Yamaha R15 holds a special place in redefining the Indian two-wheeler industry. The first generation R15 made performance-oriented bikes more affordable and started a trend that many other manufacturers are following now. R15 was a runaway hit and being a ready-for-track tool, the bike was lauded and celebrated on racetracks over the weekends. But it’s been more than a decade since the launch of the first R15 and the competition has caught up. Yamaha needed to do more than just a refresh.
Version 3.0 brings in a new generation model with a completely new design, a new engine with more power and new features that definitely stand out. So will the new version take forward the legacy?
With the first R15, Yamaha kept it simple with the design. Although the bike was one of the best handling units in the country and still is, the design got some flak for being too simple, especially at the rear. Yamaha corrected it with the Version 2.0 to some extent, giving it a new tail inspired by the R6. But Version 3.0 is a rebirth in terms of design and it looks a million bucks in the Racing Blue suit. Upfront, the new R15 is sharper and sleeker thanks to the new all-LED dual headlamp design that has an air cowl in the middle. The sculpted tank, side claddings, split seat and the tail all follow the sharp ideology and the detailing on them are great. Materials used on the tank, cowls and mud guard look good and have different textures.
Gone is the analog-digital instrument cluster that gets replaced by a new all-digital unit. We would have liked an analog tacho as there are few things that excite us as a needle that goes around the rpm. That being said, the instrument cluster has loads of information that include gear shift indicator and a USB charger. The split seat feels better on your behind and thankfully, the pillion will not be sitting that high as the V2. Version 3.0 is longer, wider and shorter than V2 but the wheelbase has dropped a few millimetres. Ground clearance is up by 10 mm and the curb weight by 3 kg. At the rear, LED tail lamp finishes off nicely in style with three strips of LEDs. Overall, the R15 is certainly a head turner and now looks more like the R family.
Sitting inside the new deltabox frame is a brand new engine, which now has a capacity of 155 cc and a bigger 58 mm bore. There’s a power bump too with the R15 now producing 19.3 PS (up from 17 PS) at a higher 10,000 rpm. Torque figure remains the same at 15 Nm which now can be pushed till 8,500 rpm. Yamaha has fitted the engine with Variable Valves Actuation that assists in producing torque easily at lower rpm. The new engine follows the previous generation units in terms of performance and loves to be revved around. There’s a good low end response and the fun just elevates as the tacho goes east. Gear changes are smooth and precise thanks to the new assist and slipper clutch. The addition of A&S clutch has made amazing difference in gearshifts and overall performance as it takes the pressure off the engine to a great extent.
True to its name, the R15 handles like a katana through a bamboo, smooth and sharp. The baby R takes the curves and corners like a fish in the water. Changing directions are fast and easy. Riding position is sportier than ever and you have to swoop down more than the V2. City driving will not be easy in heavy traffic. Not the bike’s fault though, as this is not a city commuter. With respect to the handling, the suspension is not too hard for the bike’s objective. Tyres have gone wider with 100/80 profile at the front and 140/70 at the rear (upgrade to Metzeler tyres recommended). Single disc brakes adorn at both front and rear. Braking capabilities are satisfactory with the brakes shed speed with good bite but ABS is still missing, unfortunately.
To conclude, Yamaha R15 Version 3.0 takes all the goodness of the R-DNA and mixes in a generous dose of style, features and a bit more power. The bike is still one of the best handlers irrespective of the segment. New style and feature upgrades make it an amazing package you cannot oversee.