Muy Bueno: A Yamaha XV920 Virago street tracker from Virginia

An old Yamaha Virago doesn’t quite have the same appeal as an old Harley, but there was a time when the Virago and its ilk had The Motor Co. worried. Back in the mid-80s, the influx of Japanese-made cruisers prompted Harley-Davidson to lobby the US government to impose tariffs on large-capacity imported motorcycles. It’s safe to assume that the Yamaha XV920 Virago was one of the biggest threats.

As an early-80s cruiser, the XV920 Virago ticks every box. Its offbeat styling epitomizes the era, and it makes more power than an early-80s Sportster. It hasn’t aged well—but it has caught a second breath as a popular choice for custom projects.

This Yamaha XV920 Virago street tracker is the work of Nick Ghobashi at Bueno Co. in Virginia. Nick’s custom builds are typically unfussy and fun—a style that the Virago wears well.

Nick started out with 1982-model XV920, then stripped it down to its nuts and bolts. Many of the stock Yamaha parts never made it back onto the bike though. By the time Nick was done, only the Virago’s drivetrain, main frame, and rear hub remained.

Yamaha XV920 Virago by Bueno Co.
Working from the inside out, Nick first refreshed the engine with new gaskets and a new starter motor. It was treated to a fresh coat of satin black paint, with brushed aluminum accents and a full complement of stainless steel fasteners. The carbs were stripped, upgraded with a Dynojet kit, and tuned.

Next, Nick worked some magic on the intake manifold to accommodate a bolt-on air filter. A small box was fabricated to sit below the swingarm pivot, housing a Lithium battery, the starter solenoid, and an upgraded regulator/rectifier.

Yamaha XV920 Virago by Bueno Co.
Handmade stainless steel headers hang off the right side of the engine, terminating in turned-out ends. “They were fashioned as a homage to vintage race cars,” says Nick. “I had the Shelby Cobra in mind, and I left them raw to add to the brawny look of the bike.”

Turning his attention to the frame, Nick fabricated a new subframe and welded it to the backbone of the original frame. The trellis design of the subframe might not match the squared tubing of the rest of the bike, but somehow the two styles complement each other. Satin titanium powder coating was applied to the entire frame, flipping from silver to a goldish hue depending on the light.

Yamaha XV920 Virago by Bueno Co.
To turn the Virago from a cruiser into a street tracker, Nick had to radically rework the suspension and wheels. A set of Suzuki GSX-R750 forks and brakes went onto the front, with an adjustable YSS shock propping up the rear. Then a new front wheel was laced up, using an Excel rim, an aftermarket hub, and a set of stainless steel spokes from Buchanan’s.

Nick used the same rim and spokes for the rear wheel, but employed custom bearings and spacers so that he could run a later model Virago hub. It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park though—Nick had to mill the hub, brake shoe carrier, and swingarm ever so slightly to make everything fit. Street-legal Dunlop flat track tires round out the package.

Yamaha XV920 Virago by Bueno Co.
For the bodywork, Nick modded a classic Kawasaki fuel tank to fit the Yamaha frame. It wears a custom aluminum filler bung and cap, a Pingel fitting, and a slick petcock from Prism Supply Co. The tank, and the custom aluminum fenders that sit at each end of the bike, were all painted in BMW Malachite Green.

The Virago’s bench seat was built on a fiberglass and kevlar base, and upholstered using a chevron pattern that’s become Bueno Co.’s signature. Nick finished the tail off with a pair of custom-made taillight housings, each equipped with a Purpose Built Moto LED taillight.

Yamaha XV920 Virago by Bueno Co.
Nick wanted the Virago to have a “neutral-to-slightly forward riding position that looks aggressive, but is comfortable to ride.” To that end, he added a set of Renthal riser bars to the cockpit, fitted with ODI Vans x Cult grips and minimal classic switches. The front brake’s master cylinder is a Nissin unit with a Brembo reservoir, connected via Venhill lines.

A small LED headlight from Purpose Built Moto sits up front, with a Koso gauge mounted neatly above it. New foot pegs and custom-made shift and brake levers finish off the control package.

The early-80s Virago isn’t an easy bike to customize, but Bueno Co. has cracked the code. And if you’re wondering if it’s as fun to ride as it looks, Nick describes it as “torquey, rowdy, and loud.”

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Yamaha XV920 Virago by Bueno Co.