The Yamaha Virago was the first V-Twin-powered
cruiser-style motorcycle produced by a Japanese
manufacturer, as well as one of the earliest
mass-produced motorcycles with a single shock
rear suspension. Originally sold with a 750
cc engine in 1981, Yamaha soon added 500 cc
and 920 cc versions.
The bike was redesigned in 1984, switching
from a rear mono-shock to a dual-shock design,
and adding a tear-drop shaped gas tank. That
year, Harley-Davidson, fearful of the inroads
the Virago and other new Japanese cruiser-style
motorcycles, pushed for a tariff on imported
bikes over 700 cc. Yamaha replaced the 750 cc
motor with 699 cc version to avoid the tariff,
while the 920 cc engine grew to 1000 cc, and
later 1100 cc. In the late 1980s a 250 cc Virago
was added. A short production of 125 cc was
also manufactured. [Yamaha made a XV125, XV250,
XV400, XV500, XV535, XV700, XV750, XV1000/TR1,
XV1100. The XV400 being the rarest of the breed.]
The larger-displacement Viragos have since
been phased out of production, replaced by the
V-Star and Road Star series of motorbikes. The
only remaining Virago being produced is the
250 cc model.
According to Motorcyclist magazine, the early
Virago has a design flaw in the starter system.
This magazine states that the starter's defect
exists in early Viragos models (1982 and 1983).
However, the same flawed starter system was
installed in the XV700, which was produced until
1988. The XV1000 had an improved system since
it began production in 1984, which doesn't present
the flaws. Also the XV1100 and the XV750 (1989
and up) do not present the starter system flaws
found in the earlier Viragos. Motorcyclist Magazine
suggested to weld the ring gear to its backing
plate to solve the problem. Other solutions
commonly used are the use of shims, which was
Yamaha's proposed solution, then also the use
of a new designed idler gear. None of this solutions
are considered or proved to be permanent, and
applying only one of them will not address other
existing flaws in the system; however, great
improvements have been reported by Virago owners
that have applied them.
Yamaha Virago 250
The Virago 250 is designed to be an entry-level
cruiser bike, and as of 2006 retails at $3499.
It's considered by most publications and motorcycle
enthusiasts to be a capable road bike with good
handling characteristics and a top speed of
85 mph. The Virago 250 is a step above its 250
competitors due to the v-twin engine. The v-twin
delivers greater torque at low RPMs than the
parallel twins found in other 250s. The v-twin
also has a cooling advantage since four sides
of each cylinder are exposed to airflow. The
v-twin also gives the Virago 250 a deep exhaust
note that parallel twins are incapable of producing.
The Virago 250 is a very economical motorcycle.
With the stock gearing the Virago can return
80+ miles per gallon. A popular upgrade is to
replace the sprockets so that the gearing is
taller. Taller gearing requires less frequent
shifting and returns even better fuel economy.
The Virago 250's v-twin provides sufficient
torque to cope with taller gearing.
In the 2008 model overview, the Virago 250
has been replaced with the V Star 250, but the
specs remain very similar to the Virago 250.