YAMAHA YZF-R15 150cc
words and image by Stephen Lane
YAMAHA YZF-R15 - It should carry a family and a dog!
I few years ago I went to Thailand with a band as their sound engineer and while on transit between Bangkok and Pattaya we went past a Honda 125 that looked similar to this bike. Even though we saw about a million of these bikes while we were on this trip, this particular bike that I saw had 4 people and a dog on it. The mother was driving it with the father riding as pillion and the son was facing the mother and was sitting on the tank and the daughter was sitting with his back to his father and was facing the rear of the bike. The dog was in the basket on the front.
This was the telling factor to me that this bike was going to have no problems carrying me around on this test ride.
"the bike is actually built rather well"
Now don't get me wrong, I looked totally stupid on it. I am 6 foot 1 and 110 kg of man and I usually brush past riders on these with contempt. Lets face it, most big bike riders hold the most harshest thoughts for the children like people who ride little bikes like this and I now understand why as I felt like a complete girl.
Lets, however, put this into perspective.
These bikes are not intended for people like me or you. These are built for small Asians primarily and then for people who have no option but to ride small capacity bikes due to being on a learners license being the secondary reason for these bikes existence. That does not mean that we have to think about them as being totally useless. So lets think of some reasons for them being able to be accepted into the fold.
Well I can only think of 2. The first is to use this bike as a commuter for when you have a very expensive bike at home that you do not want to ride everywhere or for when your job is dirty and you never want to own a car as they suck and bikes rule.
"The dog was in the basket on the front"
The second is for the use of very little people. Yes, midgets. But that is a little silly as midgets will not be able to touch the ground, so maybe women. I believe that light weight women would really love this bike. I mean, there is genuine power between 7000rpm and 10000rpm and the bike would surely react a lot better if the rider was 50kg and not 110kg, so maybe it really does have a use and some people are misusing it?
Kind of like McDonald's. It is being used as a main meal provider to many however it is really only intended as being a one off snack destination or a treat that is had once in a blue moon. When you see people in there everyday you think bad thoughts about them so why not think the same thoughts about normal sized people on very small bikes?
Getting down to business with this review and after I have had a cold shower to cool down I must report that the bike is actually built rather well for something that retails for $4999 on the road. For this price, any normal person would expect to get a lot less for their dosh but that is not the case here.
The Deltabox frame is first class and is the direct result of design on their bigger bikes. The engine actually has the same piston that the YZF-R6 has in it and the fairing is of high quality.
"why not think the same thoughts about normal sized people on very small bikes?"
The dash is very cool and looks like a small version of the dash that use to be on the 02 R1. The dash even has a fuel gauge on it! That about where it ends for the greatness. The tires and rims look cheap and quite frankly I was scared to ride on them as well as the breaks being far too small to pull up my lard ass from 70km/h down to 0 in any reasonable time without looking like you are throwing a 100kg anchor out to help stop you.
The standard pressure that the tires are set to are 28 front and 33 rear. This did not make a massive problem for me as I did not notice it while riding. You can push the front tire in with your fingers though. Not what I am use to at all but they did stand up to the test of handling me on the bike.
The motor looks to be of decent quality but you need to keep it within the 7-10grand rev range to have any useful power in it and that can be a little buzz but at least the power is there and it is not totally useful. As I said before, "lets put this into perspective", if it was a 50kg rider on it, the bike would handle very well I'm sure.
The styling of the R15 is very good and I am guessing they made it look like this to maybe make it more practical to the intended market of India as it appears to be able to hold a lot of people if it needs to. There is a far better looking model out there called the YZF-R125 and it is dead set hot.
There is a one make race series in India that the R15 is in but I seriously don't think we will see anything like it here.
The gearing was rather smooth with the exception that my big feet were hitting it into neutral far too often and when you only have a little amount of power to play with in traffic, you need every bit of engagement between the clutch and the plate. I would love to have seen a bit more money and design spent on nicer light bulbs on the front but a few dollars and a trip to your local car parts store will land you with some bright white lights to make her look and shine amazingly. The sticker kit is great and makes the bike look a lot bigger then it is and the quality of the plastic is noticeable from the first look.
"It gives L plate kamikazes the chance to see if motorbike riding is really for them"
Styling from the front to about half way is exceptional with a lot of its styling derived from the big brothers but the back is very flat and old looking. If I was to compare the R15 and the R125 to bigger bikes, maybe the R15 would be like the junior FZ1000 and the R125 would be like the junior YZF-R1. So the R15 is more like the sports tourer of the smaller bikes. It has raised handlebars and the double seating arrangement so it definitely fits that mold.
Would I buy this bike?
It might sound like I did not like this bike but I do not mind it at all. I do not see me buying it at all but I could see why people would. It provides people with a great platform to get into motorcycling on a bigger scale, literally. It also gives L plate kamikazes the chance to see if motorbike riding is really for them or not without having to spend ten to twenty grand or more on bigger bikes. Learning the workings of a bike is important as well and this cheaper type bike could help with that for sure. So I guess I am saying there really is a place for the R15 in motorcycling. Just not for me.
In closing, if you are after a very cheap form of motorcycling and really want to head out with your mates on bigger bikes well this is your answer. For under five grand you would have yourself a new motorcycle with a 2 year warranty and enough power to get you from A to B and then C but not enough power to really land you any major speeding fines. Maybe I need to buy one. This might seem like a nice little bike but I think it should have stayed in India where it was designed to be.
Rating: 6.5 / 10