Yamaha YZF R15 V3.0
The R15 V3.0 is all that and more, as we find out after spending a few days with this Japanese pocket rocket
Is this the most powerful 150-cc motorcycle in India?
Ten years after Yamaha rocked the Indian biking scene with their game-changing 150-cc sportbike, the R15 has been updated from the ground up, with a new look, sportier riding position, and improved performance. This model saw its first facelift in 2013 with the V2.0, but this time Yamaha have gone beyond cosmetic and ECU mapping changes and given the R15 V3.0 a small bump in capacity and an all-new valvetrain — in addition to a whole new, R6-inspired avatar.
This new R15 definitely looks awesome; the narrow, angular LED headlights on either side of that faux intake give the front end an aggressive air, while the surrounding fairing has been given the sharp and edgy treatment; a departure from the soft curves of the outgoing bike. The sculpted, two-tone fuel tank is, at 11 litres, a litre smaller than before and features slits along the top like on the larger R6 and R1. The screen and bodywork are wide enough for the rider to tuck behind, giving the motorcycle an aerodynamic advantage at speed and, towards the rear, the all-new tail section once again reminds us of the larger Yamahas and fits in perfectly with the sporty nature of this bike.
No matter which angle the R15 V3.0 is viewed from, it comes across as an attractive, well-finished and modern, albeit scaled-down, Yamaha sportbike, and the designers need to be applauded for ensuring that all those edgy surfaces and sharp lines go so well together, with nothing looking out of place. The seat, surprisingly roomy and well-padded, is set a whole 15 millimetres higher than on the V2.0 and once I threw a leg over the 815-mm high perch, I needed to tip-toe to reach the ground. Ahead of me, the dash is a rectangular, alldigital unit with prominent displays for speed and gear position, and a bar-type tachometer running across from side to side. A numerical display at the bottom left can cycle between odo, trip meters, fuel economy and a clock, to the right is a smaller bar-type fuel gauge, and at the top is a bright shift light.
The small liquid-cooled single fires up immediately and settles into a smooth idle. It doesn’t take me more than a moment in the saddle to appreciate the fact that Yamaha have given this version of the R15 an even more focused riding position than before. The pegs are higher and further back and the clip-ons are no longer raised; they sit flush with the top of the fork pipes, on either side of the machined and slotted top yoke. The forward-biased riding position immediately felt too sporty for my taste through Pune’s heavy traffic, as I have always preferred a more comfortable, upright riding position in the urban environment. The footpegs too are extremely high to aid cornering clearance, the result being a tight rider triangle that taller riders may take some getting used to.
It took me some time to get into the groove, but once I got comfortable in the hunched-over position, stretched over the tank to the low clip-ons, I started to appreciate the agile nature of this little sportbike. The slightest of nudges to the bars yield quick and precise direction changes and, with my head and upper body over the front of the motorcycle, I was in a position to steer it through moving traffic with almost telepathic accuracy. The reworked Deltabox frame is a study in rigidity and doesn’t feel one bit overwhelmed when the rider demands an immediate change of course, while the telescopic fork up front and linkmounted monoshock at the rear are pliant enough for street use without feeling so soft as to rob the rider of feedback from the road surface. At 1,325 mm, the wheelbase of the V3.0 is 20 mm shorter than that of the outgoing bike and the result is a motorcycle that feels noticeably quicker to steer and even more nimble than the V2.0.
Although the R15 V3.0 makes accurate steering and quick changes of direction extremely easy to execute, keeping the engine in the sweet spot is an altogether different matter. Yamaha have upped the bore by one mm to 58 mm, while the stroke remains unchanged at 58.7 mm, resulting in a bump in capacity from 149 to 155 cc, while the power output has gone up to a healthy 19.3 PS at 10,000 rpm; the old bike made 17 PS at 8,500 rpm. Both bikes make identical peak torque figures of 15 Nm, but while the V2.0 achieved this figure at 7,500 rpm, the V3.0 makes its peak twist 1,000 rpm higher and the compression ratio has also been increased from 10.4:1 to 11.6:1 to harness more power from every combustion stroke. As you can tell by these figures, the new bike makes its power much higher in the rev-range and, consequently, the rider needs to be in the correct gear at all times to extract maximum performance. Yamaha have also incorporated a new forged piston, new connecting rod, lighter crank, and larger throttle body to help the engine spin up as fast and as smoothly as possible. The head has been
comprehensively reworked and, in a first for the segment, the R15 V3.0 gets a variable valve timing system that uses two sets of cam profiles, alternating between the two as revs increase or decrease. This aids flexibility and gives the engine usable torque at lower revs, while still allowing it to rev freely up to its 11,500-rpm red-line.
Heading out of the city on the new R15 I found myself cruising along effortlessly in sixth gear at between 70 and 80 km/h, with the engine purring along smoothly at below 7,000 rpm. The bike pulls smoothly in top gear from below 50 km/h, but at these speeds one would need to go down two to three gears to make a really quick overtake. Ridden hard, the R15 is great fun and keeping her on the boil between 8,000 and 10,500 rpm is extremely rewarding, with the 60 km/h mark coming up from standstill in 4.3 seconds, 100 km/h coming up in 12.5 seconds, and a top speed of around 130 km/h — never before seen performance from a 150-cc four stroke in India. The engine really comes alive over 7,000 rpm, around when the Variable Valve Actuation or VVA (that’s what Yamaha call it) system switches over to the more aggressive cam profile. Minor vibrations can be felt coming through the seat while approaching 9,000 rpm, although it is not a harsh or unpleasant sensation, feeling more like the engine is singing rather than being stressed.
Having made it to my favourite stretch of twisty road after riding this bike in the city and on the highway, it was time to do what the R15 was really designed and built to do: attack a fast set of corners and put that chassis and suspension to the test. As expected, this bike is an absolute scalpel in the tight stuff, attacking apex after apex with pin-point accuracy. A high corner speed is of utmost importance on a small machine like this, and keeping the bike in the correct gear and rev range through a sequence of turns makes for an extremely involving experience. Although the bike tips in fast and with authority, I did feel that the suspension, especially the front, was a little too soft for this kind of thrashing, resulting in a slightly vague feel when entering a corner too hot. But our test bike was equipped with the optional rear Metzeler and it worked extremely well with the MRF up front; the bike stayed stable and planted even when leanedover hard on damp roads. The 282-mm single disc up front is larger than the unit on the outgoing bike and although ABS is not even offered as an option, I could find no fault with the bite, feel, and feedback of these stoppers and was confidently braking late and deep into corners with absolutely no issues.
With this timely update, Yamaha have done a comprehensive job and upgraded their R15 with excellent looks, new technology, a gruntier engine, and sharper handling. India’s most powerful 150-cc motorcycle just got sleeker, smoother, faster, and better.
Yamaha have done a comprehensive job and upgraded their R15 with excellent looks, new technology, a gruntier engine, and sharper handling