Yamaha's tryst with the commuter biker started early in its Indian innings. After it went four-stroke, the charm of a Yamaha suddenly seemed to have seeped out of the commuter biker's mind. Like the other Japanese two-wheeler manufacturers and their joint ventures, Yamaha too kept toiling at recapturing its share of the market in this segment. But, unfortunately, it had set itself a stiff performance benchmark with the likes of the RX100 and beating that in the buyer's mindset just didn't seem possible.
That was nearly a decade ago. Yamaha India has comeback strongly during the last few years with its focus smartly shifted towards lifestyle and performance bikes. Its YZF-R15, FZ16 and Fazer are all performance bikes by Indian standards inspired by Yamaha's global super bikes like the R1 and the MT-01.
Now, after re-establishing its credentials as a manufacturer of quality bikes in the high-priced performance category, Yamaha is attempting to re-enter the commuter's mind-space with a reworked, restyled economy-focused bike. It is a top-down strategy that is very workable and has been successful in the passenger car market. But, just how does the new YBR 110 fare compared to the competition in the market? We took a test ride to find out.
Though the YBR's finish quality is quite up there along with its peers in the segment, the focus on being an economical run-about is pretty evident on its face. Though, credit must be given to Yamaha for offering a few features and elements in the YBR 110 that are more commonly found in the executive segment, there are also others that clearly are commuter-class.
The introduction to the bike is pleasing – the tinted cowl/ bikini-fairing, the Yamaha trademark blinkers and the 18-inch alloy wheel at the front are all better than the average commuter bike. The re-designed 13-litre petrol tank with new paint finish and graphics leads on to a broad, stepped seat for the rider and the pillion. Side panels that lend more character to the flowing design of the YBR and a trapezoid tail-lamp at the tapered end complete the overall design of the bike.
The YBR uses a tubular double-cradle type chassis and the swing arm is also a tubular member, a point that does make it seem more of an economy bike. Box-section swing arms that provide better stability and refinement are fast being the norm across categories. The wheelbase and the other dimensions are all identical to the Alba. The YBR 110's minimum ground clearance is 173mm.
Similar to some of the elements at the front, the alloy rear wheel, the cast alloy sub-frame with foot peg and the chrome exhaust protector are features that are a bit of a premium in this category. But, the coated steel grab-rail sticks out, because alloy grabs are now fast becoming standard in most bikes. Twin-pod instrument cluster displays the odo-speedo combo in one and the fuel indicator in the other. A large neutral indicator lamp and high-beam indicator are good additions.
The YBR 110's engine is a 106cc, air-cooled, four-stroke unit. Similar in construction to the Alba's engine, this unit also produces an identical 7.6PS of peak power at 7,500 rpm and a maximum torque of 7.85Nm at 6,000 rpm. Mated to the engine is a four-speed constant mesh gearbox. The engine is clearly economy-focussed and the gearing has also been tuned to match the performance needs of city commuters. Power is produced quickly, but it also starts to taper off quickly and you will need to shift up in spurts to accelerate smoothly.
This might help keep fuel consumption low, but don't expect to make an impression at the stop light. We think a fifth cog in the gearbox would have helped, especially for commuters in less congested cities.
The clutch feel is good and progressive and the gear-shift quality is on par with other commuters. But, though there were no false neutrals, there was the occasional difficulty of getting back into neutral while idling. Electric self-start is part of standard fitment.
The YBR's engine is quite refined for a bike in this segment, foot-peg and handle-bar vibrations set in at speeds of over 80 kmph. Braking is via 130mm drum-brakes at both the front and the rear. For suspension, the YBR comes fitted with telescopic and adjustable hydraulic suspension for the front and rear respectively.
The YBR has been priced aggressively at about Rs 41,000 (ex-showroom), which should enable Yamaha to pitch for gaining back its share of the market.