The new R15 v3: Worth the upgrade, but is it practical?It is admittedly expensive for a sub-160cc segment bike but it is one of the most powerful in its segment, and the only one to feature dual-channel ABS.
“What kind of people will buy this bike?” my mother asked when I brought Yamaha’s latest R15 v3 home.
I stopped and pondered. It was a good question.
From a non-rider’s point of view, the R15 v3 is as impractical as female superheroes wearing heels and bikini armour during combat. But does it really matter?
The new R15 v3 has gotten a substantial facelift from its older v2 model. Gone are the twin trapezoidal headlights, the V-shaped front visor along with the analogue tachometer. That’s early 2010s design.
In comes the fully digital instrument cluster which displays everything you’d expect from a modern bike, from the gear position indicator to a fuel gauge. The R15 v3 now gets twin LED headlights as well.
The bike also gets a faux ram air intake (positioned between the twin headlights), rear winglets (cut-outs below the rear seat), grooves on the tank and sharper tail light, all design elements inspired from its elder sibling, the R1.
All of these changes, or what Yamaha calls ‘R-DNA’, make the R15 v3 look more modern and one could easily mistake it for a supersport bike.
Even the riding position has gotten more aggressive compared to the previous v2 model. When I first swung my leg over the bike, I thought it would be similar to the v2 I used to ride back in my college days, but nope.
I was shocked at the huge difference in riding position between the v2 and v3. Riding the v3 makes seating on the v2 seem almost commuter like. Yamaha has lowered the front clip-on and increased the seat height just enough to drastically change the riding ergonomics.
This meant some pain on my back and wrists for the first couple of hours before I got used to the new riding position.
So how is the ride quality of the Yamaha R15 v3?
Throttle response is crisp and responsive, balance on the bike is impeccable, engine heat is tolerable even during bumper to bumper traffic, and filtering through traffic is no problem. The bike also stops on a dime thanks to dual-channel ABS, which prevents both wheels from locking up during hard braking.
Yamaha has plonked in a new engine in the R15 v3 that produces even more power compared to the v2 (19 vs 17 PS). It gets a new 6-speed gearbox with Assist and Slipper clutch which prevents the rear wheel from slipping, especially during aggressive downshifts. The engine also comes with Variable Valves Actuation (VVA) technology. This is the secret sauce which propels the R15 v3 off the line when the traffic cop switches the sign on their handle from ‘Stop’ to ‘Go’. It allows the bike to generate oodles of torque at lower revs and will pull strongly till an eye-watering 11,500 RPM.
But there is a price to pay for the higher performance, increased vibrations. I felt the vibrations in my hands even though I was wearing thick leather gloves. The stock tyres (MRFs) are also disappointing as the bike tends to slip ever so slightly while cornering. And remember the twin LED headlights? Yeah, you can forget about night rides. The light spread is appalling and switching to high beam doesn’t do much.
Another aspect of the bike, which can be either a pro or a con, is the muted exhaust note. It has a slight growl to it which only sounds meaner the higher up the rev range. It is not too loud and I can hear ‘Post Malone’s Goodbyes’ perfectly fine on my helmet’s Bluetooth intercom.
So what kind of people will buy this bike?
Priced at just over Rs450,000, it is admittedly expensive for a sub-160cc segment bike but it is one of the most powerful in its segment and the only one to feature dual-channel ABS. Other bikes in the segment are only offering single-channel ABS. Its looks are unparalleled and has the air of a proper supersports thanks to design elements borrowed from its elder sibling.
The R15 v3’s primary competitors are KTM’s RC 200 and Honda’s ageing CBR 250R.
While the RC 200 looks the most similar, it lacks dual-channel ABS and costs nearly Rs130,000 more. And though the CBR 250R has a variant with dual-channel ABS, you would have to pay over Rs300,000 more.
I think it’s a pretty obvious decision if your choices were between these three bikes.
But back to the non-practical aspect of the bike. You can forget taking a pillion on the R15 v3 due to its raised rear seat, which was decreased slightly from the v2.
I asked my mother if she wanted to hop on the back of the bike. She refused.
What do you think?
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