Reviews

Farm bike review: Yamaha AG200E

I have to admit to feeling somewhat humbled to be given the opportunity to test and put my two cents forward on the Yamaha AG200E, which in my opinion is one of the best farm bikes of all time in New Zealand (certainly one of the most iconic).

As the Yamaha AG range has been around on farms in some shape or form for over 40 years, I’m sure most will have come across one at some point.

At the heart of the AG200E is its ever-reliable air-cooled, four-stroke, 196cc, single-cylinder engine, which delivers smooth responsive power. Although definitely not built for racing, on the farm it provides more than enough power to get around and tackle the steepest slopes.

An electric start on the AG200E model is good to see and I would say is pretty much a must these days, as is a back-up kick start, because sooner or later you’re going to end up with a flat battery – and it never happens at a convenient time. A good-sized 10-litre fuel tank keeps the bike going for miles.

I realise the one-down-four-up gear pattern found on most bikes is generally for safety, to prevent accidental freewheeling in neutral. Out on the farm where you tend to use neutral a lot more, the five-up pattern with neutral at the bottom, as found on the AG200E, makes a lot more sense to me, as you stop the bike more often.

A clutch lock is another great feature which still exists on the AG200E and allows the rider to jump off and leave the bike running in gear to open gates, without shifting to neutral every time.

Transmission gearing is very low in first and second, which allows you to idle along slower than walking pace if you have good balance, while larger gaps between the higher gears gives a top speed which is stated to be about 100km/hr, although I found the bike was pretty much tapped out at around 85km/hr – still respectable and fast enough for most.

The chain that drives the rear wheel is fully enclosed in a guard that keeps mud and muck off the chain and sprockets to prevent wear, while tension on the chain can still be easily maintained with an adjuster on the rear axle. Cable operated drum brakes on the front and rear definitely seem a little bit dated these days when most bikes have moved to hydraulic disc brakes, although they are fully enclosed, simple and for the most part seemed fairly effective, at least while the bike is new anyway.

AG200E_8

The front wheel uses telescopic forks while rear wheel is mounted on a swing arm with a single shock to improve the ride over rough terrain. This is a simple yet effective setup which works well. Those planning on spending a lot of time on the bike will also be pleased to see the wide well cushioned seat, offering even more comfort.

High tensile tube steel is used to provide a strong yet lightweight frame, while steel guards on the front of the engine offer it (and the rider’s feet) some protection from rocks and stumps. On the handle bars, light weight guards protect your hands and more importantly the brake and clutch levers from damage. A 12-volt power socket is also included in a convenient spot to provide power for extras such as a spot light. Sizeable mud flaps on the front and rear tyres keep mud of the bike and rider.

A wide sturdy rack on the back can carry up to 20kgs and gives protection to the brake light, while the rack at the front of the bike is ideal for smaller items (with a clip to secure them) and provides some protection to the large front headlight. The plastic tool box under the rear carrier also offers a small amount of additional storage.

Dual side stands make it easy to park the bike, regardless of the terrain, and large feet prevent them from sinking into the mud. Folding foot pegs hopefully prevent damage if you have a spill or catch them on something.

The verdict

I’m going to admit that out on the farm, like many I moved away from two-wheelers in favour of the convenience of quads, but you tend to forget just how nimble and responsive the two-wheeler can be.

On the day I reviewed the Yamaha AG200E, I found myself scooting up and down the hills, through gullies and racing across the flats. The bike is light enough that most will be able to handle it with ease and it’s very manoeuvrable.

The engine is powerful enough to tackle any terrain you throw at it and I even found I could pop the front wheel off the ground – all in the name of testing of course.

Model pictured is fitted with extra Yamaha accessories.

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