Ever since I had rented and ridden a Yamaha R15 motorbike in June 2018, a bike that I never cared for till then, actually caught not only attention but also a deep entanglement with it; as I realized later. The bike was short. I could reach ground with my feet easily, was very nimble and extremely easy to ride with. Looked good, even if it was not that beautiful as my Royal Enfield Continental GT. I consider the latter as one of the most beautiful ‘production’ bikes ever manufactured. Period! And my bike with its bright yellow paint was eye catchy and drew the attention of everyone on the road. And even I would admire it, despite owning it already. But this Yamaha R15 was beautiful in its own way, as a toy would. It had a sporty look, yet small.
Over a period of time, I was noticing that I have been spending more time and energy, and perhaps some money as well on maintaining the legacy Royal Enfield’s Continental GT. As much as I loved riding it, fact of the matter is Royal Enfield bikes require constant maintenance even if it was only minor. If nothing, at least the battery would discharge quickly if I didn’t use it for 3-4 weeks. For one reason at the other I ended up having three cars, two motorbikes, and two bicycles while I prefer to walk long distances when time permits. I am not rich by any means. Due to some combination of factors, I have these at home. With too many vehicles at my disposal and spoilt by choice, I wouldn’t drive or ride any particular vehicle for long. So at any given time, something or the other needed to be addressed before I could ride/drive. And thus I felt a need for something that is easy to maintain (just fill fuel and ride), easy to take it out from my drive way, and ride without any hesitation. It was an effort to bring the elephant, Continental GT to the gate before I could start and ride.
The toy like Yamaha R15 seemed to fit the bill. At the end I did test ride several bikes and boiled down my choice to a Honda CBR250R ABS (250cc) and Yamaha R15 v3 ABS (155cc). Honda was a little more expensive by ₹50k. But price factor was not big on my mind, since I don’t change my vehicles often anyway. The Honda seemed extremely comfortable for long rides with ‘Honda Reliability’ while the Yamaha R15 was a pure performance bike that suited quick city rides and race track riding. As a matter of fact it has nearly the same design and technology as its flagship, Yamaha R1 used in professional racing. The DNA was surely evident in how the R15 rides. It was WAY MORE fun to ride this bike than the elegant, gentleman ride of the Honda. My own requirement was perhaps long rides post my retirement and some city rides. But I wasn’t able to decide if the long rides would be the only factor for me in choosing a bike. At the end, heart came ahead of my head. The saving of ₹50k gave me even more comfort while deciding. The very reason I like to ride a bike is not for comfort, rather for fun and excitement. And so I bought the 2019 Yamaha R15 v3 ABS model two days back.
Komala and Sisir joined me at delivery in the evening for delivery. What was supposed to be my second test drive to re-confirm my decision in choosing this bike, turned into an immediate purchase and delivery. The bikes usually had a waiting of one month with most dealers. This particular one had the color of my choice in stock. And the day and time, as I checked and confirmed from father was auspicious for purchase. So why not buy just now?
The idea was to get a shorter and an easier bike to ride with to suit my height…… but….! Despite the two test rides I took on this bike, and knowing very well that the v3 version (2019) that I was buying (and tested) was taller than its previous versions (one of which that I rented and rode to Khammam and back, a round trip of about 450 kms), little did I realize until I purchased the bike and through my ride to home via my usual commute from office, that this bike was actually taller than my Continental GT (and my ’62 Bullet). I noticed that any amount of test rides we take are not equal to ‘using’ via known roads and purposes. The little toy that I called it, turned out to be so big that my other bike’s cover was not able to cover this 155cc bike either for height or width.
I quickly checked the specifications last evening comparing them and realized that this is actually among the tallest of the bikes in the market, irrespective of price and bike category. Goddamn it! Even the Triumph Tiger XR(or XRC), the big adventure bike that I was scared of riding when I took a course long ago, has a saddle height less than this toy (that I made it out to be) Yamaha R15! No wonder I was not confident of riding the bike over to the road a couple of inches higher than the roadside path, on taking delivery. I was certain that after taking the bike onto road, I will surely tip it when I turn it 90 degrees to left to merge into traffic. My feet wouldn’t be firmly placed on the ground with the front tire up on the road and rear lower. Took the help of my son (who is taller than me), to pull it out for me!! I didn’t like risk getting the new bike a fall right after delivery.
So did I defeat my primary objective of changing the bike in the first place? Well as it turns out to be, not exactly. The ‘end objective’ was to have a bike that was easy to pull out from my drive way, not hesitate to ride it for chores, has less maintenance, and of course most importantly to have a bike that is exciting to ride. The new bike does fit it into all of these. With a weight less by 25 kgs (167 kgs Continental GT vs 142 kgs of R15), and several design elements contributing, the R15 is certainly a lot more exciting and easy to ride. Despite its smaller engine, the high revving and high tech engine accelerates even better than the bigger elephant I had.
I took it out for a 110 kms spin today morning. It included some off-road as well. The bike surely is a high tech vehicle. It was so rideable even during the break-in period that I kept comparing it with my initial days of the Royal Enfield Continental GT. The latter was difficult from changing gears to maneuvering. It took me and the bike a while to get going normally. Even after controlling myself to stick within the 5000 rpm (max is 13,000 rpm) recommended during the break-in period upto its first 1000 kms, I noticed the R15 kept accelerating much ahead of the rest of vehicles at any traffic signal. Whatever technology it had, Variable Valve Actuation or whatever, the bike was working for me. And very well. Despite its tall height, it kept me confident all through my ride, be it the tarmac road of Nagpur Highway or the off-road of Dupally forest!
And to top it up, it gave me an incredible 62.5 kmpl mileage! Fingers crossed, I hope these stats thrown at me by the console are accurate! The dashboard provides a ton of information and also customizable. I also made it wish my name on the dashboard every time it is switched on!!
If you care to see more pictures than this write up, here are some.