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The pocket rocket

Our auto expert tries to tame the extremely powerful, brand new Yamaha R15 on the race tracks of Chennai and ends up shaken but safe. The verdict: India has never had a bike as good as this one.

Vikrant Singh | Print Edition: July 27, 2008

Our auto expert tries to tame the extremely powerful, brand new Yamaha R15 on the race tracks of Chennai and ends up shaken but safe. The verdict: India has never had a bike as good as this one.

Specs Model: Yamaha R15
Engine Capacity: 149.8cc
Max Power: 17 bhp
Max Torque: 15 Nm
0-60kmph: 4.5 seconds (estimated)
Top Speed: 140 Kmph
Price: Rs 97,500 ex-showroom (all India)

We all want superbikes— ones that displace 1000cc, make over 150 bhp of power, and get to 100km/hr quicker than a seasoned campaigner goes through his Tequila shot. And that these come with equally colossal bragging rights as standard make them even more endearing. However, also standard is the absurdly high amount of money one needs to pay for these. And that’s even before you factor in the equally ridiculous fuel economy figure, and the prices of spare parts, which better fit a diamond merchant’s display.

The R15 has full faring, a first for bikes in India
Now, though, there’s a miniature option available—the Yamaha R15. Yes, it’s only 150cc, makes one-tenth the power of the exotic-league-of-impractical-motorcycles, and takes longer to get to 60km/h than the big ones take to get to 100. But it’s not as expensive (in comparison, of course). More importantly, being a scaled down version of the R1 in more ways than one, it promises to be almost as much fun.

The R15 comes with the most advanced chassis used on an Indian bike
We rode the bike at the Chennai race track, and, boy, was it entertaining. The track is a nicely thought out one—it has two long straights, and a heady mix of lightening fast and terribly slow corners, which honestly require great ability on the part of both the rider and machine to overwhelm. But on the R15, even at speeds of over 120 km/h on straights, and over 100 km/h around faster corners, it felt as if I was out on my Sunday morning eggs-and-bread shopping ride.

The vibe-free, liquid-cooled (for better performance), fuel-injected (better controlled and complete combustion) and 4-valve (better breathing) engine doesn’t feel devastatingly fast at the outset, but get it ticking over 6000 rpm, and there’s a forward surge that catches the rider unaware and puts a grin on his face that gets wider as the rev climbs to a dizzy 11,000 rpm. Then, of course, there’s the handling.

The delta box chassis the R15 employs (technologically it is generations ahead of the chassis we see on other Indian bikes) is rigid, stable and over-engineered to the degree that no matter how fast you go around corners, it always feels relaxed. The R15 is a forgiving machine, though, allowing you to correct your lines mid-corners on the rare occasions it doesn’t sort out the situation
The liquid-cooled fuel injected engine makes the R15 eco-friendly
on its own.

Braking for corners is equally effortless— the bite is great and the stability and grip offered by the front phenomenal. The R15 is a revelation and as good a showcase of technology as it gets in the Indian biking scene. And even though it’s not exactly “cheap” at close to Rs 1 lakh, it’s certainly worth buying. After all, there’s nothing else on two wheels in the country that looks so good, and goes better.

Vikrant Singh is Road Test Editor, Auto Bild India

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