Yamaha YZF-R15

Ticket to ride

Test by Dennis Penzo. Pics by Lou Martin.

With a special deal being offered by Yamaha you can get aboard this sporty little performer for $19.81 per week – probably cheaper than most peoples’ weekly bus tickets. Apart from the small Virago Yamaha didn’t really have anything in this category and now they’ve filled the void with something that is really going to take it up to the competition, which obviously is machines like the Honda CBR125 and 250 and Ninja 250 as well as many of the other options coming from mainly Asian shores.

The bikes are built in India by Yamaha Motor India, a Yamaha entity, not a partnership with a local producer. The quality control is obviously as good as you would expect in any Yamaha. In fact, it’s so good that the resulting popularity and proliferation of this model in India is such that there is even a race series for this bike, the R15 Race Series.

The Indian market is a tough one to crack and, anecdotal evidence suggests, if your bike won’t run for at least three years without a spanner going near it, then it’s simply not going to survive.

On the stand

The new R15 has a very stylish and sporty look about it while incorporating several practical features such as the comfortable riding position for both rider and pillion and useful pillion grab rails either side. The screen looks nice and the mirrors are well placed. The 17-inch wheels feature five-spoke mags that give it a modern look.

Instrumentation is easy to read and features an analogue tacho with a digital speedo to its left which also incorporates several other functions including trip meters, fuel status etc.

The R-series style Deltabox frame boasts a linked monocross suspension which makes for a great ride, and that goes for the pillion as well. The rear mudguard hangs down pretty low so there’s plenty of splash protection, though it wouldn’t take much effort to cut it off short just below the number plate if you prefer aesthetics to commuting practicalities.

On the road

Our day started at the Deus Ex Machina temple of enthusiasm in Camperdown where we did a quick trip around some nearby waterfront suburbs. Then it was up Parramatta Road in some serious traffic and, in parts, dubious road surfaces. This is where you appreciate the Deltabox frame where Yamaha has optimised the longitudinal, lateral and torsional rigidity which gives the little R15 a comfortable but solid feel

It is a very agile bike, and as a commuter bike that is a big plus. We weaved the nimble R15s through morning traffic then peeled off onto one of the motorways on our way to the Eastern Creek Go-Kart track. That was probably my biggest surprise. After having ridden all kinds of commuter bikes in this size range I can say I was pretty impressed with the R15s capacity to easily cruise at or slightly above 110kmh with obvious room to milk a little more.

At those speeds the engine is not screaming its head off. It’s actually a quiet, comfortable ride. The rear monocross suspension cushions the ride and that makes the suspension less prone to bottom out, even without adjustment options.

Our day at Eastern Creek threatened rain a few times, but the track was dry for most of the session, with just a light sprinkle towards the end of the day that invited a little more caution. The tight configuration of the Go-Kart track gave us a real opportunity to put the little R15 through its paces. A very responsive throttle, good acceleration and good suspension made for a great little bike to punt around.

The six-speed transmission is smooth and easy to use, as you’d expect from a Yamaha and the single disc brakes front and back are more than up to the task on the R15.

Yamaha YZF-R15

The 12-litre fuel tank is ample and a claimed 45km/litre is believable. A seat height of 790mm is not going to be an issue for most people while a minimum ground clearance of 160mm is good. A total weight of 131kg, including fuel, will not daunt anyone. We also got a chance to punt around a slightly hotted up version as used in the Indian R15 race series.

The Daytona kit featured race pipe, hi-lift camshaft, fuel controller, wave disc and two less teeth on the front sprocket. Although Yamaha is still considering whether to make this kit generally available in Oz.

Inside the heart

At the heart of our little sporty commuter is a 150cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke, SOHC, four-valve engine. The single cylinder R15 features a forged aluminium piston running in an all aluminium DiASil cylinder which offers light weight, great heat dissipation, less oil consumption and excellent wear resistance. The heat dissipation and light weight come from the 20 per cent silicon content in the DiASil cylinder, creating a very hard, reliable cylinder surface that makes conventional iron sleeves obsolete.

The thin and light aluminium piston is the same type as used in Yamaha’s Supersport bikes with a reciprocating mass about 20 per cent less than an engine of the same displacement carrying a conventional cast aluminium piston. The lightweight fuel injection system has four sensors feeding info to a small 26-pin ECU as well as the fuel pump, modularised regulator and filter and a small six-hole type injector.

A large three-litre air cleaner provides plenty of clean air mix with the intake duct area allowing the engine to breathe well. A compact, lightweight aluminium radiator helps to keep everything cool.

On the pocket

This little sports/commuter is a bike that Yamaha really needed to fill a gap in its line-up. It will also appeal to maybe those R1 and R6 owners who might decide that city commuting is going to be more fun and economical on the R15 which shares their styling cues and even heritage. And that will also make it appeal to the first timer, learner/beginner.

With 12 months unlimited kilometre, parts and labour warranty its recommended retail price is $3999, including GST, which, with Yamaha’s special finance deal is going to make it $19.81 per week for most – hmmm, bus ticket? R15? No brainer really.

Yamaha YZF-R15
Yamaha YZF-R15
Yamaha YZF-R15
Yamaha YZF-R15
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