttle cables coming in from the other side. Inlet manifold dimensions changed slightly to accommodate CV carb. Kick starter assembly no longer included (but can be added later). Trip meter added, Some electical connectors changed. Handlebar controls updated. Introduced automatic cam chain adjuster. Exhaust mounting changed (see post #17)

2002: Smaller diameter fuel cap.

2006: Multiple (increased) reports of leaking base cylinder gasket - see post #21 (Solution is to re-torque, or order later gasket which was stronger).

2009: Base gasket problem resolved at factory.

2017: Rear shock unit changed (no improvement).

See post #26 regarding spoke diameters - " '99 has 3.5mm spokes, '15 has 4.0mm spokes"

Throughout the years the CDI part number keeps changing, but how relevant this is has yet to be determined, though it’s likely to be a connector type issue rather than a performance issue. Details of CDI part numbers by year can be found here - TW CDI units - by year:

Any corrections or additions welcomed – this is a joint “hive mind” effort. Once it settles down we can “sticky” it.

Of particular interest, is the stator assembly, and the crankcase housing it – any info on that issue appreciated.

I’ll edit this first post as we go along ….. "

from lizrdbrth...
"All TW's are great bikes. Some (slightly} greater than others, depending on your point of view.

'87's had one-year-only charging systems and ignition modules. Aside from that, they are essentaially no different from an '88-2000 model. They're becoming a parts problem with regard ONLY to the electrical systems.

In 2001, Yamaha giveth us a front disc brake, (but taketh away our kickstarter) slightly more alternator output, a new CV carburetor, and a resetable trip meter.

So basically the bike has had 3 versions of charging system, picked up a disc brake and lost its kickstarter in 24-odd years.

All plastics are interchangeable from year one to present. Lots of lovely Barbie colors over the years if yer into that. lol

The basic motor is the same and all parts will interchange except for the left side covers, which have slightly different castings to accomodate the different charging and CDI systems over the years. Later models had a self-adjusting cam chain adjuster. Intake manifolds, carb boots and cables are a bit different between the early and late carbs but late also fits old, and vice-vera.

Quality control has worsened considerably on the later model motors, so watch for base gasket leaks. Yamaha has issued a Bandaid in the form of an "improved" base gasket, but the real problem stems from random batches of crappy cases. Some suck, some don't.

All front end parts will swap between years. The disc front end differs from the drum only in the left lower legs and that the lower triple tree has a tapped hole for the brake hose mount.

The late model carb drives from the right, early model's cables are on the left.

Swingarms and rear wheels are all the same.

Disc front wheels have thicker spokes and the spoke lengths and lacing pattern is different from a drum. Same spoke count. As far as I'm concerned both are equal in terms of actual braking distances. It's more a matter of "feel" than effectiveness. Pick yer poison here. Drums don't bother me at all. I own both.

The rear brakes are all the same. They blow.

Gas tanks are all the same except later models got a smaller gas cap and Cali models have a fitting for a vapor hose.

Early models have better starter solenoids, relays, and electrical components overall, IMO.

Later models have more output and slightly more sheltered and better protected wiring harnesses.

Lower fork legs lost their drain screws at some point. Early models had them. Huge maintenence issue.

Kickstands, frame gussets and welds are better on the older units. Whether this was neccessary or not is arguable, but they are different.

While this is not a rant against Yamaha, be aware that numerous cost cutting measures like this have been initiated over the years. Most were also accompanied by some fairly significant improvement. Most are insignificant in the real world, but can complicate parts ordering and modifications. Recently some have discovered that the rear muffler mount location has been changed slightly, for example. So even though a 20 year old muffler is identical in every other respect it won't fit the latest and greatest. The good news is that the bike is rock simple to begin with.

The only real interchangeability problems I've encountered have been between the electrical systems, wiring harnesses and switchgear. Lots of variations here, with minor, sniggling changes to the various connectors and components.

The forum has become a bit "sticky intensive" lately. All useful info, mind you, but if there is enough interest I will compile all the differences I've noticed between the years.

Virtually ANY TW is better than NO TW, and no particular year is hands-down superior enough to another year to cause you to hold out. If it's a matter of cost vs. shine, a mid-90's unit in good condition would be my choice."

I think it would be helpful to supplement these posts with pictures, so I took side by side pictures of my 1994 Tdub and my brother's 2014 Tdub...











15 Posts
Discussion Starter #2



I can get more pictures of these two bikes side by side if you want to see something specific that I did not get on camera here. Let me know!

127 Posts
Great pictures and a really nice chronological listing of the differences.
Thanks for posting!

Super Moderator
5,312 Posts
Everyone has their favourite years, partly cosmetic, partly mechanical preference. I didn't have a lot of choice when I bought mine (in UK, these Japanese bikes have to be imported as they're not native here). Ended up with a pretty pristine '98, with 5K miles on the clock. On looking around, it seems I landed on my feet. As above, the frame welding is better quality (the exception being on the lower part of the shock), I love having the Keihin slide carb, and although all Japanese TW's come with kickstarts, the kits are getting hard to find if you end up looking for one - mine even came with the fork "clunk"

Bias ? - probably - happy ?, certainly - but then that's built in to all TW's .......

15 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I went back and forth for a while trying to decide whether I should spend a little extra money and get a post-2001 bike. But the 1994 I ended up buying was so clean I couldn't resist. I also love the 90s colors.
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