Yamaha YZF R15 V4 Review
For 2021, Yamaha has launched the fourth version of the R15 with certain changes that promise to make it even more extraordinary.
A phenomenal delta box frame cradling a punchy 150cc engine, and a fully-faired design. This was the essential recipe of the Yamaha R15 that had truly blown our minds when it was first introduced back in 2008. Then, over the twelve years of its life span, the motorcycle has only gotten better with each update.
For 2021, Yamaha has launched the fourth version of the R15 with certain changes that promise to make it even more extraordinary. We'll verify that later when we get the bike for a detailed road test. As of now, I spent a brief amount of time with the Yamaha R15 V4 to tell you my first impressions about it. Or to make it easier for you, here are the five things that truly work in its favour, and two things that don’t.
Design might be a subjective topic, but just look at it! I doubt there will be anyone who won’t like this styling. Yamaha has taken close inspiration from the bigger YZF R7 supersport and that’s quite evident from its new ferocious-looking front end. There’s a projector LED headlamp sitting under the central air intake along with slim LED DRLs like the eyes of a predator. The angular fairing, sculpted fuel tank, and tail section with large scoops, everything collectively makes the R15 quite a delight to the eyes. And I am especially a fan of this M variant sporting a silver-black paint scheme which looks really stunning.
Let’s begin with things that haven’t changed in the motorcycle. Yamaha has retained the Delta box frame while the 155cc, liquid-cooled engine with Yamaha’s VVA system is also the same. However, at 18.1bhp and 14.2Nm, the power is down by 0.2bhp and torque output is up by 0.1Nm. Transmission duties continue to be handled by a six-speed gearbox with an assist and slipper clutch.
As for the changes, Yamaha has finally gotten rid of telescopic forks and equipped the bike with upside down units, just like the international spec model. To spice things up, there’s traction control and a quick shifter on offer, with the latter being optional for certain variants. Whether traction control is really needed in such a small bike is a debatable topic but it gives you bragging rights for sure.
The instrumentation cluster continues to be an LCD unit but it comes with Bluetooth connectivity now. It pairs with the rider’s smartphone through an application and provides call, SMS, and email alerts while showing phone battery level status as well. Even the mobile app has a lot of data like fuel consumption tracking, last parked location, and maintenance recommendations. What’s more, the update display also has a road and a track mode.
The highlight of the R15 is its powerplant. This is a gem of an engine with a variable valve actuation system that kicks in above 7,400rpm to deliver consistent and strong performance until its redline. The motorcycle is just decently quick in the lower rev band. However, once you get past the 4,500rpm mark, the engine really comes alive. Keep gassing it and the build-up of speed is quick and consistent until its redline of 12,500rpm.
The engine does get noisy at higher rpms but that only accentuates its sporty character. Courtesy of assist and slip functionality, even the clutch is incredibly light while the gears shift with a slick feel and assurance. And these qualities only add to its performance prowess.
It’s also as incredible a handler as ever. We couldn’t really go carving corners, thanks to the limited time we had with it. However, it showed amazing agility and responsiveness while doing some tomfoolery in traffic. Major credit goes to its firm suspension setup which remains composed during direction changes but this comes at the cost of plush ride quality. Furthermore, the sharp and bitey brakes, especially the front one, make riding the R15 all the more enjoyable.
The motorcycle offers a very committed riding position, which is great for spirited riding around switchbacks or the racetrack. But when you spend a long time in traffic, things tend to get uncomfortable. Since there's a lot of weight on your wrists, they start hurting pretty soon. Even the feet up and down action gets troublesome after a point.
Another gripe is the lack of pillion comfort and space. While the seat is too small, there’s isn’t something reassuring to hold on to. Grabbing on to the tail scoops feels odd and crouching ahead with your hand resting on the fuel tank isn’t a comfortable position to be in for a long duration.
The Yamaha R15 was already a fantastic motorcycle for what it is meant for. And all the updates it has received make it a much more enticing proposition. While the strong points of the bike have been retained, the additional bits like the upside down forks, traction control, quick shifter, and Bluetooth-enabled display make it a fancier package.
Now, with the starting price of Rs 1.68 lakh (ex-showroom), it might be an expensive bike. But for that money, you get an experience which is quite exotic and special. Additionally, Yamaha has a solid brand recall amongst people in India and so does the R15 product itself for its strong heritage from the much hallowed YZF R1 litre class sportbike.
Stay tuned to BikeWale as we'll be back with a comprehensive review of the new Yamaha YZF R15 V4.
Photography by Kapil Angane
Full Review-Hide Review