For 2021, the Yamaha R15 will be replaced by a new generation. The new updates, however, make no noticeable changes to the way it rides.
Purchasing the Yamaha R15 V4.0 will instantly make you a member of your college’s cool club, but it is now more expensive than ever.
The Yamaha YZF-R15 is a well-known name in India, as it was one of the first offerings from the Japanese two-wheeler manufacturer to kickstart the country’s sports bike trend. The motorcycle has undergone a series of major and minor updates over the years to stay relevant and up to date with current market demands.
Yamaha’s beginner sports bike will undergo a complete generation change in 2021. Version 4, or V4.0, was released a few weeks ago in India, and here’s how it fared in our road tests.
New but not different
The new Yamaha YZF-R15 V4.0 appears to be a completely new motorcycle, but it isn’t. While the basic platform and engine remain the same, the out design, particularly at the front, has undergone a significant update. While the previous R15 was certainly sporty in appearance, the latest model has managed to raise the bar even higher. The front section now clearly looks like it was inspired by the 2022 YZF-R7, especially since the latest R15 gets a Racing Blue paint scheme with nearly identical stickers. A dual-tone effect is used on the floating body panels, just like the R7. The lower panels are a lighter tone, while the upper panels are a darker, matte shade. When compared to Version 3, the R15’s front section and side profile appear to be completely new, but the rear end appears to be more or less the same.
Aside from the cosmetic changes, Yamaha has made sure to include a slew of new features that are unheard of in the segment. While smartphone Bluetooth connectivity is now standard on the majority of two-wheelers, even those in the lower segments, the addition of ride modes (Street/Track), quick-shifter (up), and switchable Traction Control System really ups the ante.
Although the display is still a fully digital LCD, it now shows more information. Aside from the standard information like speed, rpm metre, time, and gearing, there’s also a Traction Control (on/off) icon, the most recent lap time, the fastest lap time, and much more.
Still moving quickly
The new R15, which is built around the iconic and highly popular Deltabox frame, does exactly what it has done in the past, and not much has changed in that regard. It still has the same 155cc liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC, 4-valve engine that produces 18.4PS at 10,000 rpm and 14.2 Nm of torque at 7,500 rpm. The engine, of course, is paired with the same 6-speed transmission and a slipper clutch. To be honest, this configuration has been a consistent performer for Yamaha, and since there was no pressing need for it, the powertrain has been left alone. It retains the VVA technology, which allows the powertrain to pump thrust throughout the higher rpm range.
Without mentioning how smooth and tractable this engine is, the review would be incomplete. The power is delivered right away, and the bike lunges forward quickly, with the revs rising at a breakneck pace. Even though the R15 feels fairly quick in terms of acceleration, the power output of 18.4 PS doesn’t really excite. The mid-range left me wanting, as the bike takes a long time to respond to roll-on accelerations, but once around 7,000-7,500 rpm is crossed, the engine appears to be releasing all the power that had been withheld.
The clutch stays soft, and gear shifts are quick, precise, and error-free. While the addition of a quick-shifter is a welcome addition, I found myself having difficulty using it. Even after switching to track mode, it didn’t feel as smooth as a real quick-shifter, as I had to blip the gas to get into the higher gears at times.
Carver of corners
In terms of handling, the R15 V4 is essentially the same as the R15 V3, with Yamaha opting not to change the riding geometry. Why fix something that isn’t broken?
The R15’s Deltabox frame helps it to be a light, agile, and sharp-handling sports bike. The wheelbase (1325 mm) and swingarm have remained unchanged, but the suspension setup has been upgraded to include a Telescopic upside Down Fork (USD Fork), which keeps the front end more balanced and connected around the corners.
Unlike Version 3.0, which I tested on the MMRT back in 2018, I didn’t get the chance to ride the bike on track, but it still manages to impress. I’m interested in purchasing this bike because of the lean angles it promises, even on city roads. I don’t want to come across as a shill, but the R15 is unquestionably one of the best-handling sports bikes available in the entry-level segment.
A 282 mm disc (single) brake is used up front, while a 220 mm disc brake is used in the back. There are no complaints about the stopping power of this combination.
The R15 V4 is an excellent learning aid. It’s a shining example of Japanese precision engineering and dedication to sports biking. The R15 has gained some extremely cool features with the latest gen update, but they all come at a price. The bike is nearly 1.71 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) as of December 2021, which is a high price for a 155 cc bike in India, but if you don’t mind the displacement, there is no replacement on my radar that is as cool as the R15 V4.0.