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Two-Wheeled Tonka: Lanesplitter’s Yamaha TW200

Two-Wheeled Tonka: Lanesplitter's Yamaha TW200
For all its farm bike ways, the Yamaha TW200 sure is charming. With a utilitarian build and cartoon tires, it’s the two-wheeled, life-sized equivalent of a Tonka truck.

It’s also the perfect base for this playful project—the work of Brisbane’s Lanesplitter Garage. The man behind Lanesplitter is Ben, a self-proclaimed ‘backyard builder’ who holds down a nine-to-five as a programmer while wrenching at night.

Two-Wheeled Tonka: Lanesplitter's Yamaha TW200
“A client contacted me about customizing a Honda CT110, after seeing one I had completed recently,” he tells us. “Initially we were on the lookout for a reasonably priced CT110, but after a couple of months searching and realizing prices were seriously over-inflated, we changed our plan of attack and settled on another seriously over-inflated model—the TW200.”

“We spent a while scouring the classifieds, but I managed to source one that had been sitting in the shed for a while out in the suburbs. It wasn’t in exactly mint condition, but it ran and was road register-able.”

Two-Wheeled Tonka: Lanesplitter's Yamaha TW200
With the client in Sydney, the project was handled mostly over email—starting with sketches and Photoshop mockups going back and forth. “Budget was also high on the priority list,” says Ben, “meaning we had to sacrifice a few things to include others.”

A number of parts were sourced from overseas—including a vintage Yamaha XS400 fuel tank, which the guys decided to keep original. Ben then set about filling in the blanks with hand-made parts.

Two-Wheeled Tonka: Lanesplitter's Yamaha TW200
“I try to do most of the work myself with simple hand tools,” he explains. “For me it’s all about the process. If I can learn a new skill with each build then I’m happy.”

“I even did the photography, after reading Bike EXIF’s tutorial on light painting, and turned my garage into a studio.”

Two-Wheeled Tonka: Lanesplitter's Yamaha TW200
Flowing off the XS400 tank is a new seat—designed to retain some dirt bike styling while integrating with the tank’s lines. Ben started with a fiberglass base, added foam and then finally upholstered it with leather he sourced from a tannery in the Queensland countryside. “It was a long drive, but it was worth it,” he quips.

The subframe’s all new, and shorter than stock. Ben had originally considered lengthening the swing arm (a popular TW mod), but it would have pushed the budget too far. So he shortened the rear to get a similar visual effect, capping it off with a rear loop and built-in LED taillight.

Two-Wheeled Tonka: Lanesplitter's Yamaha TW200
Lower down, he ditched the airbox, replacing it with beefy K&N filter. All the electrics have been tucked away too, along with a small Lithium-ion battery from Antigravity.

The original 18” front and 14” rear wheels were kept—naturally—but sandblasted and repainted to restore them. There’s a fresh lick of paint on the engine too, as well a new complement of gaskets. Ben did the timing and split the cases, but the engine was really clean inside, so no heavy work was needed.

Two-Wheeled Tonka: Lanesplitter's Yamaha TW200
There’s a new front fender, and a one-off rear hugger with a neat single-sided mount. Not only does it catch muck, but it also doubles up as a license plate bracket, keeping the bike road legal. Up top is a set of classic MX bars, some POSH Japan grips and a compact speedo.

The skid plate’s another custom part; Ben fabbed it up with scrap sheet metal, designing it to tuck in around the shape of the engine and exhaust. The exhaust is new too, and combines a custom-made header with a shorty muffler that gives the TW a bark far beyond its bite.

Two-Wheeled Tonka: Lanesplitter's Yamaha TW200
Thanks to Ben, the TW’s gone from forlorn farm bike to slick street scrambler—the perfect little curb-hopper for Sydney’s bustling streets.

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Two-Wheeled Tonka: Lanesplitter's Yamaha TW200