Recently, one of our readers, Gordon Graham, from Kerala, (who also happens to be a friend of mine) purchased a brand new Yamaha Fazer 150, He was more than happy to lend his bike for a review, having driven around for a couple of days, I have a feeling that it is something special and different. Read on to find out.
Gordon researched quite a bit over the internet before making the final decision and he visited various biking sites including BikeAdvice and also gathered owner opinions. All he wanted was a great, reliable machine that met all his needs, cost being no object. He initially shortlisted the Yamaha R15 and the Apache 180 along with the Fazer, being a relatively novice rider, he opted out of the first two since they seemingly were better suited for aggressive and seasoned riders, he then considered the Fazer, for its good looks and its brand image; you see, the Fazer unlike its other 150 counterparts is promoted as a touring machine capable of crunching miles of tarmac with relative ease, with its engine tuned for low end torque end performance. This made it a much more viable machine for beginners.
Also since he would have to travel about 100 kilometres once in a while from his college to his home, he thought that the Fazer fit the bill perfectly. And so the decision was made, off he went to the nearest Yamaha dealership and in 5 days the bike was in his garage. He gave me a call when the bike arrived and I promptly headed over to check it out and I was in for a surprise.
What I had seen from the pictures and magazines were nothing compared to what the bike looked and felt like in the flesh. It was huge and the front end made it look more like a superbike than a 150. You initially get the feeling that this machine would be heavy and hard to handle, heavy it was but when you sat on it, you get the feeling that the all the weight has just suddenly dissapeared thanks to the really light weight of the front fairing and other components, it wasnt too long before I was on the road with this bike and guess what, it felt better the more i rode it.
Engine, Performance and Drivability:
All I knew of the bike, due to its rarity and high price tag were through little photos online and glimpses of demo models set up at showrooms. But this machine was really different up close and personal, I initially figured that this was just a silly, heavier FZ 16 by Yamaha and judging by the reviews I had read in magazines, I also imagined the bike would be underpowered for its size.
I was wrong. The engine, borrowed from the FZ series is a smooth great sounding vibration free unit that packs in all the grunt low RPM’s which means that all you need is a tiny flick of the wrist to be hauled forward. And while riding it, I realized that pulling wheelies in second gear isn’t too hard of a matter at all. It is this very character that makes it special.
It is a relaxed bike and you would ride it in a calm and relaxed manner. It does not have the rawness and the wild nature of the R15 or the RTR yet it’s really good at what it does. Cruising along I found out that you could ride it in 5th gear without any hiccups at speeds as low as 20kmph. Overtaking is a breeze and the Fazer does this with the least fuzz of any 150cc bike. The gearbox used is another master stroke. One way I like to test the quality of the gearbox is by stopping the bike in 5th gear and shifting to 1st while noting how much effort it takes to put it back to 1st without moving it the bike back and forth. It wasnt as smooth as I would have liked and also for some reason, it just took three taps for it to shift to 1st. While riding however. the gearshifts are silky smooth and give a generous amount of feedback. It uses only a toe shifter and can be a bit of a pain if you would ride it with slippers on. In the city, this was one machine that made you feel like a rider who came straight out a Dhoom movie. It turned heads just like a pretty woman walking down the street.
We rode past a bunch of pulsar dudes and we had them drooling with their jaws open. It attracts attention like crazy and you would really be surprized by how many people stop you and ask you to pose for a picture. The other day we met a fellow Fazer rider who went to a marriage only to have his bike surrounded by both the teens and adults alike. This machine is simply a star and if you plan to be the local hero, don’t save lives, just buy one of these. It is really effortless and relaxing to drive through the city, reasons being the smooth, silent engine and easy power delivery, the needlessness to downshift and all the attention it draws. It almost makes you happy that you are stuck in slow moving traffic. I haven’t enjoyed riding around crowded cities in a 150cc this way before. And since this bike feels best when it’s ridden slow and steady, the rider would most probably live longer.
On the highways, it cruised effortlessly and could maintain a steady speed of about 70kmph in a relaxed manner. The optimum speed would be around 50 – 80 km/h. I for once could not explore its limits as it had just covered 180 kms and was in its break-in period. As soon as its broken in, I would be sure to test its top speeds and acceleration times. The brakes were also another ace up its sleeves; its large diameter front disc brake coupled with the wide rubbers that offer astounding grip give it a respectable stopping power with great feel and a very tiny chance of wheel lock. I tried applying the brakes on loose gravel and the front wheels didn’t lock up until I exerted considerable pressure on the brakes. The front brake lever felt firm when applied but I felt that it wasn’t quite as sharp as the RTR’s, though it still is really powerful.
Yamaha also claimed to have tested and perfected the front fairing in wind tunnels. This seemed like a bold claim for a 150cc bike, so we decided to test it out. There was a patch of road near the location where we did our photo shoots that was particularly windy in the afternoons, this place was notorious for pushing around smaller bikes with heavy headwinds. Riding over this patch with my Apache often made the bike change direction slightly. I took the Fazer over this very path to test it out and at about the sme speed of 70 km/h I kept wondering, how did they do it? The fairing was amazing, it kept the bike steady and on course even with the wind pounding at me. The airflow was really well controlled around the fairing and I could really feel the air around it flowing in certain directions when I placed my hand around it. This shows that the Yamaha’s claim of wind tunnel testing wasn’t just a claim. It was a fact and one that is certain to please those wanting to ride fast.
Ride, Handling and Ergonomics
This is one area where the Fazer stands out from the whole bunch. It’s a pleasure to ride on bumpy, pothole ridden, cracked, or any other roads that can be thrown at it. It simply glides along with assurance. Most reviews have claimed the seats and the riding position for the quality of the ride, but it’s actually the combination of lightweight wheels, superb suspension and ergonomic seating position that does the job. The seats were a little hard for me but I guess since this is a new bike, the foam would take a while to come into its element. A great way to describe the ride quality would be to compare it to an Innova or Scorpio, the way these cars ride over bad roads is very much similar to how this bike handles terrains. The wheels just seem to bounce off the bumps and makes bad roads seem good until you come over there on some other machine.
As an experienced biker would know, a suspension can be of two types, Hard and Soft. A hard suspension can give the best control but lacks ride quality and does a bad job with bumps and craters, while a soft suspension glides over bad roads while compromising handling and control. Most manufacturers in India tune suspensions to a setting that is somewhere between Hard and Soft, TVS with its Apache range of bikes sets it to medium hard. While the Pulsars in general are tuned with a softer suspension. With the Fazer, the suspension setting is spot on in the middle with a touch of softness. The ride feels soft while at the same time stiff. This result is a perfect combination of handling and comfort. It’s something that needs to be experienced firsthand.You can go through the worst roads with absolute ease and then in a moment head over to the next smooth road and perform some corner craving. Its simply seamless.
The riding position is comfortable and also sporty, the foot pegs are placed a little backwards for various reasons and this also helps the bike to have great lean angles. One thing you must know if you are a short rider is that the rear seat is a little high, and pillions may not be able to put their foot down to assist you when you are crawling through traffic.
The seat can be opened by the ignition keys using the keyhole at the rear left of the bike, under it you would find the usual first aid kit and a tool kit containing wrenches of various sizes, a screwdriver, and also an allen key, which is an L shaped tool for tightening/removing the fairing fasteners. There isn’t much space in here for anything substantial so you would be better off with a backpack for your touring needs.
Stuff That’s Not Too Cool
They say nothings perfect and that is slightly the case with this otherwise great machine. For starters, the bike does not come with any sort of crash guard and unless you take care while you ride, you can easily bend the handle bar or break the indicators or brake/clutch levers and also scratch up the fairing. The clutch lever on Gordons bike was broken on the second day of ownership thanks to the lack of this feature and wet tarmac.
It does not have a kick starter which means that you have to be careful with the kind of electrical upgrades you may want to install (HID’s or headlamps for example) as they may drain up the battery faster than the alternator can recharge it which means you might have to put up with some old fashioned jump starting.
Another flaw that has been mentioned in several forums are that the headlights which can be switched only one at a time. There is a simple solution to this that may seem silly, all you have to do to turn both the lights on is that you just have to place the high/low beam switch somewhere in the middle position. This lights up both the lamps and after lots of riding in the dark with this setting, the battery seems to hold up well.
Another thing that’s not cool is that the accessories offered by Yamaha are expensive. It seems like an old marketing technique or razors and blades where the blades are sold with a high price tag compared to the razor. For example, an LED indicator set would cost nearly 3000 Rupees and a simple LED pilot light would cost 500 bucks. You could get that imported from the US through EBay for about the same price.
Also the side stand lever is placed in between the foot peg and the gear lever and this, in my opinion, is really awkward especially if you’re wearing wide boots. There is also a saree guard that comes with the bike but for some funny reason it does not have the footrests for ladies who would want to sit sideways. The pillion seat is also too small for anyone huge and its not the most comfortable place to be on especially when you are perched up high.
The Final Verdict
Yamaha has made a great bike for people who love to enjoy the pleasures of biking. It is great for weekend getaways and relaxing rides. If you are the person who likes to take life slow and steady with a smile on your face, enjoying all that comes in between then this is one machine you will fall in love with. Its exhaust sounds great, it looks awesome does everything really well with not much fuzz. Its ability to eat up bad roads and its high levels of stability make it a great machine overall. There are, as mentioned, a few shortcomings but these are ones that can be lived with since all it takes would be some ‘getting used to’. Overall, Its lovely and its awesome if you can be happy being lighter by approximately 85,350 Rupees (on the road price, kerala) for the bike.
– Arun Thampi