Yamaha YZF-R15 version 4.0 review, test ride
Published on Oct 10, 2021 07:00:00 AM
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If you were to draw up a list of the most popular motorcycles sold in India, the Yamaha YZF-R15 would easily feature on it. After all, it brings genuinely accessible, sporty performance to the masses and everyone’s aware of our love for faired motorcycles. In fact, the R15 is so popular that the world sits up and takes notice each time a new version rolls out. Which is why we wanted to see what Yamaha has come up with on the latest R15, version 4.0.
Yamaha YZF-R15: design and features
Walking up to the motorcycle, it is apparent that the new R15 looks even better than what the pictures suggest. As has been the case with the R15s of yore, version 4.0 takes its design cues from a bigger Yamaha R-series motorcycle. This time around, it is a copy of the 2021 YZF-R7, and that's a great place to begin with.
The front end looks sharp and aggressive with the bi-functional LED projector headlight sitting inside the faux air intake. The LED position lights that flank the headlamp appear like a set of mean eyes, whilst lending it a contemporary look.
Slotted above the front fairing is a new windscreen that's shaped very well to shield you from head-on wind. Yamaha claims this fairing is more aerodynamic, helping it achieve its near-150kph top speed with a little more ease. That is something we'll verify, if and when we take this motorcycle for a track day.
The side fairing flows neatly with the rest of the bike and I love the 'Racing Blue' paint work with the dual tone, matte and gloss effect. The fuel tank is also new and is shaped to offer more purchase for your knees to grab on to. It looks chunkier than the version 3.0's tank, however, it has the same capacity at 11 litres.The tail section, again, is reminiscent of the R7 with its floating panels.
On the whole, the new R15's design is cohesive, proportionate and arguably the best looking of all versions so far. It certainly managed to attract a lot of eyeballs while we were testing the bike. The only jarring element is that the angle of the exhaust doesn't match the angle of the tail.
There is a marked improvement in quality levels as well – the R15 V3 had received some flak for its sub-par quality in areas such as the plastics. This is not the case with version 4.0, be it in the quality of the switchgear, its tactile buttons or the plastics used to mould the fairings. Then there's the impressive paint finish that adds to the sense of premiumness about the motorcycle.
In terms of features, the new R15 has a nice LCD display with Bluetooth connectivity for phone, SMS and email notifications, but there is no navigation functionality. Yamaha's proprietary Y-connect app offers more information such as last parked location and fuel consumption data. The display also switches to track mode that shows your current and best lap time on a racetrack.
Yamaha YZF-R15: what's it like in the saddle?
Hop on to the bike and you'll notice that although the seat is new, comfier and has a slimmer profile towards the tank, it's at the same 815mm height as the previous bike.
The position of the footpegs also seems unchanged, but what has changed is the placement of the clip-ons. These now sit under the new triple clamp, unlike on the previous motorcycle where they were located above it. This led us to think that the riding position is more committed than before. Thankfully, it's not gotten too aggressive since the clip-ons are angled in such a way that they rise slightly above the triple-clamp's height. The end result is a similar riding position as the v3 bike, albeit with a marginally lower handlebar position.
That being said, bear in mind that this super cool-looking, racer boy riding position isn't suited for long highway stints.
Yamaha YZF-R15: what is the performance like?
The 155cc, liquid-cooled, 4-valve single is the star of the YZF-R15 show and it is undoubtedly one of best small capacity motorcycle engines out there. The version 4.0's unit makes 0.2hp less than the previous engine, but that isn't a cause for concern. Because, in the real world, there is no perceptible dip in overall performance. In fact, this engine makes 0.1Nm more and it peaks at a 1,000rpm lower than before. This could translate to a slightly quicker accelerating motorcycle than the v3, but we'll verify that once we get a chance to strap our Vbox testing gear on the bike.
All said, the engine is delightfully free revving, tractable at low speeds and the Variable Valve Actuation, or VVA, gives you that extra top-end performance on the open road.
The six-speed gearbox is as slick as ever and the optional up-only quickshifter (standard on Racing Blue, R15 M and MotoGP editions) works smoothly. But, you can only use it in track mode.
Considering the fact that this engine is largely the same as before and the motorcycle's kerb weight remains unchanged at 142 kg, the fuel economy should be around the same ballpark. For reference, the R15 v3 returned 37.2kpl in the city and nearly 50kpl on the highway.
Yamaha YZF-R15: ride and handling
One of the biggest reasons that makes the R15 so endearing, in my books, is its handling. The Indian bike finally gets a (non-adjustable) USD fork, although the inner diameter of the tubes, at 37mm, is smaller than the 41mm fork on the v3. That said, the inherently greater rigidity of a USD fork versus a conventional fork will bring in improved stability, especially while charging through a corner or braking hard. Other chassis modifications include a reinforced subframe.
The rest of the chassis has been left untouched and that's great because the Deltabox frame and suspension work together to offer a handling package that's a treat. The R15 simply loves corners and holds on to an intended line as if on rails. Turn-in, however, is sharp and it takes a little getting used to.
All that handling finesse hasn't come at the expense of ride quality and the bike does a decent job of tackling most road imperfections.
Yamaha has also thrown in a traction control system with the version 4.0. Some may think of this as a needless excess for a bike that makes under 20hp, however, knowing our slippery, shoddy roads, safety systems such as this are always welcome.
The braking hardware is the same as before and there are no complaints here, whether in terms of bite or feedback from the lever.
Yamaha YZF-R15: should you buy one?
With a new design and feature updates, the venerable R15 gets a near Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 price hike over the outgoing version, depending on the colours.
Spend a little more and you can buy the Yamaha MotoGP team liveried bike or the R15 M. The latter gets you a delectable, silver paint scheme, silver swing arm, gold brake calipers and aesthetically different seats. It is our pick of the lot.
Some may think of near Rs 2 lakh on-road price as too much for a 155cc motorcycle. But for all that dough, you get a high-quality, feature-packed motorcycle that offers an unmatched riding experience at this price point. It plasters a big smile on your face everytime you ride it, and it remains a fantastic, forgiving tool for track day beginners who are looking to develop their riding skills. The price is certainly steep, but you get a lot for it.
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