Based in Japan, Yamaha began producing motorcycles in 1955, starting with small-displacement bikes and then a developing a strong line of power sport bikes. The Virago is one of the company’s entry-level cruisers; the 2007 model was a carryover.
Powered by an air-cooled, 249cc, 60-degree V-twin with a single overhead cam valve configuration, two valves per cylinder, the Virago has a Mikuni carburetor and a five-speed manual transmission. A telescopic fork with 5.5 inches of travel provides the front suspension; the rear suspension a twin-sided swing arm and an adjustable spring preload shock. The front brake is an 11.1-inch hydraulic disc, with a 5.11-inch drum brake in the rear.
An entry-level cruiser ought to be light enough, and laid back enough, to not overwhelm a beginning rider. The Virago weighs in at just 324 pounds with oil and fuel, so it’s not even as heavy as some big scooters, and its seat is a low 27 inches, with a typical relaxed rider position. Its wheelbase is 58.7 inches, and it has a nine-foot turning radius, so while it won’t turn on a dime, it’s reasonably maneuverable. Like most cruisers, its instrumentation is barebones: just a speedometer and an odometer. Ignition is electric. Yamaha doesn’t provide an estimate of gas mileage; the tank holds 2.5 gallons, with riders reporting getting at least 55 miles to the gallon.
It comes with lockable underseat storage, but a wide variety of saddlebags and tank bags are available. You can also install an optional windshield, which will make highway riding more comfortable.
Yamahas are well known for being reliable, durable machines, and the Virago is a good choice for in-town commuting, though it will get up to 70 miles per hour without any trouble, so short freeways jaunts are no trouble.