The little bike that could

There are dreams, then there are dreams. Some dreams are very bad that it changes your outlook, it shows your darkest fears coming true and you are ready to bargain for anything to prevent that from happening. And this story too starts with a really bad dream. In July 2015, I had a really bad dream, one that wakes you up sweating like a pig. The dream was so bad that I vowed to quit riding and did it for some time too. My dad was really happy, seeing me at home more often and not on the bike. I resigned to my fate. But then in August, by sheer coincidence a couple of my friends met after a long time and they called me. While speaking to them, one of them said he is selling his Yamaha YZF R-15v2.0 . I asked him the price and he said he had a buyer lined up ready. During dinner that day I told my dad about this, and he said “Why don’t you get that bike for your brother. He is almost 18 years old and would need a bike.”, I said okay and spoke to my friend but since he already had a buyer he said that the chances for me to get the bike are slim. Sometimes the stars align perfectly, and then BAM, long story short, the buyer did not show up, and Shuriken came home. A bike that became my tourer and gave me a ton of fun. The name shuriken was chosen because it was small and very effective in the hands of a capable rider.

The motorcycle had 8000km on the odometer. No other problems except there was no air in the tires. I went to collect the bike with my friend Varun who at that time did not know that the bike was for me. I rode 200km as a pillion and it was so boring. But the anticipation and excitement kept me from complaining. The 200km ride back home really brought out the nuances of the bike. The engine is so smooth, and the brakes really good. A change from Bybre/KBX to Nissin is really a world apart. I had a scary moment when coming back home when an old guy jumped in front of the bike. Other than that crazy old man, the ride back home was uneventful.

Since my father is a bit of a grease monkey, we removed all the panels to inspect the whole bike. The difference between Yamaha and Bajaj was evident. None of the panels vibrate or are kept as an afterthought, everything just fits together perfectly. The Bajaj on the other hand rattles a bit, and has gaps. There was some rust on the frame, other than that the bike was fine. I got a change of oil, and replaced the clutch cable as a precautionary measure.

The R15 much alike his big brother the R6 handles so good in the curves. I could lean him over as much as my skill would allow and the R15 would glide through the curve. The feedback from the tires were excellent, and the leaning position was not too much strenous for me. I put 36000km in 2 years on the R15 and every time I press the starter button my heart flutters a bit. But the R15 does not like traffic and bumpy roads. You could ride 700+ km of highway without any problems, but run into traffic for 20km and your wrists start to hurt. The continous gear changes and clutch usage takes a toll on your body. You will be exhausted in no time. Rev it up to 7k and above, hit the sweet spot and feel the bliss surrounding you. There won’t be anything bothering you, not your job, not the lack of money due to owning motorcycles, nothing. It is just you and the road. You just move from corner to corner. And that is the essence of a Japanese sports bike I guess, which I guess Bajaj will have to catch up to.

Two years of ownership has changed me, but to the question of “Have I grown out the small 150cc, 17bhp machine is NO”. I am no Valentino Rossi, Rajani Krishnan or even Sagar Sheldekar. I have a lot to learn and not much money to spend on. The R15 offers a balance of ease of maintainability and thrilling ride quality. I have a lot more to learn, I need to learn to brake, to set up for corners and lean in. I am learning bit by bit, but not as much so that I think to have mastered the R15.

In India, having a motorcycle means having to take pillions sometimes. Be warned, never take a pillion who is not familiar with the bike unless you want your whole upper body stiff with pain. I have taken pillion riders a few times and always they lean on me while braking and hold on, this puts their upper body weight also on your wrists hurting them, similar to having hot engine oil dripping on your wrists. It is better for the pillion to lean forward and put their palms on the tank, so that their weight rests on their wrists rather than yours.

Pros

  • Reliable
  • Exciting
  • Good looking
  • Handles really well
  • Cheap when compared to other sports bikes(And NO Bajaj does not have a sports bike. KTM does)
  • Really good clutch, even aggressive downshifting does not lock the wheel up to a limit.
  • A really good bike to learn track riding.

Cons

  • Never ride it in traffic or bumpy roads unless you want to curse the people on the road and the people who built the road.
  • Really really bad headlamps (Need some projector setup. I did not do it because I wanted to keep the bike stock)
  • Low end torque is virtually non existent
  • Front tire of 90/80-17 was really difficult to find. I had even thought of getting a 90/90 and living with it. The only reason I did not do it is because I wanted the bike to be stock and did not want the handling to deteriorate. I finally found the tire in Cochin about 220km from Trivandrum and got the tire changed there.

Complaints that I have faced

  • I usually change the clutch cable every 10000km, once I forgot and the clutch cable snapped within 12000km. Luckily I had a spare handy.
  • The throttle cable snapped once after 15000 km.
  • There was brake fade after some continous hard braking. I tried finding out the issue, but the service centre told me it was an issue with the master cylinder. I did not want to change it just on a suspicion. My friend who also had an R15 told me it might be with a pin inside the master cylinder. This occurred only after the brake fluid and pads got heated up after some continous use of the brake.

Top Speed

  • The highest speed I have seen on the speedo was 144kmph

Acceleration

  • Rev to 8k rpm and then change the gears and see what the 150cc engine can do

Fuel Efficiency

Normally it was between 42-44 kmpl. I used to ride at around 75kmph( 5k rpm on 6th gear). The worst I had was around 33kmpl during a trip to Bangalore while doing triple digits continously. The best was around 48 kmpl during a 440 km trip and riding sedately.

Routine Maintenance expenses

Brake Pads: Front 550 INR and changed every 8000 km. Never changed the rear till now.

Chain : 3k INR will all the labour expense included. Changed at 20000km on the odo. Haven’t changed it yet and the chain is still not worn out.

Tires: Changed every 20000-25000 km. Rear costs around 3.3k INR and the front 2.2k INR approximately. Sourcing the front tire was really hard while there are multiple options are available for the rear.

Clutch Cables: Changed every 10000 km except once. It cost around 200 INR

Throttle Cable: Changed every 15000 km. Cost around 550 INR.

Spark plugs: Cost around 200 approximately. Changed every 15000 km.

Air filter: Changed every 10000 km.

Oil: Used Motul or Yamalube(only when I couldn’t get Motul). Usually cost around 550 INR. Changed every 3000 km if it was Motul and 2000 if it was Yamalube.

Oil Filter: Changed every other oil change or if putting in a different brand of oil.

Chain lube: Motul chain spray and a small 3M can for road trips. Lubed every 500 – 600 km. Washed the chain along with the motorcycle.

 

Even after doing multiple days of 500+ km, the bike was rock solid. During an onward trip to Bangalore from Trivandrum I had coolant heat and over flow a little bit but that is it. Doing triple digits hour after hour never mattered but the fuel economy took a hit.

If you are looking for a small motorcycle where you can learn to be a better rider, look no further. R15_1R15_2R15_3R15_4Yamaha it really revs your heart.

 

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