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Virago250 Don't Knock it till you try it!

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by WTSPT, Mar 13, 2010.

  1. I have to be honest and say that dropping off our Honda CB400 at the mechanics for its first service yesterday felt a little like dropping your kids off for their first day at school. You know it's for the best but its still hard to say goodbye for the day! We (my partner and I) purchased our shiny new machine a week ago, and being used daily as a commuter our little CB very quickly clocked up it's first 1,000 K's. During this time, I cannot begin to describe how much I have enjoyed the experience of riding, and now I have realised why car drivers look so angry on their way to and from work; “it's simply 'cause they don't have a motorbike”.

    Despite all this, we booked the bike in and whilst on the phone, Brett at Geoff Taylor's had promised us a loaner for the period of service and had also agreed to take our bike at the end of the day so that it could be seen to first thing the following morning. This left me with an ear to ear grin as I fantisised over the array of bikes that could potentially be bestowed upon me for this period.

    Well as I pulled out from my park at work not only was I imagining the new bike that I would be on very shortly; I was also aware that I could potentially be a little late and perhaps not even make closing time. After a little filtering I arrived at one minute past 5:30 and was fully expecting to be turned away. To my surprise however the staff there were more than obliging and re-opened to let me and my bike roll on through their rear door. The Mechanic at hand politely ushered me to the desk to sign relevant papers and sent me on my merry way back outside to discover the motorcycle that I would soon acquaint myself with for the next 24 hours.

    I stepped out from the building into the sunlight and saw it standing there glistening; begging like all bikes do just to be ridden. But due to all the build up and anticipation I discovered that I had mindset myself very unrealistically, this was why I had to double take before it hit me... I was gob smacked, I stood there open mouthed in front of this poor little bike and I realised I had rudely been awaken from my erotic fantasies; to a cold, sticky and uncomfortable mess. It was a bloody cruiser, and not only that it was an itsy witsy, teeny weeny little purple baby cruiser. I can't say I was too impressed, in fact I was downright disappointed. Not wanting to reveal my despondency to Brett, who was patiently standing there; waiting, after close, to walk me through the essentials on the bike so that he could head on home and I could mount my wannabe stallion and ride off into the sunset; I decided to set all the trepidation aside and give this old girl a good go.

    Now I have read many reviews about the Virago: 250cc V twin, sounds great, handles well, perfect learner blah blah etc etc. But to me when researching the bike it appeared to contain two major flaws that ruled itself out from even considering it as a potential first mover, it has a poor rider eye height (just like the majority of cruisers do) and it's a 250cc cruiser so whats the point??? And based on this I steered well clear of it and didn't even bother with the viragos, aquilas or intruders for that matter. These last 24 hours made me realise how wrong I was!

    For those of you whom have a bias or inclination toward the cruiser, the Virago is a bike that will not disappoint and is something that you could very easily become comfortable with and find safe to ride. When atop this little baby, she spoke to me and highlighted some reasons why chopper and cruiser riders alike fall so deeply in love with their motorcycles. To me the Virago very evidently and unashamedly displayed it's character and soul with a level of honesty that is unparallelled to your standard roadies. I actually found myself feeling sorry for the bike when I began to bag it in this review!

    It did take a few kilometers to get used to, particularly with my limited experience on motorcycles, the forward positioned pegs, higher handlebars, longer play in the clutch lever and poorer cornering ability are things you can easily begin to get used to so long as you adjust your style of riding to this bicycle. It is a cruiser after all, in this saying though, a cruiser by no means is a bad thing; in fact I can now clearly see the attraction!

    With the Virago you couldn't help but feel it's always doing it's best to please under all circumstances and conditions. This faithful little girl does have her shortcomings such as some significant levels of vibration in the pegs and handlebars, but I felt that this was her way of reminding you that she is a living, breathing entity. She has enough torque available to comfortably hold and pull away from 100km/hr on the freeways, and reasonable enough power to get away from that traffic at the lights. Maneuverability at slow speed is also quite good, but if your used to riding a more “conventional” bike just be aware that you will hit the pegs early in a turn and may need to lay off some bank angle. Fuel Economy, again for a 250 it seemed to do very well; when I was on her she consumed about 6lts to a 100.

    What amazed me most about the bike was actually what most riders wouldn't use it for and this is its ability on gravel. Now, I am guessing that this probably attributed to its the low Centre of Gravity, but despite this I was very surprised as to how well it did compared to my CB4. I have to ride on an 8k stretch of gravel before I get home and I felt the Virago instilled an amazing amount of riding confidence on this surface; in fact I comfortably held 80 km/hr without feeling any of that typical slip, slide and tail waving you get riding across dirt and stone. This did lead me to consider how it would go in the wet. Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to compare. But I reckon it would be a safe assumption to say that it would hold its own quite well in this area as well!

    So overall I can't say anything else except that I was very impressed. Kudos to you Miss Virago you really are lovely little machine, except for that time that the scooter unashamedly passed us by on that hill this morning.

    I now can proudly say that I have a particular fondness of the Virago she is really a good old girl and can make you feel that little bit biker tough when astride it.

    In conclusion, give it a good test ride and some decent time to get used it before making your verdict; she is a sweet bike and allows you to identify with that cruiser mentality and if this is what you are searching for; then go for it. But, personally I still love our CB400 as I couldn't help but think , that when upon the Virago it felt very familiar to those moments when you do something incredibly tough and feel like your the most manly macho bloke around but your girlfriend then tells you you're cute... But ssssssssssssssshhh; please don't tell Miss Virago at Geoff Taylor's I said that; I don't want to hurt her feelings!
  2. Re: Don't Knock it till you try it!

    Hey Great Story.
  3. Re: Don't Knock it till you try it!

    Lol. I got hooked on biking by riding a friends Vìrago 3 years ago. It was my first time solo on a bike and felt very east & smooth to ride as you have already explained in detail above.

    Though I considered it as my first bike I fell in love with the cb400 and bought that albeit a few grand more than the Vìrago.
  4. Re: Don't Knock it till you try it!

    Heh Heh. Good write up mate.
  5. Re: Don't Knock it till you try it!

    Ooohhh yes, I am a die hard Virago nut, lovely to read your post and find one has weaved its way into your heart too. I started on a Virago 250 then upgraded to an 1100 (which unfortunately died prematurely a few weeks ago). I am picking up another Virago1100 later this week and can hardly wait because they are just a dream bike to me. Ive always loved them even during the years when my life was far removed from bikes, and feel lucky to have owned not 1 but (nearly) 3 of them. Wish they still made them.
  6. Re: Don't Knock it till you try it!

    Cheers glad you all enjoyed it!
  7. Re: Don't Knock it till you try it!

    hahaha, Cameron with the blackbird (cant remember his user name) has a similar story.

    My first bike was a Virago, I hung onto it for 3 years before upgrading.
    I've recently bought a scooter to commute on, I keep the FZ for weekends and fun stuff. If I could turn back the clock, I would have kept the Virago. The scooter is fun too, but the Virago was/is a much better ride in every facet. And now that I think about it, the reg on the Virago would only be about $40 a year more than the scooter because I would get a reduction because the safety levy only has to be paid once. Doh, so now I'm looking at getting another Virago and giving the scooter to my folks.
    I knew there was a reason I hung onto my saddle bags ;-)

    6ltrs for 100kms.... that can't be right. I was getting 30-35kms to the litre.
  8. Re: Don't Knock it till you try it!

    That'd be 'slowcoach'
  9. my expirience on the verago i was little different, at first i thought it would be a bit of a change and good laugh to ride, but after i lost the number plate to exess vibrations then ran out of fuel in an amazingly short distance, i wasn't soo impressed.. probally compounded by the Incompetency of the bike shop that lent me the bike GRR
  10. Virago's... well... they have many critics, but I say this: any 250cc that (just) managed to haul my fat arse around for 15 months (L's & P's) and still worked at the end of it - you gotta give it some cred.