What motorcycle did you dream of owning when you were young? For Mike Chen, it was the mighty Yamaha TW200—and who could blame him? Loved by multiple generations of fans, the TW200 is the coolest farm bike on the planet.
Mike’s dream stayed out of reach for a while though. He came close when he was eighteen—sort of. Unable to afford an imported TW200 (Mike lives in Taiwan), he bought a locally-made Kymco KTR, and modified it to look as similar to the Tee-Dub as possible.
Today, Mike runs the custom shop Mike’s Garage, based in Taipei, where he focuses on sub-400 cc customs. He’s finally got his hands on a Yamaha TW200, which he’s customized to great effect as his personal street tracker.
Mike found the 1987-model donor bike in a scrapyard, in exactly the sort of condition you’d expect. “Not only was the frame twisted and broken, but the piston was stuck, the wheels were rusted and the wiring harness was incomplete,” says Mike’s good friend, Barry Lim.
“Mike still insisted on bringing it home, no matter how high the cost was, because it was kind of meaningful to him to own a bike with the same year of manufacture as his birth year.”
The bike was so mangled, that Mike almost couldn’t get started on it. Between the TW’s inherent asymmetrical frame design, and some welding ‘fixes’ done by the previous owner, he couldn’t even find the center line of the frame to straighten it. So he scrapped it, and imported a used frame from Japan to replace it.
From there, the frame mods were minor; Mike simply rebuilt the subframe to refine the bike’s silhouette, and to accommodate a shorter seat. The front forks were refurbished and stiffened, while the rear shock was swapped out for a shortened Benelli Leoncino 250 unit. The mods have shaved a few inches off the seat height too.
Mike’s Garage actually specializes in wheel building, so naturally the TW200 rolls on fresh hoops. Mike kept the stock 18F/14R sizes, fitting a Kenda motocross tire up front and a Duro ATV tire out back.
The engine was fully rebuilt inside and out, and now looks clean enough to eat off. Mike installed a Yoshimura MJN26 carb, and a new exhaust header and muffler. All the wiring gremlins were taken care of too.
The TW’s new fuel tank looks like it was scalped from a vintage motocross bike, but it’s actually a custom part. Mike built it, and the rear fender, out of fiberglass. And if you’re wondering where the fender’s unique shape came from, it was inspired by the aftermarket parts that Mike saw in Japanese magazines when he was young.
A custom saddle from Hoffman Bygone sits up top, with custom side covers finishing off the bodywork.
A set of flat track-style handlebars sit up top, adorned with translucent cherry red grips and a single vintage switch block. The speedo is a standard aftermarket part, but it’s been mounted low down on the left side of the bike, to leave the cockpit as sparse as possible. A custom drilled bracket holds the headlight—and plays host to a single warning light.
The ignition and start button are both integrated into the Yamaha’s lefthand side cover. Off-the-shelf turn signals do duty at both ends, with a basic round taillight integrated neatly into the rear fender, just above where the license plate usually sits.
We’d never think of putting hot rod flames on a TW200—but Mike has, and it looks spectacular. A couple of smaller red details, like the cloth spark plug lead, show just how much thought has gone into this charmingly quirky custom.
“The TW was my dream bike since I was young,” Mike tells us. “At 18, the first time I saw it, I said ‘I will own you one day and turn you into the style I like.’”
Mike’s Garage Instagram | With special thanks to Barry Lim