Make your Virago 250 faster – take off the weight

There are four ways to do this:

1) Do not buy accessories unless you really need them.

2) If you do buy accessories, make sure they are lightweight.

3) Take things off the bike.

4) Lose weight yourself.

– Adding weight when improving bike’s aerodynamics is “OK”
– Things that rotate are the best items to reduce in weight.  The weight on the outer edge of things that rotate are the most important, for example – reducing tire weight is more beneficial than reducing sprocket weight.

The constant mind-set for weight reduction
You should always consider the weight impact on anything you do to the bike. Even removing small amounts of weight is a good thing – they can add up.  The part of the front sprocket cover that I cut off weighs 2 ounces.  The left plastic cover (covers the voltage regulator) that I do not use any more weighs 3 ounces.  The metal that I trimmed off the triple tree when I was enlarging the carrying capacity weighs 1 ounce.  If this was all that I did, it would not help, but constantly keeping in mind the idea to reduce weight is what is important.  The next thing I remove might weigh a lot more than those.  I never removed the bracket for the rear brake pedal when I originally did the footpeg move – I finally removed it and it weighs 1.5 lbs (.68 kg).

The stock Virago 250 exhaust system weighs 13.6 pounds or 6.2 kg and consists of 3 parts – the front pipe/muffler assembly is 11.0 pounds or 5 kg, the rear chrome non-functional pipe is 1 pound, and the rear black functional pipe is 1.6 pounds. The mod described in the 8/31/11 posting: “The cheap Virago 250 exhaust system mod” reduces the exhaust system weight by 5.6 pounds – after the mod the exhaust system weight is 8 pounds or 3.6 kg.

On my Virago 250, I removed the passenger footpegs and mounting plates. The downside is that you can see a lot of the muffler parts that the footpeg plates cover up. But it makes that area easier to clean and reduces the bike’s weight by 4.3 lbs.

Items that I removed (and did not replace) include:
passenger seat + bracket – weight 1.6 lbs or .73 kg (I just reinstalled this to hold tail bag)
helmet lock – weight 4.8 oz
left chrome pod – weight 11.2 oz
sissybar + backrest – weight 2.9 lbs or 1.3 kg
left passenger footpeg assembly – weight 1.9 lbs
right passenger footpeg assembly – weight 2.4 lbs
chrome head covers – weight 2.56 pounds or 1.16 kg (for all 4 pieces)
mounting plate for rear brake pedal and the two 2.5″ bolts – weight 1.5 lbs

Items that I removed and replaced with lighter parts include:
front footpegs – weight 1.3 lbs or .6 kg
air filter assembly – weight 1.2 lbs + element (replaced with new air filter 9.0 oz)
replaced bars – reduced weight by about 1.5 lbs
shifter assembly – weight 3.5 lbs (replaced with shifter weighing 0.4 lbs)
I also removed the sidestand which is 1.5 lbs and I added a centerstand (4.3 lbs).
Stock Virago 250 10 amp battery replaced with  8 amp AGM battery – weight 4.3 kg vs 2.9 kg  (9.5 lbs vs 6.4 lbs).
(before this, I experimented with a 4 amp lithium battery – weight 4.3 kg vs 0.24 kg  or 9.5 lbs vs 8.4 ounces).
In the future – I want to convert my rear wheel to tubeless and replace my 140/90-15 Pirelli (17.1 lbs + tube) with a 130/90-15 Kenda Challenger (12.5 lbs) – weight reduction about 5 lbs.

I used to keep my raincoat (2.2 lbs) on the bike, but now I removed it and I bring it only when it might rain.

Other things that could be done
Remove 4.3 lb centerstand and use a 1.5 lb portable centerstand – but what I made so far is not working so good.
(I do not use side-stands.)
Replace steel 40T rear sprocket with 38T sprocket – steel or aluminum – maybe drill steel one for lightness

Racing chain (less weight) – 3.5 lbs compared to my current 0-ring chain 4.5 lbs

Weight watch – my 2002 Virago 250 – Les S.

The weight of my bike now with a full tank is about 129 kg or 284 lbs.
So far, I have reduced the bike’s weight by about 18 kg or 40 lbs.

This reduces the 0-to-60 mph time from 10.8 seconds to 10.2 seconds.
(Losing 20 more lbs would reduce the 0 to 60 mph time to 9.9 seconds.)
These are calculated – but I am going to time it soon.

Under a Virago 250…………


-Les S.

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Gas mileage watch –  my 2002 Virago 250 – 17/39 sprockets – Les S.

In the month of July 2011, I went 808 miles, using 8.75 gal, for 92.4 mpg.

In the month of July 2012, I went 896 miles, using 11.07 gal, for 81.0 mpg.  (Possible cause of less mpg in 2012:  in 2011 bike was more streamlined, I did some hypermiling, tires were 32F/39R, and in 2012 I adjusted the carburetor and tires are much lower pressure than 2011.)

In the month of August 2012 so far, I went 1,053 miles, using 13.08 gal, for 80.5 mpg.

My commute is hiways and two lane roads 45 to 65 mph with some hills.  I use premium fuel 93 octane.

Motorcycle Aerodynamics –  Streamlining

update 9/12/12  Last week I was getting about 82.8 mpg.   I re-installed the passenger seat, and started back using a tail bag – both for better aerodynamics.  After doing this plus filling the tires, this week I got 85.7 mpg.

update 9/23/12   I added an enclosure behind the tail bag to improve the streamlining effect.  The enclosure (385 cubic inches) can be used for storage.  Storage capacity on the bike is now 4,385 cubic inches (2,500 fairing + 1,500 tailbag + 385 rear aero enclosure).  I have driven the bike to work once and the tailbag and rear enclosure have definitely made the bike faster.  There was one long hill I went up in 5th gear that I had never been able to use 5th before.

A lot of drag is caused by the empty space right behind the driver – adding something to fill in that space (tapered in back) can help.  Last year I had a 21 inch (533mm) highaero box and I was getting 94 mpg.

The tailbag/rear enclosure that I have now is 17 inches deep, 14 inches high, 13 inches front width, and 4.25 inches rear width.  (432mm D x 356mm H x 330 mm front width x 108 mm rear width)

If you are interested in motorcycle aerodynamics, the Virago 250 is a great bike for aerodynamic mods.  Check out the Bob Vetter site and

Today’s Completely Random Fact:

Car 33 mpg,    bike1  66 mpg ,   bike2  99 mpg

In October 2011, I drove 3 different vehicles to work (94 miles round trip).  In the same week I got 33.3 mpg with my car, 66.4 mpg with my 1981 Honda CM400, and 99.1 mpg with my Virago 250.

(My wife has always said “no” to me getting a moped – which is too bad, because the next interval would have been 132 mpg.)

Motorcycle tires can lose their air much faster than car tires.

I just checked my tires and they were low (25 psi Front / 9 psi Rear).

For better gas mileage, I normally run 32F/38R.

With a larger rear tire, you can reduce your pressure about 10% – so 32F/38R with a 130 rear tire would be about 32F/34R with a 140 rear tire.

That is one of the benefits of a larger rear tire – you can run a little lower pressure and get a softer ride.

update 8/29/12  I drove the XV250 to work today for the first time since I added air to the tires. It felt like it had about 2 more horsepower – I went up 8 or 10 hills in 5th gear that usually require 4th.

The factory recommended  tire pressure is:

Up to 90 KG (198 lbs) load :

25 PSI Front / 29 PSI Rear with 130 rear tire

(approx 25F/ 26R with 140 rear tire)

Over 90 KG (198 lbs) load :

29 PSI Front / 32 PSI Rear with 130 rear tire

(approx 29F/ 29R with 140 rear tire)

9/13/12 – As of today, I have now gone  10,000 miles  on my 2002 Virago 250.  I have owned it for 18 months.

This is my 10th bike (my others were 160, 350, 400, 450, and 650 cc’s) and it continues to amaze me every day.

Do you wave to people on motorcycles? I do it most of time; sometimes the traffic is too heavy for me to do it. I even wave to people on scooters and mopeds – 8 out of 10 times they do not return the wave as they are not accustomed to being waved to.

To be continued  …………..   – Les S.

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Voltage regulator TEMPERATURE – Virago 250 – Does yours run too hot?

Voltage regulator TEMPERATURE  – Virago 250 –  Mine stays cool if bike is moving, but gets too hot in stop-and-go traffic or idling.

I recently added a temperature gauge to my Virago 250 voltage regulator.

The voltage regulator on some Virago 250’s runs too hot – it is good to be below  120° F or 47° C.  At this temperature, it will burn you if you hold your hand on it for a few seconds.


At 79° F ambient – on the highway at 65 mph, the voltage regulator ran at 106° F to 109° F.

When I slowed down it went up to 112° F.

When it became breezier, it went down to 103° F.

At 70° F ambient – at 50 mph, it ran at 93° to 96° F.

At short red lights, it went up about 5 degrees F.

At longer red lights, it went up about 10 degrees F.

Highest reading:

– when moving over 50 mph:  125° F  (ambient 88° F)

– in stop-and-go traffic:   152° F  (ambient 88° F)

Lowest reading:

– when moving over 50 mph:  86° F (ambient 66° F)

Do not idle the Virago 250 for more than about a minute, if possible.

The voltage regulator will get too hot – idling for 3 minutes it will go up to 142 degrees F or more.


At 26° C ambient – on the highway at 65 mph, the voltage regulator ran at 41° C to 43° C.

When I slowed down it went up to 44.4° C.

When it became breezier, it went down to 39.4° C.

At 21° C ambient – at 80 kph, it ran at 34.0° C to 35.6° C.

At short red lights, it went up about -15 degrees C.

At longer red lights, it went up about -12.2 degrees C.

Highest reading:

– when moving over 80 kph:   52° C (ambient 31° C)

– in stop-and-go traffic:    67° C  (ambient 31° C)

Lowest reading:

– when moving over 80 kph:   30° C (ambient 19° C)

Do not idle the Virago 250 for more than about a minute, if possible.

The voltage regulator will get too hot – idling for 3 minutes it will go up to 61 degrees C or more.


What to do to help your Virago 250 voltage regulator run cooler:

These are just ideas at this point – I am going to try them to see if they help.

1) Attach another heat sink to the voltage regulator.  If you have an old Virago 250 regulator, try that – it should fit great – mount it underneath the regulator, base to base – you want to get as much metal to metal contact as possible.

2) Leave the left plastic sidecover off.  Use sealant on the electrical connector.

3) If you need to idle your bike for more than a minute, put a fan on it.  This will help the engine run cooler as well.

The last two only help  if the bike is moving (the voltage regulator overheating is usually not a big issue when the bike is moving)

4) Put a piece of plastic above and slightly ahead of the regulator to serve as a wind deflector to direct more airflow to the regulator.

5) Put spacers or washers under rear of regulator to angle the rear out so it will get more airflow.


This will make your Virago 250 voltage regulator run hotter:

I added lower fairings to my Virago 250, and the voltage regulator ran 14% hotter (when bike is moving).


Tips to help make your Virago 250 a little faster.

This is what worked for me:

1) check tires often (it can make a huge difference in performance)

2) pilot screw adjustment 3/4 to one turn out

3) removing parts for weight reduction (I have removed 40 lbs so far)

4) lost 10 lbs myself

5) O-ring or X-ring chain

6) iridium plugs

7) new, larger air filter

8) FUTURE –  I want to convert my rear wheel to tubeless and replace my 140/90-15 Pirelli (17.1 lbs + tube) with a 130/90-15 Kenda Challenger (12.5 lbs)

The factory recommended tire pressure for Virago 250 is:

25 PSI Front / 29 PSI Rear – for up to 90 KG (198 lbs) load.

29 PSI Front / 32 PSI Rear – for over 90 KG (198 lbs) load.

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Virago 250 – Do not buy chrome parts – just polish the parts that are already on the bike – original posting was updated

Please check out this posting:

Virago 250 – Do not buy chrome parts – just polish the parts that are already on the bike. Here is the link:   

I updated it today.


I am not finished polishing the right side, but I decided to work on the left side anyway.  What I am doing:

· I have started polishing the left engine cover.  I only hand-polish, so it will take about eight hours – a lot less if I do the paint sanding step with the engine hot.

·  The “delete left side plastic cover and expose regulator mod.”  I removed the left side plastic cover,  and polished and waterproofed the voltage regulator.  I will be leaving the cover off permanently – I like the looks of the voltage regulator, even though the cooling fins orientation does not match the engine.  On some Virago 250’s, the voltage regulator runs too hot –  I do not think that mine has that problem but being in the open air should help a little to keep it cooler.

 · I do not recommend this mod:  partially expose front sprocket by removing lower part of front sprocket cover.  This mod reduces safety so I do not recommend it.  (If you do it anyway, make sure your chain is in excellent condition and you always wear boots when you ride.)  What I like about this mod is that you can polish the front sprocket and you can keep that area clean.  On the bikes that I have owned, that area always has lots of dirt and grease.

Virago 250 – changes for 2013

  I think this is all the changes for 2013 – if I find any more I will add to this post …

1) New handlebar design consists of a flat bar with chromed risers.  Yamaha claims that this new handlebar improves the riding position, rider comfort, and styling.

2) 60/55-watt, Xenon headlight

3) 2013 color is  Deep Blue

2013 Yamaha V-Star 250 US MSRP Price:  $4,290  USD

(for the 2012 model, the color was Raven (black) and the US MSRP was $4,190 USD )


Today’s random thought –
Always expect the unexpected.
The object that is about to hit you, you probably do not see it yet.

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A plastic ATV gas tank on a Virago 250 – how bad would it look?


     A plastic ATV gas tank on a Virago 250 – how bad would it look?  (Pretty bad, but the gas tank has a sunroof – which is an unexpected bonus.)

Best $6.35 I ever spent and a driving technique to help “blind spot drivers” to see you – please see “The Magic continues” at bottom of post.  If you drive in heavy traffic, this could change your riding experience forever.

I just experimented with putting a plastic gas tank on my Virago 250 to reduce the weight of my bike.  The frame below the tank is 3 5/8 inches wide but since it is off-center (about .75 inch to the left side), the tank would need to have a 4.5 inch tunnel width.  I decided to get a tank from a motocross bike or ATV as they are a little cheaper than other tanks – but I knew that it would not look too good.  I got a Yamaha Warrior (ATV) gas tank for $17.95 shipped.

(I also looked at the Yamaha Blaster tanks – but they were more money and they have a flat bottom, so they will not fit the Virago 250 as well as the Warrior gas tank.  If I did this again, I would try gas tanks from a Honda CRF80F, XR70, Lifan LF70, or Buell Blast.)

I might be the first person to ever put a Yamaha Warrior gas tank on a Virago 250 (probably the only person).  The tank is scratched and does not have the decorative cover, so, as expected, it looks pretty bad.  The tank can be put on facing frontwards or backwards – that is a clue that this is probably the wrong tank for this bike. It looks OK from 100 feet, unless you have good vision.  The tunnel width was fine near the front, but there is not enough tunnel height, so it is like you raised the stock tank about four inches – there is a lot of open space now. I am not fussy about looks – my main problem with the tank was that it was too wide in back.  I reduced the tank width at the back from 13 to 11 inches and the width is not a problem now.  As far as the looks, these plastic tanks usually have a cover anyway – I have to think about getting a cover or just putting some sort of tank badge on it.

After a few days I found that once you got past the looks, the Warrior gas tank has several benefits:
1) It really opens up the space below the tank, which gives the bike a different look.  You can see more of the parts, which gives the bike an old, vintage look.
2) It is easier to adjust the valves and carburetor.
3) The carb is visible now so you can easily polish both sides close to a chrome finish.

4) Weight reduction of 3.6 pounds  or 1.6 kilograms (4.3 lbs if you leave the fuel pump off – I tried it, but my bike did not run well).  The tank cover weighs 13 ounces, so after adding that, the weight reduction is 2.8 pounds or 1.3 kilograms.  If I put the time in to refinish the tank, I could get away with not using a gas tank cover.  It covers only the top half of the tank, so for the Virago 250, it really is a  gas tank half-cover.
5) The rear of the tank is open from the top, so you can store about 190 cubic inches of gear.
6) As you drive, you can see the engine and carburetor through the opening in the rear of the tank, which is pretty cool (you can add LEDs, too), plus if you have an engine problem, you will be the first to know.  As you drive, you also get a decent breeze coming up from the opening.  Also, you can hear the engine through the opening.  At first, I disliked the opening in the rear of the tank, but now it has turned out to pretty cool.

The Warrior ATV gas tank weighs about 4.1 pounds without the petcock and holds 2.4 gallons.

update 5/30/12The End  –  My experiment using the plastic ATV tank is over – I put the stock tank back on last night.  I am going to miss having it, but the looks bothered me even though I usually don’t care about that (in other words:  it was really ugly).  On the Virago 250, the petcock hides the left side of the carb and the fuel pump hides the right side of the carb, both of these polish up almost to chrome, so if I wanted to expose them more, I could probably change petcocks and relocate the fuel pump a little.

If you ever change gas tanks, make sure that you mount it properly leveled.  This is just an example, but for example if the rear is too low, the 2.4 gallon tank would only have 1.6 gallons that are usable – so you might  run out of gas at 136 miles  instead of at 203 miles.  Also you could run out of gas when you are out in the middle of nowhere.  You might take this as a sign that plastic is not for you, and you might re-install your stock tank as soon as get home.  Please do not ask me why I am mentioning this.

The stock Virago 250 gas tank
weighs about 8 pounds including the petcock, and the dimensions (approx.) are:  18 inches long, tunnel width near the top of the tunnel is 4 inches, near the bottom is 5 inches, height is 9 inches, width is 12.5 inches front, 10 inches mid-way, and 5 inches near the back.  Capacity is 2.5 gallons, which is about 1.75 gallons Main and about .75 gallon Reserve (the exact amount is somewhere between .73 and .87 gallon).  If you get 82 mpg, Main will take you to about 137 miles, then Reserve will take you about 62 miles.  If you get 92 mpg, Main will take you to about 154 miles, then Reserve will take you about 69 miles.

The longest distance I have ever actually driven on Reserve is 47 miles.  At the time I was getting about 85 mpg.     edit – I predict that next year I will figure out that in nine more miles, I would be pushing the bike (out of gas) – please see this post

Whoa – that last paragraph was confusing – the longest I ever went on Reserve was 47 miles – I did not know it then but I would have run out of gas at 56 miles.

Yamaha Virago 250 Fuel Line and Vacuum Line routing

Click on picture to make larger.
Thanks to Lee E. for the question.

You can just remove your tank if you want to clean and polish the carburetor like I did.  If you want to re-mount the stock gas tank higher, keep in mind that a full tank weighs 24.2 pounds – gas tanks have to be mounted very securely.



The Magic continues …….
I continue to be amazed by this orange reflective vest that I bought recently.  For the most part, people have stopped pulling out in front of me and also stopped tail-gating.  I have seen many drivers start to change lanes, and then they see me and do not make the lane change.  You should consider wearing a light colored vest (yellow, orange, or green) when you ride a motorcycle.

“The Magic Vest Challenge” – Coming home this afternoon, I95 was backed-up for miles ( this is normal).  Drivers would start to cut in front of me, then they would change their mind. I kept thinking “this car will do it”, “this one will do it”, and nobody did – nobody pulled in front of me.   If you buy a reflective vest (mine cost $6.39 shipped) and use it for a week – I think that, like me, you will not care how goofy it looks.

A driving technique to help “blind spot drivers” to see you:
I have ridden 2,900 miles since I got this  $6.39 vest.  I drive in heavy traffic (I95 in Connecticut) a lot, and other drivers have basically stopped pulling out in front of me and also have stopped tail-gating.  The only exception is the “blind spot drivers” – they still pull out in front of me or beside me in my lane – and the orange vest does not help because I am in their blind spot.  I am thinking now on how to reduce the danger of these “blind spot drivers”.


reducing blind spot drivers idea #1 (front emergency flashers – short duration)

8/30/12    Today I installed two amber 22 LED emergency lights with flasher.  I connected the headlight to a toggle switch so I could use the high/low beam switch for the emergency flashers (mounted in front). I will turn the flashers on (only for a few seconds) when I see an offending driver.  I mounted the 22 LED lights to get the most brightness at about a 45 degree angle out from the front of the bike – many of the offending cars come from this direction.  Do not use this technique near intersections or any cross-traffic – they might be able to see only one side flashing and they could think you are turning and pull out in front of you.  Use this only for “blind spot drivers” who seem to not see you – do not use it for aggressive drivers who see you but want to pull in front of you.  The only purpose of this technique is to send a little extra light to the offending drivers in the hopes it will help them to see you even though you are in their blind spot.  You have to be very selective on when to use this technique.  I think it is more effective than idea #2 plus it is much easier to do.  Idea #2 requires more focus to make sure you chose the left or right signal plus shutting it off quickly.  Idea #1 (front emergency flashers) you can use more often, since the brightest light is going out only from the front at about a 45 degree angle and so it can’t be seen by all the drivers  – only the ones that need to see it.


reducing blind spot drivers idea #2 (turn signal – short duration)

7/17/12  – I have been trying turning the turn signal on and then quickly off on the same side as the offending driver –  and so far it seems to help a lot.  If you try this, practice so you can have the turn signal blink  only 2 times – this way other drivers will think you changed your mind about changing lanes.  I added more turn signals for more brightness – position your front turn signals so you get more brightness at about a 45 degree angle out from the front of the bike – many of the offending cars come from this direction.  Do not use this technique near intersections or any cross-traffic – they could think you are turning and pull out in front of you.  Use this only for “blind spot drivers” who seem to not see you – do not use it for aggressive drivers who see you but want to pull in front of you.  The only purpose of this technique is to send a little extra light to the offending drivers in the hopes it will help them to see you even though you are in their blind spot.  You have to be very selective on when to use this technique – so far, for me I think it helps.


What’s next……….. there is a lot more wind now than there was when I was  kid – been thinking about this:


Today’s random thought – Never drive more than 15 to 20 mph faster than the lane beside you – speed differential is very dangerous if you are on a motorcycle.
—————— – where seldom is heard, a discouraging word.

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Planned changes to my bike – How to make your Virago 250 look a little different from the rest Part II

Continue reading

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Small v-twins from around the world – Part 16 – nice photos (scenery or background)

Here are pictures of Yamaha Virago 125’s and 250′s and other 250cc v-twins from around the world.

Run your mouse over each picture to see what country the bike is from (if available).
Click on each picture to make larger.  On some computers, you can make the picture even larger or smaller by moving the page up/down wheel on your mouse while holding the “Ctrl” key.





How to ride a motorcycle and live to be 60 years old

     (in order of risk reduction)

1)  Wear a yellow, orange, or green reflective vest (Ansi 2 or 3)

2)  Wear a full coverage helmet

3)  Run your headlight in the daytime

4)  Wear a white helmet

5)  Wear two inch wide yellow, orange, or green reflective arm bands – one per side

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