The Yamaha Virago was the first V-Twin-powered cruiser-style motorcycle produced by a Japanese manufacturer, as well as one of the earliest mass-produced motorcycles with a single shock rear suspension. Originally sold with a 750 cc engine in 1981, Yamaha soon added 500 cc and 920 cc versions.
The bike was redesigned in 1984, switching from a rear mono-shock to a dual-shock design, and adding a tear-drop shaped gas tank. That year, Harley-Davidson, fearful of the inroads the Virago and other new Japanese cruiser-style motorcycles, pushed for a tariff on imported bikes over 700 cc. Yamaha replaced the 750 cc motor with 699 cc version to avoid the 1980s motorcycle tariff, while the 920 cc engine grew to 1000 cc, and later 1100 cc. In the late 1990s a 250 cc Virago was added.
The larger-displacement Viragos have since been phased out of production, replaced by the V-Star and Road Star series of motorbikes. The only remaining Virago being produced is the 250 cc model.
Yamaha Virago 250
The Virago 250 is designed to be an entry-level cruiser bike, and as of 2006 retails at $3499. It's considered by most publications and motorcycle enthusiasts to be a capable road bike with good handling characteristics and a top speed of 85 mph.