Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0
The new benchmark in small-capacity performance motorcycles
The speed, power and technological advancements of a superbike makes it what it is today. For manufacturers, not only is it the pinnacle of their technological advancement but also an expression and example of what the brand stands for. Such is the Yamaha YZF-R1. But for many who may not ever be able to ride, let alone own one, the fully faired motorcycle will always be a fabled creature, a unicorn of sorts. Hence, the need for making entry-level sportbikes a spitting image of their litre-class counterparts, helping attract newer riders to the sport. Talent however, cannot be created, you either have it or you don’t. And that holds true for motorcycles too, they either have it in them or they don’t. The first generation R15 had a few things going against it. High price tag for a 150cc, R1/R6 from the front but under-tyred skinny, unassuming rear but these didn’t stop it from becoming the weapon of choice for riders serious about performance riding. It set the base for many riders who have graduated onto bigger machines now. The second generation was to cater to the faction of riders for
whom aesthetic appeal is prime. In the process, the longer wheelbase and fatter rear tyre entirely compromised on what was so likeable about the first version - handling.
Version 3.0 however, has got it all. Cues from the latest YZF-R1 and R6 are evident, making the new R15 look fast even while standing still. Split LED lamps separated by an air-intake, feeding a variable valve timing equipped 155cc engine that promises to match the go with the show. Although, the quality of components seems a tad lower that before, some of glaring bits being the welding marks on the Deltabox. In spite of this, there’s absolutely nothing to fault the design with, it’s a top-class looker.
This pint-sized 155cc motor, has not only grown in capacity from 149.8cc thanks to a 1mm wider bore but also gets more power. 16.3 per cent more to be precise and that’s with the help of a
THE 155CC MOTOR HAS GROWN IN CAPACITY THANKS TO A 1MM WIDER BORE, GETS MORE POWER WITH THE HELP OF A LARGER AIR-BOX, 30MM INTAKE PORT AND VVA SYSTEM
larger air-box, 30mm intake port and the new VVA (Variable Valve Actuation) system. Using a solenoid to operate a low and a high-rpm cams, the VVA system ensures optimal low-end grunt under 7,400rpm while not sacrificing top-end performance at higher rpms.
All this looked good on PowerPoint as we were taken through the product briefing but only a ride on the new motorcycle would settle the anticipation. Rightly enough, the MMRT in Chennai was the chosen proving grounds, just as it was 10 years back when the first R15 was launched. Saddled up, this R15 feels compact yet accommodating. The arms stretch out to the low-set clip-ons that are placed further from the triple clamp and levelled to it. The feet fall perfectly in place on the rear-set footpegs. The riding position feels committed, possibly a tad too much for the road but perfect for the track.
There’s a noticeable change from earlier in the way the engine builds up revs from a standstill. There’s
no lugging in lower rpms and the new VVA system could maintain smoothness in fuelling even in fifth gear while doing 50kmph. There’s ample torque to help with the smooth acceleration. Once past the 7,000rpm mark though, redlining through the gears of the 6-speed transmission, the R15 displays a change of character and comes alive.
Between 7,000 and 10,000 revs, the engine has a lot of go and the rapid pace didn’t even warrant the use of the sixth gear. Throttle response is sharp while the rev limiter at 11,500rpm is soft in its cut-off. Even off throttle transitions inducing engine braking are smooth from higher rpms while downshifts are aided with a slip and assist clutch preventing rear wheel hop. It has to be mentioned that the engine and gearbox has the smoothness that’s second to none in its segment.
The braking did leave a little to be desired with the absence of feel and feedback on the lever but the ride quality and handling left us impressed. The 41mm telescopic fork absorbs undulations at high speed swiftly, to not transmit shocks to the rider while even feeling taut around corners. The handling is neutral and forgiving with just a hint of aggressiveness at turn in due to the reduced trail and shorter swingarm. The R15 V3.0 retains stability at its peak velocity and is even easy to flick from side to side at pace.
BETWEEN 7,000 AND 10,000 REVS, THE ENGINE PACKS A LOT OF GO AND THE RAPID PACE DIDN’T EVEN WARRANT THE USE OF THE SIXTH GEAR
1. R15 V3.0 becomes the first motorcycle in its segment to offer full LED headlights, following in the footsteps of the FZ25. We couldn’t test the angular units’ effectiveness but they sure look nice, split with an air-intake. 2. The all digital meter displays gear position, fuel consumption and houses a shift light among
1. Pillion seat more cohesively designed than the V2.0, notice the aero cut-outs ala R1/R6. 2. 282mm front disc packs good bite but lacks lever feel, no ABS even as option