Years sold: 1988-1990, 1995 to present.
MSRP new: $2599 (1988) to $4190 (2012)
Blue Book retail value: $1225 (1988) to $3210 (2011)
Basic specs: A small cruiser with a 249cc, 60-degree V-Twin engine, an ultra-low, 27-inch seat height, a lengthy (for its size) 58.7-in. wheelbase and a wet weight of 324 pounds. Originally called the Route 66 from 1988-90, the bike was dropped from the Yamaha lineup until its return in 1995 as the Virago 250. In 2009, it was renamed once again as the Star V Star 250.
Why it won: This scaled-down Yamacruiser never won a Ten Best award, but don’t let that lower your opinion of what is a terrific little bike. First of all, its 21-year existence tells you that it has staying power on a scale that few bikes ever achieve. What’s more, it has had virtually no significant changes to the engine (or most of its other parts) over its lifetime, powerful evidence that it offers mechanical resilience, as well. And it looks the cruiser part to a T, a bike that’s so nicely scaled that until you get right next to it, you don’t fully comprehend its compact size.
But that’s just a few of the numerous reasons this bike is an ideal choice for young, small or beginning riders. Its low seat and light weight make it practically effortless for anyone to manage, even newbies, and its engine delivers enough power to easily run with traffic while providing the unique, stirring big-bike sounds that only a V-Twin can offer.
Useful resources: By its very nature, a bike like the Virago/V Star 250 would not seem to command the fierce loyalty to and unbridled enthusiasm for, say, a Ducati, a Harley or a BMW, but there nonetheless is a surprisingly large amount of information about this entry-level machine on the Internet. You’ll find a lot of them for sale on www.cycletrader.com and www.olk.com; and although we’ve not seen any forums dedicated exclusively to the 250cc model of the Virago and Star series, www.viragotechforum.com devotes considerable space to that bike. Plus, the ’Net also is an excellent source for parts and accessories to fit this little cruiser, along with reviews that go back quite a few years.