YZF-R15 v2.0

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Yamaha YZF R15 2.0 review

Driven August 2011

Yamaha YZF R15 2.0 review
If you’ve been waiting for the new Yamaha YZF R20 (rumoured successor to the R15), you’ll be disappointed with the launch of the R15 2.0. Because other bikes like the Bajaj Pulsar 220cc and the Hero Karizma 223cc had crossed the 200cc mark even before the first R15 was launched back in 2008.

To add insult to injury, both those bikes compete at the R15 2.0’s price point. And if you have a little extra to toss in, you get a Honda CBR 250R, a head turner with its scaled-down VFR 1200F looks, and a dream to ride on highways. So is the R15 2.0 the biggest blunder in the motorcycle business? We are glad to report the answer is ‘no’.

The R15 has always been an entry-level sports bike and the 2.0 is no different. The 2.0 improves on areas where the older bike lacked. Yamaha says when it was time to update the first R15, the R&D boys held customer clinics to find out exactly how they needed to tweak the R15 without corrupting its baby-superbike soul.

The first thing people pointed out was the thin tyres, which gave excellent grip but looked out of place on such a wide bike. So the front now comes with a 90/80 tyre, which is a 10mm increase over the older R15. The rear is a 130/70, a whole 30mm wider. The wider tyres have enhanced the 2.0’s visual appeal, but they’ve also increased drag.

Also, those wider tyres would result in a loss of agility. So Yamaha has worked around this with the use of an aluminium swingarm, which holds the rear tyre. Yamaha claims the swingarm gives greater rigidity and better grip, which in turn mean better cornering.

We found this to be true but the bike has lost some of its agility because of the wider tyres and longer wheelbase. But it’s a fair compromise given that the bike has better ride than before and most of its users will be taking it out on long highway runs.

The most prominent design changes are at the rear. When the R15 was launched, the rear styling was bland and conventional compared to the front. With the 2.0, that’s been sorted, with a sharper looking rear inspired by the 2012 Yamaha YZF R6. Yamaha says the redesigned middle and rear cowl, split seats and integrated LED taillights have not only enhanced visual appeal, they also reduce drag by four per cent.

The complete mid and rear redesign has left us with one small complaint though. The face has not been touched, and with the Yamaha Fazer sharing a similar looking face, the R15’s front now looks dated compared to the rest of the bike. Yamaha could’ve tweaked the front to make it look as sharp as the rest of the bike.

Anyway, get on the saddle and there’s a familiarity from the older R15, starting with the instrument cluster, which is much the same. As in the older bike, Yamaha has tried to strike a balance between the upright position of a commuter bike and the outright sporty stance of a litre-class bike – riding position now leans towards sporty.

The little 150cc motor produces 16.8bhp and 15Nm of torque, like the earlier R15. On paper, that might not look like much, especially given that the Pulsar 180 has the same power rating at a much lower price. On the ground though, it’s a different story.

So we could push the R15 2.0 to its limits, Yamaha invited us to the Irungattukottai racetrack in Chennai. One lap in and the new bike made its intentions clear. This is a track bike, which encourages hard riding. Throttle response is sharp and the 2.0 felt comfortable being kept at around 7000rpm in third gear, lap after lap. Even after a full day of constant up and downshifting, the gearshifts were accurate, with no false neutrals.

Keeping the 2.0 on the boil was never the issue; it was the mid-range (below 5000rpm) where the bike left you wanting. To make it more linear, Yamaha tweaked the ECU, which now makes the 2.0 easier to ride in traffic. Most of the riding around the track was done in second and third gear, but we did manage to hit sixth as well – the RPM needle going down to 4500rpm and the bike feeling reluctant to stretch any more. This thing is mostly for highway cruising, with its tall gearing, which in turn should help fuel economy.

The 2.0 feels like a genuine upgrade to the older R15, rather than just a sticker job. Power has not increased, neither has engine capacity, but that works in the 2.0’s favour – this bike is more for enthusiast riders, giving them a proper taste of what a sports bike is, without corrupting them with outright power.

If you’re still looking for some extra juice, Yamaha has Daytona kits specially developed for the R15. Also on display were kits by Yoshimura, an option to the Daytonas. No prices announced for the kits yet, but we reckon the cheaper of the two, the Daytona, will set you back by Rs 60,000. Both the Yoshimura and the Daytona are for track use only.

The Yamaha YZF R15 2.0 will cost Rs 1.18 lakh (on-road, Mumbai), which is around Rs 10,000 more than the outgoing model.

The numbers
149.8cc, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, single-cylinder engine, 16.8bhp, 15Nm, 136kg, Rs 1.18 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)

The verdict
A genuine upgrade to an already good bike, with better power delivery across the rev range.



Abhinav Mishra

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