First ride of the year

2002 Yamaha Virago 250 - Les S.

2002 Yamaha Virago 250 – Les S.

09 March 2013 – First ride of the year

• Today I went for my first ride in a few months.

38 inches of snow - the two big lumps are cars (09 Feb 2013 blizzard Stratford CT)

38 inches of snow – the two big lumps are cars (09 Feb 2013 blizzard Stratford CT)

I live in the northeastern US – we got 38 inches of
snow a few weeks ago – so I am really ready for spring.
It started right up!  I have been cranking it every
month or two, but I was still impressed.  I have
to remind myself not to bother to pull the plugs or touch the carb this year.  I added a thermometer last year  – a cool thing to have on a bike – and it read  56° or 57° on the ride.  I have a carb heater indicator light and the carb heaters were “on” the whole time.

Virago 250 - rear carb heater wire is marked red-purple - front carb heater is red-yellow

Virago 250 – rear carb heater wire is marked red-purple – front carb heater is red-yellow

The Virago 250 carb heater  sensor functions like a simple on-off switch and is set to turn “ON”at about  52° F or 11.1 C  and “OFF” at 58° F  or  14.4°C.  So at  52°F and below  the carb heaters are “on”   – and at  53° F (11.7°C) or higher  they are “off”. My bike has two carb heaters – combined they use about 50 watts – my voltage meter drops from 13.3 volts to 12.8 volts when the carb heaters are “on”.

 • I just put on a smaller tire, but I do not think I could tell a difference on this first ride. With the 130 tire, the bike should be faster due to the 4.5 lbs less weight, 3% lower gear ratio, plus the weight is  rotating weight – which is the most beneficial weight-reduction thing you can do.  It felt solid – I think some people are hyped by a larger tire (I was) and they believe that it gives a better, safer ride, but I am not sure – the 140 has maybe a 13mm [1/2 inch] wider footprint, but the load weight per inch would be lower, so you might not necessarily get a better, safer ride.  This might not be a valid comparison, but sometimes when you go from a narrow tire to a wider tire, on muddy roads the wider tire actually makes things worse, because the skinnier tire gets more weight per inch.

130/90-15 Kenda on Virago 250 wheel

130/90-15 Kenda on Virago 250 wheel

• The ride felt  “just like old times” – maybe I felt “safe” because I drove it a lot of miles last year.  Sometimes when I ride a bike for the first time after a long winter, it feels a little strange.
•  For a test ride, I usually turn around at the commuter lot before Rt 15.  But when I got there, I just kept right on going.  I kept heading north on Rt 110 until I got to Shelton, then I turned around.  That’s what happens, when you ride a motorcycle……

• Before I got this bike, I wondered if the 250 would be too slow for me.  The weird thing is, about  95% of the time, the Virago 250 never feels slow or underpowered to me.  Maybe because of the good mid-range torque, or maybe because the engine is so responsive, or maybe because I subconsciously (unconsciously?) cut it a little slack for being only 250cc.  I am  almost never at full throttle, and it always seems like I am just an  easy twist away  from speeding.  On my CB160 at age 16, I had it wide open all the time.  I am a lot heavier now, so my Virago 250 is only about 10% faster than my CB160 was.

Big Bike vs. Little Bike – opinion.   Here is my opinion on the big bike vs. little bike question.

Safer – lower top speeds
1).. Little bikes are safer than big bikes in that they won’t do the really high top speeds, which is dangerous.

Less safe – stability
2).. Little bikes are more dangerous than big bikes when you compare the stability of most larger bikes.

More challenging to drive – less acceleration
3).. Little bikes are more challenging than big bikes to drive because you don’t have a lot of power to get you out of situations – you have to plan ahead when wanting to pass someone. (In the olden days I drove 36hp and 40hp Volkswagens, so I had to learn about planning ahead and building up speed and using your momentum when you want to pass another car.)

Virago 250 power:  challenging but not frustrating
4).. The low power of the Virago 250 is challenging, but not low enough to be frustrating – it does 0-60 in 10.5 to 11 seconds, so it is about as fast as the average car – so if you are driving aggressively, and the person in the car is not, you can usually out-accelerate them.

Virago 250 power:  not under-powered enough to be dangerous
5).. The low power makes it more challenging to drive, but not more frustrating, and not more dangerous – 11 seconds 0-60 does not make a vehicle more dangerous, and 100 hp does not make a motorcycle safer.  Some people use the “powerful bike is safer” as an excuse to get a big bike, but in my opinion, it is not a valid argument.  I am guilty, too – and I have to use that excuse when/if I get a different bike in 3 ½ years ….

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1 Response to First ride of the year

  1. I have learned in my life that it more fun to drive a slower bike fast then a fast bike slow. There is no such thing as a bike that is to slow or underpowered, there are just different bikes with many different uses. Keep it upright.

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