The new-generation Yamaha YZF R15 have the charm and the nimble handling.
Nepal Yamaha Motor launched the a few months ago at a price of 4.7 lakhs. The 2018 Yamaha R 15 V 3.0 focusses on performance and looks to give you the thrill of maybe even a bigger capacity motorcycle. In its latest avatar, the R15 is everything that you could have wanted out of a motorcycle. We wish we could get as cheap as in India but the market of Nepal is massively expensive.
To begin with, the bike gets twin-LED headlamps, an LED tail lamp, a fully digital and comprehensive instrumentation console and an assist and slipper clutch. The R15 model, which is sold in South East Asia, gets upside-down forks along with ABS which the Indian-spec model skips, understandably because costs would go up by a fair bit! We wish Yamaha offered ABS on the new-gen R15, even if as an option, because the kind of performance it delivers, ABS should have been standard actually. You also get a USB charger and an array of optional equipment such as a Daytona exhaust and Metzeler rear tyre, all for a cost, of course. But the Metzelers should have been offered on both wheels.
The new-gen R15 gets a bunch of updates to the engine. It is a 155 cc, single-cylinder liquid cooled engine which makes 19 bhp at 10,000 rpm and 15.1 Nm of peak torque at 8,500 rpm. Then there is the rather slick 6-speed transmission as well. But the biggest update that the engine gets is the variable valve actuation or VVA. It's variable valve timing in plain speak and its job primarily is to get the engine to pump out more torque and power at both ends of the rev range. This means that you start from the second gear, rev hard and as you go up the gears, you feel the insides of the bike churning and doling out a sumptuous spread of power and torque right from 5,000 rpm till the red line. We saw the bike reaching illegal speeds in less time than it takes to tell about it and we kind of liked it. The 6-speed gearbox in tandem with the engine, works beautifully. You approach a corner, brake hard, drop down two gears in a jiffy and accelerate hard and the entire operation will put the widest of smiles on your face. The slip and assist clutch is a segment first and it works very well. Hard downshifts don't easily let the rear lock up and slide uncontrollably.
Sure-footed and nimble, the new-gen R15 is as it is supposed to be. It has no problems in changing directions swiftly. Be it chucking the bike hard in the corner or filtering through traffic, the R15 will happily negotiate either with effortless ease. You take time trusting the bike in corners because the MRF Nylogrip tyres aren't the stickiest of the lot even if they are wide enough. If I were to buy the bike, I would immediately swap the MRF for better and stickier tyres, maybe Metzelers. That way, one can push the bike even harder and do so with better confidence.The R15 V3 now gets a bigger disc up front (282 mm) and a 220 mm at the rear. While the stopping power was adequate, we wish that the bike offered a little more bite. The braking is progressive but a touch more sharpness would have been welcome. Of course, ABS is sorely missed.
We actually quite like the ride quality of the bike. The suspension isn't as stiff as we thought it would be. It absorbs bumps and broken tarmac better than what we expected, on your usual everyday roads. Does that mean you can put in long hours on the bike? Well, you could if you have a strong core and solid wrists. The riding posture on the R15 V3 is even more committed with the seat height being increased by 15 mm and the clip on handlebars being lowered further than what it was before.