98 Virago 535

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by mikesova, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    I found a 98 Virago 535 on craigslist that has been sitting for over 10 years. (ding in the tank, "needs carb work", battery, tires, etc.)

    It's got 5700 miles. The owner claims that there's nothing else broken or messed up.

    I'm interested in having a low budget project bike that I could make into a cool around town custom. (chopper/bobberish, but nothing irreversible).

    What would you give for it?
    KBB Clean retail is $2,020.

    I'm thinking 200 for carb parts/ cleaning, 300 for tires, 50 for a battery, etc.

    Also, with a non-running bike, what would you reccomend to check? click through the gears, roll it around to make sure it's not locked up, etc?
    #1
  2. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

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    Without going through a laundry list of stuff it'll probably need: I'd go 4 or 500 on it and feel like I was doing the guy a favor.
    #2
  3. TINGLER

    TINGLER Swamp lips

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    Not running is $500.

    There could be lots of stuff wrong with a not running bike. At $500 you are taking a chance and if it all goes south you might be able to get $500 back in parts, though I doubt there's much of a parts demand for an old Virago.
    #3
  4. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Been here awhile

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    Beware the fuel pump. It's likely gummed up. I think it's internal in the lower tank, but I'm not 100% of that.

    Parts are surprisingly expensive, lots are not available as new replacement. Important parts, like carburetor mounts and the like.

    Most uncomfortable seat known to man. I'm usually squirming within 10 miles. Suffering in 20, and in tears by 50. Not really exagurating either.

    Awful buckhorn handlebars. Good replacement is a Honda Rebel set.

    Voltage regulator is prone to burning out.
    #4
  5. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    Hmm. He's asking $750 and I was thinking 5 or 6 hundred. So, I guess I was on track. I would be replacing the handlebars with some z-bars and I have a much better bike for long distance. This bike wouldn't be ridden for more than a half hour at a time.

    fox trapper, anything specific I can check for while looking at it?
    #5
  6. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Been here awhile

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    I'd say it's more general looking over. Just take some time and look it over from one end to the other. How flat/rotted the tires are. How the engine oil is. What do the pedals & levers move like. How brittle the seat is. How rusty the upper tank is. Etc.

    Mmm, if you've got an electrical charger and the owner is willing to let you hook it up to the bike that could tell you a good bit about the electrical gremlins. Lack of them would be a good sign.

    Beware, for some reason Harley riders tend to think you're one of theirs on these little 535s. You have to learn to do the two finger flick at the knee.
    #6
  7. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    Here's a pic of the bike. The person selling it is 2 hours away from it and can't get any better pics.

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. schlitz

    schlitz the slow one

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    If you can get it for $500 I'd go for it. My last bike was a '93 535. I put superbike bars on it, a stage 1 jet kit and MAC pipes. Great little cruiser. Not the best for highway trips but perfect for city riding and backroad bombing. :evil
    #8
  9. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    I'm thinking z-bars and kind of stripped down look. Think poor man's Sportster. I've got my FZ6 with bags for road trips and my KLX250s for offroad, but I've been wanting a project bike that I can tinker with out in the garage. It gets boring when all I can do is clean them and change the oil. ;)
    #9
  10. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    The Virago 535 was Yamaha's original Sportster copy. It has two gas tanks, on under the seat, because they wanted the top tank to look really small. It has shaft drive, wire wheels, tube type tires, and no centerstand. It is an excellent design, as was all the Viragos, with the exception of the first 2-3 model years that had serious starter drive issues that would dump metal shavings into the crankcase. New, the 535 was as reliable as any modern bike. But time and lack of use takes it's toll. If I don't know a LOT about it, I will not buy a non running bike other than dirt cheap as a parts bike. It might be in decent shape, it might be complete junk.

    One thing I would do, is go to bikebandit.com, cheapcycleparts.com, and eBay, and see what parts are still available for it, and what they cost. Resurrecting an old bike that has sat for a long time is rarely an easy job. The Goldwing forum is full of people who bought an old neglected bike, with the intention of getting it back on the road, did a lot of work, spent a lot of money, and still never got it going.
    #10
  11. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    oh, oh, I meant Poor man's bolt! ;)
    #11
  12. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Been here awhile

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    Well that alone answers a lot of the questions. It's been kept inside, it's not rusty, the plastic hasn't been destroyed by UV damage. It certainly appears worth a trip to go see it. If you still like it after sitting on it, low ball him to see if he bites, and rise up to whatever level you feel comfortable spending.
    #12
  13. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    I am thinking of bringing a good battery with a pair of alligator clips to hook it up. Should I hear the fuel pump engage when I turn on the key, like with my FZ6? I noticed that is a spendy part. If it is gummed up, I should be able to un-gum it, right?
    #13
  14. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

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    :lol3

    That's right! :deal
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  15. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

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    Yeah, totally. You can soak the pump. If it works, you can circulate some kerosene through it and break up a lot of the crud.

    Some of the trouble afterward comes from the sludge left after fuel dries. It actually helps to chemically speed the process of gas going bad, so any parts that aren't thoroughly cleaned are in the system contaminating the fuel.
    It's not so bad if you stay on top of it.
    You'll probably want to replace all the hose with stuff rated for injection too.
    #15
  16. Snapping Twig

    Snapping Twig Adventurer

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  17. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    I prefer the looks of the 535 and I don't want anything much bigger. No offense, but why would you spend that much on an 85 Virago?
    #17
  18. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Been here awhile

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    I hate disapearing posts. So, what he said.

    I pulled my tank, carbs and everything else because they were all a goey rusty mess. Soaked them clean and rust free with carb cleaner and vinegar. I did end up replacing my fuel pump because after I tested it and reinstalled it, it promptly died for no good reason.
    #18
  19. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    Does the fuel pump instantly make a noise when the the key turns on?
    #19
  20. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Been here awhile

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    Key on, kill switch on, and it should clatter. As I recall. Been a few years. Softish brrrr sound.

    Flip the reserve tank switch too. That provides power through two different circuits. Many times the reserve position works where the regular position does not (due to a gunky sensor inside the tank).
    #20