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2019 Yamaha MT-15 review, road test

4th Oct 2019 8:00 am

Yamaha’s new streetfighter is more than just a naked R15.

  • Make : Yamaha
  • Model : MT-15
We Like
Funky design
Exciting urban performance
Lively engine.
We Don't Like
Cramped ergonomics
Brakes lack initial bite
Unreasonable price.

Much has been said about the price of the Yamaha MT-15 since its launch a few months ago. For what is essentially an R15-based motorcycle – minus some of the cost-intensive bits like the aluminium swingarm, fairing and rear-wheel ABS – the MT-15’s Rs 1.36 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) asking price was simply absurd. That’s just Rs 4,000 short of the R15’s price tag.

But, there’s no point in writing off a bike simply on the basis of the sticker price, right? After all, even as our road test reveals, there’s more to the Yamaha MT-15 than meets the eye.

The 41mm upright fork and the link-type monoshock setup offer the right balance between ride and handling. Whether it was minor bumps, potholes or undulations, the MT-15 remained composed throughout. However, the defining aspect of this little Yamaha is the way it handles in the city. The sharp steering, tight turning radius and the extra leverage provided by the handlebar, all result in a motorcycle that’s super-reactivate to inputs – even more than the KTM Dukes. It makes light work of negotiating city traffic and really keeps the rider involved.

Yamaha-MT15-tyre
MRFs offer good grip and feedback, even on rain-soaked tarmac.

 

On the flip side, this over-eager steering and light front-end dampens confidence around a set of winding roads. This – along with the fact that you sit so far forward with the handlebar right in your chest – makes hanging off the bike in a corner feel quite awkward. The trick then, is to ride the MT-15 like a supermoto; and that turned out to be quite a lot of fun.

The brakes have good progression, but just like on the R15, there’s a lack of initial bite. Our test revealed that the bike comes to a stop from 60kmph in 17.42m, which is a little longer than the R15 – probably due to the reduced weight over the front end, thanks to the upright riding position.

Yamaha-MT15-brake
The front brake lacks initial bite, but modulation is good.

 

The MT-15 was conceived as a proper streetfighter, built to take on crowded, traffic-infested city streets, or weave through narrow bylanes to beat said traffic. This meant that the size of its bodywork had to be compact and its weight had to be as low as possible to make it easy to manoeuvre past traffic.

The MT-15’s slender shape looks better than what pictures suggest and the design element that instantly grabs your attention is the headlamp cluster. Split into two sections, the twin-LED position lamps form the upper half while the projector sits below, forming a face that resembles
a character from the Transformers movies! I’ll leave it up to your imagination to decide which one.

Yamaha-MT15-headlight
LED projector has decent spread, but could do with a longer throw.

 

The body work is trimmed down to the essentials, but there are also a few unnecessary elements. For example, the tiny 10-litre fuel tank goes with the theme, but why the fake air scoops? Although, the radiator shroud is neatly integrated underneath the scoops.

The tail, too, is sleek and as stubby as it could be, stretching only as far back as the centre of the rear wheel. The unique design does manage to attract stares, as does the matte-blue shade with its fluorescent yellow wheel-stripes, which we particularly like.

To me, the MT-15 looks raw and purposeful – ready for the battle with pesky rickshaws and other annoying road users who are hell-bent on making your commute a game of dodge ball – and it feels that way too.

The MT-15 shares the same, smashing 155cc, single-cylinder liquid-cooled engine that we absolutely loved in the new YZF-R15; and it’s thankfully in the same state of tune as well, making 19.3hp at 10,000rpm and 14.7Nm of torque at 8,500rpm. The motor is paired to a slick and precise 6-speed gearbox.

Yamaha-MT15-footpeg
6-speed gearbox with slip and assist clutch is light and smooth.

 

Keeping with the MT-15’s streetfighter focus, Yamaha has revised the final-drive ratio by fitting a larger, 52-teeth sprocket at the rear (versus 48 teeth on the R15) resulting in quicker acceleration off the line, albeit at the cost of top speed. Our test results show the difference, and the MT offers stronger acceleration up to 90kph and it also feels noticeably quicker than the R15 in roll-on acceleration, which the numbers reflect. On the other hand, the R15 leaves it for dead on a long straight; the MT runs out of steam at an indicated 130kph, while the R15 will go on to show more than 140kph.

The riding position on the MT-15 is a combination of aggressively set foot pegs and a tall, wide single-piece handlebar that sits closer to the rider. It’s comfortable, yet stays committed and gets you in the mood to attack! The MT-15’s tiny dimensions may lead you to believe that it’s a cramped motorcycle – and that’s true, especially if you’re a tall rider. The knees don’t have a lot of room, but the bigger issue is that the rider’s boots (anything size 8 and above) tend to foul with the pillion foot-rest holders, which is annoying. On the positive side, the rider’s perch is wide and accommodating and the knee recesses around the fuel tank allow one to firmly latch-on to the bike.

Yamaha-MT15-seat
Scooped-out seat doesn’t give the rider much room to move around.

Our first ride of the MT-15 was a bit of a downer, but it turns out that the Buddh International Circuit was a terrible place to experience this machine. Now that we’ve ridden it on the street, it’s clear that this bike is a proper little streetfighter and if majority of your riding is confined to the city, this motorcycle is an enjoyable weapon to spice up your commute. The engine is an absolute gem and so is the deltabox chassis, all of which combine to make the MT-15 an involving motorcycle. Also, the upright riding position makes it a vastly kinder motorcycle to live with than its faired sibling.

But that doesn’t change the fact that there is just no reasoning for the MT-15’s Rs 1.36 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) price. Simple math in relevance to what this bike loses over the R15 – a substantial fairing, a single LED headlamp versus twin LEDs, a basic swingarm and single-channel ABS – reveals that it should have been priced at around Rs 1.2-1.25 lakh. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. So, instead of us excitedly telling you that the MT-15 is seriously worth considering, we’re forced to conclude that you should only consider this machine if buying a value-for-money bike is not high on your list of priorities.

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 1.36 lakh
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Cubic Capacity (cc) 155cc
Engine Layout Single-cylinder
Cooling System Liquid-cooled
Bore/Stroke (mm) 58.0mm/58.7mm
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 19.3hp at 10,000rpm
Max Torque (nm @ rpm) 14.7Nm at 8,500rpm
Power to Weight Ratio (hp/tonne) 139.85hp/tonne
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
No of Gears 6
Dimensions & Chassis Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Weight (kg) 138kg
Ground Clearance (mm) 155mm
Fuel Tank capacity (lts) 10 litres
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Brake Type Disc
Front Brake Size (mm) 282mm
Rear Brake Type Disc
Rear Brake Size (mm) 220mm
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front Suspension 41mm telescopic fork
Rear Suspension Monoshock
WHEELS AND TYRES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
Front wheel (inch) 17
Front Tyre 100/80 R17
Rear wheel (inch) 17
Rear Tyre 140/70 R17
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
0 - 10 kph (sec) 0.37s
0 - 20 kph (sec) 0.82s
0 - 30 kph (sec) 1.47s
0 - 40 kph (sec) 2.26s
0 - 50 kph (sec) 3.05s
0 - 60 kph (sec) 4.17s
0 - 70 kph (sec) 5.36s
0 - 80 kph (sec) 6.95s
0 - 90 kph (sec) 9.02s
0 - 100 kph (sec) 11.86s
BRAKING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
60 - 0 kph (mts, sec) 17.42m
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT Electric
City (kpl) 42.3kpl
Highway (kpl) 53.2kpl
Overall (kpl) 53.2kpl
Overall Range (kms) 450.3km
2019 Yamaha MT-15 review, road test
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