Yamaha R15 Ownership Review by Sumanth

I bought my R15 just more than 2 years ago. Both my bike and I have been through a lot since. Lot experience gained and lessons learnt. I hope this review will help many to make the right choices. In order to make it easier for you find what’s relevant for you in this post, I have divided my write up into sections with appropriate headings so that you can just skip ahead to things of your interest.

About me

When this bike was launched, I was in the final year of my engineering and it had been only 2 years since I learned to ride a bike! Before then, I was under the impression that my Kinetic Honda Y2K edition (2-stroke) could beat anything on the world . I learnt on a splendor and did most of my riding after that on a Pulsar 150 DTSI and Yamaha Gladiator 125. I still have good memories of all the bikes I rode in my college.

  • Hero Honda Splendor: Smooth, easy to ride. Its place in the Indian market is absolutely justified.
  • Bajaj Boxer: The smoothest boxer I have ridden.
  • TVS Victor GLX: The handlebar and seating make for a very comfortable ride.
  • Yamaha Gladiator: The bike I frequently used. I revved it hard and took tight corners with high speeds.
  • Pulsar 150 DTSI: Torque abundant, easily hits 70-80 ish speeds in normal rides. Required the most maintenance compared to the above bikes.

All the bikes mentioned here were used in and out by the people in my hostel.

Initial Impression

Being a tech savvy, by nature I am attracted to high tech stuff. Almost 3 years ago, the R15 came in boasting about a lot of the technology in it. Just after its launch I got to ride an acquaintance’s bike. I was still not a matured enough biker then to gauge the potential of this bike. I changed gears at low revs when riding hence the bike seemed under powered. The brakes felt exceptional. It felt lighter than it looked. I was too scared to push the bike and see how it handled etc. It would be around a year later that I actually bought the bike. Until then I just drooled over the amazing AD.

Which bike?

June 2009- I have secure job. I want to buy a bike! Back then I did very little internet research and did things at my whims! The bikes I considered back then:

  • Pulsar 180: New model launched with clip-ons, wider rear tires, better power, looked just like the beautiful 200 in every way.
  • Pulsar 220: The beast may be way more than what I need.
  • Yamaha R15: The bike of dreams, expensive- can I justify the cost?

I had a test ride of all the above bikes and decided to go with the R15. The throttle response had a marked difference over the carbureted competitors. The bike felt serious, handled well and wanted to be revved! The final on road cost came up to be around Rs.1,14,000. The run-in period of the bike was hard. The bike wanted to be revved but I had the Rpm in check for the stipulated miles. Just when was done with the run in, there was a Yamaha R15 championship taking place!

Yamaha R15 Championship

Yamaha organizes an event for R15 owners to take their bikes to the track (where the R15 belongs).

For Rs.500/- You Get

Bike transportation to and from the racetrack to your showroom +. Your commute in a Volvo A/C bus to and from the racetrack +. Lodge accommodation for few hours to freshen up on the morning of the event +. Track fee.

This is an awesome VFM package! The showroom person told me that the Rs500 they charged was only for the customer to take it seriously. Apparently lot of people enrolled and only a few turned up when it free, causing error in company’s estimate for resources.

Track Day

The morning starts with the unloading of bikes from the trucks. Then you stand in a long queue to enroll. Some lucky ones get the number of their choice. All stickers have the state and a number written on it. A Lot of people keep their stickers even after they are back.

There are 3 categories for race: Novice, intermediate and experts. In each you will get a practice lap and 3 race laps. Bikes are divided in heats. They provide knee guards. Then there is the state championship. This is state wise. All the bikes from a state will compete together at once. No knee guard and elbow guard were provided as too many were on track at once. This made it little dangerous.

I had made friends with people who were taking part from my showroom. They were experienced people and advised me to ride safely as this was my first time and I did so. I entered the novice class and let the crowd go ahead in the start and pushing after some time. But my bike would not rev beyond 10k rpm! It just gets stuck! I thought something was seriously wrong with my bike. May be I didn’t do the run-in properly! That apart, my shoe was scraping the road when I was turning! It felt a little scary. After the race I told my friends about the rev issue and that’s when I got to know about the rev limiter. The stock ECU cuts off power after 9800Rpm.

Then it was time for the state championship. Too many people participating at once, no knee guard provided. Since a lot of people take part in this event, there are people in all levels of competency. I.e. You will surely find someone who is at your level to compete. There was one person, closely following me. At one of the turns, he was catching up and suddenly I heard a thud sound and when I looked back, he had crashed! By now I had realized that I need to keep my toe on the foot pegs when cornering and slight body displacement and knee out would keep me from scraping the road.

Now, there was another competitor on my tail. We were neck to neck but at one corner he managed to get ahead of me but only to go out of track. So I regained my position WRT him. After the race I met up with him to hear his side of the story and had a good laugh. All in all, it was a good track day.

The prizes of the events could be called decent. They gave out coolants, engine oils, brake pads, Yamaha T-shirts, etc. I really recommend this event for anyone who has an R15. People have a lot of things to take back from this experience. I learnt some lessons on handling. One of my friend said riding on the tracks make him calm when riding on city roads. Looking back, it was too early for me take the bike on track. I didn’t know the potential and limits of the bike back then. I went without expectations and came back with lot of experience.

I must say that the bike has gotten me out some situations which seemed impossible escape! With time I started to l understand the bike better. This bike teaches the aspects of cornering. In time, I got to know the limits of this bike and started craving for more.

Daytona Engine Kit Review

I am sure there are a lot of people out there who start looking for something more from the bike after some time no matter what bike and how good it is. When the Daytona kits arrived, I was already craving for more power! I was one of the first few to experiment with this kit as soon as it was launched. I flushed all my savings to buy thing. I only purchased the engine kit. 37k INR for Dagrex exhaust, racing camshaft, racing ECU and fitting charges! It cleaned up my savings x-). I took an off that day and got it fixed at BangaloreWheels. I stayed there morning to evening, even though I was the first to come in the morning they made me wait while servicing the bikes that came after mine.

The bike was ready! I hopped into it and went for a spin and came back disappointed. I thought they didn’t fix it properly, but the mechanic said he was sure everything was done properly. They had even perforated the air-filter box cover for more flow of air. The bike had no power until 6-7k rpm. It wouldn’t move until you rev that high! I made a lot of noise (irritating, fart like). It was a petrol glutton! Vibrated like hell after 10k rpm. Reached 136kmph (speedo) upright with pillion, didn’t push more as the pillion was scared. A few days later went back to the service center and told them my issues and asked them to remove everything but the ECU.

They removed only the exhaust and returned the bike to me. The bike was much better now. The vibes were reduced, initial pickup improved making city ride tolerable again. I rode the bike in this configuration for a few months. I started to understand how the individual parts of the engine kit impacts the performance.

  • Camshaft: Alters the torque/rpm curve by playing with valve open/close timings.
  • Exhaust: Improves engine breathing by letting exhaust gasses flow freely without obstruction.
  • ECU: Controls of fueling and ignition timing etc, as per throttle position, MAP sensor values.

The Daytona cam reduced the initial torque and gave a maddening torque after 7k rpm pulling insanely towards redline. It requires getting used to shifting gears to remain in sweet spot. The Daytona ECU performed same as stock but extended the rev limit to 12.5k, but for some reason lost to the stock ECU in mid range power. The Daytona exhaust caused vibration with full engine kit combo, but was comfortable when I removed the Db killer. Db killer is used to keep the noise down on free flows, but it makes the noise more shrill and intolerable. Finally I had the set-up which gave me the most satisfaction. Daytona exhaust + Daytona cam + stock ECU.

Here is a video link to my top speed run with the above setup:

Amazing isn’t it? Touching the rev limiter in 6th gear @ ~ 9800 rpm doing a 148kmph (speedo). My camera could only record video for a minute, I did hold that speed for a long time, even on an uphill incline!

Talking about top speed runs, this what I have realized from my runs:

Bikes also have moods swings. Bangalore is not the best place to test the performance of bikes. Same bikes do better in Mangalore, Chennai etc. Bike runs the best in first run when the engine has just warmed up. Bike rolls better with more air in tires. Speedo error varies with your tire pressure.

Never check tire pressure just after a top-speed run as the air inside will be very hot hence showing a very high value. Remember that all recommended tire pressures are cold air pressures. I also tried a k&n rc1060 sometime, It improved the initial pickup little bit, made no difference to my top end whack.

Race Concepts Tuning

With time, I got tired of this setup. I started to look on the internet for further options. That’s when I found Joel, who tuned bikes for the ten10 racing which took part in FMSCI championships. Got the following modifications done to the bike.

Big bore-piston 165cc, done 10k+ to date. A street camshaft. Exhaust with a wider pipe than the Daytona. I sold the Daytona exhaust to some lucky guy for 8k!

The bike was now a street scorcher! The cam I was running was not aggressive. I missed the short temper of the daytona cam. This cam gave me enormous initial and midrange pick up, requrired less frequent gear shifts. You could twist the throttle at any gear any rpm and the bike would move. Many a times I would be 6th gear when doing 30 odd kmph. The engine braking was almost gone! The best part was that I was getting an efficiency of 50 kmpl! no joke! This setup is the most satisfying setup till date. City rides were never this comfortable.

My Bike’s Current Configuration

For want of more top end power I got the things changed again on the above setup. Aggressive cam, makes the bike more peaky. Simota air filter. Head work. A stiffer clutch spring that makes gear shifts more notchy (less slip) and reduces clutch wear. Stiffer valve springs to avoid valve floating at high revs. A Programmable ECU for appropriate fueling for the engine.

It is a performance you can only understand when you ride and hard to put into words. I am yet to take a good video on this setup. Here is a video of a casual run when I was testing my new action camera:

The camera I used with suction cup mount.

Stock Bike Performance Review…


It’s the cheapest SBKish bike. Just take it for a spin and you will realize that all the Indian bikes lack something important that this bike has. The way it engages the rider is awesome. It has got Exceptional handing, brakes, road grip (dry conditions), high speed stability. No matter what speed, the bike is very stable and inspires confidence while taking corners. This is mainly due to the delta box frame and the stiff suspension setup. It has a rev friendly motor, is fun on open roads and curves like no other Indian bike.

Good throttle response and No cold start issues thanks to EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection). The good handling and light weight helps you to assume control even when the tires slip. Good top end whack for the segment. I had managed a 145 kmph (speedo). Solid fairing and body, makes absolutely no noise even if a few nuts and bolts are missing. 2 years of abuse and the bike still doesn’t make any noise when I jump potholes. Good head lamps (If properly setup. Each reflector has 3 screws to set up orientation).


Tire grip performance is somewhat like slicks. i.e exceptional in dry conditions, but poor in wet and gravel. The rear tires don’t have groves in the center. In wet conditions, you are more like to slip when upright than when leaning! low-mid range torque is lacking, so you need to rev hard to extract the 17bhp power. Its not the ideal bike for prolonged ride in city traffic.

The design of the bike is such that you must lean forward to reach the handle bar. It is a very aggressive seating, good for proper roads but sure pain on bad roads. Pain in upper back, neck, and palm can be felt when riding for a long duration in non-ideal conditions. Power is not the best in segment, i.e. Pulsar 220 has more power. Suspension is not great when riding with a pillion, especially if the pillion is heavier than the rider. Spares are little expensive compared to other bikes in the segment.

If you observe the cons, you will realize that they are not due to design negligence from the company. These cons are also responsible for the pros above and together make up the character of the bike.

Fuel Efficiency

35~40 kmpl, don’t know if this is a pro or con.

Tuning and Performance Options

This bike has inspired a lot of outfits to come up with aftermarket tuning option for the bike.

Race Concepts

  • Exhaust: Improves the torque especially in low-mid revs.
  • Camshaft: Alters the torque-rpm curve. Making more torque at high revs will yield more power.
  • Bigger bore-piston: Improves torque and more tractable power band.
  • ECU: Can further enhance and take advantage of above mods.
  • Stiffer valve springs: Safer revving.
  • Stiffer clutch springs: Better locking of clutch when changing gears.
  • Simota stock replacement air filter: Improve intake without risk of erratic behavior of MAP sensor.


Steel braided brake lines: Better braking feedback. Website


Chain sprocket options if you want to trade between speed and power. Engine kit that I mentioned above. Bigger front disks with fancy reservoir. Quick throttle: (60 degree operation I think..) etc.

Daytona Website

Cosmetic changes

I am very obsessed with performance upgrades. In fact, when I see a figure Rs.****, my mind immediately converts it into the performance options for my bike. Example: 5k ~ Daytona chain sprockets, 4k ~ steel braided brake lines, 600 ~ AGIP full synthetic engine oil, etc. Cosmetic changes don’t normally captivate me, but still I have tried a few.

Projectors + HID

Long back, through internet I had found someone who puts projector assembly inside the stock headlamp assembly. I had to send the stock assembly to Chennai and few days later he sent them back. He had put in Skoda laura projectors and his own unique “Angel Eyes” which I didn’t care about. My only concern was the road visibility. The projectors have a shield inside that cause a clear cut-off in the light patter so that you don’t harm the visibility of the oncoming traffic. So the orientation of the projects is crucial if you want the maximum benefits. When I received the headlamp, the cut-offs were at an angle and the visibility was poor. Even though the projectors were fit into the stock reflector, no amount of adjustment could compensate for the error in projector placement. You can see in the pictures the cut-off is not horizontal. In the picture the error is less exaggerated. On road, it was at a much steeper angle.

I made my issues clear and he offered to change them for free. This time he put sonata projectors. They were huge and better too. The cut-off was horizontal alright, but they were pointing upwards this time and the road was not much visible. Then I put HIDs 4300k. I preferred 4k color temperature HID as they produce a good visible pattern on road. Higher color temperatures like white, blue etc, do not light up the road well and also trouble the oncoming traffic. Now, there was light everywhere! Literally everywhere. I assume it must have affected oncoming traffic a lot. So I removed them. If you ever plan to get projectors for your bike do make sure they have correct orientation.

LED Twin Lights

This is available in many places and many varieties. No risk here.

LED Tail Lamp

I had tried a DIY for this but I always ended up burning the LEDs. So, I tried a solution that I found on the internet. I found stock replacement LED tail lamp bulbs. They fit into the same socket and have two brightness levels, easy enough. I bought red ones so that I can remove the red plastic inside the tail lamp assembly. See the pictures. It is not great, but more unique. It had a side effect on my service lights though. Every time I hold the brakes the twin lights turns on. Now I call this a feature. I have put up a picture of the LED bulb with the stock bulb.

Tank Pad

A friend gifted me this.

What’s a review without comparison?

I have only compared against bikes than I have driven enough to compare.

R15 vs R15 v2

I test rode the V2 recently. During the test ride, I was ripping the bike and the showroom guy managed to hold on without laying a finger on me! But seriously, no grab rails? It’s a problem unless your GF is the only one who sits behind. The seating is better for the rider in v2, somehow feels more settled and comfortable. Better stoppies in v2 because of broader front tires. The obvious good looks. But I don’t need the extra weight and the fat rear tire thank you! I still prefer previous version. But I want the rear section with cool LED tail lamp and number plate holder! hmm… v2 is not bad after all.

R15 vs P220

  • The 220, has more power and a good standstill torque which is missing in the R15.
  • R15 handles better.
  • Yes, R15 costs a lot more and so do its mods.
  • The 220’s fairings are not as rigid as the R15’s.
  • The 220 gives the most bang/bucks.
  • The 220 is more comfortable in bumper to bumper traffic.

R15 vs CBR250R

The CBR has plenty of torque and power, not too much, not too less, just about right for Indian roads. While taking corners at high speeds, CBR’s suspension felt a little spongy. The R15 is better here. But the CBR’s suspension and tires make it way better in taking on bad Indian roads than the R15. The CBR comes closer to R15 than any other bike in terms of handling! More tech than the R15: DOHC, closed loop FI with O2 sensor, C-ABS too. It is significantly heavier than the R15.

Over all, I feel the CBR is better suited for Indian conditions (excluding economic conditions). I hope you found some useful lines. Please comment.

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