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2018 Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 First Ride Review: Your Entry into Performance Motorcycling

The Yamaha R15 V3.0 is perfect in almost every way - be it the specifications, features or performance. But then again, it is almost perfect.

Manav Sinha | News18.com@manav_sinha

Updated:March 15, 2018, 5:22 PM IST
2018 Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 First Ride Review: Your Entry into Performance Motorcycling
Yamaha R15 V3.0 First Ride Review. (Photo: News18.com)
The Yamaha R15 V3.0 took its own sweet time to make its way to India and when it finally launched at the 2018 Auto Expo, it had everyone talking about it. The motorcycle looked the part of a purpose-built performance machine and had several tools on its side to fulfil that expectation as well. That's not it, it gets a new heart as well.

There's been quite some talk about the performance that the R15 V3.0 will be capable of. And, seems like Yamaha listened and decided to give us the first taste of this motorcycle right at a race track. How's that for confidence?

We spent some laps with the Yamaha R15 V3.0 at the Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) in Chennai. Here's what we found.

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Let's start with what is the first thing that you will notice - the bike's design. Well, for starters, the motorcycle looks even better in flesh than what it seems like in pictures, and, it is a head turner without a doubt. It takes design inspiration from the big daddy in Yamaha's garage - the Yamaha R1. While designing a 155cc motorcycle based on a 1000cc performance motorcycle sounds tricky, Yamaha has managed to pull it off really well.

Yamaha-R15-V3.0-First-Ride-Review-FrontWe tested the Yamaha R15 V3.0 at MMRT. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

The tail section of the R15 V3.0 seems to be taken right out of the R1 and so do the gills on the 11-litre fuel tank. Both of which looks absolutely drool-worthy. What's eye-catching as well are the front LED headlamps which give the motorcycle lots of character.

Yamaha-R15-V3.0-First-Ride-Review-Front-HeadlampsYamaha R15 V3.0 gets LED headlamps. (Photo: Ayushmann Chawla/News18.com)

When you look at it from the sides, you will notice just how proportionate the motorcycle is. The stance is bang-on and the bike looks attractive from almost every angle. Even the saree guard has been so well integrated that you won't mind it being there.

The instrument cluster on the Yamaha R15 V3.0 is an all-digital LCD colour unit which showcases everything you would need to know. This also includes things like the gear position indicator, average fuel consumption and there’s also a customisable gear shift indicator. The layout of the console is nice, clean and easy to read. Interestingly, the R15 V3.0 also has a customisable intro screen which can display text as per your input whenever you turn the bike on. It’s a gimmick, yes, but it’s nice to have it. The instrument cluster and the cockpit as a whole are inspired by Yamaha's MotoGP motorcycle - the Yamaha M1.

Yamaha-R15-V3.0-First-Ride-Review-Instrument-ClusterYamaha R15 V3.0 gets an all-digital instrument cluster. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

And for those of you who are wondering, the rear seat is now friendlier for pillion riders but it isn’t the most comfortable in its segment. Also, no grab rails on this one - something you should keep in mind.

Yamaha-R15-V3.0-First-Ride-Review-Rear-SeatThe Yamaha R15 V3.0 gets its rear section inspired form the Yamaha R1. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

With all that out of the way, let's get to what the Yamaha R15 has been known for and what has given it the popularity that it has gained over time - the way it rides.

Let's start with ergonomics. The motorcycle has a sporty riding ergonomics with rear-set footpegs (which thankfully don't come in the way when you are leaning the motorcycle at a corner), a relatively high seat at 815mm height and a slightly crouched seating position thanks to the handlebar placement. The riding position is a bit demanding, yes, but it's not something that would make commuting on this motorcycle a painful affair.

Yamaha-R15-V3.0-First-Ride-Review-SideYamaha R15 V3.0 looks fantastic as it is well proportioned from all angles. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

There are several mechanical changes on the new R15 which make it a better performing machine. It is powered by a 155cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine that comes with fuel injection and develops 19.3 PS of power and 15 Nm of torque. To put it in perspective, the power is up about 16 percent as compared to the previous model and interestingly, the peak power now lies at as high as 10,000 RPM, compared to 8500 RPM in the Version 2.0. This is due to the engine getting Variable Valve Actuation (VVA) system that allows the engine to rev more while still allowing for a powerband that’s spread across the RPM range. The engine also features changes like bigger valves, bigger airbox, bigger injectors and a bigger throttle body which lets the engine breathe a bit more freely, and as a result, the engine doesn't feel stressed at high RPMs.

This engine comes mated to a 6-speed transmission. The gearbox is quick but we did wish that it was a bit more refined.

As for the rideability, the motorcycle was more than impressive in the handling department – which is arguably its forte. The handling has improved due to factors like an all-new aluminium swingarm which is not only lighter but also wider. The front forks, which are still right side up, are beefier and both the front and the rear tyres on the V3.0 are bigger than before as well. For about Rs 10,000 more, you can get the optional Metzeler tyre at the rear which is recommended if you aim to do sporty riding on this bike. Another big addition is the inclusion of a slip and assist clutch which allows for aggressive gearshifts and makes the clutch lever action feel lighter as well.

Yamaha-R15-V3.0-First-Ride-Review-CockpitThe cockpit of the Yamaha R15 V3.0 gives the rider a big bike feel. (Photo: Ayushmann Chawla/News18.com)

When it comes to the braking department, the motorcycle has a glaring omission - the absence of ABS even as an option. But when it comes to the brake performance, then the brakes feel progressive and have ample bite on offer. At the front, the R15 V3.0 gets a 282 mm disc - 15mm bigger than the ones on the V2.0 - and at the back, there is a 220mm rear disc.

The chassis of the R15 V3.0 is also really well set-up and the suspension was able to cope track-riding really well. The bike is flick-able and is quick at the transition between corners too, and its 139-kilo kerb weight helps. The company also claims that the motorcycle is now more economical but we'll have to wait for a proper road test to find out how it delivers on that front.

Yamaha-R15-V3.0-First-Ride-Review-Fuel-TankThe Yamaha R15 V3.0 gets R1-inspired fuel tank design. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

Overall, the new R15 is friendlier than ever and is a confidence-inspiring machine. The more you throw at it, or perhaps the more you throw it over in the corners, the more supportive the motorcycle gets. Even if you push it hard. In its stock form as well, there’s a lot that the R15 V3.0 offers and it has to be one of the best entry-level motorcycles for those who want to take up performance motorcycle or motorsports.

There were a couple areas which could have been better, like the fit and finish of some plastic panels on the bike and some of the welds which were more evident than they should be. But that's not why you would buy this bike. You would buy this bike for the way it brings a smile on your face corner after corner.

So, the Yamaha R15 V3.0 has been put through its paces at MMRT and the motorcycle has managed to pass through with flying colours. Yes, the price does seem a bit too steep at first but once you ride it, that is when you realise where all that money is going. To sum up the motorcycle in short and to answer the big question of whether this motorcycle has it been worth the wait and it justifies the price tag that it comes with?

Well, at least at a race track, the answer is a reassuring yes.

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| Edited by: Manav Sinha
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