They say: “The road to Stardom.”
We say: “Same road as it’s ever been.”
Before letting out the clutch and logging some miles, typically we like to do a little research on a bike. Digging for history on the V Star 250 made it seem like it was in witness protection. No information was to be found in all of the usual places regarding the cruiser formerly known as Virago. We know it’s been a steadfast member of the Star line since long before they were called Stars, and the Virago line dates back to the early ‘80s. Absent the back story, off we went, riding to write our own history of why this bike has been around so long.
Born in 1988 as the Yamaha Virago VX250, the chopper-inspired V Star 250 has seen minimal
The “Wee Star” has enjoyed such longevity by offering a number of assets. Economy, style, comfort, and… oh yeah, don’t forget economy! Cheap bikes come and go, but a bike that qualifies as a “bargain” or “great value” is a step above, and the baby Star has struck a chord with consumers, if not inspired encyclopedic Wikipedia entries.
From the saddle it feels exactly like a bike that has enjoyed such longevity. The fit and finish is tight and refined, the air-cooled V-twin pitter-patters happily at idle, and it strikes a handsome if diminutive pose in a parking lot. Beyond the lively exhaust note, the 60-degree mill looks good and pulls a full-sized American all the way up to freeway speed. The seat is comfortable, clutch pull is light, and the controls work as they should. Mostly, anyway.
Spend enough time with the little V Star and its modest upbringing is bound to come to light. The footpegs are stylishly forward-slung but rubber-mounted and therefore create a decidedly spongy feel. The shifter is not rubber-mounted although it feels like it, due mostly to a long linkage and a lever made of stamped something-or-other.
“Instrumentation” is too long a word for what the V Star 250 presents on the dash. There is an odometer along with an old-fashion trip meter with twist-to-reset knob (how quaint!) and an analog speedometer to make sure you’re not breaking the speed limit (don’t worry, you’re not). If you want to know what time it is, how many revs the engine is running, what gear is selected—or any other information—you’re on your own.
For all of the things that it does well, the fact is that the Wee Star is showing its age. Despite a heavily under-square bore/stroke (49mm x 66mm), less-than-ideal fueling throttles torque at low rpm and it often stumbles away from stop signs. Then, to achieve freeway speeds, the motor needs to be spun to what feels like stratospheric rpm. It’s baby-cruiser competitors can’t compete with the stately V-twin style and sound, but there are more players in the game now. Honda’s CBR250 is cheaper, faster, and more modern from start to finish, with such innovations as fuel injection, a disc rear brake, and a digital dash. But it’s not a cruiser—low seat height and promise of kitten-like docility in full view—like the Star.
Searching for where the V Star came from and why it is still around, then, is like asking who wrote the lyrics to the Happy Birthday song. The only credit to be found will be listed as “Traditional.” That sums up the little V Star, too. It’s too eager to doubt, too cheap to dismiss, and it’s been around too long to question why people like it. So we won’t.