Yamaha first showcased its new Alpha scooter at the 2014 Auto Expo earlier in the year, after which we’ve just managed to lay our hands on one to pen this first ride impression. The Alpha is a trendy, up-market looking and stylish new scooter that lives up to its name, in that it targets the Indian males.
It’s built firmly based upon the Ray platform, but feels perceptibly larger and roomier from the moment you get astride, a good thing given the Ray’s low, petite and more lady friendly proportions. Saddle height is 775mm, which sits you a full 15mm taller on the Alpha, compared to a Ray. It’s an attractive looking scooter with trendy styling unlike most of its boring, conservative looking Indian scooter rivals. There’s a broad headlamp set at handlebar level, with indicators pressed flush into the leading apron at the front. The Alpha’s a light scooter, just like the Ray, weighing an identical 104kg (kerb). It includes a neat set of instruments, these displaying all the scooter essentials, including a speedometer, odometer and fuel-gauge.
As with all Yamaha two-wheelers in India, this is a high quality scooter, with switches imparting a good feel, the mirrors feeling solid to adjust and offering good vision. Plus, plush feeling grips and nice-control levers are provided for both hand operated brakes. It’s a pity Yamaha has left out a rear brake locking clamp, essential safety kit on a scooter. Also missed are storage cubbies under the handlebar, which do come with the Ray. There is however a large, lockable under-seat storage bay that opens and shuts with nice, positive clicks.
The Alpha is a comfy scooter for even tall, well-built adult males, also accommodating large feet easily on its flat, nicely textured floorboard. It’s a particularly nice looking scooter from behind, Yamaha stylists having done a nifty job, and have included a broad alloy grab bar.
All the Alpha’s rubber and plastic components impart a quality, built-to-last feel.
The Alpha shares its engine with the Ray, a 113cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke and force air-cooled powerplant. It’s a button started, carburetor-fed, long-stroke (50x57.8mm) engine with gear-less, CVT-type transmission, making riding around in crowded, congested traffic conditions such a convenient affair. Maximum power is 7bhp, coming in at 7500rpm, and the Alpha feels sprightly enough for a scooter, accelerating off smartly from a standing start, with good throttle response and a reassuring, gossamer-smooth power delivery. The Alpha engine does well to feel every bit as refined and reliable as expected from every Yamaha built two-wheeler. Top speed is in the region of a true 85kph, but more on that in our full test report.
The Alpha is constructed around an under-bone type steel frame, and Yamaha has done well to give this new scooter good suspension, with telescopic forks in front and a single monoshock allied to the engine, a stressed member at rear.
It’s a comfortable steed, with a well padded saddle, nice upright riding position and well positioned handlebars, that don’t ever foul with even a six-foot-tall rider’s knees. Light to handle, and neutral to steer, the Alpha is just as able handling a scooter as any on Indian roads. Ride quality is likewise good, not overly plush and preventing the scooter from wallowing when faced with poor road surfaces mid corner. The Alpha rides on 10-inch pressed steel rims front and rear, with our test scooter coming with nice and grippy, MRF-made tyres. It would be nice if the Alpha also offered alloy rims, with perhaps even a front disc brake, at least as a paid optional. Having said which, its 130mm drum brakes do a good job, stopping the scooter promptly enough with nice progressive feel at the levers.
Expect the Alpha to offer in the region of 40-45kpl, just as with the Ray.
Priced competitively, the Alpha offers good value-for-money making it a potential winner in its segment, right from the word go. Most rival scooters can’t quite match up to this good a quality feel or then lack good suspension, that are both a part of this new Yamaha. Yamaha’s fast earning a reputation in the Indian scooter market, having concentrated hard on this particular segment the past few years, shifting focus here from performance biking, and the Alpha is sure to lend this success story a bit more steam.