Dirt Quake(r): Yamaha Virago 250 Flat Tracker

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

An XV250 flat tracker from Moore’s Competition Cycles

The Yamaha XV250 — aka the Virago 250 — is a lightweight cruiser that’s been in production for nearly three decades, offering a 60-degree V-twin engine capable of pushing the machine to ~85 mph. For most of this time, the quarter-liter Virago has been the only V-twin available in the 250 class — an interesting platform for small, American-style customs.

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

Enter Jesse Moore of Moore’s Competition Cycles, who grew up racing motocross and hanging out in the workshop of his father, an engine-builder who works on 60s Grand Prix cars. Earlier this year, Jesse decided it was time to have a crack at flat track racing. He and his sister signed up for none other than DirtQuake, one of the wildest events of the resurgent sport, where bike fans, amateur grease monkeys, professional riders, and celebrities all come together to race, often in costume or on “inappropriate” race bikes:

“DirtQuake is a motorbike festival centered around “Run what you Brung” flat track racing for allcomers. We want to see your personalities, alter egos and passion for the sport we all love.”

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

When Jesse started hunting for a donor, only one type of engine configuration would do:

“I’d grown up watching On Any Sunday and it was clear if I was going to do a flat tracker, it needed to be a V-twin.”

When he found a “rough-as-hell” 1989 Virago 250 for sale, he snapped it up for just £350 and went to work building an American-style V-twin flat tracker:

“As soon as I knew I was buying a Yamaha, it was Kenny Roberts colours all the way.”

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

The modifications were extensive, and included de-raking the frame, building a new subframe, fabricating mounts for the midset controls, building a custom 2-1 exhaust, and much more. Says Jesse:

“The project taught me an awful lot.”

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

Jesse made it to the finals in the street tracker class, lining up against big Ducatis and Triumphs, and was looking to have a fourth place finished until he wrecked a lap from the end. “Gutting.” His sister Emily had similar luck in the ladies division, getting tangled in an accident in her last heat. She was declared concussed, which kept her out of the finals. Still, the siblings were hooked:

“We still had a brilliant day, such an experience and we’ve since started to build race bikes for the coming season.”

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

Right now, the XV is taking a backseat as they build their race bikes for 2020, but Jesse has plans to do a twin carb conversion, cams and porting, and raise the compression — all while keeping the displacement the same:

“I’d though about boring it out and achieving more grunt that way, but I like the fact it’s just a 250, I think of it as more of a challenge, oversize pistons are an easy way out, right?”

Amen, Jesse — we love that spirit. Below, we get the full details on the build, and encourage you to follow the family’s new page at Moore’s Competition Cycles. Good luck in 2020, y’all!

Virago 250 Tracker: Builder Interview

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

My name is Jesse Moore, 21 years old, I’ve ridden motorcycles since I was around 3 and raced motocross for years as a kid. I’ve grown up in my father’s workshop, he’s an engine builder, mostly working on 60s Grand Prix cars — we’ve got a little lathe, a TIG welder, and a press, nothing very special, but enough to make a mess!

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?

The bike is an ‘89 Yamaha Virago xv250, I paid £350 for it and it was rough as hell!

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

• Why was this bike built?

The bike was built for Dirtquake 2019. I’d decided I needed to have a crack at it and that I should probably get on and build a dirt tracker. I’d grown up watching On Any Sunday and it was clear if I was going to do a flat tracker, it needed to be a V-twin. I really like small capacity bikes so when a 250 came along at the right price, it was bought. I was working on a building site at the time and wanted to get more involved with motorcycle building — I figured with my dad’s knowledge I was pretty safe if I got stuck with anything. The project taught me an awful lot.

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

The concept really was an American-style V-twin flat tracker, that I could thrash round the field and the odd oval track. As soon as I knew I was buying a Yamaha, it was Kenny Roberts colours all the way.

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

• What custom work was done to the bike?

There’s a whole load of custom work on this bike, the rear of the tank was raised around 3 inches, I made a subframe to take the seat, fabricated mounts for ‘mid set’ foot pegs, de-raked the frame to a more sensible 25 degrees, laced an 18 inch rim onto the rear hub to take the 400×18 rear tyre, to match the 350×18 tyre on the front. Fabbed a homemade 2-into-1 exhaust and de-cluttered the frame, engine and wiring loom.

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

• Does the bike have a nickname?

The bike doesn’t really have a nickname… perhaps it should?

• How did the race go?

My sister and I both rode it — me in the street tracker class, her in the ladies. I managed to put it on the back row of the final, I was dead pleased being that I was surrounded by big Ducatis, Triumphs, SV650s, all sorts of big stuff, a little daunting with my measly 20 horsepower, I fought through the pack to around 4th place, and binned it a lap from the end! Gutting. Emily had similar luck and got caught up in an accident in her last heat, she wasn’t allowed to ride in the final after being declared concussed. We still had a brilliant day, such an experience and we’ve since started to build race bikes for the coming season.

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

• What’s next for this XV?

The XV will take a back seat for a minute, until the race bikes are finished, but then I have plans to do some porting, have some cams ground, a twin carb conversion, and raise the compression… I’d though about boring it out and achieving more grunt that way, but I like the fact it’s just a 250, I think of it as more of a challenge, oversize pistons are an easy way out, right? Then there’s a whole lineup of alternative motorcycle events in the new year, Dirtquake, Malle Mile, Dirt dSggers, Summer Slam flat track, Bike Shed Fest — they’re all there and they’re all on the list!

Yamaha XV250 Virago 250 Tracker

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