The R15-based street naked gets a host of updates. Here’s what it’s now like.
The Yamaha MT-15 needs no introduction, does it? It is the street naked sibling of the R15 V4 and it recently got an update. The MT-15 version 2.0, as it is called, features a few notable changes and they’ve had quite an effect on the way the motorcycle looks and rides.
DESIGN AND FEATURES
The Yamaha MT-15 version 2.0’s body panels are exactly the same as before. The introduction of new colourways has enhanced the appearance of the MT-15, and how. Our test bike is wearing the Cyan Blue colour and it stands out in a sea of motorcycles, with the coloured wheels adding to the effect. If you feel that this is gaudy, the MT-15 is also available in other relatively subtle colours. Personally, I think the MT-15 looks notably better than the previous bike, as the colours add to the character of this machine and the new USD fork makes the front-end look more muscular.
Moving on, other updates on the MT-15 version 2.0 includes the reverse LCD instrument cluster, which now features Bluetooth connectivity and displays incoming or missed call alerts, SMS and email notifications, and phone battery level, but no navigation prompts.
While all of the aforementioned updates are welcome, I wish Yamaha paid more attention to quality as well. An indicator stalk at the front had worked itself loose over the course of our testing and some of the plastic quality wasn’t up to the mark. And don’t even get me started about the reverse placement of the horn and indicator switches, which is a major irritant.
RIDE AND HANDLING
One of the biggest updates that the Yamaha R15 version 4.0 got was a USD fork and we are glad to see that the MT-15 version 2.0 gets the same unit. In fact, unlike the previous MT-15 that got the lesser cousin treatment by way of being fitted with a cheaper box section swingarm, the latest version of the MT-15 gets the same aluminium swingarm as on the R15 version 4.0. Besides these tweaks, the wheelbase has also been reduced by 10mm, due to the change in the mounting point for the USD fork. All of these aforementioned alterations have brought about notable improvements in the way this motorcycle rides and handles.
Riding over Mumbai’s bumpy roads you realise that the suspension is on the stiffer side, but isn’t jarring. The trade off, however, comes in the form of better feel and feedback from the front end, especially around corners. That allows you to carry more speed as the bike feels notably planted sticking to an intended line.
The bike’s improved manners are a big step up from the old one, which felt a tad nervous when pushed hard. Even quick direction changes are dispatched with more sure-footedness than before.
In fact, this Yamaha’s light-footed handling makes negotiating city traffic a cake walk. And credit for that goes to the sharp steering, tight turning radius and the extra leverage provided by the wide handlebar, all resulting in a motorcycle that’s super-reactive to inputs.
Coming to the brakes, the bite and feedback from the front is decent, but I can’t fathom why Yamaha still won’t offer ABS at the rear. Given our poor road conditions and the propensity of riders in India to use a lot of the rear brake, a locked rear wheel under panic or emergency braking could cause one to lose control. A bike this expensive should have dual-channel ABS, period.
PERFORMANCE AND FUEL ECONOMY
The MT-15’s engine has always been an absolute gem and what we love is its incredible refinement. It remains smooth throughout most of the rev range, with only a mild buzz creeping in through the pegs and bars once you are close to the redline.
Speaking of, you won’t need to visit that area of the rev band in the city. With a 52-teeth rear sprocket that’s bigger than the R15’s 48-teeth sprocket, the gearing is very short and you can crawl in traffic in fourth gear at 20kph without any signs of protest from the engine. This kind of tractability explains the superb fuel economy that it manages in the city. For a 155cc, four-valve liquid-cooled engine that’s inclined towards performance, delivering over 50kpl in the city is fantastic. It’s the kind of fuel efficiency that’ll keep your wallet smiling at the pumps, given today’s insane fuel rates. The fuel economy climbs to 56kpl on the highway, which again is a really good number. The best part is that these fuel economy figures are better than what the BS4 bike achieved. However, the bump in fuel efficiency has come at a minor expense of performance.
The MT-15 version 2.0’s engine makes slightly less power than the BS4 model, however, peak torque has gone up by 0.2Nm. Also, the bike’s kerb weight has risen by 1kg. Compared to the R15 V4, the MT-15 is a smidgen quicker to 60kph, but in the run up to 100kph, the R15 is about half-a-second quicker. This makes sense, considering the difference in sprocket sizes.
All said, the gearing is so skewed towards riding in the city that the engine sounds busy on the highway, with the revs sitting at 8,000rpm at 100kph. The top speed is expectedly lower than the R15, at around the 130kph mark, but you’ll feel the performance tapering off as you cross 120kph.
The MT-15 version 2.0 remains a great tool to tackle the hustle and bustle of the city. Its peppy engine, low kerb weight and quick handling will instantly appeal to those looking for an absolutely fun commuting experience. While it does cost more money than the previous bike, I think the price is justified. At Rs 1.6 lakh (ex-showroom), the MT-15 is around Rs 13,000 dearer than the outgoing bike but still finds itself in a sweet spot, with bikes like the KTM 125 Duke demanding Rs 15,000 more, despite being down on power and features.
Need a street naked that looks good, offers enough performance for the city and great fuel economy? The Yamaha MT-15 version 2.0 makes for an unbeatable proposition.