It was the year 2008. I was lying in a hospital bed browsing through a few auto magazines. A new fully faired motorcycle from Yamaha had debuted and the entire auto fraternity was all praises for it. I could merely drool as shelling out Rs 1.10 lakh on-road for a 150cc machine at that time wasn’t really working out for me. How I wished to be an auto journo then. Cut to 2012 and now I was an auto journo. The second-gen version of the motorcycle was out and it looked even more delectable. As luck would have it, I got to ride it for a longer duration – precisely 14 months before handing it back to Yamaha. Now the third generation is out and I had taken a bit of sabbatical from journalism. But the mere sight of the bike made me want to come back to the field I love – journalism. And get an opportunity to ride the motorcycle without owning it. Yes, I am talking about the Yamaha R15 version 3.0.
The Yamaha R15 version 3.0 is perhaps one of the best iterations of the R15 family. Look at it from any angle and you see that the lean look from the first generation bike is nowhere there. It is in fact a chiselled and smaller version of the flagship YZF-R1. There are also design cues from the R6. I like the fact that Yamaha has also now started using LED headlights for almost all its products. Remember, this started first with the FZ25. There is a faux air intake in the middle with LED lights flanking it. The bubble windscreen looks a bit ungainly , the only sore point of this motorcycle’s design if I have to pinpoint anything. The mirrors are the same from before and there is less cause of complaint here as they provide for a decent view of what’s approaching you from behind. The tank is bigger now but has enough recess to tightly hug it with the legs. The pillion seat height is set a bit lower this time and I will elaborate on it separately below. Yamaha has always got the tail
section of the R15 sorted and this one too is a sleek LED unit. The grab rails are more prominent from the rear section of the motorcycle.
Yamaha has integrated the pass light switch with that of the upper-lower headlamp cluster. Like in the TVS Jupiter, you press it to activate the pass light. This was something, I wish Yamaha just did like before. I always kept hunting for that invisible pass light ahead of the handlebar. The meter cluster is a full digital unit with the rev counter being the bar graph types. There is the gear indicator, fuel indicator, time, odo and trip meters along with the tell tale lights. The fuel indicator is highly erratic and will randomly show an increase of decrease in the fuel levels.
Engine and performance
Yamaha has upsized the R15’s engine to now 155cc. This engine employs Variable Valve Actuation or VVA as is written on the flanks of the motorcycle. It makes 19.3PS of power and 15Nm of torque from the single cylinder unit. When compared to the previous generation engines, this one feels more refined but at the same time, a tad lazy to rev. Don’t get me wrong here. But the difference is preceptible for sure. What this means for the regular rider is that the R15’s motor will handle third gear at 20kmph and fourth at 25kmph very easily. Need instant acceleration? No need to downshift. Just roll the throttle and you will be rewarded. Power comes in linearly and while you don’t feel the acceleration surge, the Yamaha is now more adept at letting you know that
you are traversing at higher speeds. In short, the ability of the previous R15s and the R3’s to mask speed is now history. I like this motor.
What variable valve timing brings in is the aforementioned engine tractability. In short, higher gear at lower speeds. Above 7,500rpm, you are notified by the rev counter that VVA is activated. The acceleration towards the redline is strong and doesn’t taper off. I saw 143kmph on the speedo before running out of road, which is very good for a 150cc machine. The slip-assist clutch is a light unit and doesn’t bring in fatigue while riding in dense traffic conditions. Even the hot air through the engine isn’t diverted on to the rider’s legs, making for a comfortable riding experience.
Efficiency has received a huge bump with the Yamaha R15 version 3.0 giving 43kmpl in mixed riding conditions. This machine can also cruise whole day without any hiccup or drop in performance. The clutch now receives slip and assist. This in turn ensures that the clutch lever effort is reduced than before, says Yamaha. However, I didn’t notice any difference.
Ride and handling
Yamaha has used a new Delta steel box frame for the Yamaha R15 version 3.0. The legendary handling capabilities of the motorcycle haven’t changed at all. Yamaha now offers an optional Metzeler Sportec rear tyre. The front is still the MRF bias ply unit. There is also a Daytona exhaust on offer as part of the optional equipment. All this will definitely bump the price of R15 by a significant margin. The stock motorcycle comes with MRF rubber on both ends. The handlebar is set a tad lower, translating to a more aggressive riding posture. The footpegs are also set a bit towards the rear. At 6ft 4in, I had no issues riding the motorcycle, however, smaller riders may find their arms a bit too much outstretched. The bubble windscreen helps as there is less of helmet buffeting happening.
What has improved tremendously is the ride quality. The fatter rubber has definitely helped in a big way. Even with two up, the ride quality is very good. The pillion (me) didn’t even have to shift butt position too much as the seat is decently padded as well. Yamaha have made sure that it is the front seat which now has to be opened instead of the fixed rear unit to access the tool and papers box. I believe a bit more of padding for the rider will have been better.
Yamaha still provides for disc brakes at both ends – nice. There still isn’t ABS on offer – not nice. Hello Yamaha, please take a leaf out of Suzuki or Bajaj. Both provide at least single channel ABS on their premium motorcycles. I am sure it hardly add up to Rs 3-4,000 for the same. Mass produce it and then may be the cost might end up even lower. Guess, we will have to wait till April 2019 to finally have the R15 with ABS. The front 282mm unit by itself can stop the motorcycle in most conditions. However, towards the frag end of braking, you realise that you need to squeeze the lever a bit more.
Verdict of the Yamaha R15 version 3.0
Yamaha India has offered a vastly significant product than before. The Rs 1.25 lakh ex-showroom price is right in the Fazer 250 territory. A buyer going to Yamaha’s dealership then definitely will be confused. Both the products don’t offer ABS too. However, that being said, the R15 is the more focused product of the two. As I can see on the roads, several units of the R15 have been already lapped up while the Fazer 250 still isn’t as well accepted as Yamaha wants it to. Coming back to the Yamaha R15 version 3.0 then. It will be an ace at the racetrack as well as on the city roads. Something the previous generations have been doing for the last ten years!
What we like about the Yamaha R15 version 3.0
Inherent good looks, very easy to ride, excellent fuel efficiency
What we don’t like about the Yamaha R15 version 3.0
Lack of ABS, a bit more of power would not have hurt, the LED headlight has a weak throw
Yamaha is now using the Metzeler rear tyre because MRF has now stopped making the 140 section radials. If you have ridden the R15 second gen, you will not notice much of a difference in the way the Metzeler behaves over the MRFs.
Images by Donald Dsouza