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Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 - First Ride - Track Review

Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 - First Ride - Track Review

Snapshot: Yamaha R15 has more been a revolution for Indian motorcycling industry. The new Version-3.0 is yet another track weapon with sharp riding dynamics and gorgeous design.

Yamaha YZF-R15, truly the first ever bike in the Indian market to ignite the revolution of affordable sports bikes or at least give a new perspective to other manufacturers that our market is more mature than perceived. Back in those days, it was an epitome of the motorcycling world and was a much-needed product for an entire generation that had nothing more than a couple of Pulsars and Karizmas. Over the years, the bike has evolved into a more modern and a precise piece of engineering that still shames a number of bikes in the same segment. The new generation R15 V3.0 was launched at the Auto Expo this year and we were invited to get our hands on it at MMRT Chennai which happens to be the perfect little track with constant directional changes to experience such a bike.

Design:

You really can’t see any similarity in the new R15 against the old one no matter how closely you look at both the products side by side. The company says that this bike carries the same DNA from its bigger siblings such as the R6 and the R1, and we have many reasons to believe that.

The front twin headlamps are sharper and sleeker. They are all-LED units exuding that futuristic and sharp focused look to the front of the motorcycle. Don't know much about functionality as it was a daytime track event, wait for a comprehensive road test later. These headlamps have the similar air vent in the middle that can be seen on its bigger siblings, but on the R15 it’s merely for looks rather than usage.

The windscreen is more aerodynamic and longer than before helping wind deflection, tank gets a center strip which is just a cosmetic update with fins comes straight off from the big brother YZF-R1. The tail design is monumentally beautiful drawing inspiration from the current YZF-R6 and YZF-R1. The rear end looks smashing and is certainly a highlight of the new design. Other bits like alloys, exhaust, tank and everything else is fresh and exciting to behold.

Talk about everything new and you can’t forget the all-new digital cockpit that displays over 18 functions. The earlier semi-digital panel has been chucked off and a brand new R1 inspired full digital cockpit welcomes the rider with its ‘Hello Buddy’ message as soon as the ignition key is turned on. Personally, I have always loved needles and perhaps a more modern form of the earlier semi-digital panel may have caught my eye, but nonetheless, the new panel is undoubtedly more informative and appealing to the majority of the Indian biking community.

Engine and Specification:

Now coming to the mechanical updates, the bike is as new as it can be. Its displacement is upped to 155cc from earlier 149cc due to the use of 1mm bigger bore. The new unit is a 155cc liquid-cooled SOHC 4-valve fuel-injected engine that now produces 16.3% more power which puts 19.1bhp at 10,000rpm while peak torque remains at 15Nm at 8,500rpm. Maximum power is delivered at higher engine speeds compared to the last generation bike that generated close to 16.4bhp at 8,500rpm.  Also, the bike comes with VVA which stands for variable valve actuation which helps the engine delivers the best high rpm performance without neglecting on low or mid-range torque, which makes it suitable for both, track as well as low city speeds. The company not just improved the bike on the performance part but also in terms of overall fuel efficiency; as the mileage figures have gone up by 4.3% and that’s majorly because of the fact that power losses have been reduced by improving on volumetric and combustion efficiency. But we will be putting these claims to the test on the road back in Delhi and not here on the track.

The new bike also comes with assist and slipper clutch which is perhaps only seen on upper-class bikes starting from KTM RC 390 (it costs double the Yamaha YZF-R15). So the assist clutch helps to make the clutch pull function easier, and in this case, it’s almost 18% lighter than before, while the slipper clutch is a clear race tech, that helps in rapid downshifting without locking the rear end.

Performance and Handling:

As soon as the 1st gear is clicked in, and clutch is released the new bike makes it clear that it is more powerful than its older self. Engine picks up the pace nicely and linearly without much aggression, and refinement levels are impressive as always. It is quite fast across the rev range and it keeps on going until it hits the red line.  

This linear progression from the engine makes it feel like a parallel-twin, but it isn’t and that itself proves its smooth nature. At the top end it might feel a little buzzy, but at the same time don’t forget it’s just a 150cc engine getting pushed hard.

Delta box frame has been updated to this new version and wheelbase reduced by 20mm, which now sits at 1,325mm. Apart from the reduced wheelbase, the bike also stands higher with improved ground clearance and higher seat height of 815mm that further improves its riding dynamics. Riders feel like sitting on the bike, rather than inside it, and that gives a sense of control and confidence while turning in and leaning as hard as possible.

The tire size has been upgraded to 100/80 R17 at the front while the rear is a 140/80 R17 section. In its stock form, the bike gets MRF Zapper, while optional Metzeler rear tire (140/70 R17) is also available which any day is a better choice. Other updates on the bike come in the form of bigger 41mm telescopic front forks, while the rear monoshock remains the same which is now set up on the stiffer side.

It has always been predictable and easy to ride machine, these new traits take it forward in a nice manner. The major upgrades brought to the chassis and cycle parts have only made the bike easier to ride, but not all aggressive. The only thing that concerns me is the uncertainty that is felt from the front end as soon as you suddenly shift weight from left to right or vice versa. The front end lacks feel and quick feedback that might make the rider nervous.

Braking:

The front end now has a bigger 282mm hydraulic single disc brake and the rear is a 220mm hydraulic single disc brake. A special mention has to be made of these brakes as they managed to save a rookie like me from getting washed away a few times at the track, tee hee! Front brakes provided ample bite as well as progression that helped me understand that I can push it a level more, and can brake even later. Mid-corner braking improved my lines and kept me from going wide even when I was charging at more than required corner speeds. Despite the safety net of ABS, these Bybre brakes still get a big thumbs up from my side!

Verdict:

The fantastic track time we had on the new Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 was short but was enough for us to understand that the company has made the bike even better than it already was. It comes out as an outstanding product from Yamaha that is as committed to track focused riding as it is out there on the public roads. Its calm yet poised and its aggressive yet unforgiving nature truly makes it one of a kind that set standards for others in its segment. It retails at Rs 1.25 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) and at this price there is nothing else as I can think of putting my money on. 

Photography: Mohd. Nasir

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