Honda TR200 Fat Cat Dirt Bike (Specs and Review)

A notable forerunner of the 4-stroke revolution, the Honda TR200 Fat Cat, is among the rarest and most downplayed two-wheelers from the ’80s. Many off-roaders only recognize the dirt bike’s inadequacies as a race-oriented machine, unaware of its design process and the unceremonious restrictions it suffered after launch. This guide uncovers the truth behind the Honda 200’s short-lived production run and unwarranted demise.

The Honda TR200 (also known as. Fat Cat is a mini-motocross bike, also known as the Honda TR200. From 1986 to 1987, there was a TR200. This 4-stroke engine had Uni-Cam technology. The TR200 also featured an electric starter and compact racing design.

Due to the 1986 “production rule” of the AMA, Honda made unfortunate changes to the TR200’s original design before rushing it out to production – resulting in substantial shortcomings with stability and overall handling. These flaws don’t make the dirtbike less popular for novice riders or in-training racers.

The Honda TR200 is a one-of-a kind thumper, whether it’s race-ready or in basic form. Are you still not convinced? Learn more about the Fat Cat’s specifications, quirks, and competencies in this article.


Blue 1986 Honda TR200 Fat Cat Bike

About the Honda Fat Cat 200

To truly appreciate a creation or work of art is to understand the inspiration behind it – this applies to all types of vehicles, and the MX-style minibike is no exception. Few people know this, but the Honda TR200’s nickname Fat Cat was derived from someone very close to Hirotoshi Honda‘s heart – his fluffy and cute pet feline. And as special as this cat was to Soichiro’s son, so was the Honda TR200 dirt bike.

Contrary to popular belief, the TR200 was not Honda’s response to Yamaha’s BW200/ES or Big Wheel. The TR200 was made at the same time, but it was more popular in racing scenes. The majority of off-roaders have never seen the production Fat Cats. They were already subject to significant changes.

A Good Start

Honda began work on the TR200 in 1984, with a list defining the bike’s attributes.

  1. It would have TR in its name, which stands for Totally Radical.
  2. The bike would weigh in at just slightly over 200 lb.
  3. It would produce at least 45 horsepower.
  4. The two-wheeler will feature the most advanced racing technology.

Unfortunately, the production model did not have all these desirable qualities. As the former was very prone to pinging, the frame needed to be switched from lightweight titanium to heavy-duty pig iron. To prevent riders from being injured by shattering and to prevent them from falling off hard landings, the bodywork material was also changed to plastic.

Too Canny to Be Its Own

These changes may have taken away from the dirt bike’s power delivery and handling but not enough to deem it worthless on the tracks. On the contrary, the Honda TR200 (TR200R to be specific) dominated the motocross racing scene during its two-year run – and AMA-champ Ricky Johnson can attest to this. The Honda TR200 was a formidable competitor due to its unrivaled 4-stroke engine and exclusive high-traction Ohtsu tires.

While the dirt bike’s motocross success was good news for Honda, it also led to the spiral of doom for the Honda TR200. The race-ready nature of the two-wheeler fresh from the crate irked some of Honda’s biggest contenders who eventually cried foul, leading AMA to ban the award-winning dirt bike from the ’88 season. Hirotoshi Honda ended the Fat Cat project.

Honda TR200 Fat Cat Specs & Features

Engine

A longitudinally-mounted 4-stroke, air-cooled OHV/SOHC engine with a 25°-inclined single cylinder and a bore-stroke ratio of 65 × 60 mm (2.56 × 2.36 inches) powers both model years of the Fat Cat. The engine displacement is 199.1 cm3 (12.1 in3), with a compression ratio 9.0:1. Each unit has a (Forcedpressure) wet sump lubrication system, and an oiled double-urethane filtration system. The 24-mm Keihin carb (identification#PD69A) is used to mix air-fuel mixture. It requires jetting adjustments depending upon the elevation.

This configuration allows for a top speed at 50 mph (80 km/h). As for maximum horsepower, figures range from 13–48 hp (9.7–35.8 kW) at the crank, depending on the source of information. Considering the bike’s low compression head, the switch to a milder cam, and the addition of an EPA-approved exhaust, it would be safe to say the actual power output is in the mid-30s.

Fuel & Lubrication

Fuel tank capacity is 1.9–2.1 US gallons/7–8 liters with a 0.52-US gallon/2-liter reserve. Fuel should have a minimum PON87+/RON91+ rating. Lubrication-wise, the manufacturer recommends 1.8 liters (1.9 US quarts – disassembly) or 1.5 liters (1.6 US quarts – after draining) of SAE 10W-40 Honda GN4 engine oil or its equivalent. If you are using other brands, lubricants with API service grades of SJ+ that meet JASOT 903 MA standards will be the best.

Drivetrain

The clutch is semi-automatic and wet multi-plate. It also has a 5-speed constant-mesh manual tranny. The weight and thickness of the clutch assembly may vary between Honda TR200 models. DID520 VC-3/RK520 MO (100 links + joint) handles wheel spin. Shift sequence is N-1-2-3-4-5 (left-foot-operated, return system). Shifting is simple for beginners. The absence of a manual clutch results in a lackluster power modulation.

Primary Reduction Ratio 3.087 (71/23)
Gear Ratio – I 3.667 (44/12).
Gear Ratio – II 2.267 (34/15).
Gear Ratio – III 1.632 (31/19).
Gear Ratio – IV 1.273 (28/22)
Gear Ratio – V 1.042 (25/24)
Final Reduction Ratio 3.000 (39/13)

Red 1986 Honda TR200 Bike

Ignition

The Honda TR200 is powered by a CDI ignition that includes an electric and auxiliary recoil starter system. The charging system is a transistorized, non-adjustable regulator that has a rated output power of 120 W @ 5kmph. Ignition timing is 10° ± 2° BTDC @ 1,400 – 100 RPM (at idle) and 28° ± 2° BTDC @ 3,500 – 100 RPM (full advance).

Furthermore, the thumper has a 10A main fuse, an NGK DRBES-L or Nippon Denso X24ESR-U spark plug with a 0.6–0.7 mm (0.024–0.028 inch) gap, and 12–19 Nm (1.2–1.9 kgf-m, 9–14 ft-lb) torque spec. Depending on model year, it may come equipped with a 12V, 9Ah (’86) or 12V, 7Ah (’87) battery.

The service manual does not specify the specific battery. Fat Cat owners use a YTX9B-BS battery with dimensions 6.00 x 3.44 x 4.00. 19 inches (150 x 87 x 105 mm) or a YTX7A‑BS battery with the following measurements – 6.00 x 3.44 x 3.75 inches (150 x 87 x 94 mm). The latter can fit in an ’86 Fat Cat model but with the help of 10-mm spacers.

Tires & Brakes

TR200’s tire and wheel assembly is one of its strongest features. Honda had Ohtsu create FatCat-exclusive widecontact-patch tires for the stock tires. These tires measured 24.5 x 8.00-11 at front and 23.5x 8.00-11 back. The recommended cold tire pressure for both tires was 30 kPa (0.3% kgf/cm2), 4.3 psi. If you are unable to find the right size tire, you can consider buying a different one. Carlisle AT489C ATV Tires (view on Amazon), which may require changing your rim size.

These high-floating pneumatic knobbies were then mated back and front to the internal expanding shoes, which provided the dirt bike stopping force. The ultra-lightweight drums were used in pre-production models for MX racing. They replaced the fragile, heavier disc rotors. This combination made Fat Cat unbeatable at the races, on the mud and on the dunes.

Suspension

Enclosed in a low-slung, single downtube (semi-double-cradle) chassis (28° caster angle, 95 mm/3.74 inches trail) are 31-mm Telescopic forks and a rear swingarm that offered respective wheel travel of 150 mm (5.9 inches) and 120 mm (4.7 inches). A preload-adjustable rear Piggyback Showa monoshock attaches directly to both the chassis and swingarm.

While many enthusiasts feel that Yamaha’s jackshaft sprocket and dual-shock arrangement is superior to that of Honda, the reverse was true when the TR200 first hit the racetracks. However, following the changes done on the bike after AMA’s 1986 “production rule,” the TR200’s frame design began to offset the benefits of its longer 1,365-mm/53.7-inch wheelbase and 230-mm/9.1-inch ground clearance, rendering it a slower-handling machine when pitted against its rivals.

Dimensions

The Fat Cat’s overall dimensions are 79.5 x 32.3 x 42.3 inches (2,020 x 820 x 1,075 mm – L x W x H). The height of the seat is 755mm/29.7 inches and the height of the footpeg is 310mm/12.2 inches. Dry weight is 120 Kg/264 Lbs. The maximum load weight is 82 kg/180 lbs. This includes cargo, rider weight, accessories, and cargo.

Exterior

Only a single color option exists for the Honda TR200 – Shasta White. Side panels, handlebars and fenders as well as the chassis and wheels, are all in the dominant color. Blue is used for the fuel tank, saddle and fork boots. The orange, yellow, and white “FATCAT” decal is the only thing that spiced up the minibike’s simplistic design.

However, the ergonomics of the handlebars is not the best available on the market. Handlebars are late-generation J. N. Roberts models – gripping them makes one’s arms hang uncomfortably high. It is 31 inches high and feels stiff, despite the contour and cushion.

Honda TR200 Pricing

The Fat Cat’s original list price is $1,498 to $1,998. Depending on the year of the dirtbike and its condition, the retail value can range from $415 to $4,000. You can find bikes in excellent working order on eBay and other trader websites starting at $1,999 Avoid reselling units less than $1,300 as they can often be sold for parts.

You can expect some cosmetic damage to the cheaper units such as dents on the exhaust pipes, cracks in the sprocket covers, and bodypaint peeling or being retouched using spray paint. The more expensive units are in better cosmetic and working condition. You may find some extras such as front and rear load racks and lighting. There might also be add-on instruments like a Trail Tech 752-119 Black Vapor Digital Speedometer (view on Amazon).

Pros and cons


Blue 1987 Honda Fat Cat Bike

The Honda TR200 was fortunate to have its status as a rare vehicle. Its lack of popularity has given it the element to surprise, wowing all who purchase this vintage wheeler. Honda beat Yamaha in suspension by introducing a mono-shock rear suspension. It was well-hidden within its base aesthetic. You can easily personalize the dirt bike with a few spray paints or powder-coating.

The lack of a manual clutch was the biggest downfall of the TR200, especially when compared to its closest contender – the Yamaha BW200/ES. The TR200 created an unbreakable routine for its riders. They grew used to the hand-activated rear brake. This feature isn’t available on larger-displacement twowheelers. It is also extremely difficult to find replacement parts, which makes build projects more expensive than it should be.

Honda

Honda Motor Company Ltd., a Japanese conglomerate well-known for pushing the boundaries of automotive design is Honda Motor Company Ltd. Soichiro Honda, who founded the firm, had his son Hirotoshi follow him. Hirotoshi was responsible for the Honda TR200 Fat Cat Project. Under Hirotoshi’s and his successors’ leadership, Honda has evolved from manufacturing surplus engines in 1946 into a well-respected industry leader and innovator of high-performance motorcycles, electric automobiles, and energy solutions.

Conclusion – Honda TR200 Fat Cat Review

Most riding enthusiasts consider the Honda TR200 an underdog. The truth is that it’s so much more than just what you might think. This bike is an excellent beginner bike that teaches you the fundamentals of handling, cornering, and is also a way to grow your passion for the outdoors. It’s easy to handle and fun to ride makes it a great bike for beginners.

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