2011 Yamaha YZF- R15 2.0: First Ride
It’s almost the beginning of October heat and temperature at the MMST race track near Chennai, clear signs that there is going to be no mercy. The sticky sweat is making it harder to slip into the riding gear as I prepare to get astride the gorgeous looking new Yamaha YZF-R15 2.0, expecting a more thrilling ride on the track than the first time I rode the previous generation R15 during the launch at the same venue back in 2008. The MMST circuit is not exactly silky smooth and has a fair mix of some bumpy corners which truly test the motorcycle’s handling abilities and overall composure. I leave the pits on the new Yamaha YZF-R15, to slowly put in a warm-up lap to build some heat into the tyres and get a feel of the motorcycle. Instantly noticeable is the improved seat with its wider base and harder build for a sportier ride experience. There is huge amount of space to accommodate the tallest of riders and also to swiftly move around the motorcycle on the track.
The saddle is in line with international super-sports machines with its design as well as its feel and its posture aiding track riding, while rider comfort takes a backseat. Bad news for tourers then. But Yamaha has been clear about their ideology behind the R15 as a product – it’s a race track scorcher. The first generation machine showed that to us in more ways than one and went on to win the 2010 FMSCI National Motorcycle Racing Championship too, in the hands of Ten10 Racing’s Sarath Kumar (the only Indian MotoGP entrant), beating the long standing king of the Indian two-wheeler racing arena, the TVS Apache RTR. The new 2.0 version of the YZF-R15 aims to build on its predecessor’s lineage and tries to take it to another level. But does it succeed in doing so?
That depends on how next year’s national road racing championship shapes up and also what the sales of the new R15 indicate as the two-wheeler market matures to super-sports motorcycles. What we can tell you right now is how much a better or worse the new One-Five is over its previous model. And better it is. But only marginally with regards to performance. Take into consideration the styling and design, and the new R15 2.0 is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor. While the front end remains totally untouched, the revision on design starts from the side fairings. The newer design is much more in tune with the international standards, flaunting its sharper lines and pronounced cuts and edges adding to its racy appeal in a committed manner, rather than trying to be conservative and compromising like the first generation YZF-R15. The true blue race bike-like split seat configuration presents that much needed international look to the machine along with the gorgeously styled new tail section. Not to forget, the fatter rear tyre makes sure this time that the proportions are maintained and endow the bike with a big bike appeal rather than a puny feel that many complained about in the first generation One-Five. This one is truly for the hardcore race replica lover. The weight bias has been altered from the previous 47/53 front-rear ratio, to 49/51 on the new machine. The seat height too has been increased by 10mm to 800mm, with a slight change in its rake helping the rider to sit in a much more aggressive style suitable for racing.