Yamaha MT-15 Road Test Review
As enthusiasts, we're aware of what Yamaha's portfolio is across the world and how we wish to see Yamaha India offer the same line-up here. So far Yamaha has offered the FZ range of motorcycles and the ones who wanted a fairing got the Fazer. Not to forget, the Yamaha YZF-R15 has been a benchmark of sorts in the 150cc sportsbike category. And earlier this year, Yamaha launched the naked version of the R15, the MT-15. The bike received a lukewarm response, despite effectively being one of the most popular 150cc machines under the skin, as also the fact that it is a great prospect for someone looking for the equipment and premium feel of the YZF-R15 V3 but not wanting a committed riding position.
Now, we're well-versed with the MT range as Yamaha is selling the potent but expensive MT-09 in India already. The MT-15 too comes with a relatively higher sticker price (as compared to similarly specced motorcycles) at Rs 1.63 lakh, on-road Mumbai, which is a shade under the Yamaha YZF-R15 V3's on-road price, Rs 1.68 lakh. Does the MT-15 still make sense?
The MT-15 is essentially a stripped-down YZF-R15 V3. But that's not limited to the styling only as most mechanicals are shared by the two motorcycles. The engine on offer is the same 155cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder unit that produces 19.3PS at 10,000rpm and 14.7Nm at 8,500rpm. Of course, it gets the same VVA (Variable Valve Actuation) technology too, that flips the motorcycle's character, but let's keep that for later. The engine is mated to the same 6-speed gearbox too, but the MT-15 misses out on its faired sibling's aluminium swingarm and dual-channel ABS.
Style and Build
I clearly remember teaser videos for the MT-15 and the ad-campaign pitched it as a warrior from the dark side of Japan and every bit of it holds true. The styling is definitely striking. You can love it, you can hate it but you sure can't miss it. The projector headlamp assembly up front flanked by LED DRLs grabs attention. The pseudo-air-intakes blend into the tank design very well and compliment it too, as do the panels surrounding the radiator. Fit-finish levels aren't very consistent though, especially the panel gaps on the rear cowl of our test motorcycle. Plastic quality, on the other hand, gets a thumbs up.
As mentioned earlier, this motorcycle is for someone looking for less hassle but the fineness of the segment. For that, the handlebar does justice and accordingly, has been set relatively low for your occasional crouch and shoot. The foot pegs are placed fairly in the rear, to offer a balance of comfort and sportiness. The switchgear has an oddly placed horn switch that sits above the turn-indicator switch. This unconventional placement will take the new riders some getting used to. As we mentioned earlier, the styling is striking but so many folds and creases will make it difficult to keep the motorcycle spick and span.
The performance in a word is impressive. The torque curve is relatively flat with respect to what we're used in the R15. The motorcycle feels light on its feet from the second the clutch is released. The bottom end response is just about right to crawl in bumper-to-bumper traffic and when you give it the stick, the rev-happy nature of the engine quenches your thirst of acceleration. The mid-range punch is impressive too given the fact that the motorcycle tips the scale at 138kg and the engine is potent enough to build speed.
Here comes the VVA tech. The high-lift cams actuate at 7,400rpm and that is notified with a VVA indication in the instrument cluster. Belting the motorcycle above the VVA mark adds some performance to the ride, but it still lacks the top-end grunt what the R15 has made us greedy for.
That's mainly down to the engine's map that feels oriented towards the bottom and mid-range. To add to the weak top-end performance is that the final drive ratio has one-tooth more in the driven sprocket making - but that has improved its urban manners, quite impressive, making it a quick accelerating motorcycle. The 100kmph mark comes up in 13.2 seconds from a standstill. The rev-limiter kicks in at the 11,000rpm mark. That can be considered a higher-revving engine than usual. The motorcycle has a peppy bottom-end, punchy mid-range and VVA tech for the high revs. Club them together and you shall always have enough power on disposal for quick overtakes with minimum gearshifts.
Minimum gearshifts call for a high fuel-efficiency number. The MT-15 managed to return a decent 45.5kmpl in the city. Although at highway speeds, closing to 100kmph mark, the engine steps over the line and walks into the VVA rev-band - the performance-oriented zone, which brought down the highway fuel efficiency to 42.1kmpl. Being lighter on the throttle could bump up that number.
Ride and Handling
The ride is firm which makes sense for the potency that the motorcycle packs, but considering the motorcycle is mainly targeted towards people looking for practicality - we would have appreciated the firmness to be dialled down by a few notches. Well, that's only for the slow speed ride, the high-speed ride is pliant. Yet, the sharp speed bumps and potholes will have no mercy on your back. The motorcycle is a little nose-high and a relaxed rider's triangle means flicking the motorcycle on switchback corners needs a tad bit of effort - Don't get me wrong here, the MT-15 is still a superb handler.
The chassis stays planted throughout. The credit also goes to the fairly grippy MRFs shod on the front and rear wheel of the MT-15. Although I wished if the motorcycle came equipped with a dual-channel ABS. Under hard braking, the rear end of the motorcycle becomes flighty accounting for less traction. The motorcycle stopped from 80-0kmph in 3.61 seconds - in 36.06 metres.
History has repeated itself and just like the YZF-15 V3, the MT-15 has created a niche for itself. But this time, the power figures and pricing are closely matched to the motorcycles from the segment above. The motorcycle feels premium and you're assured that the engineering attention the MT-15 has received, is ahead by leaps and bounds when other 150cc motorcycles are considered. The asking price for the motorcycle is steep but the product is built to last enough for you to reap the benefits of the high investment cost. Along with a sure-footed market stay of Yamaha India, the MT-15 makes for a very secure package even when the figures are considered.
Photography - Donald Dsouza
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