Honda and Yamaha have locked horns in India, but never this fiercely. Over the last few years the R15 has epitomised the proper small capacity Indian sportsbike, earning quite a following along the way. With the YZF-R15 Version 2.0, the best just got better.
This Yamaha’s all prepared to take on Honda's spanking new CBR150R. Honda has had the luxury of time to evaluate and build a bike to take on the R15 V2.0. We tell you which bike chants the lighter, faster and meaner mantra with utmost sincerity?
Design & engineering
Neither the Honda CBR150R nor Yamaha’s YZF-R15 V2.0 leave you wanting for visual drama. The YZF-R15 V2.0 similarly shouts out its sportbike origins, its proven and attractive styling drawing from the acclaimed R1. Dual headlamps, a beefy fairing and a sharp tail mark the R15 out as a performance motorcycle.
The mini Fireblade’s sporty; humpback fuel-tank houses 13 litres, where the R15 fits in 12, and the Honda tips the scales at 138kg, just a wee bit more than the Yamaha’s 136kg. Both bikes come with easily read, sporty and compact instrument counters that display all required information. The CBR’s switchgear is a let-down on account of omitting both, a pass-flasher and engine kill-switch, which are standard R15 equipment.
Fit-finish, build-quality and paint lustre are impressive on both these attractive Japanese sportsbikes.
Engine, gearbox & performance
Japanese bikes are renowned for refined engines, and the CBR150R and YZF-R15 V2.0 acquit themselves as no exceptions. Both bikes share much architecture, with single-cylinder, four-stroke, liquid-cooled and fuel-injected hearts. The Yamaha displaces 149.8cc, the Honda 149.4cc, and both breathe via 4-valve heads, although the Yamaha drives its valve-train via a single overhead camshaft (sohc), where the Honda relies on dual camshafts (dohc). A noticeable difference is the CBR calling for you to get out the whip to rev it high into its powerband before it makes serious power, which used to be an original R15 shortcoming, rectified on the V2.0. The CBR makes little more power, but is outdone on torque.
Both sportsbikes delight with quick throttle response, creamy smooth power deliveries and little to no vibes. The Honda revs a 1000 odd rpm higher than the Yamaha, but this isn’t that much of an advantage when seen in light of the R15 never requiring to be ridden this hard to claim all its potential. Both bikes transmit power via 6-speed, 1-down and 5-up shifted gearboxes.
The CBR150R proved itself up on performance, a bonus on sportsbikes like these. From a standing start, the R15 outdoes the CBR150R to 60kph taking 4.58 seconds to 4.73secs.
Watch video here
Ride, handling & braking
From the saddle, the CBR150R rider gets a relatively roomy, slightly more upright riding position as compared to the more track focussed YZF-R15 V2.0. While both riding positions are far from commuter friendly, this can be overlooked as fitting their sportsbike character.
On paper, the R15 has the extra hardware to give the CBR a run for its money. Although both rivals use comparable steel spar frames, the Yamaha throws in a cast alloy swingarm where the Honda makes do with a conventional steel swingarm. Furthermore, the R15 deploys superior suspension at rear, offering a linked monoshock.
The R15 handles with a more predictable, stable feel. The V2.0 also corners with more confidence, without being easily shaken by undulating surfaces, steering almost as quickly as the more nimble, shorter wheelbase CBR150R, and doing so while simultaneously offering superior ride quality. Better tyres further assist the R15, being softer compound, stickier rubber, with an exceptional radial rear MRF.
Disc brakes front and rear are standard, performing as well as expected on both bikes, with a good, solid feel at the levers.
Do please skip the pair compared here and consider a Honda CB Twister or Hero Splendor if looking for fuel efficient motorcycles, having said which, these 150cc sportsbikes don’t disappoint when speaking efficiency. The CBR150R proves a notch more frugal in city riding conditions, where it delivers 46.9kpl. On the highway it’s capable of 42.9kpl. On the other hand, the YZF-R15 V2.0 returned 43kpl in city and 47.7kpl on the highway.
Both 150’s look equally menacing and attractive, with superb quality and finish. The CBR provides noticeably better performance, an advantage only blunted by the R15’s more useable power, other than which the Yamaha creams the Honda with stellar ride.
This brings us to decision time, to unanimously elect one bike master of its game. The YZF-R15 V2.0 is our sportsbike of choice, the one we suggest you buy for being so sharply focussed and adept at doing what sportsbikes should, without any confusion along the way. In addition to which the deal tips further in Yamaha’s favour when you note the CBR150R is priced unfairly higher as well.