2011 Yamaha V-Star 250
The 2011 Yamaha V-Star 250 may just be one of the world's most popular motorcycles. At least it might seem so if you're ever in a Third World country. There seem to be three on every block. However, when you look carefully you will note that they're V-Star 250s but not really V-Star 250s. These are duplicates which do not bear the Yamaha label: V-Star 250 clones produced by Chinese companies like Lifan, and although they are built to look just like the V-Star 250, they're manufactured from old tin cans, plastic bottles, rubber bands, and whatever else can be pulled from dumpsters in Shanghai back alleys.
The Chinese V-Star 250 clones usually have all the performance of a moped with a fouled plug and the reliability of a grenade with the pin pulled. Stories abound of total engine failures before the odometer clicks over to four figures. A V-Star 250 clone that makes it to 10,000 miles is a miracle. One that makes it to 20,000 miles is fiction.
With all of this global bad rap against the V-Star 250 lookalikes it's a wonder that Yamaha hasn't given up on the whole model, or at least subjected it to a complete redesign to differentiate it from the slag. But, no, Yammy is still cranking out the V-Star 250s, pricing them at four grand (which will buy you a whole garage full of clones) and someone is still buying them. Someone. Somewhere.
Like the 2011 Yamaha Royal Star Venture S, the V-Star 250 is one of those motorcycles that Yamaha introduced in the Eighties and should have replaced in the Nineties. They're not outright bad motorcycles, but they do leave you scratching your head as to what they're doing in the showroom. It's a bit like if you walked into a GM dealership and saw a 1985 Chevy Celebrity that was being touted as a 2010.
Should you still be reading after all this dissing, it must be stated for fairness that the V-Star 250 is an extremely valid Eighties small cruiser. The 249cc air-cooled, SOHC 60-degree V-twin, with two valves per cylinder is the same reliable and fairly powerful Virago 250 powerplant, and it's lost none of its grunt as it has aged. The most surprising factor about this mill, and another that shows its senior citizenness, is the extreme undersquareness of its pistons. At a bore of 49 mm and a stroke of 66 mm, this long stroking little vee is certainly a throwback to the age where pistons looked like soda cans, not ashtrays.
The 2011 Yamaha V-Star 250 will do everything and anything you want a small cruiser to do. It will start, go, stop, and still give you that mini-Superglide feeling when you're riding it. It's just old and tired and needs an extreme makeover. Ty? Are you around to move that bus?
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2011 Yamaha V-Star 250 At A Glance
Base MSRP: $5,499
Engine Displacement: 249 cc
Engine Type: Air-cooled, SOHC, 2-valve, 60° V-twin
Bore & Stroke: 49 x 66 mm
Ignition Type: Digital TCI / Electric
Compression Ratio: 10:1
Transmission Type: 5-speed
Final Drive Type: Chain
Front Tire: 3.00-18
Rear Tire: 130/90-15
Wheelbase: 1,490 mm (58.7")
Saddle Height: 685 mm (27")
Curb Dry Weight: 147 kg (323.4 lb)
Fuel Capacity (US): 9.5 litres
* Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released