Beth's 1996 Virago 535cc Special Edition
Beth's first bike was this 1996 Virago 535cc Special Edition. The special means that it has the two tone paint job, the custom seat and lots of extra chrome. We purchased the bike from a gentleman that managed to only put 1750 miles on it in two years. While it was not being driven, it was kept covered in his garage. He had all the maintenance done professionally. We bought the bike in May of 1999 for my wife to drive. She put about 8000 miles on it in nine months.
We both really like this bike. It is really sweet looking and has a great sound. This is a good bike for anyone that is inseam challenged. The seat height is 27 inches and the bike only weighs around 400 lbs. The tank holds 3.6 gallons including a .6 reserve. My wife typically gets about 45-50 mpg and goes about 130-150 miles between fill ups. We have made several road trips of several hundred miles each. The bike handles well on the freeways and back roads even with luggage. Everywhere we have gone, this bike always seems to attract comments and admirers.
This bike is not about power. It will top out at about 85 mph with a 175 lb rider. It handles well but the suspension is a bit soft for me. Beth never seemed to notice the suspension. The biggest drawback for us is that the turn signals on the rear fender sit right where saddle bags would hang. Beth used a tailbag strapped to the back seat which worked great for short weekend rides. However, for longer rides, this is just not enough. Also, on the highway the bike is sensitive to wind blasts from other vehicles. This goes with the light weight. Both of these factors are what led us to get the 99 Triumph Legend for Beth and sell this bike.
The Virago 535 is shaft driven so you don't have to hassle with chain maintenance. A few months after we bought the bike, oil began seeping from the joint between the transmission and the drive shaft. Apparently, the seal had dried and shrunk since the bike was never being ridden by the previous owner. We took it to the shop and had new seals installed. No leaks now.
We sold the bike. I had several calls from folks that had seen my online ad in the Cycle Trader, but nothing that resulted in anything concrete. Then one day I get a call from a fellow that is interested in this specific bike. He has seen this website and is very serious about coming up from Houston to check out the bike. We agree on a day. I tell him that unless he has the full purchase price with him when he shows up, he will not be getting a test ride. Basically, he buys the bike, test rides it, then if he decides not to keep it and it is still in the same shape as it was before his ride, I buy it back from him for the same price. He agrees to this.
He shows up with a friend at the agreed time. As soon as he gets out of the car I can tell the bike is sold. I just finished detailing the bike so it is really looking great. The bike is flawless cosmetically. He and his friend look it over and are very excited. He nervously asks if he can take it out for a spin. I ask him if he brought the money. He actually brought the full $3500 in cash!! It takes me several times of reminding him to give the money to Beth as we are getting ready to go riding. I went with him on my VFR to show him a good sampling of roads, some twisty and some fast. I also tell him about how the bike has lost some top end speed lately and that we cannot seem to figure out why. He seems to hear me but is oblivious. Apparently, he is not worried about that because the bike is in such good cosmetic shape.
Fortunately for me, my neighbor showed up right about the time we were getting ready to go riding. He pulled me off to the side and said he'd be happy to stay here with Beth and the guy's friend while we were gone. He's a great neighbor! So we head out and I take him on some good roads so he can get a feel for how the bike handles. When we get back to the house he is so excited he can hardly contain himself. He agrees to keep the bike.
He cannot take the bike home tonight so I tell him that I'll be happy to keep it for him until he can come back for it. After some visiting and general bike talk he tears himself away from the bike and they head home. He comes back up a few days later with his girlfriend. He is just as excited the day he comes back. When he fires up the bike, he gets that particular gleam in his eye that every rider gets hehe. He thanks me again as we do the final paperwork and then rides off.
Beth and I are of course thrilled. We sell the bike within a month of running the ads and get the asking price without so much as a word of haggling. Everyone feels great about the deal on both ends. And we get to use the money to make a large payment on the new Triumph ;-)