Ten years ago Yamaha set the benchmark with the YZF-R15. Since then there has been a v2.0 and now there is a v3.0. Can this new R15 recreate the magic its predecessors created?
THE YEAR WAS 2008. THE IDEA OF A FULLY FAIRED super sport motorcycle capable of carving up a race track with the precision of a katana but with an engine capacity of 150cc seemed far fetched. And suddenly, the Yamaha YZF-R15 burst on to the scene to the delight of the Indian biker. Its edgy, R1 derived styling, though there were complaints about the tail end being somewhat disproportionate, and racy ergonomics made you fall in love with it even before you’d sat on it.
Love happened a second time once you switched on that liquidcooled 150cc single. The smooth running unit revved as freely as a bird in the sky. It was powerful too, for its size. Its tyres were narrow but MRF outdid itself to create a special super sticky tyre that set the benchmark for outright grip. Together with that outof-the-world Deltabox frame and link type monoshock at the rear, the YZF-R15 became the bridge between many a knee-slider and tarmac. A blissful kiss that, until the arrival of the R15, remained just out of reach of the Indian biker. A generation upgrade, dubbed v2.0, brought with it some revision to the front end styling, a new rear end and an aluminium swingarm. Ten years after the R15 was born, the v3.0 is here to take its rightful place as the heir to that hefty legacy. On the warm sweaty afternoon at the Madras Motor Race Track, expectations therefore were sky high.
Even at a distance, the new R15 has morphed into something entirely new. It’s almost as if the genes of yore have moved a step too far away in this new generation. The R15 v3.0 looks nothing like the v2.0, and even less so like the original. It has grown more muscular and honestly, I wasn’t too sure whether I liked its new face. But if you’re not shallow enough to get bogged down with the face, the R15 is now more proportionate. The muscle that has been added on has been distributed evenly. The fins on the tail piece don’t really have any aero function but look pretty neat and that R3-esque tail lamp suits the R15 well.
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