Factory official release picture of black V-twin cruiser motorcycle Yamaha Virago

Yamaha XV Motorcycle

A Yamaha Virago motorcycle was first introduced in the US as a result of extensive market research done by Ed Burke and years of innovations done by Japanese engineers. Ed noticed the popularity of custom bikes in the US and passion of bike riders to remake the common road and street models such as Yamaha RD into more luxurious looking cruiser motorcycles. So the very first Japanese cruiser style model, an equivalent of Harley-Davidson, was born.

 The moto "Virago" comes from Latin word virāgō which amongst others means female warrior, women with a strong spirit and strength.

First V-twin Cruiser

The first introduced bike was 1981 Yamaha Virago XV750 with 748cc displacement engine. It featured an air cooled  V-twin engine with shaft drive, air-adjustable front forks, cast aluminium wheels, high handlebars and comfortable stepped seat. As a first mass-produced motorcycle it was fitted with rear mono-shock suspension.

While bikers in the US liked the new 750cc motorcycle, the Europe was a little more conservative and preferred the original street look. Their preference in road motorcycles made Yamaha to take a step back and in 1981 introduce XV920R model, which was in fact improved Yamaha 750 (XV750), but with old-fashioned look and chain drive, nevertheless, bikers weren’t impressed and production of this bike  for European market was ceased in 1983.

A similar motorcycle, Yamaha Virago 920 (XV920), was also introduced in the US in 1982, it had double brake discs, adjustable handle bars and LCD control panel.

New model and new image of 1984

In late 1983 an import tariff tax was introduced in the US on motorcycles with engines larger than 700cc as a protection to local market, namely the Harley-Davidson brand. Yamaha quickly adjusted to the customer demand and introduced two new Viragos.

One below the tax threshold - the Yamaha Virago XV700, which had a truly custom motorcycle image. Beside the 699cc engine, the rear suspension changed to swing arm with twin shock absorbers. A tear-drop shaped gas tank changed the image completely together with stacked tandem mufflers, twin front disc brakes and wide luxurious seat. The new chopper style was finished with chrome and gold accents. The production of XV700 eventually stopped in 1988 when the additional tax tariff was dropped and XV750 Virago was re-introduced.

And one incurring the additional tax – The Virago 1000 (XV1000) had the new image and improved 1000cc engine, which was few years later again enlarged to create Virago 1100 (XV1100).

As with many other Yamaha motorcycles, there was a diversification in engine size to suit various markets. 

XV125 – Yamaha Virago 125 bike was born in hope to bring Yamaha cruisers to Asia, where a smaller engine was preferred.

XV250 – Yamaha Virago 250 targeted learner drivers both in Europe and US

XV400 – Yamaha Virago 400 was mainly sold in Japan due to different tax system

XV500 – Yamaha Virago 500 was a smaller version of Virago XV535 introduced in Europe in 1992 to comply with tax and law of some countries

XV535 - Yamaha Virago 535 bike was introduced to Europe in 1987 and became an immediate hit. A Deluxe upgrade followed in 1998.

The end of Virago series came in 2008 when the large V-shape engine  was remodelled and the V-star and Road Star bikes were born.

Yamaha Virago Parts

The attempt of Yamaha Motor Company to bring variety of motorcycles to the market to prevent home customisation have failed yet again. Despite the popularity, many Yamaha XV bikes were transformed to resemble a Café Racer or a Bobber.

As bikes evolved so did parts, some are still being used nowadays and are available from Yamaha dealers directly, some were made obsolete. We offer a small range of the most desired after market parts on the market as well as a selection of Yamaha original spares, so check out our selection of parts!

 For more information about the history of Yamaha Virago visit Motorcyclist Online or get in touch with members of the Virago Owners Club