15 YEARS OF VIRAGOS

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ViragoJoe
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15 YEARS OF VIRAGOS

#1 Postby ViragoJoe » Tue Oct 11, 2016 10:19 am

Fifteen Years of Viragos
Since 1981, Providing That Unique American Style

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By Tom Fortune, Contributing Editor [for motorcycle.com]. The following article was taken from http://www.motorcyle.com.

Heritage - mention this word to a crowd of motorcyclists, and Harley-Davidson usually comes to mind. Mention Yamaha to that same crowd, and look out for a fight. But Yamaha has been slowly building a heritage of its own around their Virago line of cruisers. The 1981 Virago 750 was the original V-twin cruiser from Japan, and 15 years later it is still, arguably, the most popular Japanese bike in what has become an American styling tradition.

Back in the mid to late 1970's a new style of motorcycle began appearing on the American scene - the Custom. Tired of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle look, owners were personalizing their bikes themselves. But US-based stylists for the Big Four kept noticing the popularity of one home-grown look - the chopper. High, pull-back handlebars, brightly chromed exhaust pipes, stepped seats with sissy bars and extended front forks were the rage among customizers. The stylists pleaded with Japan to offer this flair in a "factory" package. Hence the Customs and Specials were born. Based on the Standard models, Customs provided the rider with extra styling touches like spoked wheels, plush stepped seats and two-tone paint jobs. They were an instant success, often out-selling the Standard models they were based on. But, of course, the most popular bike to customize continued to be Harley-Davidsons.

During that nascent period, Yamaha's Manager of Motorcycle Product Planning in the U.S. was Ed Burke. Burke's research found that although riders loved the look of the UJM-based Customs, they also wished to have the appearance and power characteristics of an air-cooled V-twin, but at a better price. So Burke, working closely with Yamaha's engine designer "Hap" Ueno, headed up a new project and together they developed something very unique. The design centered around a 75-degree V-twin with an offset rear cylinder. They figured this layout would offer the optimum balance of wheelbase, weight bias, and vibration control while providing improved cooling for the rear cylinder -- Harley-Davidson cylinders are not offset -- they share a crankpin with fork-and-tongue connecting rods (one rod is normal and the other is forked on the end so it has two journals and resides on the same centerline as the other rod).

So in 1981, the XV750 Virago was born. Quite a departure from any previous Japanese design, the Virago became the first mass-produced street bike to use a single shock rear suspension. Other unique styling touches Burke incorporated into the original design were low-maintenance shaft drive, air-adjustable forks, cast aluminum wheels, and of course, lots of Custom features - low-slung frame, high handlebars, steppped seat, and plenty of chrome. To give the Virago motor that "open air" look, the engine was hung from the stamped-steel backbone frame in stressed-member fashion. The unusual frame also doubled as an airbox, housing the air filter. It was an immediate sales hit, one that continues today. And it was the start of a importer's phenomenon - the V-twin cruiser - that had all the other manufacturers following suit.

Over the ensuing years, the Virago has undergone several notable changes. In 1982, Yamaha introduced a larger version of the 750, the XV920 Virago. The 920 offered several deluxe features not found on the 750, such as dual front discs, adjustable handlebars, and liquid-crystal display gauges. In 1983, the baby of the family was introduced, the XV500 Virago. The 750 and 920 Viragos each came in a Midnight version for 1983, replete with high-gloss black paint, and blacked-out engines with gold accents. The troublesome liquid-crystal display on the 920 was replaced with more traditional analog gauges.

Yamaha brought about a major redesign for both the 750 and 920 Viragos in 1984. Riders wanted the bikes to have even more custom styling features - like more chrome and even more of a "chopper-like" appearance. So the air filters were moved outboard of the engine and chrome air cleaner covers were mounted over top. The mono-shock rear suspension was scrapped in favor of exposed, dual shocks with bright chrome springs and bodies that actually worked much better than the mono-shock ever did. The gauges were enlarged for improved readability, and a "teardrop" gas tank completed the styling make-over. 1984 was also the first year of the Harley-induced U.S. government tariff regulations, and the 750 Virago was reduced to 699cc to squeak in under the tariff cutoff. Conversely, the 920 Virago was enlarged to a full 1000cc, and a secondary, one-half gallon fuel tank was added under the seat to bolster its small 3.3 gallon main tank.

The Viragos remained unchanged until 1986, when the 1000 was bumped up in displacement to 1,063cc and renamed the XV1100 Virago. The secondary fuel tank was eliminated and the main tank enlarged to 4.4 gallons. 1987 saw the littlest Virago grow to 535cc, and in 1988 the motorcycle import tariff was rescinded, allowing the return of the 750cc Virago. Other than the introduction of new paint schemes every couple of years, Yamaha hasn't changed the Virago since. And why should they? The classic -- dare we say traditional -- lines of the Virago series have amassed quite a following in its 15 years, spawning the Virago Owners Club along the way, and has become one of the most popular cruiser bikes in history.

Paul's note: The Virago's big bore 1984 style series has a total production history of 16 years. In 1998, the 750cc Virago was discontinued and in 2000, the 1100cc Virago was discontiued. 1999 was the last year you could acquire such a beautiful bike new off the show room floor. Currently, Yamaha has chosen to abandon the Virago's styling in favor of their new retro Harley clone "STAR" line of motorcycles. The Virago's 1100cc engine can still be found in modified form on the Yamaha V-Star.


ViragoJoe
1996 XV1100SH Virago Special
"Never ride faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!!"



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Rob
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Re: 15 YEARS OF VIRAGOS

#2 Postby Rob » Thu Nov 10, 2016 5:01 am

Hey Joe. I finally got around to reading this post. Thanks for putting it up. I had no idea the star series was the Virago's basic continuance. The only thing the article writer left out was information about the much smaller 250. I am once again going to try to set back some funds this off season. I am either going to try for another 750 that is 88+ or maybe look into a 250. The only reason being lighter weight. I think we discussed this before but can't remember. I need to pull up the gross weight for both to see how much a difference there is. I will throw a post up about the differences once I really get a chance to compare them. Crazy politics in the news... Hillary supporters acting like children.. The news is so ridiculous sometimes. Take it easy.


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Re: 15 YEARS OF VIRAGOS

#3 Postby ViragoJoe » Fri Dec 02, 2016 7:50 am

"I need to pull up the gross weight for both to see how much a difference there is. "

I did a quick comparison:

2008 V Star 250:
302 Lbs. Dry weight
21 H.P.
Fuel Economy 78 MPG
85 MPH Top Speed depending on riders weight and equipment.

1985 Virago 750:
496 Lbs. Dry weight
524.7 Lbs. Wet weight
50 H.P.
Fuel Economy 64 MPG.
1/4 mile 13.8 sec's., 89.8 MPH
111.1 MPH Top speed depending on riders weight and equipment.


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1996 XV1100SH Virago Special
"Never ride faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!!"

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Re: 15 YEARS OF VIRAGOS

#4 Postby Rob » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:27 pm

That is a considerable bit lighter. The fuel saving is nice but what a hit in HP.
sending you a PM


If this website was helpful please consider donating to help keep this site here for future Virago owners. Even if it is only $1 as every dollar counts. ;)

We accept donations using either money, Bitcoin or Litecoin.

To donate using PayPal HERE

Use this address for Bitcoin donations.
1M39KDJ4YsmaoZcyybK4421sPcYxnGFv7M

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If you are looking for service manuals for working on a Yamaha Virago we have them available for download HERE

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Re: 15 YEARS OF VIRAGOS

#5 Postby Rutigliano » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:49 pm

Can't believe Virago has been on the market for 15 years, 16 almost. I remember seeing the first model at a dealership like it was yesterday.



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Re: 15 YEARS OF VIRAGOS

#6 Postby ViragoJoe » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:28 pm

Rutigliano wrote:Can't believe Virago has been on the market for 15 years, 16 almost. I remember seeing the first model at a dealership like it was yesterday.


Yup, time flies when you are having fun. Been 19 years that they stopped making the 1100's. The 250's had a much longer run as a Star model.


ViragoJoe
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Re: 15 YEARS OF VIRAGOS

#7 Postby geezyrider » Thu May 10, 2018 10:08 am

Maybe you can help me. I see no way to make a post. I am a new member. Geezyrider


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And the Sun be on Your shoulder.
Don't You ever that Cruising.
Even when You get much older

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ViragoJoe
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Re: 15 YEARS OF VIRAGOS

#8 Postby ViragoJoe » Thu May 10, 2018 11:56 am

geezyrider wrote:Maybe you can help me. I see no way to make a post. I am a new member. Geezyrider


geez,
You should be able to post now.

This is why you weren't able to post in the beginning:
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=674&p=1845#p1845

Now you can post. Welcome aboard!


ViragoJoe
1996 XV1100SH Virago Special
"Never ride faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!!"




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