The discussion of utmost importance emerges whenever the idea of buying the first bike strikes , and I suspect the iconic name Yamaha R15 goes disregarded. Ever since the R15 debut in India way back in 2008, it raced past our expectations from the affordable commuter segment. The bike revved the hearts of hot-blooded youth with its racing-instinct abilities. But, out in real-world, there are still various setbacks which can only be convinced by heart err.., but not by the head.

I was filled with contentment when a mail popped up from my senior, mentioning a road test of the new R15 V4. I had a fair share of wisdom riding my friend’s R15 V3 for over three years, and that hints at what’s about to follow with the V4 kept me excited. But this time around, I was put into a job to examine the machine rather than having fun .So, let’s now know about what kept me grinning under the helmet and what kept me frowning as I test rode the Yamaha R15 V4.

Design and Styling

What a beautiful machine! It would be the first-ever statement one whispers after taking a glance at the R15 V4, and in the racing blue colour shade, it even looks fantastic. But for me, the real eye candy is a Metallic Grey shade that only comes with the M-sport Variant. Every iteration of the R15 looked irresistible, and the latest V4 is no different. The stance and styling make the bike look like a segment above. Yeh! more buck for your bang, huhh!The front fascia of the fourth-gen R15 is designed in tandem with the mighty Yamaha YZF-R7. The bi-function LED projector headlamp positioned inside a faux air scoop with sharp-looking DRLs on either side makes it appear more aggressive than ever. Moreover, the illumination from the headlamp is so excellent to keep you confident enough to ride out fast during the dark.The bike looks outstandingly sporty, just like the V3, when viewed from the sides. The contrasting gloss-matte Racing Blue colour is therapy for the eyes. The windscreen is now enhanced, as well as there are a lot of cuts and creases on the body to make it even more aerodynamic. The fuel tank is newly designed to accommodate your knees comfortably; however, the fuel tank capacity remains the same as 11-litres.

I have always complained about the build quality of the R15 V3. Infact, upon hard pressing, the tank panel was used to dislocate. More-so-over, the plastic quality and switches were highly compromised. Thankfully, Yamaha rectified all the build quality issues, and now the overall fit and finish of the bike feel a notch above, giving a premium experience to its buyers.

Engine and Performance

As soon as I signed my declaration form, I took the keys from the dealer and went up for a brief tour of Mumbai city. What a gem of an engine it is! I kept revving it hard as I flew passed the city traffic with a breeze, and out on the straight road, there was no looking back. For instance, you forget it has just a 155cc SOHC motor, which churns out 18.1 bhp and 14.2 Nm of torque. Now, these numbers are different from the V3; torque is up by 0.1Nm while the power has gone down by 0.2bhp. Well, the performance characteristics almost remain formidable.Despite being a sporty engine, the fuel efficiency isn’t as dreadful to dent up your pocket money. You see, this 155cc engine is the perfect example of what the square engine should be like. The bore: stroke ratio of around 0.99 and a compression ratio of 11.6:1 give it an edge over its rivals in terms of engine performance. To your reference, Bajaj Pulsar 150 NS has a bore: stroke ratio of 0.95* and a compression ratio of around 9.6:1*. Cheery on the cake is the VVA (Variable Valve Actuation) system provides a lot of mid-range grunt and engaging high-end performance. VVA technology uses two different cam profiles on either side of 7400 rpm that helps an engine to provide a wider powerband. Yamaha literally upped the technology game even further by providing a quick-shifter(up-shift, standard on R15 M, Moto GP edition and Racing Blue) with a 6-speed gearbox. You don’t get to use the quick shifter out on the city roads often, but on the highway or on the track, quick-shifting uplifts the riding experience even further. The clutch is super light, and transmission has been slick throughout the 6-gears. Well, everything is not encouraging as it seems for the motor, it behaves as fit as a fiddle in the mid-range, and once you throttle it hard, the vibrations creep on the handlebars, and the engine sounds raspy closer to the redline.

Ride and handling

The Yamaha R15 V4 sits on the Deltabox frame, a design that is based on technologies garnered from the YZR500 GP competition machines. The frame adopts a box-shaped cross-section that enables a larger cross-section surface area, lighter weight and high rigidity. The kerb weight remains unchanged at just 142kg. Furthermore, the aluminium swingarm gives a significant advantage in reducing unsprung mass. All these characteristics translate into better handling.

One of the most significant updates, though, is the introduction of the front telescopic Upside Down Forks. The inner diameter of the tube is now lessening down to 37mm from the 41mm fork on the V3. In contrast, the linked type monocross suspension setup at the rear remains the same. While everything is set up on a stiffer side, the ride remains plaint over small bumps and undulated roads. But, once you hit potholes, which you will do more often than you ever realize on the Indian roads, you will start complaining about ride quality. Well, the stiffer suspension setup comes as a forte around corners. Well, that being said, all-in-all, it’s a balance of sporty yet wieldy ride quality.

The braking setup also remained unchanged from the V3 with a 282mm disc brake at the front and 220mm disc brake at the rear with dual-channel ABS as standard. However, the braking bite was not at all confident aspiring under panic braking at high speeds as ABS kicks in a little earlier than I would expect.

Comfort and Convenience

This is the section where I would be totally pessimistic about the bike. The Yamaha R15 is not the bike for unhealthy youth to begin with. I had the bike for the span of 4 days, where-in I rode it around 350 odd kilometres. Well, my back wasn’t aching a bit, but my wrist went through severe abuse. Though seats are wide and comfortable, the dedicated riding positions that will come as a boon for some and will be a curse for many in day-to-day riding. More-so-over, the pillion rider has no grab rails, so they will indirectly transfer their weight on you during braking. They will silently pray to God that you don’t accelerate quickly, and more often than ever, the request will be unheard of, which will discomfort them as well as you. The seat height remains the same at 815mm as from the V3. What’s changed, though, is the riding position. Yamaha has reworked the handlebars, making them a little wider and lower than V3. The riding position is now even more committed than before, which comes as an advantage when riding the bike hard on the track or out on an open stretch of road.

In terms of convenience, the V4 gets a new LCD instrument cluster that displays fuel efficiency, battery voltage, trip meter, tachometer, speedometer, and fuel gauge. The bike also comes with a switchable traction control mode, which is a kind of a gimmick considering the segment of the bike it fits in. What’s interesting, though, is the addition of track mode along with the normal street mode. Yamaha has also provided Bluetooth connectivity with the cluster that provides unnecessary call, SMS and e-mail notifications. Heck, who needs such kind of disturbance while riding, that too even a sportbike. Yamaha could have an integrated navigation system (especially in the top variant) that could come as handy functionality. Otherwise, mounting a phone on the handlebar or taking unnecessary stopping brakes to navigate through becomes troublesome.

Verdict

Despite being uncomfortable living up with the bike on a day-to-day basis, the overall biking spirit of the R15 V4 keeps you falling in love with it. Not every bike can earn this respect at such a price point. Talking about price, it’s 10-15 thousand costlier depending on the variant. But, the commanding sporty stance, upmarket build quality, superior motor and confidence-inspiring handling justify the extra premium it demands. So-ever, a squared engine along with VVA technology improves the performance of the bike without even compromising the fuel efficiency. All-in-all, the bike craves speed with sporty dynamics that make it a worthy experience, especially for the riders who want to treasure the riding experience.