The Yamaha YZF-R15 V3 review can be summed up in one line – the latest R15 is the best R15 yet in ALL aspects! That’s the verdict right there for you in the first line for the first time ever on BikeAdvice. And why not? At a time when most manufacturers continue to plaster shiny decals on their old motorcycles and organize proper “launch events” for them, coming out with a motorcycle that is better in every aspect than its previous iterations is not a small feat, especially when the first two avatars have remained the benchmark in the segment for a decade now.
However, since it’s basic human tendency to be sceptical at first (that’s a good thing), I shall explain. Also, this R15 V3 review will not only tell you about the motorcycle in isolation, but, as a V2 owner, I will also tell you how it betters the V2 overall.
Yamaha YZF-R15 V3 REVIEW – Design, Instrumentation, & Build Quality
When I first saw the new R15 in pictures last year, my instant response was, “My V2 will be remembered as the best designed R15 ever!” After about half an hour, I checked the pictures again and the introspective voice was now saying, “Damn! The new one is better!” Since then, countless pictures had only reinforced that view, and it was further stamped upon seeing the bike in flesh and metal.
Yamaha have always ensured to match the R15’s design to the R1 of the corresponding period as closely as possible, and the latest R15, thankfully, is no exception. From the front-end treatment to the tail design, everything is absolutely in sync with Yamaha’s flagship superbike.The design team even replicated the slits on the tank and on the triple tree clamp as well!
The tyres are now fatter (140 rear / 100 front), making both extremities appear more proportionate than ever.
The removal of V2’s almost-religious rear tyre hugger has also helped. A small number has replaced it, which is quite liberal in its show of the rear tread pattern.
What’s not so good is the finish at some places. This is something I thought would never be said about a Yamaha, as this is the company that sets the benchmark in fit & finish as well, irrespective of the segment. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with the build quality, and, like all Yamahas, you will never hear any rattles from anywhere even in the V3 as well. It’s just that the finishing at a few places should have been better executed.
Again, there are motorcycles in the 1–7 lakh rupee range whose manufacturers would celebrate and send press releases the day they’re able to even match 25 per cent of the R15 V3’s fit & finish levels.
Anyway, getting back to the design of the new bike, the instrument cluster is now an all-digital unit with a bar-type tachometer, and Yamaha have also added a gear position indicator, shift light, and VVA (Variable Valve Actuation) indicator. I so wish Yamaha had retained the analogue tachometer, but I was happy to see that the bar-type display is not a monotonous straight line – it rises up from 4,000 rpm onwards to take a broader font all the way to the redline. Nice!
Another nice feature that many would appreciate is the start-up script “Hi Buddy” that can be changed to display your name in place of ‘buddy’. I can foresee guys changing it to their girlfriend’s name to earn some loyalty points every time they switch the ignition on. Though the pillion seat height has come down as compared to the V2, it is still high enough to allow your better half a clear view of the instrument cluster. So all’s good, then.
Here is a quick video to brief you about the console – it also has a comparative view of the older v2’s meter.
Yamaha YZF-R15 V3 REVIEW – Engine & gearbox performance
THIS is where the maximum R&D has happened! The V3 gets a 155 cc engine and a lot has changed inside and around it to qualify as an “all-new” motor. Okay, so it’s essentially the same bullet-proof engine with a bigger bore and same stroke, but almost everything else has changed. The engine head is bigger as the diameter of all four valves has now grown by 1 mm for each valve. The throttle body diameter has also been increased, by 2 mm, and the crankcase has been redesigned as well. The connecting rod is new, and so is the cooling system! The latter would ensure that despite running a higher compression ratio (11.6:1. V2’s is 10.4:1) the engine would keep its cool even in the worst of Indian summers.
Yamaha had neatly arranged all the innards of the motor for us right there in the pit garage at the MMRT! My favourite bit comprised the new fuel injector, which now has 10 spray holes instead of six, and the VVA system.
While the availability of more holes is always a good thing, let me explain the VVA tech a little. See, no matter who tells you that the new R15 has two cams, and that VVA makes the initial and midrange better, allow me to burst that bubble – it doesn’t. The new R15 neither has two cams, nor does the VVA do anything to the initial and midrange power. Now, you may go ahead and punch anyone and everyone who tells you any different.
Why? Because the R15 has an SOHC (SINGLE OverHead Camshaft) engine, where a SINGLE camshaft is responsible for opening and closing both the intake and exhaust valves (I won’t talk about rocker arms to keep it simple)!
Such a camshaft has two lobes on it – one for intake valves (let’s name it Ms. Li) and one for exhaust valves (we’ll call this one Ms. Le). Now, in the R15 V3, Yamaha have added a third lobe (say, Mr. F) on the camshaft, which is bigger than both the Ms. Li and Ms. Le.
Now, like most bigger members of a family, this Mr. F is a mature chap who doesn’t intervene until things really get out of hand, which would be 7,400 rpm in this case. At this point, Mr. F asks Ms. Li to take rest while he takes over the task of opening and closing the intake gates.
Now since Mr. F is bigger and has more muscle power, he ends up increasing the intake valves opening length, letting more volume of air-fuel mixture into the combustion chamber for more power. THAT’S IT! Neither the valve timing is altered, nor the duration. All four valves work all the time; it’s just that—I repeat—the intake valves opening length is increased from 7,400 rpm onwards. Therefore, common sense should tell you that VVA has absolutely NOTHING to do with initial and midrange torque. Should it help Yamaha achieve the 19.3 PS figure? Yes. Should it help them in increasing the fuel efficiency by 4.7 per cent? Yes (because more fuel is used only post 7,399 rpm). But, does it help the R15’s initial and midrange response? No.
Moreover, the engine makes exactly the same amount of torque—15 Nm—as the V2, that too a full 1,000 revs later. And the bike is three kilograms heavier too. Plus, the gear ratios remain exactly the same. These stats should ideally translate to a slower accelerating bike, but if brochures told the entire story, I wouldn’t have got this job.
Yamaha claim that in a 0-200 m sprint, the new bike will finish ahead of the V2 by 16.3 meters. No one could verify that claim on the media ride, but the seat of the pants feel tells me that the new R15 V3 is quicker in the 0-100 km/h sprint than the V2, and that the gap would keep on increasing thereon. You mustn’t forget the comprehensive changes made to the engine, excluding the VVA… Yamaha have also given a slip-assist clutch so banging down three cogs before corners didn’t end up locking the rear wheel anywhere.
The bike sounds and feels throatier even at idle and, unlike the other R15s, there’s always this slight torquey feeling in the way it moves in the first four gears before you’ve even crossed 6,000 rpm. It’s not a big difference, but it’s there. To let you in on some behind the scenes action, the head-on tracking shots you see in most reviews are taken from a four wheeler that runs ahead of the bike with the photographer hanging on from in the boot. Now, our Innova driver was supposed to do 60-70 km/h but he just couldn’t do more than 40-50 km/h. I had to be even slower since I was following him, but other than making for the most frustrating 15 minutes of my life, the session gave me a good idea about the new bike’s tractability. I was mostly in 4th gear where I think I would have been in third on my V2. I reckon the V3 will be better than both the other R15s even in the city!
Yamaha YZF-R15 V3 REVIEW – Handling, Braking, & Ergonomics
The R15 V3 carries the same sublime Deltabox frame from the previous bike while the swingarm is now wider, and 19 mm shorter. That, coupled to a sharper steering geometry (25.5 degrees rake & 88 mm trail), has brought down the wheelbase by 20 mm. You won’t find the rake angle of the R15 V3 mentioned anywhere yet – not on the website too, which only mentions the reduced trail number (V2’s is 98mm!). Intrigued, I’d asked the project head of the V3, a Japanese gent, about it. The overall length of the bike has increased by 20 mm though, and the same gent agreed with me that it’s the longer tail section that’s responsible for those extra mm.
Okay, enough of the numbers now! What all of that means to you on the road/track, you ask? Well, it means the bike has become hungrier for corners! In fact, the turn-ins have become so quick that even first timers would not be overwhelmed to take decreasing radius corners at a fair clip after a few laps! On the road, it would help you evade stupid car drivers and stay alive.
Thankfully, the increased agility has not come at the expense of stability and the bike remains supremely planted at all times. The beefier, 41 mm, fork is to be thanked for that (the V2 has a 33 mm fork).
The rear suspension continues to be a linked type monoshock. I must also mention that though the stock bike comes with MRFs at both ends, our test bikes’ had the optional Metzeler at the rear. Needless to say, the grip was fantastic on the track, but I didn’t face any issues with the front MRF too. That said, you’ll have to wait for the road test to find out how the bike fares on the road with MRFs.
R15 v3 Daytona Exhaust Note
In fact, fuel efficiency, ride quality, and top speed are a few of the other things I’ll be able to tell for you once I get the bike for the road test. Okay, I think I can stick my neck out and say that the new bike’s ride quality on bad roads would be at least a notch better than the V2. Still, wait for the complete road test to find out.
Also, on a racetrack, it’s just the front brake that’s used and I am happy to report that it worked fine despite improper bedding in on brand new bikes by my CAT A friends on the first day of media rides. Ideally, Yamaha should have gotten its test riders to run-in the test bikes for a few hundred kilometers before the media ride. Still, the front provided a good amount of feel and bite, and upon consciously compelling myself to press the rear pedal a couple of times for this review, I found that though the rear brake was dead in feel, it did offer a decent bite.
And I almost forgot to tell you that the R15’s ground clearance has increased by 10 mm, not that it was needed. Anyway, more of it is always a good thing in our conditions. The seat height has gone up as well – it’s 815 mm now as compared to the V2’s 800 mm. That means anyone shorter than 5’4” will have a tough time on the new bike. But don’t lose hope. I am shorter than that, and if I can ride it, you can too.
Conversely, this is the best R15 yet for taller people. Though one can’t tell much in 30 minutes about the seat comfort and stuff, I felt the new bike’s seat is more comfortable than my V2’s saddle. Folks with big derrieres will like that there’s more room to move around too. And despite a higher seat and lower clip-ons, the riding position did not feel any more committed than the V2! That should get more buyers to Yamaha showrooms.
Yamaha YZF-R15 V3 REVIEW – Verdict
Well, I started with the verdict, didn’t I? And by now our first ride review would have given you enough to make an informed decision. The only thing that remains to be fully tested is the fuel efficiency, which, if Yamaha’s claims are right, will be even better than the already frugal R15 V2. At worst, the V3 will at least match the V2 in fuel efficiency.
Also Read: 2018 Yamaha R3 Pics & Quick Preview
Oh, the all-LED headlamps need to be tested as well, and though we deduced that the bike will be quicker and faster than the V2, we still got to test that, right? Still, it’s not something that should keep you from buying it if you’ve already made your mind. But, if you are as excited as I am to know its acceleration times and top speed, then hold on, as we intend to hound Yamaha for a test unit soon! More Motorcycle Reviews