Revised R15

Yamaha have upgraded their first true Indian super sports bike, the R15. We take a ride to find out how it fulfils the aspirations of those who were eagerly looking forward to version 2.0 of this bike

Story: Adhish Alawani

Photography: Sanjay Raikar

The news of version 2.0 of Yamaha’s R15 was exciting. In general the R15 has been one of the most favourite bikes in the country and a serious upgrade of this already excellent motorcycle had caught our attention instantly.

The press launch in New Delhi gave us a fair hint of what to look for – new styling, a new swing-arm and a few internal changes aimed at making the bike an overall better machine. There was a little disappointment, though, when we learned that the upgrades were concentrated more round the bike’s cosmetics rather than its performance. Nevertheless, the bits that Yamaha had talked about made us head for the race-track near Chennai to figure out how much better the bike had actually become.

How Does Version 2.0 Look?

Version 2.0 has certainly endowed the R15 with a killer look. Sharper and more aggressive in overall styling, this bike is the result of excellent implementation of the feedback received from the customers. The R15 now takes a number of cues from the R125 and a few from the R6. This basically applies to the new tail-piece that incorporates an LED tail-light and a split seat. The revised rear end definitely gives the bike a sportier feel with its increased angle. There is a wider rear tyre, a radial one from MRF that measures 130/70-R17, in response to a huge public demand. Along with that, even the front tyre has been upsized to 90/80-R17.

On the fairing front, there is a new mid-cowl that is wider and suits the wide nose of the R15 better now. There is a new rear tyre hugger and a tinted visor too, which add to the bike’s styling. As a whole, the bike looks more muscular now than before and carries a lot of aggression. Yamaha have definitely stepped up the styling and replicated the amazingly sporty R125 to a good extent.

Anything More Than Styling?

Yes. There are a few upgrades that are not just cosmetic, the new swing-arm being the most important of these. An excellent aluminium swing-arm has replaced the basic steel one. The new swing-arm is 55 millimetres longer than the old one and has thus resulted in a 55-mm longer wheelbase too. The seat height has been raised from 790 mm to 800 mm, making the revised R15 a little taller than the original.

Apart from these changes in the dimension, a change has also been made in the bike’s weight distribution. The earlier 47:53 rear bias of weight has been modified to 49:51 to suit the increased wheelbase. A bigger rear disc, measuring 220 mm in diameter, has been adopted for more effective braking. A bigger mount for the front disc has been used for better heat dissipation.

Yamaha have incorporated a few changes into the R15’s ECU mapping too. The company claims that the ECU gives better response to the throttle input, making the power and torque delivery linear than before. However, do not expect this to reflect in the output figures, which remain the same at the same revs as the earlier R15.

How Does It Ride?

That is the germinal question and we tried to find the answer on the race-track, where the R15 is supposed to belong. To start with, the bike definitely feels taller than the previous one and a little more proportionate too. The nose, which earlier seemed to be too wide, now gels well with the wider but more aerodynamic body. The seat is a little on the firmer side than before and the foot-pegs seemed to have been raised too. The increased angle of the seat makes the riding position a little more aggressive, though not so much that your palms will have to take all your bodyweight.

A couple of minutes of riding on the track and the first change that is immediately apparent in the motorcycle is the extra space created by the split seat for the rider. It offers ease of movement, especially for someone 5′ 9” or taller. I could sit further back and duck down properly unlike on the older bike, on which I had to almost sit on the pillion sit to do so. Also, the extra space for movement helped in shifting the body from one side to another while flicking the bike in a series of turns.

The second advantage comes in the form of a little additional mid-corner stability in case you hang off the bike more. The longer wheelbase has taken away the sharpness and high agility from the motorcycle while turning in, but, at the same time, added a little forgiveness in case your riding style is such that you hang off the seat excessively while cornering.

Yamaha’s claims of improved acceleration and top speed could not be tested since our standard testing procedure demands us to test the motorcycle in Pune on our regular patch of road, where each bike’s performance test is done and where the earlier bike had been tested. We will keep that for later when we get the motorcycle for a test in Pune and are able to hook on our data-logger to determine the acceleration and top speed figures.

The wider tyre added a little more grip for higher lean angles while cornering, but, at the same time, made it a little difficult to flick the bike quickly from one side to another due to the contour of the wider section.

Yamaha have retained the power and torque output from the earlier version. We noticed a huge 47-tooth sprocket at the rear (as against a 42-tooth one in the earlier version), but then we also noticed that the overall gearing has been maintained as before. The new bigger sprocket has been used to compensate for the bigger tyres. Thus, there isn’t any noticeable change in the in-gear speeds of the R15 version 2.0.

What About The Daily User?

Yes. The bike looks superb with its new tail-piece and split seat, which will attract more attention. But it also entails a lot of pain for the pillion rider. The pillion seat is much higher and narrower now, making it rather difficult for your riding companion to find any comfort while being seated. So far as daily riding is concerned, I doubt if your pillion will appreciate the new styling of the R15.

How Does Version 2.0 Fare?

The cosmetic changes are excellent and cent per cent marks to the designers for that. However, on the performance front, we expected more and got less. The bike already had excellent handling (owing to its deltabox frame and suspension set-up) and improvements in that area weren’t as necessary as a bit of additional power was to fight the competition. Also, lowering the gearing could have helped in turning the R15 into a rocket on the track.

To sum up, the R15 looks sexier now but has little addition to its potential. Can we have an R25 now, please?


1.New styling

  • Middle cowl
  • Tail-piece and LED tail-light
  • Split seat
  • Wider tyre
  • New tyre hugger
  • Tinted visor

2.New parts

  • Aluminium swing-arm
  • Bigger rear disc
  • Bigger mounting for front disc

3.Internal changes

  • Modified ECU
  • Throttle body'

Bike India Team – who has written posts on Bike India.

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