MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: Star Motorcycles V Star 250

A beginner bike that’s a keeper

By Michelle Baird; Photos by Tom Riles
Sensible riders cut their motorcycle teeth on an easy-to-ride, small-displacement bike, but as skill and confidence grow, so does the hunger for a bigger motorcycle. Many of these little trainer motorcycles that are so accommodating at parking lot speeds lose their composure on the highway, if they can reach highway speeds at all. And many of them look and sound downright wimpy. Eventually, that cute little trainer bike is sold or relegated to the back of the garage. However, once in a while, a trainer bike comes along that’s a keeper, such as Star Motorcycles V Star 250.

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Michelle Baird takes a spin on the V Star 250 in a suburb of Atlanta during Star Motorcycles 2012 lineup introduction.

While the 2012 V Star 250 is an excellent trainer bike, it can also handle highway speeds and has the fun factor and stylish looks to retain its place at the front of the garage as an occasional joy-ride bike or even as an economical commuter bike.

The air-cooled 60-degree V-twin engine builds power evenly and smoothly, which is what makes it so great for rookies, but experienced riders will love winding the throttle all the way open and aggressively clicking through the widely geared 5-speed transmission.
The 2012 V Star 250 doesn’t flinch when ridden hard, and Michelle says it was most fun while zipping around the twisties in the foothills of this southern Appalachian region.

The V Star 250 is the only V-twin engine in its class of beginner bikes and puts out a nice V-twin rumble from its dual staggered exhaust pipes.
The V Star 250 has a big-bike feel and splashes of chrome for stylish good looks. Add in the fun factor and the appeal of a V-twin engine and it makes sense why versions of this bike have been around for so many years.
The V Star 250 descended from the 1981 Yamaha Virago 750, which featured the first air-cooled V-twin engine from a Japanese manufacturer to hit the US market. The 2007 model was the last to bear the Virago name, debuting a year after Star Motorcycles became a separate entity under parent company Yamaha (Yamaha still handles production and distribution, but Star cruisers are designed in the United States). In 2008, the Virago 250 became the V Star 250.
The 1981 Virago 750 was part of Yamaha’s Virago line of cruisers for many years before Yamaha created its cruiser division, Star Motorcycles.

The 2012 V Star 250 is the same as the 2011 version except for the graphics and pin-striping on the black paint and a new and improved handlebar.
Thanks to its mature looks and a respectable V-twin growl, the diminutive cruiser won’t feel out of place hanging out with the big bikes at the local biker watering hole.
Chrome adorns the V Star 250 on everything from the engine covers to the staggered exhaust, the headlamp housing and the wire-spoked wheels. Besides the expanded paint options, the one upgrade over the 2011 model is the new rider-friendly handlebars. Thankfully, the designers at Star got rid of the “chopper-esque” ape-hanger bars from previous models. The old handlebars were awkward to steer in tight corners and sometimes touched the knees of tall, long-legged riders in full-steering-locked U-turns. The new drag-style straight handlebar gives the 250 an updated look and puts the rider’s arms at a much more relaxed and ergonomic position. More importantly, the new straight handlebar makes the 250 easier to steer.
The V Star 250 fits Michelle’s 5-foot-5-inch frame well, with her arms comfortably reaching the drag-style handlebars.
V Star 250s from previous years, like this one, featured mini-apehanger-style handlebars.
This bike can practically make a U-turn on a manhole cover without tall riders having to worry about bumping a knee on the new handlebars.
What the V Star 250 does best is provide a confidence-inspiring, easy-to-ride platform for new motorcyclists, and the low seat height of 27 inches has a lot to do with that. Ask any new woman rider what her biggest concern is, and most often you’ll hear her say it’s being able to plant both feet solidly on the ground when seated on the bike. Seat height is an issue for most women riders, new or experienced. As a rider gains experience, seat height becomes less of an issue. But when you are 5-foot-5, like me, the ability to put more than one toe on the pavement sure takes the stress out of stopping.
The V Star 250s 27-inch seat height may seem on the high side, but the narrow seat tapers to meet the classically styled teardrop fuel tank. This means that riders with shorter-than-average inseams should be able to flat foot the bike. For reference, Michelle (shown here) is 5-foot-5 and has a 29-inch inseam.

Most women just don’t have the same muscle mass or upper-body strength as men, so women have to be clever and think ahead about where to park their motorcycles. Weighing just 326 pounds, the V Star 250 is such a light bike that it’s a breeze to wiggle around whether youre straddle-walking it or guiding it with the handlebars while walking alongside it.

Women will love the independence of being able to “woman-handle” this bike on their own and park it wherever they want.

Lightweight bikes get pushed around on the highway, but a low center of gravity and a longish 58.7-inch wheelbase help keep the V Star 250 fairly stable at fast freeway speeds. I took it for some laps on a country highway, and it didn’t shudder too much in the wind blast of passing semi-trucks, even though it takes the 250 a bit of time to throttle past those trucks. This bike was able to comfortably go with the flow of traffic on the highway without difficulty, and it hit an indicated 85 mph on the speedometer without getting twitchy.

Highway riding does cause some vibration in the footpegs and handlebars, which fed into the mirrors, so everything in the rearview gets blurry when riding this bike fast. The vibrations would be an annoyanceonlyafter several hours of highway, but anyone who rides a 250 for hours on the highway is probably tough enough to handle a bit of vibration.
The oval-shaped lollipop mirrors provide a decent view of what’s in back, but vibrations at highway speeds make everything a little blurry.
The footpegs are placed slightly forward, cruiser style, positioning the knees at a natural and comfortable bend, like sitting in a chair. Those footpegs have plenty of ground clearance, and Michelle never scraped them in the fast mountain corners, though she says some faster gals could probably get them to touch down.

The upright seating position means fewer aches and pains at the end of the day. The plush seat is comfortable, and the controls are easy to reach.
The clutch and brake levers are easy to work and are located well within reach of fingertips, even for Michelle’s small hands.
The handlebar-mounted choke lever (located below the horn button) is easy to access with a thumb when you need it.

The fuel petcock (located on the left side between the cylinders) is easy to find when riding. It accesses around
a half gallon of fuel in the reserve tank when the 2.4 gallons in the main tank run out.
Instrumentation is centrally located at a glance down and includes a big, round speedometer and an analog tripmeter and odometer.
Other niceties on this diminutive cruiser include a locking gas cap, a steering lock and a helmet lock, features you wouldn’t expect to find on a beginner bike. That’s why this V Star 250 is more than a beginner bike. A backrest, saddlebags and a small windshield are available from the Star Motorcycles accessory department, perfect for those who want to turn this pup cruiser into a commuter.  
The V Star 250 is the only Star cruiser with a chain drive and has a good-sized 130/90-15 rear tire.
The suspension package is simple yet effective. A telescopic front fork with 5.5 inches of travel and twin rear shocks with 3.9 inches of travel (adjustable spring preload) soak up the bumps just fine.
A 282mm hydraulic disc brake on the front and a drum brake on the rear haul the lightweight bike to a progressive and controllable stop, even under the unrefined, grabby brake lever pulls of a newbie rider.

The V Star 250 has a fair price tag of $4,190, the same as its closest rival, the 2012 Honda Rebel. Color choices on the V Star are limited—just black (Raven, to be specific). The bike does save bucks at the pump, getting an estimated 78 mpg, which means its 2.4-gallon tank can go nearly 200 miles between fill-ups. It has a washable foam air filter to save a few dollars more at maintenance time.  

I enjoyed my time on the V Star 250. The full lineup of Star Motorcycles was available at the press introduction where I tested the bike, and most of the motorcycle journalists in attendance opted to test ride the big touring cruisers. But at Women Riders Now, we’re aware of how important the smaller cruisers are to the legions of ladies thinking about getting into motorcycling. Knowing there are smaller-displacement motorcycles like the V Star 250 that possess oodles of styling and pizzazz makes the sport of motorcycling that much more attractive to those who want to grab life by the handlebars. And what’s more, experienced riders can appreciate the appeal of a small, low-maintenance bike that can be used for quick hops or commuter riding. 
The Star Motorcycles press ride was structured like a poker run, and Michelle won $1,000 for WRN’s charity pick, the Stafford Animal Shelter in Livingston, Mont.

Want to test ride a V Star 250? Star has the 250 at select dealers. Visit to find one near you. 

Specs At A Glance: 2012 Star Motorcycles V Star 250
Displacement: 249cc
Seat Height: 27 inches
Weight: 326 pounds
Price: $4,190
Colors: Raven
WRN Recommendation
The V Star 250 is an ideal motorcycle for new riders who don’t want to skimp on their choice of beginner motorcycle. It offers way more than your typical beginner bike, with a price reflecting all those updated features. But the V Star 250 will pay its riders back in spades because they will have the experience of riding a motorcycle that acts and sounds like a bigger V-twin bike. And in the end, that’s what all beginners hope for—to be adequately prepared for when they’re ready to trade up to a big-girl motorcycle. 
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37 thoughts on MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: Star Motorcycles V Star 250

  1. I have a 2011 Yamaha Virago 250. I have been trying to obtain crash guards for it, however, I have been advised Yamaha no longer makes them for this model, and the V Star guards will not fit. Can you please advise if you are aware of any company who still sells them?

    1. I just did a quick search on ebay and mulitple options came up, including Cobra, Barons Custom Accessories, MC Enterprises, and more. You shouldn’t have a problem finding some aftermarket guards for your bike. Good luck!

  2. I am writing this comment at the beginning of the year 2018. The last comment I notice was written in 2016. Hopefully more comments will come in. Please don’t delete this review from your site as it is the best cycle review I’ve ever read. I also read with great interest all 8 pages of your reader comments on this review, which in their own way were almost as informative as your review. Your superbly clear detailed photos along with the practical information giving captions are a combination I have not found on any other review source. All men riders should become aware of your website in order to benefit from the wealth of practical advice offered.I have been an advocate of the V Star/Virago 250 for quite some time, and although I have never ridden one I still feel that one day I may have one, perhaps acquired in trade for the bike I currently have, a Yamaha Virago 1100. I acquired the 1100 by trading a 1982 BMW R 100 RT that I had for 19 years. I rarely rode the BMW due to its high seat height. The Virago 1100 is much lower, however, I am having starting issues with it, which I think could be fairly easily resolved, and then one would have a beautiful vintage 1988 1100 cruiser in near mint condition.As I approach the age of 65 I would offer this one piece of advice to any new or aspiring rider, as well as to aging riders—do not acquire a motorcycle that is too much for you, for if you do you will rarely use it. As a result the bike will deteriorate due to non-use and the person will essentially miss out on the adventure of the motorcycling experience in general.I have thought for quite some time that the 250 Star/Virago is a unique bike in the cruiser class and more than adequate for the general everyday riding purposes of most men and women. There must be some good reason why this bike has been in production virtually unchanged for the past 30 years. I hope for those who would prefer a new one, that Yamaha would not decide to discontinue production of it. Thank you again for the excellent review work. I would recommend your website to everyone for the unique perspective you offer.

    1. Thank you for your generous words of praise, Richard. We always welcome men who appreciate the way we present our motorcycle reviews and other articles with easy-to-understand language and captioned pictures to read and be part of WRN. I’m glad you found us, and thank you for sharing our site with your friends.

  3. The article is right on. I bought one “used” with only 129 miles on it. I was attempting to learn on a Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster and even though it was lowered, I had a hard time with it. Nothing is worth getting hurt, so I went to this make/model. I’m still learning, however, I’m much more at ease. I am looking for some replacement mirrors and have only found one set. But they are almost useless over 40 mph. Does anyone have any suggestions or references where I may find a set?

  4. Thank you so much for this article and website in general.I got my license two months ago and was all ready to go out and buy a brand new Harley-Davidson 883 Iron Sportster until I took the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy course on a Street 500 and realized even that was way to much for my 5-feet-2-inch, 120-pound frame to handle. I swear I was on the ground more than on the bike. I passed the course alright (somehow) and got my license but definitely don’t feel confident to jump on a bike and take it on the road.This website opened my eyes to the smaller bikes and this one in particular. I love that it has the big bike sound. I am going this weekend to purchase my brand new 2015 V Star 250 and couldn’t be more excited to build my confidence and ride next to my dad for Father’s Day!

  5. I am a fairly new, less aggressive rider and have a Yamaha V Star 250. This article is so accurate on the bike. It is a fabulous starter bike, and I spent more time (though limited miles) just riding it around our neighborhood, stopping and starting and turning and learning, and it is so lightweight I could back it up easily. I never thought I’d go above 35 mph on it, as I was so new to riding. I now ride it easily above 65, though (for me) anything about 55 to 60 and the vibration (and resulting vibration) in the mirror would not be comfortable on a longer trip at highway speeds, and I do not care to take it on the interstate due to more traffic and truckers (though 4 lane highways are fine). I am 5 feet 6 inches and a slim stature, so perhaps more weight would keep it from vibrating. This bike is amazing around town, great for “country cruising (45 to 55 mph and a bit more here and there) for a few hours, yet for much longer rides, and especially at higher speeds, a bike with less vibration may suit. I get a bit over 90 mpg. It is super easy to handle and I have the “rams horn” handlebars, which I actually like as I do not have to reach at all, so my arms don’t tire (I will go for hours-plus “country” rides now, and it’s very comfortable). I love the small footprint of the bike, yet I am doing what I thought I would never do – upgrading to a larger engine and a heavier bike. I will miss this 250 so much, and would love to keep it but we can’t collect them! As the next step up for Yamaha (as far as manageable power in a smaller frame, 2000s-era bike) is a bit much, I will going to a Suzuki S50 (2009 or prior, as the twin “V”, water cooled, shaft driven is less maintenance and more powerful than the smaller framed S40 single, air cooled, chain driven). V Star 250 – I will miss you dearly! If I am fortunate enough that no one else wants you, I will continue to ride you around town!

  6. This is such a great article! I’m so glad I found this web site! I am very new to riding and I am considering buying this bike. My first bike has been an ’81 Kawasaki KZ-305, which has never idled smoothly and I’ve spent more time trying to fix it than riding it over the last two years. I have a question: Just before finding this article I read a review on this same model and it also gave the V Star 250 a stamp of approval as a beginner’s bike but mentioned that a newbie trying it out, found the clutch late to engage, and a more experienced rider commented that it could be difficult for a new rider to find neutral. Was wondering if you would mind sharing your thoughts on this? I’d really love to have a great motorcycle experience for a change! Thanks!

    1. It is very possible that this experienced rider who reviewed the bike had that experience with that particular bike he or she was testing, but regardless, the V Star 250 is an overall all-around great beginner’s bike. If neutral is “difficult” to find, which I doubt it is (I’ve not personally ridden the bike), our reviewer would have mentioned it; and it’s not a reason not to consider this motorcycle. That is one small thing to be learned – that is, finding neutral. It will different on all motorcycles so why not learn it on a motorcycle where one reviewer’s opinion thinks it’s a little more difficult to find.

  7. I also took a training course on a Rebel. I bought a new 2015 Yamaha V Star 250. It handles great and I get a lot of comments on it. I have small hands and on the Rebel I had to reach, but on my bike it’s got the perfect levers. This article is excellent and true.

  8. I just passed the basic riders course on a Rebel but I am really glad I read this article on the V Star. At 5 feet tall, getting both feet on the ground is very important to me as a new rider. The V Star fits me better than the Rebel and I’ve just bought a 2011 as my first bike. I know I won’t outgrow it quickly.

    1. Rose,That’s a great question considering all the positive and glowing reviews it’s gotten. I don’t see why it wouldn’t do well for long distance travel. Although, one must consider these limitations on any small, 250cc motorcycle:- engine power; it is a 250cc so it can really only go 65 to 70 comfortably- carrying capacity; limited packing space, which limits what you can take- overall small bike size so this effects overall handling and comfort on the road; lighter means the wind can whip it around more easily, and components like seat and suspension are not set up for long distance so overtime one could get fatigued faster. These are just a few of the things I thought of. Maybe others with the motorcycle could weigh in.

  9. Tall guys can ride the 250 V Star too! I’m 6 feet 3 inches and bought the V Star 250 (actually a 2007 Virago 250) for my 6-foot-2 stepson to ride to school and get around on. He loves it. I’ve ridden the bike and it’s just fine even for my size. Truth is, it is really a lot more fun to ride than my V Star 1100. With the 250’s light weight and nimble handling, you can fling it into corners and not worry about balancing the 650-pound-plus weight of a bigger cycle.

  10. In the four weeks from the first time I rode a motorcycle, to getting my license and first bike in Dec 2013, I did a lot of research – – including this article. Seat height was not an issue, but for me, I needed a bike that I believed I could ride – and that was a 250. I knew from riding style — I have no desire for racing — that I would be looking at a cruiser. -My MSF bike was a Honda Rebel, and it fit me well. A friend had a Yamaha V Star Classic and I liked its looks, so when I learned essentially the same bike was available in a 250, my interest was piqued. In the seven months since my purchase of my 2013 V Star 250, I have received several comments from “big bike” riders on her non-250 looks. I have been amazed at her patience with me and grace in my learning. This week I have been commuting to work on the freeway, and I can tell you, she will do sustained 70 mph just fine while feeling stable. I have not heard the same comments from those I know who began on a Rebel. It will take a new rider a few short runs on the freeway at that speed to get used to the feeling, however the V Star 250 is worthy. And there is that V-twin sound!

  11. My daughter and I just got licenses two weeks ago. She purchased a 2014 Ninja 300 ABS and I’ve been shopping for a cruiser. This article cemented my decision to purchase the V Star 250. We love the vast amount of information your website provides to new riders. Thank you!

  12. Thanks for the info on this site and the reviews. When I started riding I was on a Honda Rebel then went to a Honda Shadow 600. I stopped riding for more than five years and I now have lupus and lost a lot of strength. I was looking for a Shadow again and couldn’t find one and was concerned about riding again due to losing a lot of my strength. After considering a Rebel again, I also checked out the V Star and liked the V-twin and style better; it’s also a little bigger then the Rebel. It’s a spunky little bike and very easy to maneuver. I did come across a Shadow and sat on it, lifting it upright I realized I made the right decision as I can’t handle the weight of it. I checked out this site mostly because I am going to be riding with a group who does go out on the highways and I am concerned that it would be to much on the small engine. I read that this engine can handle it which thrills me to no end. I have had several people tell me it looks like a 600-650 so I don’t feel as dwarfed around bigger bikes. If you’re thinking of going to a 250 the V Star is a winner in my book. I have had the experience with both the Rebel and the V Star so I believe I can make a pretty good comparison. For all new riders the more you ride the more comfortable you will get. I love seeing more women on the road.

  13. Just got my license and am considering this bike. I love this site and rely on you for all manner of info re: women and riding.

    1. Congratulations on getting your license — and thanks for kind words. We try hard.

  14. Just saw someone riding the V 250 Star this morning and thought O\I had to look it up. Nicest little bike I have seen in a long while.

  15. Thank you for a great review.I have been riding for seven years now and I love smaller bikes! And due to cheaper insurance I can own a couple of them. So now I am looking for a fun cruiser style bike. I love women’s view of a motorcycle over men’s as they tend to just concentrate on horsepower.

  16. A very good review, but it still doesn’t do this bike justice. I am 6 feet 6 inches and I ride two motorcycles, a Softail, and this. This V Star2 50 is as right as they come. Excellent handling, super wide torque band (5th gear at 20 mph if you like), 80 on the interstate, and an honest 78 mpg. I bought it for a rack on an RV for two/up riding, but I ride it almost daily. So does another buddy who has one.

  17. Thank you so much for this review. I’m also getting into riding a motorcycle and love the Yamaha Bolt, which is a new bike, but it might be too much for me. I just want to have a bike that keeps up with my boyfriend’s Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide.

  18. Thank you for this great review. I had a 2009 V Star 250 for my first bike and loved it! Then Harley came out with an 883 SuperLow in 2011 so I bought that. I loved my Harley but ended up buying a 2013 V Star 250 primarily for the reason that I do mostly city riding and it was just easier for me to handle, shift etc. I love the new handlebars and the color (blue)! This bike is incredibly comfortable! I would highly recommend this bike.

  19. Thanks for this review. I am a new rider and have been debating which bike to buy and my favourite so far has been the 2013 Yamaha V Star 250. I have made my mind up (didn’t take much). Really glad I found this website!

  20. I’m a 56-year-old woman who has just started riding. I bought a 2000 V Star 650 as recommended by my experienced rider friends but am intimidated by it. I’m thinking of trading down to the 250. Maybe someone wants to trade?

    1. A great place to reach out to our readers with that question is the WRN Forum. I encourage you to sign up and start posting there.

  21. I totally loved my ’07 Virago 250! Sized just right for my 5-foot-2 body and it was the perfect bike for me to gain my confidence and hone my skills on. If i had the time and energy to maintain multiple bikes, I would have kept it forever. It was impressively spunky, even when climbing hills, and I liked riding the twisties better on it than on my current ride, a Honda Shadow.

  22. I have a 250cc Suzuki and I love it. I have increased it up to 5th gear at speeds of 75 to 80 on open roads only. I don’t think I will take it on the expressway just because people drive nuts here. With that said, I will be getting a Suzuki GSX-R600 next year.

  23. I love my 250! It has been a wonderful confidence builder bike. I am riding again after a few years. I had an accident on a dirt bike and have been a bit nervous about getting back on. I have ridden the V Star for two summers now. I like it in town and out on open country roads. I don’t take it on the Interstate that often, but I’ve had it up to 75-80 mph. I don’t have a shield on my bike, so I get a lot of wind at those speeds, but it is still a joy to ride with the throttle open wide. My husband rides Yamaha exclusively (road and dirt), and I am looking to upgrade soon. I will only be looking at Yamaha because of the style, comfort, durability, and low maintenance they offer. I agreed with your article completely!

  24. It was encouraging and refreshing to read your review, being that I purchased a 2006 V Star just a few months ago as my first bike. I have really enjoyed being able to handle this one so well and even pick it up when I laid it down on one of my first uphill turns. I’m still learning, and will probably want a bigger bike later, but the Yamaha V Star has been a great bike for me! Thanks for the information.

  25. I’ve owned a Honda Rebel and the 250cc Virago and in 2011 bought a new Star 250cc. It’s the perfect bike for my 4-foot 10-inch frame and great for riding the roads in the Black Hills. It has plenty of power for the highway, but I don’t like it on the interstate because of its light weight, but it will certainly do the speeds required.

  26. Not only are your reviews thorough and helpful, but they address everything a female or new rider should be aware of. I just got my license last November and I cannot tell me the number of salesmen or just men who told me that I should just go out and get a Harley. I knew I wanted something that I would actually be able to ride. Craigslist is filled with bikes that were probably just too intimidating in size for their new female owners. Thanks to my husband, a Yamaha Star rider, and columns such as yours, I was able to look at other options and the V Star 250 looked like the perfect fit.It was the perfect fit for a new rider and really helped build my confidence. It handles beautifully and really looks great. I feel less confident on the highway where it shakes and vibrates over 55 mph, but other than that, it really is easy to handle. I can walk it around easily. I do feel now that I need more power and I’m ready to move up. But I felt that it was better to go lighter than fear dropping the bike or be totally overwhelmed by an enormous cruiser. It was the perfect first bike.

  27. The good combination of many photo angles, plus good remarks along with various persons doing the riding poses, I believe, makes your report quite refreshing to read. In particular, the issue of seat-height and touching the ground is paramount to safety and confidence. (Just imagine how unsafe a car would be if the driver could not reach the brake pedal!?) Thanks for a well written review of the Star 250.

  28. Love the article. Actually just purchased a 2010 model with 125 miles on it, so I call it new! Its purrrfect for my novice riding skills and have enjoyed getting off an 883 Harley Sportster and onto something I felt much more in control of. I am having much more fun on this one!

  29. I loved the article very informative. I had a motorcycle accident last year and I’m unable to handle the big Harleys at this point. After reading about this bike I feel this could be my answer to riding my own again. Thank you

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