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Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

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Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: cruiseallyearlong » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:46 pm

Hi all,

I have a 2007 Virago 250 with 47,348 miles (bought it with 2,000 miles on it). This is my 3rd Virago 250 - and I was trying to make this one last a long time. Part of this post is to document for the group how many miles my bikes have gotten before I am experiencing issues, and with what sprockets.

I ride 75 miles round trip to work and back pretty much every day/ almost year round (freeway miles: 65% at 65-70mph and the other 35% at 50mph and below. I have been good about changing the oil every 2,000 miles (Castro 10/40. I have a 17/38 sprocket set up (perfect for me at 5ft 6 inches 145 lbs).

Last night on the way home I got about 5 miles and the engine started making a different sound, then a grinding sound and losing power then the grinding sound got worse-nasty and I had to pull over -I had basically no power. Fyi: The morning ride to work was 35 degrees f (California). FYI: I typically never let my engine warm up before I ride. I had to trailer the bike home. The bike will start with effort, but has a terrible grinding sound and dies fast.

I am not very mechanical, but am pretty sure the engine is done (crank bearing bad?) maybe no oil was getting to the bike because of the cold weather, oil pump stopped working, or maybe it was just too many hard miles and the cold didn't help?

Side note: My first Virago 250 had the same failure with the crank bearing /engine noise and quit, but only got to about 38,000 miles ( I changed the oil on that one about every 3,000 miles and only had the stock 16/45 set up) - but only went about 60mph occasionally 65mph with the 17/45 on my 1st bike.

My question is: What would you do? My skill level is weak.

1) Buy a newer xv250? Ie +-5 year old model? I am not mechanical enough to dig into an engine.
2) I have looked for a used engine. Seems people want about $500 for one. Is that a fair price? I think I could figure out how to install it (I have a manual). Is it worth going that route?
3) Or I was also thinking about maybe getting something a bit bigger like a Yamaha SR400, as I am on freeways a lot. My goal is to keep a bike a long time and try to maintain it. Maybe the virago is just not meant for the freeway or high miles, even with the 17/38 sprockets? What is highest mileage you have seen for these?

Also- unrelated: My bike particularly in cold weather, and particularly with less than a full tank would lose power and die. I would have to pull over and open the gas cap, let air in, and then let the starter work for a while to get gas back in the carb before it would fire back up (vacuum issue?). This is still a problem even if I put a used engine in it, right, which I would still have to resolve, right? I tried the idea of cleaning out the gas cap vent with a small wire several months ago. Could it be the plastic part that goes to the cylinders from the carb is the issue?.. it has cracks.

I like riding motorcycles. I like the fuel economy, light weight, seat height, and the fact I can work on the xv250 (with Virago tech forums help in the past as well -thank you!). There is something very cool/ empowering about learning how to do your own maintenance / repairs.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

cruiseallyearlong
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Bike year & model: Current bike: 2007 xv250 w 17/38 sprockets

also had a 2001 xv250 with 17/43 sprockets, but went to 17/38, and a 1995 xv250 with 16/45 sprockets.
Sex: Male

Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: juro1 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:16 am

Timing chain broke? tensioner is bad?
Could u upload an audio recording to You Tube?
My 250 is close to your mileage.

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Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: cruiseallyearlong » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:29 am

juro1 wrote:Timing chain broke? tensioner is bad?
Could u upload an audio recording to You Tube?
My 250 is close to your mileage.


Thanks Juro1! ...good idea. I will try to get a decent audio.

cruiseallyearlong
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Bike year & model: Current bike: 2007 xv250 w 17/38 sprockets

also had a 2001 xv250 with 17/43 sprockets, but went to 17/38, and a 1995 xv250 with 16/45 sprockets.
Sex: Male

Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: hypophthalmus » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:29 am

$500 for an engine is a fair price.

Despite the larger engine, the SR400 is only marginally more powerful.

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Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: cruiseallyearlong » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:44 am

hypophthalmus wrote:$500 for an engine is a fair price.

Despite the larger engine, the SR400 is only marginally more powerful.


Thanks for the info Hypopthalmus! Much appreciated. Makes me feel better about sticking with the xv250.

cruiseallyearlong
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Bike year & model: Current bike: 2007 xv250 w 17/38 sprockets

also had a 2001 xv250 with 17/43 sprockets, but went to 17/38, and a 1995 xv250 with 16/45 sprockets.
Sex: Male

Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: drainplug » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:03 pm

To find out what may be going on , there are two things to start with
1- Pull the plugs out and look at them, they should be a tan color. The color will tell you what's going on in the cylinder. Report back here what you see.
2- Drain the oil into a clean pan, it should be a dark golden color. You are looking for things that shouldn't be there , like pieces of metal or shavings. If there are any pieces that you find post pictures.

BTW where in Calif. are you
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Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: cruiseallyearlong » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:13 pm

drainplug wrote:To find out what may be going on , there are two things to start with
1- Pull the plugs out and look at them, they should be a tan color. The color will tell you what's going on in the cylinder. Report back here what you see.
2- Drain the oil into a clean pan, it should be a dark golden color. You are looking for things that shouldn't be there , like pieces of metal or shavings. If there are any pieces that you find post pictures.

BTW where in Calif. are you


Ok, got it. Thanks Drainplug. I should be able to do this by this Weekend. I live near Sacramento.

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Bike year & model: Current bike: 2007 xv250 w 17/38 sprockets

also had a 2001 xv250 with 17/43 sprockets, but went to 17/38, and a 1995 xv250 with 16/45 sprockets.
Sex: Male

Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: mark75 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:28 pm

cruiseallyearlong said ...
"... I like riding motorcycles. I like the fuel economy, light weight, seat height, and the fact I can work on the xv250 (with Virago tech forums help in the past as well -thank you!). There is something very cool/ empowering about learning how to do your own maintenance / repairs. ... "

you answered yourself - you like what you have, so I would stick with it.

and yes, being your own mechanic is empowering, and more economical, too.

do you have a service manual?
they can be very helpful. link here for a pdf version. ---> viewtopic.php?f=6&t=56605
"Over the Mountains of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride" ... E.A. Poe

'13 - FXDC Super Glide Custom
'82 - XV750

Time flies whether you're having fun __ :bike: ... or not ... :fan: ---
and --- Any day above ground is a good day.
so Laissez les bon temps roulez ... just roll safely

"I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand." ... Confucius*

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New Members Note- The site will allow full access (U/L, D/L, PM, etc) after your 5th post.

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Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: cruiseallyearlong » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:50 pm

Thanks mark75. Probably going to stay with the xv250. Yes, thanks, I do have a manual and reviewed how to remove the engine. Probably some tough parts reconnecting stuff but considering keeping my bike and putting another engine in it.

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Bike year & model: Current bike: 2007 xv250 w 17/38 sprockets

also had a 2001 xv250 with 17/43 sprockets, but went to 17/38, and a 1995 xv250 with 16/45 sprockets.
Sex: Male

Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: juro1 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:38 pm

cruiseallyearlong wrote:FYI: I typically never let my engine warm up before I ride.



why? i always let mine warm up at least a little. Five minutes idle time in this twenty degree F weather.

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Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: cruiseallyearlong » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:28 pm

Hi jur1,

In the morning, mostly out of courtesy... I leave for work at 6:10am. I try to not make a lot of noise for the neighbors, and partly because I have multiple stop lights near my house before getting on the freeway. I consider that a sort of warm up.when I leave work, same thing, stop lights.

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Bike year & model: Current bike: 2007 xv250 w 17/38 sprockets

also had a 2001 xv250 with 17/43 sprockets, but went to 17/38, and a 1995 xv250 with 16/45 sprockets.
Sex: Male

Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: bstig60 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:07 am

juro1: Please edit your profile to show your location. If you buy a used engine, make sure you check it out thoroughly or have a mechanic do so prior to purchasing it. A little extra time/money spent up front can save you a lot of grief later on.
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Please take the time to edit your profile to show your location. City, State/Province and Country. It is easier to help you if we know where you are.

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Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: cruiseallyearlong » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:06 am

Thanks bstig60

The one I may buy is from a salvage yard. They said 145 compression both cycl but don’t know how old or milage.

cruiseallyearlong
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Bike year & model: Current bike: 2007 xv250 w 17/38 sprockets

also had a 2001 xv250 with 17/43 sprockets, but went to 17/38, and a 1995 xv250 with 16/45 sprockets.
Sex: Male

Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: mark75 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:04 pm

cruiseallyearlong wrote:Hi jur1,

In the morning, mostly out of courtesy... I leave for work at 6:10am. I try to not make a lot of noise for the neighbors, and partly because I have multiple stop lights near my house before getting on the freeway. I consider that a sort of warm up.when I leave work, same thing, stop lights.


I hear ya', and I'm sure your neighbors appreciate it, but give it at least a slow 30 count [1 Mississippi - 2 Mississippi - ...] before taking off - they should be able to endure a half minute.
it will give you a warm, lubricated upper-end (and carb) that will be ready to go.
"Over the Mountains of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride" ... E.A. Poe

'13 - FXDC Super Glide Custom
'82 - XV750

Time flies whether you're having fun __ :bike: ... or not ... :fan: ---
and --- Any day above ground is a good day.
so Laissez les bon temps roulez ... just roll safely

"I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand." ... Confucius*

If you don't read the news you are not informed.
If you read the news you are misinformed.
... Mark Twain

New Members Note- The site will allow full access (U/L, D/L, PM, etc) after your 5th post.

TIP: search the Knowledge Base Board Nav., Tech Articles, Tips, and Links for tricks, and Solutions...
the search may seem or feel ponderous, but it's worth the effort.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*The views, opinions, and experiences expressed in this post are mine and may not necessarily represent views and opinions of other VTF members, so feel free to agree, disagree, or ignore them.*
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: juro1 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:37 pm

any news?

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Re: Looking for advise - catastrophic engine failure

PostAuthor: deadsirius » Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:38 pm

I'm afraid I don't have any advice on your engine problem, but I am wondering, have you made some kind of modifications to your exhaust system? I ask because not wanting to disturb the neighbors is admirable, but my 250 idling in the back yard is not even audible, let alone loud, from inside my kitchen 20 feet away...
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