Yamaha seems to come back to its roots, and give the customers the performance-based motorcycles they are known for. With their Yamaha R15, they have proved that even a small capacity bike made right can be a lot of fun. Being one of the best handling and fastest 150cc in its category. Though customers were always looking to get the same performance in the naked category. Yamaha had the FZ series but it was more focused towards commuting.

The Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride Impressions

Yamaha had the MT series internationally, the naked brother of the R series. Yesterday Yamaha finally made the MT series available to the masses with the launch MT-15. Based on the R15 V3, it has some serious changes up its sleeve to make it stand out. I had the chance to experience the bike for a short time and here are my first impressions.

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The Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride Impressions

The Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride Impressions

Design and Ergonomics

Let’s talk about the similarities first. It’s based on the same deltabox frame as the R15 and borrows the same 155cc liquid-cooled, 4V, single-cylinder engine. The suspension offered is also the same. So does that make the MT-15 just an R15 without fairing? No, there are things that set it apart.

The Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride ImpressionsThe Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride Impressions

The design is all new and striking based on the bigger MT-09. It gets twin led pilot lights which look like the eyes of the bike, along with the projector headlamps which completes the look of the face. It kinda looks like inspired from Samurai.

The other bits of the bike is quite minimal. The tank is not as huge as the R15 is bit slim and compact. It carries the MT logo at the left side of the tank. The side profile the bike looks minimalistic and the rear end is quite short to complete the aggressive looks. There a long rearguard to protect the pillion from splashes. It does come in two different colours. Dark Matt blue and Metallic Black. The blue one gets the neon highlights.

The Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride ImpressionsThe digital instrument cluster is the same unit as in the R15, but it’s a negative unit. The display is a bit difficult to see in direct sunlight, but it will sure look beautiful in the night.

The Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride Impressions

The Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride Impressions

When you board the bike the first thing you will notice is the difference in the riding position. The single piece handlebar is not too low as the clipons, added that too not so rear set footpegs the riding position is a mixture of focused and comfortable. The tank design makes it perfect for you to lock your knees at attack those corners confidently.

The Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride Impressions

The seat is a single piece unit that is wide enough for the rider but narrows down on the pillion side, which is only good for small city rides. Yamaha provides big hefty grabrails on both sides. The seat height is 5mm lower than the R15 at 810mm. But the ground clearance has taken a toll at 155mm.

Engine and Handling

It gets the same motor as the Yamaha R15 V3 with same power figures, but it gets some tweaks to make it a better-naked street bike. First of all the rear sprocket size has gone up from 48 teeth to 52 teeth! Now, that’s a big sprocket size. It results in quick off the line accelerations, while compromising a bit on the top speed. The motor is refined and smooth and I noticed no vibrations even at higher rpms. MT-15 definitely feels quicker than the R15 for short runs.

The Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride Impressions

Yamaha has confirmed during the release that they had reduced the trail on the MT-15 which makes it very eager to make quick direction changes. So chucking into the corner is quicker. So the MT15 will be much better to squeeze past through the city traffic. The slipper clutch helped me in quicker downshift without losing confidence around the corner. The tyres felt good for the most part but still, the feedback could’ve been better. Yamaha does not provide Metzelers even as an option. The swingarm unit is a regular steel box-section unit instead of cast aluminium swingarm as in R15.

The Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride ImpressionsThe Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride Impressions

Brakes are the same, 282mm at the front and 220mm at the rear. Yamaha offers only single channel ABS to keep the costs in check. But the braking doesn’t inspire confidence. They lack feel as well as the bite, although ABS does kick in and helps with braking. Maybe this was the issue with test bikes, we hope Yamaha improves it when it comes to the street.

Is it worth considering?

Carrying a price tag of Rs 1.36 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), it is only 3k cheaper than the R15 V3.0. And that makes it dangerously close to the R15 V3 in terms of pricing. Because for 3k extra you get dual channel ABS, a full fairing and a cast aluminium swingarm. But the MT15 is a different segment to appeal to different type of customers. Ones who are not tracking junkies but still want the power, to the ones who need a nimble motorcycle for the streets, and for those Yamaha fans which kept waiting for the MT series. It does a lot of good things, just not qualifies as a VFM product.

The Dark Side Of Japan - Yamaha MT-15 First Ride Impressions

Apart from that, the MT15 is a really good motorcycle with a gem of an engine and Yamaha’s quality and reliability. It will make your city rides fun and will also keep you smiling on your weekend getaways.

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