The launch of the Ray in September last year really marked a new era for Yamaha in India. The Japanese motorcycle giant which had become popular for its range of sports and premium bikes in the Indian market made its foray in the gearless scooter segment to take on the might of the extremely popular Honda scooter fleet.
But we were a little surprised when Yamaha went in all guns blazing to specifically target young females with every aspect of the Ray, from its choice of colours to even the choice of which gender assembles the scooter in the plant. I mean here was a scooter which looked universally good, rode extremely well and even though it had a few ergonomic features designed to make life easier for the fairer sex, the bike's appeal was undoubtedly universal, as long as you avoided the girliest of the girly colours that is.
But as strange as this gender bias might have appeared to us, it seems Yamaha was really planning for the long haul and so now we have the Ray Z – a scooter seemingly designed just for the boys and if marketing speak is to be believed, ‘your new Bro’. So what does the Ray Z offer really? While on the surface, there might be some stark visual differences at first glance, a slightly closer look reveals that it is, in fact, the same scooter as the original Ray.
But to set the Z apart from its feminine counterpart, it now sports a blackened visor on the front cowl, a matte black finish on the front, a ‘wing’ shaped solid aluminium grab handle and a sporty two-tone colour scheme which even features a chequered flag pattern on the rear of the bike.
In fact, Yamaha has really taken this ‘young and sporty’ design theme extremely seriously and even has even given the instrument cluster a carbon-fibre pattern background. If the bike wasn’t appealing to men before, and we believe it was, this visual variation should certainly be enough to attract the young male target group that Yamaha has got firmly in its sights for the Ray Z.
Mechanically, there is absolutely no change from the original Ray, and this is certainly not a bad thing. The Ray Z has all the underpinnings of the Ray which made it such a great scooter to ride. There’s the same 113cc four-stroke single cylinder engine underneath producing the same 7.1 PS of power and 8.1 Nm of torque and these figures propel the same 104kg of kerb weight. So performance figures remain unchanged.
So while it still might not have the hardware to outpace scooter such as the Honda Dio or the Suzuki Swish, its great suspension setup with telescopic dampers up front and the unit swing system at the rear along with its stiff underbone chassis still helps it retain its crown as one of the best handling scooters in the market especially during slow to medium manoeuvring. But as with the Ray, the Ray Z’s brakes don’t really match up to the rest of the bike.
So what’s our final take on the Ray Z? Well, we loved the original Yamaha Ray and it even took home the Scooter of the Year prize in the 2012 ET-ZigWheels awards. Priced at Rs 48,555 ex-showroom Delhi, the Ray Z is a couple of grand more than the Ray. But that being said, it is more of what we love in a package that looks even better.
So if you can get over your initial disappointment of expecting a brand new scooter, you’ll realise that Yamaha has just given everyone another good reason to want a scooter carrying the three pronged logo.
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