The low-down on the new Yamaha MT-15


Over the last few months, we have read everything on the MT-15 and, more recently, we also discovered that this popular Asian motorcycle was going to get a bit Indianised. Now that it’s here, we can tell you if the conversion has been a judicious one.

It would be criminal to call it beautiful, but it is slim and stealthy. The front-end is rather concept-like, with those slim, white LED DRLs and the projector headlight housed in the centre, and thereon — it’s a snazzy design. The one truly ungainly bit is that set of grab rails — or rods, more aptly — but they’ll come in handy to strap luggage on, or in case a mob attacks.

Like on the international-spec bike, the Indian MT-15 features a single-piece seat with a prominent step between rider and pillion, but the made-for-India changes are bound to interest you more. First up is the conventional fork instead of the expensive upside-down unit, and the swingarm is now a box-section affair; also different are the alloys, which have been borrowed from the R15 V3.0.

The low-down on the new Yamaha MT-15

The MT-15 is cosy, cheerfully light (at 138kg) and the riding geometry feels quite aggressive. It’s slim, and the 10-litre tank is easy to grip, though generously-built riders will find it quite cramped. The seat itself is sporty and not very roomy, but as I settled in, I was pleased to see very little motorcycle from my point of view — a good sign, in the urban cut-and-thrust scheme of things.

The MT-15 fires up with the exact same busy thrum as the R15. I’m not expecting any surprises here — 19.3hp is 19.3hp, and it isn’t going to make a world of a difference. However, naked motorcycles do heighten the sensation of speed, and that can be said about the MT-15 as well. Just like on the R15, the MT-15 also features a 155cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC, four-valve motor featuring Yamaha’s clever Variable Valve Actuation or VVA.

The low-down on the new Yamaha MT-15

Given that the MT-15 is largely destined for urban riding, Yamaha has altered the final drive ratio, and also equipped it with a larger (by four teeth) rear sprocket in comparison to the R15. Across the vast expanse of the BIC, I couldn’t help but feel like an inconsequential spec. Although, contrary to my pessimistic expectations, the MT-15 engaged me in a fluid, upbeat conversation.

Delightfully, though, shifting up or down the gearbox is a seamless, mechanically precise affair. The light clutch lever, a by-product of the slip-and-assist feature, will be welcomed by traffic regulars and then there is the inherent goodness of the fast motor; Yamaha has made a decent effort to maintain a balance between peppiness and tractability as well. Another good aspect of the MT-15’s performance package is the refinement, and only mild vibrations can be felt at above 8,000 rpm.

In true Yamaha character, the MT-15 is a happy handler. I’m sure that skimping on the international version’s cycle parts may have made it a bit duller, but viewed in isolation, there’s nothing truly unpleasant in store for you. Where the MT-15 could do with some serious improvement is in the area of braking, with its 282mm/220mm (front/rear) discs offering good but not dramatic performance.

The low-down on the new Yamaha MT-15

The MT-15 does deliver but not too generously. If you really do crave a super-compact urban hustler, with an emphasis on agility rather than on output credentials, the MT-15 will impress you to a fair extent. Should you spend ₹1.36 lakh on a small, sporty city bike, though? It’s a big ask.

To summarise, the MT-15 definitely feels like a chirpy city bike with decent highway ability, but the overall experience it provides still stands to be clouded by practical, economic reasoning. In other words, there will justifiably be loads of you who would rather have the as-well-equipped Bajaj Pulsar NS200 or the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V — bikes that offer more performance for substantially lesser money. That’s a hard contest for the MT-15 to win, as nice a motorcycle as it may be.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 9:47:16 PM |

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