Yamaha YZF-R15 v3.0 ridden
The latest iteration of the R15 is pegged to be the best yet. Does it bring back the magic that the brand seems to have lost?
It is one of the most awaited motorcycle launches this year. And in being that, the R15 V3.0 has had some very high expectations to fulfil ever since it was first unveiled at the Auto Expo last month. The question really was whether everything that it promised to be would be true. After having ridden the motorcycle at its intended home- the racetrack – we can tell you that it’s an upgrade in every sense of the word.
Everything on the V3.0 is new. We think it is one of the most beautiful motorcycles south of 200cc. The new design is inspired by the bigger R-series motorcycles and in keeping with that theme, is super futuristic. There is a new LED headlight cluster, a massive intake on the nose, some shark fins on the tank, an R-series taillight and an overall silhouette that no longer looks disproportionate. As far as styling goes, Yamaha has hit the nail right on the head and driven it all the way in. Where it does fall short is in the fit and finish, which is surprising for Yamaha. The panel gaps are inconsistent and the welds are a bit untidy. The finish on some of the cast bits too isn't the best.
But despite the little untidy bits, it's a motorcycle that works well. The ergos are aggressive as always and you are in a committed riding position, but it isn’t ultra-aggressive like the KTMs. The saddle itself is roomy and the overall placement of the pegs, ‘bars and seat make for a great place to get the most out of the motorcycle. The motorcycle feels completely natural out on the track and hanging off into corners does not feel odd at all. We would have liked larger heel plates and some more contact area on the tank, but that’s just nitpicking. As it is, everything works well.
The new R15 gets an all-new Deltabox chassis with wider diameter forks up front and a link type shocker at the rear. The chassis itself has had various changes in geometry. It’s shorter in wheelbase and rake too has been dropped. This means there have been some changes to the way the motorcycle behaves when compared to the older bike. Turn-in is way quicker and it takes you a moment to get used to. Direction changes require next to no effort. However, it doesn’t feel as natural to corner as the V1.0 did. The V1.0 had a way of making you feel very comfortable at the limit that the V3.0 cannot match up to. That being said, the V3.0 does obey your every command and does not shy away from any challenge you throw at it. You just need to spend some time getting acquainted first. Especially with the strange tyre combination. If you opt for the racing kit, the R15 comes with an MRF cross-ply tyre up front and a Metzeler radial at the rear. The front tyre is a bit flighty right at the edge, and you end up feeling like the rear has more traction than the front. But then, this is only at racetracks lean angles shouldn’t affect the bike’s on-road performance.
The star of the show really is the new motor. The most significant part of the new R15 is the engine, according to us. The motor has grown in capacity to 155cc and now makes close to 20bhp. It also gets a bigger airbox and a new Variable Valve Actuation unit that kicks in at around 7,000rpm, aside from multiple other changes. The VVA unit switches over to a different profile on the secondary cam that allows for more overlap and hence delivers better performance at the higher end of the rev range while the primary cam delivers great low and midrange performance. So unlike the older motorcycle, you do not need to pitch your tent in the higher reaches of the rev range. The R15 can pull hard from the low and mid-ranges. This allows you to be a gear higher and run lower revs at corner apexes and also minimises the number of gear shifts you will need. The engine is a real star and there were times when we saw speeds reaching near 140kph on the speedo.
Overall, the R15 is a great update to the outgoing model. We would have liked it to have stickier tyres and better finish, but as it is, it is not bad at all. It is one of the most exciting 150s in the market today and is great fun around the race track. Its only fault is that it's not as effortless as the V1.0 was, but that doesn’t make it any less of an excellent motorcycle. And at Rs 1.25 lakh (ex-Mumbai) it is priced well too. Especially when you consider you will be riding the best looking 150 on the road today!