2018 Yamaha R15 V3 First ride Review: Pocket rocket now faster, efficient and great fun!

We have just ridden the all-new 2018 Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 at the MMRT race track in Chennai. Here is how the motorcycle has evolved over the years and what the latest iteration of the popular entry-level sportsbike brings to the table.

By: | Updated: March 14, 2018 7:12 PM

The first Yamaha R15 was launched in 2008, that was the same year I turned 18 and legal. Back in the day, I was still riding a Yamaha RXZ two-stroke. The the R15 was a revolution, it left my two-stroke feeling almost scary. It's been exactly a decade since the R15 first came to India which makes it more befitting that the first comprehensively new R15 is here. Yamaha is calling it the R15 V3, and where the V2 was more of a cosmetic refresh. The V3 is a holistic update that has taken the R15 to the next level! New sharper looks, a bigger motor new dynamics and whole lot more is on offer this time.

2018 Yamaha R15 V3 Design

First up let's talk about the looks, now Yamaha say that there were two main concerns when designing the V3 the new R15 was designed to be universally appealing, and look like the largest sibling in R series of bikes. A range that includes the R1, the R6 and the R3. And it does! But what is more striking about the R15 V3 is how beautifully the folks at Yamaha have made form follow function. The design allows for plenty of place for you to lock in your knees on the tank. The deltabox frame is still there but Yamaha have updated it take is sharper by half a degree, now at 25.5°. It's wider by 20 mm! The sharper rake is paired shorter wider die-cast aluminium swingarm, reducing the overall wheelbase to 1325mm, 20mm shorter than before.

A split seat configuration has been kept with an S version also in the pipelines. The R15 v3 is 15 mm taller the previous bike at 815 mm. Matched with more rear-set footpegs and lowered clip on the riding position is so much more commit than the v2. Meanwhile, the front cowling has gotten sharper too and does look a lot more like the R3, it ditches the R15s dual halogen set up for sleek LED headlamps up front. Yamaha will only have two colours on offer on the R15V3 and both are based in black, you can pick between the Thunder Grey with red accents or the very Yamaha, Racing Blue.

2018 Yamaha R15 V3 Engine

The new Yamaha R15 V3 now has a 155 cc motor. Which is not new, its the old 149cc motor which Yamaha have bored by exactly 1 mm, bringing the new engine to 155cc. The liquid-cooled motor has an uprated compression ratio of 11:6:1 over the v2 10:4:1 ratio. Power is up to 19 hp @10k rpm with torque now at 15Nm @8.5k rpm. Now to ensure that like most mini-supersports with huge rev bands, Yamaha was afraid that it might not be as perky in the lower ends of the power band. To counter this Yamaha have integrated Variable Valve Actuation on the Yamaha R15. WhatYamahaa has done is essentially the same technology as you would find on a Honda VTEC except on a 150cc bike. Allowing the engine to switch to a high cam at 7400 rpm. Keeping the engine alive all the way to 10rpm. Sans having to wait for it to build up the revs. However as a direct result of this the motor does tend to run a bit gruff and vibrations start to creep in the moment the VVA lights appears. Now while the vibrations can be unsettling it does not take away from the experience of riding it, and is most definitely not a deal breaker.

2018 Yamaha R15 V3 Clutch and Gearbox

In terms of the gearbox the Yamaha R15 continues to use the 6 speed gearbox from the V2.0 but the sprocket set up has been changed to make it more lively. The sprockets 14/48 set up allows the R15 to fly through the gears which now feel a lot shorter than the V2.0. The big change in the transmission however is the addition of a slipper clutch. According to Yamaha, this not only reduces clutch action force by 18% but also makes the R15 more stable into corners. Gone are the days when the wheels would lock up.

2018 Yamaha R15 V3 Braking

Now the Mounting points are the same but the Yamaha R15 v3 gets bigger disc brakes in front going from 263 mm to 282 mm on the V3. The rear still has a 220mm disc. ABS has NOT been included, but braking is still smooth & the slipper clutch helps for sure. Yamaha say they will put an ABS on the R15 by 2019, since by then laws making it mandatory will have come into place. Both brakes have more than enough bite. One thing's for sure, it stops much faster than the V20. Gripping surfaces too have increased Yamaha have given both Tyres the upsize treatment. The front end gets a 100-80/17 tyre while the rear makes use of a 140-section shoe, identical to the R3. Tyres are MRF as stock. However Yamaha say that the best set up that they have found has an MRF upfront with a Metzeler in the back. This is the set up that we used on the track and the grip was phenomenal throughout.

Yamaha R15 V3.0 Weight

The front end gets a 100-80/17 tyre while the rear makes use of a 140-section shoe, identical to the R3. Tyres are MRF but metzellers are available an (expensive) option!At 139 kgs the Yamaha R15 v3 is just 3 kgs heavier than the v2. This. Despite being longer, wider and taller than its predecessor! Sharper handling masks even this additional load.On the downside of the Yamaha’s R15 v3’ exceptional styling is the fact that the tank loses a litre of fuel and range. Not a big miss but a downer for those looking to tour with the new 11 litre tank.

2018 Yamaha R15 V3.0 Suspension

The Yamaha R15 v3 gets fatter suspension upfront with 41mm dia shocks replacing the 33mm shocks from the V2. The rear swingarm is stiffer too. No USDs even as an option though. Although when we did ask Yamaha why this exclusion was made, they said that while USDs look great on paper they don't perform a lot better than the standard shock absorber in a bike this small. As far as we are concerned the R15 might seem like a bit too track focused when compared even with the v 2.0. Paired with the ultra committed riding position the R15 can be a bit taxing. Over al since Yamaha have stressed so much on the fact that the R15 is part of the venerable R family, the R15 needed that bite. And now it does.

2018 Yamaha R15 V3 Verdict

The 2018 Yamaha R15 just takes the baby Yammie to the next level. Not only is it quicker, its more powerful but it comes loaded with a lot of interesting features. At Rs 1.25 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). the new Yamaha YZF-R15 V3.0 is just Rs 7,000 expensive than its predecessor and it makes for a great case for value for money. Add to that, the racing kit that Yamaha is offering as optional with the motorcycle that makes the bike an even exciting package.

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