Yamaha made a bold decision of introducing the R15 in 2008. India, at that point of time was slowly moving towards 200cc motorcycles with the help of the Karizma and P220 F. However, a Rs 1 lakh 150cc motorcycle broke the barriers. 10 years plus later, the MT-15 is a motorcycle that has been introduced in the Indian market and will touch an on-road price of approximately Rs 1.5 lakh. We got to sample the motorcycle at the Buddh International Circuit for a short period. Here are our first impressions of this naked street fighter from Yamaha.
A new design?
Yes, the one you see here is almost new. I use the word almost because the MT series was introduced in India with the MT-09 at the 2016 Auto Expo. However, the MT-09 is a premium motorcycle and we get to see less of it on the Indian roads. This MT-15 is one motorcycle that will sell on looks alone. It looks like a wicked wolf prowling the streets and am pretty much sure the masses will lap it up. The face of the motorcycle is made up of two wolf eye-like chunky LED pilot lights. Between them, slightly to the bottom is the main LED projector headlight. Its effectiveness in the dark couldnt be gauged on the track but it sure does add a lot of character to the motorcycle design.
If you ask me, the motorcycle has similar panels to what you have seen in the FZ series. The tank extensions on the side, the beefy tank or even the side profile is quite similar to the lower-priced FZ series. Indeed, Yamaha has retained the seat height of the R15 and nearly everything from the chassis is the same including the conventional front forks, rear monoshock and even the brakes. The instrument console is an LCD but gets a darker display as compared to the R15. It gives a lot of information too and is easy to read in broad daylight too. I though wish the mirrors were a tad bigger. They seem like a cost cutting measure. Speaking of which, the engine kill switch looks aftermarket while the pass light has been integrated with the upper-dipper function.
The LED tail light is a small unit while the exhaust has been shared with the R15 V3.0. The grabrails look a bit Kawasaki and we know that’s not something we like. A look at the pillion seat and you know that this is going to be a too close for comfort scenes.
Engine and transmission of the Yamaha MT-15
This is essentially the same liquid-cooled motor from the R15 and that definitely isn’t a bad place to start with. This motor is a likeable unit and produces 19.3PS and 14.7Nm from its 155cc SOHC, single cylinder configuration. However, Yamaha says that they have tuned the ECU to be more responsive at lower revs and the final drive ratio too has been changed. The rear sprocket now has 52T as opposed to the 48T on the R15. I loved the tractability of the R15’s engine and this one should be even better in city. Top-end performance has been sacrificed and this was quite evident on the track. At around 8,500rpm in 5th gear, the motorcycle hits the 115kmph mark. The Variable Valve Actuation comes into play at around 7,200rpm and that’s sort of like a boost to the engine power. Not noticeable though.
Refinement is of a high order and even when we were revving the nuts off this brand-new engine, there were very little vibration coming in from the fuel tank. Yamaha has done a commendable job in damping out the vibrations. While no fuel efficiency numbers were shared, expect the MT-15 to give around 45kmpl in the city and a tad more on the highway.
Yamaha MT-15 ride and handling
This motorcycle uses the R15 chassis but with a few modifications. For example, the aluminium swingarm has been replaced in favour of a box-section unit. The footpegs are rearset but don’t feel as aggressive as on the Dukes. Similarly, the handlebar is a flatter unit as compared to the clip-ons on the R15. Moreover, single channel ABS is provided with. There are disc brakes on both ends and while reports do suggest that the MT-15 front disc could have had a bit more bite, I didn’t feel it lacking in any aspect. It just felt good for high speed track conditions. The rear does lock though but only under heavy braking.
While ride quality is something we couldn’t judge at a race track, the handling is definitely very nimble. As it stands, the R15 is a sweet handling machine and the MT-15 just takes it a notch above. After all, this motorcycle weighs just 138kg with fuel and oil filled. That’s just brilliant. All those looking to beat the choc-a-bloc traffic conditions, this is the motorcycle for it. The seat height is the same as the R15 and hence getting on to the bike isn’t an issue either. The rider perch though could have been a bit more generous and you will feel the pinch especially if you are on a track and want to switch from one chicane to the other quickly. Similar feelings will be echoed from the pillion as the seat position is a bit cramped out there.
Grip from the MRF Nylogrip Zappers was adequate on the track and they should hold good in the city too. Wet weather performance though remains to be seen. Unfortunately, unlike the R15, Yamaha isn’t offering any Metzeler tyre option or even a Daytona exhaust with the MT-15.
Yamaha MT-15 verdict
An ex-colleague had tweeted this and I agree with him wholly. If by not offering a dual channel ABS and an aluminium swingarm, Yamaha has saved costs, how did they manage to still price the MT-15 absurdly? Yes, the R15 costs just Rs 3,000 more than the MT. It doesn’t significantly offer anything more, perhaps better fuel efficiency (yet to be tested). Moreover, the slightly more powerful and bigger FZ250 is priced lower and comes with dual channel ABS. Comments on our Youtube video suggest that Yamaha has lost the plot. We will like you to read the first line of this story. Makes sense?
Things we like about the Yamaha MT-15
Style, handling, engine tractability
Things we didn’t like about the Yamaha MT-15
Single channel ABS, pricey, somewhat cramped rider seat
Images by Lijo Mathai and Yamaha