2018 Yamaha YZF-R15 road test review
Circa 2008. Yamaha India, launched the YZF-R15, a true blue supersport that brought an interesting and involving flavour for a maturing market. It went on to win accolades and rave reviews whilst re-establishing Yamaha as a performance-oriented brand. A decade later the Yamaha YZF-R15 Version 3.0, an all-new motorcycle, promises to elevate the R15 experience to a whole new level. Let's lean in to find out if it does.
Design and build
Remember the 1:18 scale models by Maisto? Well, that, in a nutshell, is what the R15 looks like, a scaled-down version of the Yamaha YZF-R1 and R6. Every detail looks similar, from the front fairing to the floating tail section and the vertical LED tail lamp. My favourite angle, however, is when the bike is viewed head-on. The sleek LED headlamps on either side of the faux air duct make the bike appear sinister. It is the most proportionate looking YZF- R15, to date and probably the best looking as well.
That said, the build quality is just not up to the high standards that Yamaha themselves have set. The plastic quality feels half a notch below, the haphazard weld spots are an eyesore and the stitching on the test bike's seat was giving away, with barely 700km on the odo. It's an area I wish Yamaha had paid close attention to
Get on the saddle and you immediately notice how low the clip-ons are set. That along with the 15mm increase in seat height (815mm) and rear set footpegs put you in a rather committed position. It's all good when you want to look racer cool but it certainly isn't a riding position that you'd call comfortable for long highway stints.
The R15's ergos are hence, best suited for city runs, riding fast up a canyon road or the race track, it's home turf.
Engine and performance
The engine has always been the R15's defining characteristic and the new 155cc motor in the V3 is the best yet. Producing 19.3 PS at 10,000rpm and 15Nm at 8,500rpm, the liquid-cooled single is refined and an absolute joy to rev . On that subject, the new motor is not as hungry for revs as the one in the R15 v1 and v2. In the city you can stay in high gears at low speeds and just twist the wrist to get power. The magic potion that lends the V3's engine this kind of tractability is the VVA or Variable Valve Assist. There are two intake valve cams that boost tractability in the low end of the rev range whilst offering enough poke towards the redline. Factor in the light, slip and assist clutch and the R15 makes for a good city bike.
Out on the open roads, the motor feels strong with the power coming in a crisp manner. This engine can sit happily at high revs, all day long and the only real complaint I had was with the buzz in the footpegs and handlebar towards the top speed of the bike.
From a standstill, the R15 races past the 100kmph mark in 8.63 seconds which is well within 200cc bike territory. But what's really amazing is the fuel efficiency that, thanks to VVA, has been boosted significantly. At city speeds, the bike returned an impressive 41.8kmpl while out on the highway, the figure climbs to 50.4kmpl.
Ride and handling
The new R15 gets fatter, 41mm forks at the front and link type monoshock at the rear with reduced travel than before. Riding over scarred roads and undulations, the suspension did a fine job of soaking everything up without upsetting the balance of the bike. But the real joy of riding this R15 is up a twisty road. The drop in trail has made the steering sharper than ever and that makes the bike quick and precise when turning into a corner. The new Deltabox frame offers amazing feedback and its these very attributes that make the R15 a fantastic corner carver and delight to ride. Our test bike was wearing the MRF ZR1 bias-ply tyre on the front wheel and the optional Metzeler Sportec M5 radials at the rear which works as well in the real world as it did on the race track during our first ride.
The 282mm front brake offers good stopping power with our tests registering an 80-0kmph time of 3.2s flat. The feedback through the lever is excellent as well but you can't ignore the absence of ABS.
The Yamaha YZF-R15 is a specific flavour of motorcycle. It's built to take you through a set of corners with supreme poise and confidence but at the same time it's adept at handling daily commutes and the occasional highway jaunt, given its agressive riding position, But what remains unchanged about the YZF-R15, is its effectiveness as a beginner motorcycle, especially for those who are serious about improving their riding skills. That makes the YZF-R15 a must buy this side of Rs 1.5 lakh.