For a while, Yamaha built commuter bikes for the masses and didn't do too well. The Japanese manufacturer decided to go back to its roots and do what it does best — make sporty bikes that come with serious attitude. The made-in-and-for India YZF-R15 and FZ series bikes got Yamaha right back in the game. Following this same top-downwards approach, the manufacturer has introduced the new SZ-X. The SZ-X is a bike with the promise of 150cc style and performance for 125cc motorcycle money.
During the launch, I was excited to ride the SZ-X between Jaipur and Udaipur but my spirits were dampened when I learnt the route comprised mostly arrow-straight roads — 12.1bhp of power and 400km of straights are not exactly what a biker enjoys. However, I thought the long ride would give me ample time to understand the SZ.
The SZ's styling is smart but not as flashy as other Yamaha 150s. The electric starter-equipped SZ-X can be differentiated from the kick-only SZ thanks to its plastic visor and smart tank extensions. Both bikes get an analogue speedometer but neither gets a tachometer. I liked the bike's slightly long silencer that comes with a stylish heat shield.
The four-stroke, single-cylinder, air-cooled 153cc engine of the FZ-16 makes its way to the SZ. This motor has good low-and mid-range grunt coupled with city-centric gearing that made riding a breeze in early morning traffic. We were soon picking up speed on the NH-8. The road was well-paved but a tad featureless. There were practically no corners. This was mostly a top-gear affair, throttle wrung to the max. The bike accelerates quickly to 80 kph but thereafter, reaching 100kph takes a while on its way to a speedo-indicated 106kph top speed. The consensus among all the riders at the first coffee halt was that the SZ is clearly not a sporty 150cc bike.
Back on the road, I found the upright riding position conducive to long stints on the well padded saddle. As with every Yamaha in India, the SZ powerplant remained vibe-free through its rev band. The SZ on its part felt light to steer and stable, even at high speeds.
The SZ comes with 150mm front and 130mm rear drum brakes; they were up to their task at city speeds, but just about adequate on a highway. Yamaha informs us a front disc brake-equipped SZ is shortly on its way.
Later, we exited the highway for our final tea stop at Chittorgarh.
The roads en route to our halt were monsoon-ravaged, providing an opportunity to check out the Yamaha's ride quality. The SZ did not disappoint, soaking up all the rough stuff in its stride.
Next day, we rode to Jaisamand Lake, Asia's second largest artificial lake, located 50km from Udaipur.
The SZ took to the series of bends leading to the lake with confidence but nowhere close to the FZ-16.
The SZ is not as enticing as an FZ or YZF-R15.
But Yamaha has built a smart product here with attractive pricing that should bring in new customers.