Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain 

Description Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain
Author Matthew Date Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:08 pm Type Type 1

Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

The Million Mile Man

Dave Hingson from Florida and a retired quality control expert, has owned 29 motorcycles. He started riding before World War-II on a Wizzer motorbike. Back in 1939 Dave, at age 12, his friend let him take a 1936 harley for a spin. Dave's been burning-up the roads ever since. Besides ridng in the Continental US, he has had the fortunate opportunity to ride in Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Guam, Europe, and Saipan.

Hingson had 100,00 miles on harley-Davidsons and 300,000 miles on BMW's. The bulk of his million miles some 403,789; according to his detailed records. Currently, his mileage-maker of choice is a 1994 XV-1100 Virago. This is his third Yamaha cruiser - a 1986 Virago lasted 119,000 miles, his 1990 went 124,000 miles, and he plans on racking up 200,000 miles on the '94 Virago before his four year extended warranty runs out.

A Virago Powered Airplane

In April of 1991, Richard Giles started building his replica Nieuport 12, WW-I plane, serial number 00020. It was fitted with a 1986 XV-1100 Virago engine. His decisiion to use a motorcycle engine was based several factors. To begin with, Rich had 25 years of motorcyle maintenace and dealership experince under his belt. Some of the more important cosiderations were power, weight, sound, cost, adaptability, and most importantly...reliability.

There were several features of the Virago engine which made it ideal for aircraft use.
Lightweight aluminum construction.
A choice of five reduction ratios via the transmission.
A complete electrical system.
A pressurized oil lubrication system.
A means to disengage the propeller by use of the clutch.
An electric starter.
A torsional vibration dampening system built into the transmission.
Availablity of replacement parts.
The power range was between 3000 -7500 rpm. (ideal for this type of aircraft)
It turns out that the only engine problem encountered was what type of carburation to use. They couldn't use the standard constant-velocity type which operates the throttle through a butterfly openning, allowing vacuum of the intake system to pull the throttle. Instead, they used a set of carbs, properly jetted, 40mm carbs which were mechanically operated.

In October of 1993, the aircraft was inspected by the FAA and approved for flight.

Speed Record

The Nick Larson team, managed to set a class 1000 APSF speed record of 201.655 mph during Speedweek 1997 . It was done using a nitro injected XV920 Yamaha Virago!

1981 - 750 and 920 Virago, Euro model(chain drive) introduced to U.S.
- Monoshock rear suspension

1982 - 920 Virago (shaft drive) appears with computerized
(Cycom) liquid crsytal display.
- Adjustable fork dampening also introduced.
- Adjustable handlebars
- Dual front disc brakes

1983 - Euro model was dropped and the 920 Virago Cycom electronic
display was discontinued
- Only year for the XV-500 model
- Only year for the "Midnight" Virago models

1984 - Monoshock suspension system replaced with dual shock system
- A tear drop style gas tank was introduced
- A redsigned frame allowed for external air cleaner covers
- Wire wheels (750 0nly), chrome filter covers and chrome shocks
improved Virago styling
- Seat lowered and forks extended
- Displacement lowered to 699cc to avoid tariff regulations
- Displacement increased the 920 model to 981cc transforming it
to 1000cc
- A half gallon reserve tank was introduced on the 1000cc model,
under the seat

1985 - 1000 and 700 remained unchanged

1986 - 1000cc increased to 1100cc
- Wire or cast wheels were available
- The fuel tank increased from 3.3 gal. to 4.4 gals.
- Two tone paint and gold-like plating was added
- For $100 less you could buy a monochromed colored bike with
wire wheels (model "S")

1987 - XV-535 debuts
- Seat hight was 28"
- A five speed transmission and driveshaft were main features
- Wire wheels were standard

1988 - The 700cc model was increased to 748cc due to changes in the
tarrif laws changes
- Increased carbs to 40mm bore
- seat width and shape was changed to improve riding comfort
- Route 66 model introduced (250cc)

1989 - 250, 535, 750, and 1100 models offered

1990 - N/A

1991 - Route 66 (250 model) and XV-535 discontinued. Only the 750
and 1100 models were offered

1992 - N/A

1993 - XV-535 re-introduced with a 27.3" seat height

1994 - XV-535 offered in regular snd 'special' models

1995 - XV-250 re-introduced as Virago and not Route 66 model
- 15th Anniversary of the Virago

1996 - XV-1100 Special offered. A total of six models available
(250, 535 (2), 750, 1100 (2)

1997 - Unchanged

1998 - Discontinued 750 model. 250, 535 (2), 1100 (2) available

The subject of Virago model numbers may draw a yawn from many riders, but a few of us aging diehards actually have an interest in this kind of thing. So for those of you who do--pop a fresh battery into your pacemaker, and buckle up your helmet! You're about to get into some really exciting stuff. Presented here is the result of a little research on how Yamaha assigned model numbers to its Viragos, followed by a rundown of all the US models. This information is as complete and as accurate as we could make it, and carries no warranty for being totally error free. Comments and particularly corrections will be most welcome. Now let's take one of the most complex and mysterious model numbers, break it down, and try to figure out what each letter and number means:

Our model is XV 700 CSC

"X" Back in the seventies Yamaha used XS to designate their bigger street machines by this model designation. Some of these bikes were were: XS650, XS750 triple, XS1100, etc. "RD" was used for two-strokes. "SR" was used for singles. Apparently when the V twins cam along, Yamaha decided to retain the "X" which I think we can assume means "street".

"V" Almost surely stands for "V-twin"

So, RULE #1 would be that XV stand for Street V-Twin.

700 The "700" is easy. That's the displacement of the engine; although, as we know, this number does not always reflect the exact displacement. In this case the engine was actually 699 cc., bringing it under 700 cc., to avoid import tariffs.

So, Rule #2 would be that the number stands for the 'nominal" engine size-the size used in ads.

But now the plot thickens! As a general rule, the letter right after the displacement number reflects the model year of the bike - the year the bike was made. Yamaha uses these letters for most of their bikes-not just Viragos Here are the letters for the years the bigger Viragos were offered.

1981-H 1982-J 1983-K 1984-L 1985-N 1986-S 1987-T
1988-U 1989-W 1990-A 1991-B 1992-D 1993-E 1994-F
1995-G 1996-H 1997-J 1998-K 1999-L

You will note that the letters don't run sequentially.

Also, if there was something special about the bike, a letter designating this would be inserted before the letter for the year.

So we have a number of models with these special letters inserted:

1981 RH (not technically a Virago, it was a chain drive. The "R' may have stood for "Euro".

1982 RJ Same

1983 XV 920 MK (where "M" stood for Midnight Special-an all-black bike with gold trim.) Also applied to the 81 750.

And years 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997 where we saw the XV 535 SF,SG, SH and SJ models where "S" stands for "Special"

And years 1996,1997, and 1998 where we saw 1100 SH, SJ, and SK models where "S" also stood for special.

So, rule #3 is that the letter after the displacement tells us the year, except where there is something special about the model.

Finally, we come to the easy one. Rule #4 is that whenever you see a "C" as the letter after the year letter, it means "California Model." As in XV 1100 JC (1997 California model) (A primary difference - maybe the only one - between California models and other models is the addition of an evaporative emissions control system consisting of a charcoal canister which collects gas evaporating from the fuel tank and carburetor. This gas is then sucked into one of the carbs when the engine is running.)

So now you should be able to look at the model number: XV 700 CSC and rattle off exactly what it stands for. It's a Virago Series, 700 cc, Cast Wheels, 1986, California Model, Yamaha motorcycle.

Finally, a few comments on some of the models. From '81 - '83 all Viragos were shaft drive, mono-shock, with the exception of the "Euro" models which were also mono shock but had chain drive. In '84 Yamaha went to the more cruiser-like look. As part of this, the mono-shock was dropped in favor of dual shocks for all models from then on. From '83 on, all large models were shaft drive.

The 535 was first seen in 1987. It dropped out of the line-up in 1991/2, but came back in 1993 and lasted through the 2000 model year.

The 250 came into the lineup in 1988, dropped out from 1991 to 1994, and may still be a current model at this time.


US Virago models by year:

XV920RH (Chain Drive)

XV920RJ (Chain Drive)

XV500K (Only one year)
XV750K, XV750MK (M=Midnight)
XV920K, XV920MK

XV700L, XV700LC
XV1000L, XV1000LC

XV700N, XV700NC
XV1000N, XV1000NC

XV700SS, XV700SSC (Spokes)
XV700CS, XV700CSC (Cast)
XV1100S, XV1100SC

XV535T, XV535TC
XV700ST, XV700STC (Spokes)
XV700CT, XV700CTC (Cast)
XV1100T, XV1100TC

XV250U, XV250UC (Route 66)
XV535U, XV535UC
XV750U, XV750UC
XV1100U, XV1100UC

XV250W, XV250WC
XV535W, XV535WC
XV750W, XV750WC
XV1100W, XV1100WC

XV250A, XV250AC
XV535A, XV535AC
XV750A, XV750AC
XV1100A, XV1100AC

XV750B, XV750BC
XV1100B, XV1100BC

XV750D, XV750DC
XV1100D, XV1100DC

XV535E, XV535EC
XV750E, XV750EC
XV1100E, XV1100EC

XV535F, XV535FC
XV535SF, XV535SFC (Special)
XV750F, XV750FC
XV1100F, XV1100FC

XV250G, XV250GC
XV535G, XV535GC
XV535SG, XV535SGC (Special)
XV750G, XV750GC
XV1100G, XV1100GC

XV250H, XV250HC
XV535H, XV535HC
XV535SH, XV535SHC (Special)

XV750H, XV750HC
XV1100H, XV1100HC
XV100SH, XV1100SHC (Special)

XV250J, XV250JC
XV535J, XV535JC
XV535SJ, XV535SJC (Special)

XV750J, XV750JC
XV1100J, XV1100JC
XV100SJ, XV1100SJC (Special)

XV250K, XV250KC
XV535K, XV535KC

XV1100K, XV1100KC
XV100SK, XV1100SKC (Special)
(XV-750 Discontinued)

250 L, LC
535 L, LC
1100 L, LC

250 M, MC
535 M, MC

2001 (On)
250 N, NC

User comments 
Matthew Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:01 pm    Post subject [ KB ]

[ Article updated...Matthew ]

Category: Documents
Type: Type 1

Article Name: Virago Facts & Trvia
Author: Matthew
Description: Virago Facts & Trvia

>>Read Full Article
geo Posted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 6:14 pm    Post subject

Matthew Posted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 3:35 pm    Post subject [ KB ]

[ Article updated...Matthew ]

Category: Documents
Type: Type 1

Article Name: Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain
Author: Matthew
Description: Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

>>Read Full Article
dillan Posted: Mon May 26, 2008 4:06 am    Post subject Re: [ KB ] Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

Re the article on "Virago numbers explained" is there any info on the Virago 400 NT
This is my bike imported into South Africa as a "grey product" but I cannot find any technical information or specifications for this bike.
Matthew Posted: Mon May 26, 2008 5:06 am    Post subject

There isn't any info on the 400 that we know of yet...........
tazman45 Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:23 pm    Post subject Re: [ KB ] Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

Know wonder its so have to find parts for my 83 midnight I did not know they only made them 1 year thats cool
gregthomas Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 10:04 pm    Post subject Re: [ KB ] Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

Very interesting Matthew, but still more to come.
Outside the continental US the chain - drive bike - your 920 was a 980 marketed as a 1000 from day 1. I believe that surplus 920's were lightly modified & sold in Europe until all gone.
There was also a chain - drive 750 - looks like a 920/TR1 which was a Japanese home market model. I understand Yamaha US brought in 200 to make the 750 eligible for AMA mile & 1/2 mile racing.
These must be the rarest XV in the US - I've seen a couple here in NZ which were used imports in the late 80's.
The 400 in South Africa is probably another home market model.- We've seen some real odd stuff here brought in used.
Until VT attracts an english - speaking Japanese resident with access to the relevant records we'll not know the full extent of the XV range.

grazingazer Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:25 pm    Post subject

esoteric greg...good on you m8
gregthomas Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:20 am    Post subject Re: [ KB ] Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

Just a good memory GG - and I was an avid "Cycle" mag reader back in the day.
Cycle mag, August 1981 - the issue they tested the 920 - p26 a photo of a chain - drive 750 motor in a Mert Lawwill dirt frame.
Sorry, no scanner.

grazingazer Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:04 am    Post subject

was that the old krtt frame or one developed by lawwill gregg?
gregthomas Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:39 pm    Post subject Re: [ KB ] Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

Scratchbuilt frame by Lawwill. Almost a semi - spaceframe. Rails running down the side of the motor like a Ducati Pantah frame without the triangulaion.
I'm sure someonr on the site will find & post the pic.
I remember reading (Cycle again ) that the 200 750's were to be imported.Whether this happened or whether the AMA minimum bike number rule changed about this time to 25 examples needed I don't know.
Anyone on site got a chain - drive 750 ?
This was not a unique situation - Kawasaki made the Z2 - home market 750 version of the Z1 legal for US racing also.
scootermcq Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:39 pm    Post subject Re: [ KB ] Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

I did some snooping and found some pictures of the XV750e (chain drive). Like Greg said, looks just like a tr1.

Also found pics of a mod on the 750e that looks pretty hot if you are into crotch rockets....

Anyway, here ya go
Roger Ramjet Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 5:58 pm    Post subject

Cool Man thanks for all the work
gregthomas Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 2:40 am    Post subject Re: [ KB ] Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

Good work scooter. I wouldn't know where to look for this stuff.
The modern - framed bike is nice - but all that work including a probably unnecessary oil cooler & he still uses mikuni CV type carbs. They do however look like more modern types - maybe off a Ducati or similar.

The guy I bought my TR1 motor kitset from had an XV750, and what I thought were 2 TR1's - one was of course a 750e - in exactly the same colours (red ) as the 1000. Different badges and a KPH speedo otherwise identical.

grazingazer Posted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 9:33 am    Post subject

i don't know if i'd trust the bird cage on the hyper-motard
gregthomas Posted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 2:41 am    Post subject Re: [ KB ] Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

I've got some issues with that frame. I build a few frames , and propose building one for my own project so I've done fair amount of thinking as to what I'm going to build.
I would have braced the steering head rather more extensively to the front head mounts.
The bar down the side from front head to swingarm pivot area is actually redundant. The motor is stiff enough in this plane and doesn't need reinforcement
I will be building an Egli - style spine frame which I think suits the XV layout very well.
However ths is only a sidebar on this thread - GG I blame you for getting me started !

SeaComms Posted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:37 am    Post subject

That last pic of the 750e looks a lot like my old XJ750, except of course for the V-twin in place of my straight 4....
grazingazer Posted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:34 am    Post subject Re: [ KB ] Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

Marius_N Posted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:49 am    Post subject Re: [ KB ] Virago Facts & Trivia / Model Number Explain

So, how do I find out if my Virago is a XV11OO B or a XV1100 BC ? Could not find that info anywhere.
grazingazer Posted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:45 am    Post subject

the bc will have the california emissions equipment installed...look for a charcoal canister connected to the fuel tank with hoses
Matthew Posted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:08 pm    Post subject [ KB ]

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