Anyway: The steering geometry is changed by the height of the rear tire: a short, fat 16" on the shaft-drive model, and a taller 18" on the chain-drive model.
Joe Minton did a great article on "Vitalizing the Virago" ( http://viragotech.com/
Basically, the old-school method used to be: front and rear progressive springs, (choose your viscosity) front fork oil, swap the steering head ball-bearings (I know!) for tapered bearings, and add a fork brace. The enclosed chain drive is sheer brilliance. I love the giant headlight.
I, too, am intrigued by the "Zero Cafe" Virago. If you look closely, you can see that he left the original spine frame (I'd love to replace mine with a light-as-air Ducati style trellis: sigh. His sense of proportion and balance is perfect. Replicating his work should be rather "easy," since the rear/seat portion just unbolts.
Why do a Virago cafe? Good question. It's big: with that 58-inch wheelbase, it's no "flick" bike (convert a dirt bike to be a cafe racer, if that's the experience that you want
. Another projecct that I want to do...). It's heavy: 500+ pounds. It's got a high center of gravity. Yada yada yada.
The reason "why" is the engine. It's torquey. It has a relaxing cadence that took me 6 months to understand; I kept trying to crack the throttle like on my inline 4 GS1100, and kept feeling frustrated and disappointed. Then, I learned how to let the bike teach me how it wanted to be ridden. Aww, man... The engine is nice to look at, too. (I never liked the look of the Suzuki VX800 engine...)
It's all personal preference: that's all that matters. Bike-hating is so irrelevant. What unites us is two -- sometimes three -- wheels. 20-30 years ago, the IIHS was making strong inroads to legislate motorcycles out of existence.
Anyway. Our bikes are platforms for creative and artistic expression. If a Cafe Virago/Gold Wing/Voyager/Rokon does it for you, then fine.
May the ties that bind us together be stronger than the forces that would tear us apart.