Arguably the best looking of all versions so far, the new R15’s displays top-end performance on the open road with its free-revving engine, 6-speed gearbox and optional up-only quickshifter
YZF-R15 has been popular ever since it launched in India and is loved for its accessible, sporty performance that does not require breaking the bank.
The same can be said of the new R15 which looks better than its 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 — it is a copy of the 2021 YZF-R7.
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 is shaped 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.
The side fairing flows neatly with the rest of the bike, and the ‘Racing Blue’ paint works with the dual-tone, matte and gloss effect. The fuel tank is also new and looks chunkier than the version 3.0s tank but 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 the versions so far. The only jarring element is that the angle of the exhaust does not 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, tactile buttons or the plastics used to mould the fairings. Then, there is 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.
Hop on to the bike and you will notice that although the seat is new, comfier and has a slimmer profile towards the tank, it is 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. Thankfully, it has not got too aggressive, as the clip-ons are angled to 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 is not suited for long highway stints.
The 155cc, liquid-cooled, four-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 unit makes 0.2hp less than the previous engine, but that is not a cause for concern. In fact, this engine makes 0.1Nm more and it peaks at 1,000rpm lower than before. This could translate to a slightly quicker accelerating motorcycle than the v3, but it is yet to be verified.
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 6-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 142kg, 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.
One of the biggest reasons that makes the R15 so endearing 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 is great because the Deltabox frame and suspension work together to offer a handling package that is a treat. The R15 simply loves corners and holds on to an intended line as if on rails. Turn-in, however, is sharp and takes a little getting used to.
All that handling finesse has not 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.
With a new design and feature updates, the venerable R15 gets a near ₹ 10,000 to ₹ 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 the near-₹ 2 lakh on-road price as too much for a 155cc motorcycle. But for all that money, 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 every time 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.