DR. PISTON'S TECH PAGES

THE WONDERFUL VIRAGO

Ask an orthopedic surgeon what he thinks of skiing and you are likely to hear about torn ligaments and broken bones, but little about the countless accident-free hours happily spent on the slopes. When you are in the business of helping Virago owners, you deal mostly with problems, and slowly a warped perspective about the bike can to take over. At the mention of "Virago", I catch myself thinking, "Well, what's the problem this time.?"
But that's not reality. The term "Virago" should bring to mind a bike that, with good maintenance and care, will go somewhere between a long time and forever. Viragos are very trouble free and the bigger versions are "do it all" motorcycyles--they'll take take you to the corner store or Alaska, your option.
If you own a good running Virago that you enjoy, you might consider leaving this website about now and go riding. Because you aren't going to need a whole lot of what's on here. That is, if you do your maintenance!



NOT THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN!!

No I'm not. There are other good Virago sites with interesting stuff on them, as well as chat rooms where owners share information and experiences. You are encouraged to check them all out.



PLEASE NOTE.............

The information presented here is my best shot, but I can't know everything, or have it right 100% of the time. You need to evaluate what you read here and decide that it makes sense to you before taking any action based on it. Corrections and comments are welcome. We are after the truth here, not personal glory.

Note also, that what you do, or have others do to your bike is your responsibility alone, and you need to be ready to take that responsibility fully. If in doubt about anything you read here, e-mail me, and/or do some independent research before picking up a tool, buying a part, or telling the shop to go ahead.

I believe that sources for parts or service mentioned in my articles are solid and current, but you need to contact them personally and check them out for yourself.

Finally, please understand that my assets include a couple of old bikes, a set of metric tools, a guitar, a camera, and a half empty bottle of dark rum. Not much to come after here, I'm afraid. Several attorneys have already walked away in disgust, and yours won't be any different. Ride safe, Mac




In response to an overwhelming demand (actually 1 demand, 1 question, and 1 comment) we hereby present a picture of Dr. Piston rolling back the frontiers of motorcycyle ignorance in his state-of-the-art research facility. Click

My Info:
Name:  Mac McCurdy

Email:  drpiston@sbcglobal.net


Occasionally, I receive an email of special interest and I offer the one below for you consideration. Mike says he'll be glad to chat with you about this mod if you have questions. He says:

This is the most important thing you can convey to the Virago owners who view your site:
It's not the starter; It's not the carbs: IT'S THE DISMALLY WEAK STOCK COILS.


        Throughout the years I've owned my '81 Virago 750, I've worked on every system and had it wrong. The coils can't produce a spark with power during cranking because the starter motor resistance drops the voltage so low. It means the spark is weak and won't fire a rich charge. I couldn't see the drop on a digital meter, but the voltage drops to near 10 volts and the coils aren't getting a good charge.
I made a bracket to mount an ACCEL Harley Single Fire coil on the front engine bracket, wired in the connectors from the old coils, and BAM! Hot spark, fast start. The starter barely needs to get it past TDC and it starts up. On my '81, it must go through a revolution for the tach to sense it. But on my '83, it will start on the first revolution.
I figure that, even though the voltage is still dropping on crank, the 45,000 volt capability of this coil is still probably producing a good 30,000 volt spark.
It starts fast even cold, and it doesn't stall on acceleration off the line from idle.
If I kept this info to myself, I could pick up even more old Viragos that have frustrated their owners, and make some serious dough. But, I'd rather see more of 'em on the road with me here in the Texas Hill Country.
Put it out front on your site. No matter how many times somebody has run through all the possibilities, they won't see what's really happening. It's just not in the realm of consideration, and that lovely old Virago will end up parted out on E-Bay. Sure, I am looking for those owners who just don't have any more interest in them. I'll make a few hundred flipping their Virago. But, when someone comes to your site, give them the REAL FIX. They won't believe what it does, or how simple it was to make their bike feel better than new. No starter fixes needed; no shims on the idler shaft or clips. Just get rid of the anemic coils.
And the TCI will be fine. Mine has got 8,000 miles with the new coil, and has hit redline numerous times. No burned out TCI's. The primary resistance on the ACCEL coil is 2.4 ohms. A similar one on the '81 has 3 ohms.

Mike Miller
mikeknowshow@sbcglobal.net

Note: Go here to raed about how to install an Accel Super Coil on your Virago.