Carbon Fiber wheels for the Virago 250 ?

Carbon Fiber wheels for the Virago 250 ?  BST carbon fiber wheel closeup--

I bought my 2002 Virago 250 for $ 1,200 –  so spending $3,000 to 4,000 for a set of wheels would probably not be a good idea.

With carbon fiber wheels you get better acceleration, better  handling, greatly reduced stopping distance.  You see them mostly on race bikes, a few street bikes, and some custom-made bikes.  And they look incredible.

Hopefully, over time, the prices will drop.

DYMAG Carbon Fiber Race Ultra Lightweight CA5 5 Spoke Motorcycle Wheel--  BST_Generic_5_Slanted_Spoke_Rear_Wheel--

Lighter wheels (at a reasonable price) would improve the performance of the Virago 250 (better acceleration, better  handling, and reduced stopping distance).

A year ago, I looked for alloy wheels for my Virago 250.  I live in the US – we got only the spoked wheels – Yamaha put alloys on some of the Virago 250’s built for other countries.  The only one I found for sale was the “aluminum front wheel for Virago 250” you see on ebay for $114 plus $59 shipping. 

alum front wheel XV250 $114 + $59 shipping--

Polishing and waxing spokes improves the looks and helps prevent rusting

Finally, I gave up on finding alloy wheels and just polished the wire wheels that are on the bike.  Shiny wire wheels look really good with a wider rear tire.

But I would still like to have alloy wheels, or even carbon fiber wheels, if the price was right.

-Les S.

  from Venezuela I think - 125 alloys--  from-viet-nam-virago-250.jpg from Venezuela -  1995 alloy wheelsLifan 250--

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Virago 250 exhaust – low cost 2-to-2 conversion

I just converted my Virago 250 exhaust from  2-to-1   to   2-to-2.

[for details. please see the  “Exhaust”  page]

2-to-2 for XV250 - the fake chrome pipe is not fake anymore

2-to-2 for XV250 – the fake chrome pipe is not fake anymore

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Vertical Twin or any bike that vibrates too much – an easy fix !

“My other bike” is a 1981 Honda CM400 – six inch bolt  step 5
a vertical twin.

Some vertical twins vibrate  a lot.  My CM400 was smooth at 55 mph, but starting about 60 mph you would get more vibrations through the handlebars.    On my 1.5 hour commute, the vibration would put my right hand to sleep.

When I took off the stock bars and put on lower ones, it got worse – the aftermarket bars were thinner/lighter.  Changing grips did not help much.  Adding weights to the bars helped some.

Yesterday I rubber mounted the upper engine mount on the CM400.  This morning I went up on I95 to test it.  The difference was unbelievable –  rubber-mounting the upper engine mount cut most of the vibration felt through the handlebars.  It felt like a different bike (I have never even gone 80 mph (before today) on this bike.)

I bought this bike in 2009 and I can’t believe I did not think of this until now.

I just used an old motorcycle inner tube – fold it to make two layers.

In order, here is what goes on each side of the two upper bolts of the upper engine mount: thin metal washer, rubber (two layers), bracket, rubber (two layers).  If the rubber or washers are too thick, the bolt will be too short.

In order, here is what goes on each side of the lower bolt of the upper engine mount: thin metal washer, rubber (two layers), bracket,rubber (two layers), thin washer.  The last thin washer is very important as it goes against the center mount tube.  The center tube mounting tube is very thin, so the contact point with the rubber would not be enough –  a thin metal washer is required.   If the rubber or washers are too thick, the bolt will be too short.  The stock bolt is about 4.25 inches long, if you buy a bolt about 6 inches long, you can use four layers of rubber instead of two.  I am going to try this next.

I used a  3/8 inch x 6 inch  long bolt.  It was 7/8″ longer than needed, which leaves room if I want to add more rubber pieces.  A  3/8 x 5 inch bolt would work, if you use thin washers.  I added more rubber pieces so now the lower bolt has four layers of rubber.

A good size for the rubber pieces is 1 to 1.5 inches diameter – round.  Make a hole that will easily slip over the 3/8″ bolt.

The metal washers should be 1 inch or slightly bigger.

A perfect choice would be 1.25 inch round rubber pieces and 1.25 inch metal washers.

Do not over tighten the lower bolt – lightly snug is good – use two nuts on the lower bolt.


What to use for rubber washers/rubber discs:

choice 1)..  The best choice is probably  Sorbothane vibration absorbing material.  (Thanks to Mike Johnson for the info – I never heard of it before.)  I will probably try some later, but if you know me, I have to wait because of the cost. I found a 12 pack of one inch OD/.45 inch ID Sorbothane discs for $16.95 – I think shipping was extra.

choice 2)..  A good second choice is a dense, hard rubber.

choice 3)..  Motorcycle inner tube is a good third choice.  Bicycle inner tubes are thin but maybe OK if you use four or more layers.  If you can find used semi truck tubes, they are great.

choice 4)..  An old mouse pad or  diving suit (thanks David Thomas) will work fine, but in maybe six months it could become compressed and will be less effective at reducing vibration.

You can buy rubber discs at Home Depot and Lowes, but it is easy to make them yourself.  The key thing is to make a good center hole. Use a single hole punch, the kind you would use to punch holes in paper.

If you do not have a single hole punch, you can make a punch out of  something hollow and about 8 mm  in diameter, and sharpen the outside edge.  Place the punch over the rubber and hit it with a hammer.  If you did not cut it all the way around, just hold the punch at a slight angle so you can focus the hammer impact on the part that needs to be cut.

After the center hole has been punched, just use scissors the make the outside edge of the rubber washer.  The first one you make will probably look pretty good, and the ones you make after that will be looking almost like you bought them.  Make a bunch up in advance – so you will have them when you need them.


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The best new bike for you might be parked outside already

The last part of my route home from work is I-95 North (from exit 15 to exit 33). Around Bridgeport (exit 26/27) the highway goes to 4 lanes – even 5 lanes in spots.  I think I learned how to survive on a motorcycle here – it goes from high speed to stopped, lane changes from any direction, a few aggressive drivers – on a motorcycle you need to be a really wide-awake driver, or your name shows up in the newspaper.

When the wind blows the bike around, I like feeling the power of mother nature – it reminds you who is in charge.  It’s fun, and only maybe once out of a 100 times, I feel like I am in danger.  Around exit 29, you can get the bad wind – the kind that goes from side to side. After I go over the bridge in Bridgeport, I always instinctively brace myself – I even do it when I am in my car.

On my commute home (I-95 N), after the bridge in Bridgeport, the speed finally picks up – 70 to 75 mph or more.  Now that I have 17/38 sprockets, I have been running faster through there than I normally do. From exit 30 to 32, the highway has lines of ruts that are not good for small motorcycles.  Going home Thursday, I think I hit every one of them.  I love my Virago 250, but my logical side immediately started with the “Why are you putting yourself through this?”

When I got home I found myself looking online at used bikes that I thought would ride better than mine. I want my next bike to have at least some of these: ABS, fuel injection, shaft drive, easy to work on, less than $4,000, and be interesting and sound good (so I’m excluding singles and most vertical twins for now). In order, my list was:  1) later model Moto Guzzi 750 Stone in white,  2) K75,   3) Triumph T100.

Moto Guzi V7 Stone - 2013 - white--   1987 BMW K-75T


By the end of the weekend, I had come to my senses and realized I already had a great bike.

The Virago 250 has a weak rear brake – I call it “poor man’s ABS” .  I recently put on new rear brake shoes, and last Thursday I heard a chirp on a hard stop on a bridge.  It is the  first time I ever locked the rear wheel, and it was just a quick chirp – the kind that cars with ABS sometimes make on sudden stops.  Cars with ABS do that.

[fuel injection]
The Virago 250 has one fairly simple carburetor – mine has always started easily and has had no issues with performance when cold (or hot).  For me the single carburetor has been more trouble-free than twin carb bikes I have owned.

[shaft drive] 
The Virago 250 has chain drive – I have a cheap o-ring chain – it has been problem free and seldom requires adjustment.

[easy to work on]
It would be very hard to find a motorcycle easier to work on than a Virago 250.

[be interesting and sound good]
The sound a Virago 250 makes is hypnotic/unbelievably cool.

[comfortable ride]
For the bumps and ruts near I-95 exits 30 to 32, I need to slow down and try harder to avoid hitting them. I can make my bike ride better by not hitting the bumps.

The grass is not always greener on the other side.

Les S.'s 2002 Virago 250

Les S.’s 2002 Virago 250

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17/38 sprockets made my Virago 250 faster – higher gearing is not always slower

I just changed (from 17/40) to 17/38 sprockets and drove it to work today with 17/38 for the first time.

As expected, it ”moves up” the speed range for each gear.  If you used to go 35 to 50 mph in 4th gear, for example, now you would go 40 to 55 mph.  A lot of my commute is 50 mph and hilly, so I was in 4th gear a lot where I used to be in 5th gear.  Fourth gear is more comfortable than before at 50 to 55 mph – 5th gear is less comfortable at 50 to 55 mph.  Fifth does not climb hills as easily as before.

So basically with 17/38 you stay in lower gears than before and use 5th more for highway use.

In my opinion,  17/38 is the proper stock setup, and 17/40 is good if your carry a passenger, have heavy accessories, or your engine is not running at it’s best.

Sunstar[divider]   steel 38T Virago 250 rear sprocket $31.46 shipped step 1 (lumin wild) - Copy--

Not expected – Here is what I found out that I did not expect:

17/38 makes the Virago 250 slower faster

It would be easy to think that higher gearing (17/38) would result in slower acceleration – it does not, since you are usually in a lower gear. Since I was driving in lower gears, the bike felt like it had more acceleration today – it felt like it had more horsepower. I was driving in lower gears than normal, revving the engine more, and driving harder than normal.  I got 71.7 mpg the first day (includes some test rides) and 77.2 mpg the second day (my recent average was 79.1 mpg)

1 HEADER step 8 - vincent


With 17/38 sprockets, 5th gear on the Virago 250 is most usable above 60 mph.

Torque Curve chart - Virago 250 (stp12)

Miles per hour
The Virago 250 greatest torque (between 4500 and 6200 rpm) is this road speed (indicated) in 5th gear:
17/38/130/stock front tire         59 to 81.1 mph

17/38/130/larger front tire         56.4 to 77.6  mph

17/38/140/stock front tire         60.9 to 83.7 mph

17/38/140/larger front tire         58.3 to 80.1 mph

Kilometres per hour
The Virago 250 greatest torque (between 4500 and 6200 rpm) is this road speed (indicated) in 5th gear:
17/38/130/stock front tire         95 to 130.5 kph

17/38/130/larger front tire         90.8 to 124.9 kph

17/38/140/stock front tire         98 to 134.7 kph

17/38/140/larger front tire         93.8 to 128.9 kph

    [stock front tire  3.00×18     —    “larger” front tire   100/90-18]   

1 HEADER step11 royal_enfield    _v-twin_exhaust


That ↑ was the good news.

Now here is the bad news.

17/38 works so well because you can be in a lower gear – except over 65 to 70 – when you are in top gear.  Fifth gear does not climb hills as easily as before and strong headwinds affect the bike more – this is expected, but is still a downside of 17/38 – “less power” over 65 to 70 mph (because you can be only in 5th gear).

Fifth gear with 17/40 is a little stronger that 17/38.  A six-speed transmission would be cool – on the highway, you could choose to travel in either 5th or 6th gear – depending on the wind, hills, and other conditions.

For me, with 17/38 I have  more power less than 65 mph (because I can be in a lower gear) and  less power over 65 mph (5th gear).

The Virago 250 is still very good on the highway for a 250cc bike – and it has a great midrange torque for  a 250.

  Update August 5, 2013 – This morning there was a strong headwind coming to work.  Now that I have a 38 tooth rear sprocket, in 5th gear, it was bogging – reminding me of my CB160.  When I got to work, I kept thinking that I should have gotten a 39 tooth rear sprocket instead…………..


Virago 250 rear sprocket data

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Out of gas – but now I know how far I can go on reserve

I95 southern CT--

Today I let my Virago 250 run out of gas on purpose.
I carried some spare fuel so I could do this.
If you were on I-95N in Norwalk, CT, (in bumper to bumper traffic) about 5:00 PM today – yes, that was me.

Virago 250 gas tank - Les S (cartnpic2)

If you refill to a level about one
inch from the top, the usable capacity
of the Virago 250 tank is 2.34 gallons.

Tank capacity   2.34 gallons total
1.68 gallons Main         .66 gallons Reserve

I do not always fill the tank that high – so keep in mind that if you don’t fill to about an inch from the top, it won’t hold as much.  For example, your usable capacity might be 2.2 gallons.

Virago 250 range in miles (chart2 - paper01 border)

Virago 250 range in kilometers

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Virago 250 speeds-in-gears charts 17/38 and 17/40

  See end of post for  paper tachometer overlay  you can print out and put on your Virago 250 speedometer.

I was driving to work this morning and I just happened to notice that my exhaust note was an “E” pitch at an indicated 50 mph in 4th gear.

The “E” is 82.407 Hz; multiplied by 60 equals 4,944.42 rpm.
(Hertz multiplied by 60 equals rpm.)

Using this information, I made new Virago 250 speeds-in-gears charts.

(Speeds-in-gears charts already exist for the Virago 250, but I did not know if these charts were corrected for speedometer error.  My 2002 Virago 250 speedometer is 6.8% optimistist, and these charts reflect that.)

XV250 speeds in gears - 17 Front - 38 Rear


XV250 speeds in gears - 17 Front - 40 Rear


Once you have the above chart for your sprocket combination, it is easy to “make your own tach” by carefully sticking tiny numbers on the face of your speedometer.  You can fit gears 3 and 4 below the mph area, gears 1 and 2 above the mph area (on the left side of the chrome trim ring) and gear 5 above the mph area (on the right side of the chrome trim ring).  Having the 5 gears in three different sections of the speedometer make it easier to follow, as opposed to have all 5 together.  You need only numbers 4 and 6 (for 4,000 rpm and 6,000 rpm) and then you can just put in dots for the 3, 5, and 7.  How does it work?  I don’t know yet – it rained today……  (edit – it rained tomorrow, too).

Two methodsindividual numbers, or an overlay. You can stick-on individual numbers, or you can add an overlay – see below.  The individual numbers are probably better if your vision is not so great.  The overlay is not as easy to read, but if your vision is really good, you might like it.  The overlay would be better is the numbers were bigger and if you put it inside the speedometer – that way, it would not hide the speedometer needle and it would be out of the elements.

My theme for this bike is “low-budget functional” – so I could not buy a tach.  I try to make parts whenever I can.  Sometimes my experiments work out and sometimes they don’t.  If it does work out, I might take the speedometer apart and put the tiny numbers on the actual faceplate.  This would be easier to do and easier to read – since now I am putting the numbers on the glass, which is maybe 10 mm above the faceplate so with different viewing angles, you get slightly different results.  (The term is “parallax error” – I just try to avoid using big words.  When I lived in Kentucky, I got a job at an electronics store, and Tim and Mark made me sell cameras instead of the “fun” stuff – that is where I learned that.)

Most people would just buy a tach if they wanted one – this idea is for someone who is short on funds.  It is easy to read (once you get used to it) and is accurate.

XV250 speedometer marked for rpm

XV250 speedometer marked for rpm


white tach face for xv250 speedo 17-40 stock front tire (step8-220x192)

(Oh, I did not know about gauge overlays until a few minutes ago…..)
Here are two overlays for the Virago 250 speedometer for 17/40 sprockets and stock front tire.  The outside numbers are 1st gear rpm.  The innermost numbers are 5th gear rpm.
I have to print it from “Paint” to get the right size – the printed area should measure 2 1/16 inches or 53 mm wide.

(same scale as above jpg)

(same scale as above jpg)

Cut off the blank areas so all that all that is left is mostly the numbers.
Yellow highlight the 2nd gear range.  Green highlight the 4th gear range (don’t cover up the numbers).  At this point, it will look something like this:
white-tach-face-for-xv250-speedo-17-40-stock-front-tire-step8-220x192-- --
If you tape it on the glass of your speedo in just the right position for your sprocket combination, it will be accurate.  For example, for 17/40, position it so that 5,000 rpm in 3rd gear lines up with 40 mph  (17/38 would be 42 mph).  After I use it a while, I will post a more accurate one, but this one is fairly accurate.

(If your friends laugh at it, tell them the no-cost paper tachometer is more accurate than the bike’s speedometer.)


  edit 6/13/13 – The idea above ↑   is for someone who is short on funds or just wants to have a tach’s function without paying for it.  Of course, a real tachometer – a round one –  would be better…..

Bobster’s Virago 250 with tach

Bobster’s Virago 250 with tach

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