Nitin has submitted this review in our Ownership Review Contest No 13, ensuring himself an assured prize. The contest also offers a chance to win Riding Jacket, Helmet and more…Here are all the details.

Hello bikers, I am Nitin J. Sanket, an engineer/biker from Bangalore. Take a deep breath, relax and ride on my journey in this review. I will try making the review like a story so that it is interesting.

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It all started with my passion for automobiles with grew steadily after the age of 15. When I was 17 I persuaded by parents to get me a bike, they said “Learn to ride first” and “We’ll get you a bike only after you are legal to ride”. So I got my cousin’s Suzuki Fiero and started learning on it. Fell a few times, no major accidents though.

So my 18th birthday was down the pipeline on Jan 1 2010. I was in love with ‘yellow’ bikes as it was my favourite colour – I felt it gives a racing look and feel to the bike and of course it would stand out. Apache RTR 160 and 180 were the only 2 bikes in yellow at that time, so I was heart-pressed on getting one, I stuck pictures of Apache on my bedroom wall (sounds crazy but true). When I saw the Yamaha R15 racing colours ad on TV, I was like I want this bike. Like all people I made a shortlist of bikes too. They were as follows,

My Shortlisted Bikes:

  1. Apache RTR 160: Mainly for more mileage
  2. Apache RTR 180: For the sheer power
  3. Hero Honda Karizma ZMR: It was a good bike with solid power, build quality and mileage
  4. Hero Honda Karima R: Almost same as the ZMR but at a lower price
  5. Bajaj Pulsar 220: Officially the Fastest Indian
  6. Yamaha YZF R15: I just wanted this bike, it was best of everything

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I took test drives of all the bikes mentioned above. I tried revving all of them to the max. I scared the shit outta’ TVS guys (LOL), I felt Apaches were not smooth at high RPMs, so it was crossed out. Karizmas were very good at pickup and smoothness, but they were not so eager to rev, which I didn’t like. The Bajaj guys didn’t let me have a go on the Pulsar 220 on the road, instead I had to ride it on the test bed, the first impression of this treatment pissed me off.

Then went to Bangalore Wheels to get a test ride of the R15, started riding, was in gear 2 about 40kmph, by mistake slipped the gear to 1 instead of 3, the pickup was insane and the RPM was hovering near 9.5k. It was so damn smooth at such a high RPM. I said sorry to the official sitting behind me, he said “its ok sir”, this was in contrast to that of the Bajaj. I was in love with the brand and the bike.
I started persuading my father to get me the R15, I was very scared to ask though.

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It was the first time I had asked him something that costs more than 1 lakh. After enough discussions and terms and conditions (He said score well in your engineering, which I did), he agreed to get me the R15. We went to Bangalore Wheels, the biggest Yamaha Showroom in Bangalore and booked the bike for 3 months in advance. He suggested us to buy the bike in 2010 as the model will be newer. I had to wait extra 15 more days for my desired colour – yellow.

It was worth the wait though. The bike costed my father his hard-earned 1.08 lacs (it was a huge amount for him). It was 16th Jan 2010, when I first looked at the beauty, gosh she was gorgeous. I was instantly in love with her again. I got her out of the showroom and it was like an arm cut off that I couldn’t rev the bike.

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Trips on my R15

As days passed, the day before my first service I had the first accident on my bike. The side fairing was scratched, I was hurt. My first bike service was at 478kms ODO reading. After I got the bike back from the service centre, I instantly revved it to 10.5k RPM, the REDLINE. This was a mistake which I found out in the due course of time. After a bit of time, I wanted to go on a bike ride to Nandi Hills (About 60Kms 1 way). My parents were scared, they said “NO”, I somehow convinced them and we went on the trip.

It was just amazing to see how the bike performed. It is like a splendor till 6k RPM, then the beast from within wakes up and she just revs and revs and picks up speed. 3 digit figures came up in no time. I had no trouble in cruising over 120kmph. The next trip was to Mysore and nearby places with my friends (About 150Kms). Me and my friend (on an RTR 180) reached Mysore in a mere 1.5hours. We maintained about 130kmph consistently.

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After reaching Mysore, my bike was cool, but his bike was so hot, he couldn’t ride for a while. I quickly realized this is where all that extra cash has gone in. R15 can cruise at high speeds smoothly and hold that high speed without getting terribly hot. I had HID’s installed during this trip and the bike stopped in the middle of nowhere due to the battery drain. I was psyched. We had to push start the bike at the middle of the night, it was terrible. This is where I found out that the battery on the R15 is a puny 3.5AH and doesn’t support modifications very well.

I used my R15 to commute daily to my college (About 8KMs 1 way), the only thing I didn’t like is she’s terrible to ride in city traffic, the posture is not comfortable and the power band is very high. The tyres are the stickiest rubber I have seen on dry roads, but they fail miserably on sand, slush and rain. The brakes are fantastic, second to the best on the RTR’s petal discs. The engine is a gem, always eager to revv. Our next trip was to kanva dam, where we did a bit of off-roading and the bike handled it well.

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The suspension is very good. The linked type monocross suspension is adaptive to speed, it is soft at low speeds and progressively becomes harder and harder as speeds pick up, this is what inspires you to push the bike to its limits. The chassis is just wonderful and one of the stiffest I have seen in this bike segment.

How a Helmet Saved Me

When I was once commuting to my college for an exam, I had the worst accident of my life, to avoid a crash to a bicycle I had to take a sudden turn, which made my bike flipped and I landed on my head and then on my hand. If I had not worn a helmet that day, I wouldn’t be here writing this review, the helmet saved my life and might just save yours too. SO MY HUMBLE REQUEST PLEASE WEAR A HELMET WHILE RIDING. I broke my arm, it had a galazze fracture and I had to undergo an operation and the bones were fixed with 6 bolts and a surgical steel plate. Surprisingly, no damage whatsoever to the bike apart from cosmetic scratches, not even an indicator was broken.

One of my toughest trips was riding to Mavinkere (A temple about 250KMs 1 way) at morning 4AM in dense fog. I had Projector Head Lamps installed this time. It was an epic ride. I was surprised how the bike can handle so much of rough weather when I couldn’t. It was the most epic journey I had encountered. Then I had been to may more trips near (Antar Gange 80KMs 1 way) and far (Panchapalli and Bettamuruliagarm 180KMs 1 way, Hogenakkal Falls 200KMs 1 way, BR Hills 240KMs 1 way). The bike never let me down. With my 4 years of experience with this machine, I have seen and felt it with all my senses to know almost the in and out of the bike.

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Yamaha R15 Pros & Cons:

Here’s my compilation of some of the pros and cons about the bike.

Pros:

  • The smoothest revv happy engine I have seen in this segment.
  • The way it gains and maintains speed after 6k RPM has aptly earned it the term “Pocket-Rocket”.
  • Very nimble and flickable as the bike is light (126KGs dry weight).
  • The best dry road tyres.
  • One of the best disc brake sets on the market.
  • Very stable at high speeds. Engine never overheats.
  • And of course, It’s a YAMAHA.

Cons:

  • Expensive to maintain, services cost about 2 times of Bajaj or TVS bikes.
  • Naked chain makes a lot of sound if not oiled in time.
  • Not mileage friendly.
  • Maniacs try to scratch your bike when it is parked and they try to steal the logos. This is very sad.
  • Puny 3.5AH battery, not really good for modifications.
  • Headlight not strong enough for highway rides.
  • Tiny bike. Not very comfortable for tall people like me (5’10”) for very long rides at a stretch.

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Some Tips for good bike maintenance:

  • Please don’t revv the bike hard when in run-in period.
  • Get the oil changed in the right time. If not done will affect your mileage.
  • The simplest yet a big factor affecting mileage is your tyre pressure – so always keep it in check.
  • Get the bike serviced on time.
  • Try using the genuine Yamaha parts – trust me they’re the best. I had changed the tyre and struggled a lot and finally I am back to the stock tyre.

If you travel a lot at night, try getting the 35W projector headlamp system installed on your bike, it’ll illuminate the road better. Beware no to switch on the headlamps when engine is not turned on.

R15 Mileage:

Let’s come to the quintessential Indian question, “Kitna deti hai?”, If ridden in city traffic I get about 33-36Kmpl (Its low because of my revving in the break-in period). On the highway cruising at about 70Kmph I get about 40-45Kmpl (Sometimes have got 47Kmpl also). Revving the bike hard on the highway and pushing it to the limit, I have got 20-25Kmpl. Being a bike built for speed, I am proud to say that I have touched 149Kmph (Shown on speedo, Sorry I don’t have a pic) on NICE Road.

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CONCLUSION:

To conclude, being a biker brings out the best in you, the way you live, the way you look at your life and life of others. It’s your bike you can always reach out for either in happiness or sadness. And owning a bike like the R15 makes you want to travel to work or play or just travel for the sake of it. The power it delivers at the slightest flick of the throttle after 6k RPM is exhilarating and has aptly earned it the title “Pocket Rocket”. If you’re planning to buy 1, test ride it, if your heart loves it, just go out and buy one.

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Thanks for seeing yourself in my story.
Always wear a helmet while riding. Ride safe to keep yourself and others safe on the road. Happy Riding!!

– Nitin J. Sanket

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