Back in 2019 when I had short hair, the world was unaware of the threats of a pandemic and the Avengers had not yet defeated Thanos, Yamaha introduced the MT-15 in India. Riding this 150cc naked streetfighter on the curvy short loop of Buddh International Circuit made me realise how agile this bike was compared to the R15 V3, despite the similarities in kit between the two. However, I did wonder about its viability over its faired sibling considering the small price difference between the two and the former missing out on certain features as well. But that was almost three years ago and a lot has changed since then. Yamaha has also brought a new and improved Version 2.0 of MT-15 in the market. So, does this new model change the equation at all?
Yamaha MT-15 Version 2.0: As fresh as ever
Yamaha has not meddled with the overall design and shape of the MT-15. It still possesses a unique LED headlamp cluster, a muscular fuel tank with vents on either side and a sleek tail section. However, the company is now offering the bike in new colour schemes that are more vibrant than the ones offered with the previous version of the bike. In total there are five paint schemes to pick from, including a MotoGP-inspired one. Our test unit was in the Cyan Storm shade and in my opinion, it is the funkiest one of the five and by far my favourite as well.
Yamaha MT-15 Version 2.0: Frugal and fun
As for the mechanical heart that resides in the frame of the bike, you have the familiar 155cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled motor. A peak power output of 18.1bhp and peak torque of 14.1Nm are not vastly different compared to the figures of the original bike. It is the way in which these figures are realised on the road that makes all the difference. Just like the new R15, the MT-15 Version 2.0 feels a bit more relaxed off the line and does not have that bite in the initial revs. Let the bike cross 4000rpm and it starts to claw back some performance and gets going with ease. This new tune makes the bike a bit more frugal and you can easily know when you are riding in a pocket-friendly manner and when you are acting like a wannabe Rossi. I had no complaints with the 6-speed gearbox and the mileage figures were pleasing too. Extracting a figure of 40kmpl or more did not require any extreme changes in my riding style.
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The engine is smooth throughout the rev range and does not bother your even when you shift down. It is undoubtedly one of the best engines in this segment. Achieving triple digit speeds is no problem, making this bike a great option for longer highway rides as well.
Yamaha MT-15 Version 2.0: A renewed balance
Another big improvement comes in the way the bike handles. The new aluminium swingarm along with the USD forks at the front work wonders for the MT-15. Yes, the suspension setup is still a bit too stiff for the city but there is a nice synergy between the front and rear making it very predictable and confidence-inspiring. This gives you a lot of faith in the bike when you slingshot it around a corner or while riding at high speeds on the highway.
Sadly, even with this update, Yamaha is not offering dual-channel ABS even as an option. This was one thing that I was hoping the Japanese giant would fix with the update, especially considering that the MT-15 now gets USD forks like the R15. Further inspection of the specifications sheet reveals that it does not come with a quickshifter or a traction control system that is found in the latest R15. Personally, I think that both of these features have no real use in a bike of this class. You would hardly ever require them during our daily commutes through the city or on highways and it is good that Yamaha has not tacked them onto the bike and increased its price in the process.
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Yamaha MT-15 Version 2.0: Kink in the armour
A few things that I did not like include the small rear-view mirrors which tend to vibrate at higher speeds, making them very hard to use. There is relatively less space for the rider on the saddle and the footpegs are positioned in such a way that for taller riders like me, the MT-15 is still not the most comfortable option for longer rides. To top it all off, Yamaha has also placed the horn switch in an odd position and it does take a while to get used to.
Yamaha MT-15 Version 2.0: Connected technology
The instrument cluster on the MT-15 Version 2.0 is the same as the previous bike and can show you a lot of helpful information like trip meters, gear position, speed, average fuel consumption and more. Being a bike made in the connected age, the only new addition is the inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity. With this feature, you can pair your mobile device with the bike and get call alerts on the dashboard as you ride. Similarly, one can also access information related to the bike right from their paired device.
Yamaha MT-15 Version 2.0: Weighing the scales
It must be clear by now that Yamaha has not made numerous changes to the updated MT-15. More crucially, the divide between the R15 and this bike has become smaller making it a more attractive option than it was back in 2019. The naked streetfighter has a starting price of Rs 1,63,400 (ex-showroom) which is almost Rs 15,500 lesser than its faired sibling. Despite the gap in price, the MT-15 packs all the essentials and gets the same wonderful engine, making it a great option for people that want a more comfortable bike compared to the R15. The addition of ABS would have made it one of the best in the market but for the more experienced riders out there, this is still a great alternative to the more committed R15.
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