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

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