Young & sporty

K Shivraj
Saturday, 9 June 2018

The arrival of the third generation Yamaha YZF-R15 spells good news for those looking for a sports bike which is affordable and also performs well

Yamaha has launched the third generation YZF-R15 motorcycle in India. Terming it as the YZF-R15 V3.0, the Japanese major has engineered the bike to be quicker and faster; more powerful and sportier. 

The R15 V3.0 looks decidedly more attractive than the model it replaces. The twin-LED head lamps with an air duct in between, however,  hint at an appearance that is inspired by the R1 and R6. That said, the new R15 gains big time in styling, looks well-balanced and complete. The visor is neatly integrated and feels substantial. The 11-litre fuel tank looks clearly inspired by the R1. The two-tone paint job, along with the various matt black plastic trim bits and full fairing, adds to the sporty appearance of the bike and makes it look aggressive. 

The new all-digital instrument cluster is horizontally laid out. It is informative even though a bit complex in how it relays the information. The rear portion looks much like that of the R1. 

Revised engine  
The 155cc liquid-cooled single overhead cam four-valve fuel-injected engine may sound familiar, but has been considerably revised. The bore is larger by one mm. The intake and exhaust are new. What’s also new is the variable valve actuation mechanism, which is governed by a solenoid valve that operates low-cam and high-cam intake rocker arms. This has an effect on low-end performance. Given the high-revving nature of the engine, the variable valve mechanism helps the engine to feel meaty, and almost all the way to 8000rpm. If this makes the new R15 V3.0 fun to ride, let us assure you, the engine produces 19.3hp at 10,000rpm and 15Nm of peak torque at 6,500rpm. 

The first 150cc bike to feature a slip-assist clutch, the R15 V3.0 is equipped with a six-speed gearbox. The unit works well and swaps gears precisely, adding to the pleasure of riding it. On the tarmac, it does not take long to notice how quick the new R15 V3.0 is. Triple-digit speeds are effortlessly achieved. A certain edginess is felt, largely because of the aggressive turn-in effected by the sharper rake of the steering and a new swingarm. Ride it some more, and the sense of the machine shrinking around the rider grows. 

Aggressive performance
Over time, the ride feels effortless and intuitive. If the variable valve mechanism has substantially improved the low-end response, the bike feels most comfortable when it is close to 10,000 rpm. Eager to corner hard — although the front tyre may take some time to build confidence to push though — the R15 V3.0 feels sharp and aggressive in its performance. Weighing 139 kg, 3 kg heavier than the earlier model, the bike feels refined. The engine may feel vocal at idle, but quickly assumes a refined tone on the move. 

Having a slightly higher compression ratio than that of the earlier bike, the engine of this bike does feel busier. But then, it revs quite effortlessly all the way to the 11,500 rpm redline. Building power in a linear and progressive manner, the R15 V3.0 impresses with its tractability. The bike clocks a top speed of 130kmph. 

Higher ground clearance
The 41mm telescopic upside down front forks and a monoshock rear get the bike to feel planted. The braking action is progressive with the 282mm dia front disc and 220mm dia rear disc making for a good bite.

The increase in ground clearance by 10mm (at 170mm) eases the pain of tackling some of the road imperfections. On the earlier model, it was required to slow down to avoid damage to the underbelly. ABS is expected to feature on the bike by 2019 when the rule of making ABS mandatory is implemented. 

Priced at Rs 1.25 lakh ex-showroom Delhi, the R15 V3.0 makes an interesting small displacement sports bike with a committed riding position and dynamics as well as a performance to match. It has gained in vital areas over the model it replaces, comes across as more focussed, and will appeal to those who are looking for a sports bike which is more affordable.  

Pros: Performance, dynamics
Cons: No ABS

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