Drafting in new bikes or revamped versions under the garb of test mules seem to get noticed and more importantly get advertised quite easily than by shelling out wads of money in the form of ads; a case in point being the much-touted R15 upgrade that was caught doing the test rounds few months ago. There’s a flipside to this approach, though; writers and readers tend to get overly optimistic about the product and spike the expectations dangerously high for the upcoming real product to live up to.
Ok, there’s no point in arguing the toss now; the freshly dressed YZF-R bike has unofficially been confirmed to be the upgraded R15. At least that’s what sounds logical now. It’s neither the extremely sporty R125 nor is it the sports 250. What should have gotten launched months ago, has done an unexpected bunk. However, the perennially active automotive scene ensures it jogs our memory by churning out frequent updates about the upcoming R15, true or not.
Having concurred it’s indeed the updated R15, how exactly will the updates seep into the existing model remains a riddle. Not that it’s no-way-out for the Japanese marquee, it’s a matter of which way to take from a slew of routes available so that it goes down a bomb with the biking fraternity.
Isn’t it pleasing to learn that in line with international standards, Yamaha has not left the Indian YZF out in the cold and has sought to give its first major facelift? The R15, in current state of tune, is adequately fast and reasonably fuel efficient. Knowing the emission norms have a tighter rein over the horses, it’d only be sane to expect little or no power upgrade. This forces us to focus on two things that couldn’t steer clear of the critics due to not being in vogue – rear styling and rear tyre size.
To understand things clearly about R15’s rear faux-pas, park the R15 next to Ninja and you’d get what I’m saying. After all, Ninja is the only sports bike in our country that’s worth comparing with the R15 purely in terms of styling. The rear design of the Ninja leaves the R15’s completely standing while the rest of the assets of R15 would stand toe-to-toe with the Ninja in a slightly scaled down manner, though. The stepped-up split seat is a de-facto way to spruce up the sportiness. This will be at the cost of pillion comfort, but it should not be a big deal as the R15 has already established its sports-bike credentials firmly.
Next in queue are the extremely functional yet eye-repelling tyre profiles that need a revamp pretty badly. Despite performance crusaders raising hell about tangible performance drop if anything above current tyre profile is adopted, the onus is on the engineers to throw their technical weight around to remain true to both function and form. After all, the European R125, despite being a 15PS machine, sports a bigger and better looking tyre profile just shy of FZ16’s and YouTube videos don’t portray them to be a slouch either. Do the engineers have what it takes to pamper both performance and posing facets of biking or would they tend to take sides with one of them also remains a big question. I for one would love to see a bigger rear tyre; retaining or bettering present functionality goes without saying.
Maximum bang for buck or even beyond is what aptly sums up our market, right? When Yamaha compared the R15 with the mighty R1 to highlight the similarities, we retaliated by pointing out the European specific R125 to highlight the design gaps. We were also witty enough to shift the focus to the Pulsar 220 for the want of more low-end grunt and pricing as the R125 is palpably slower than the R15 and astronomically expensive, too.
We want the best of everything, don’t we – the low end of the P220, styling of the R125 while keeping the top end performance of the R15 intact. If the test mules’ images the net was replete with few months back and the more realistic and updated one that showed up few days back were anything to go by, we’re in for a visual feast in few weeks/months’ time. An R125 look alike is on the anvil with a swashbuckling rear, sharper profile and a substantial look to boot. Personally, I feel the golden decals should make a comeback on the revamped version. This, along with a golden paint job on the alloys, should look like a million bucks; like the one here.
Despite this great mirth surrounding what can be done, does Yam’s stony silence especially at the aftermath of CBR250’s entry hint at something else? Is Yamaha playing the waiting game so the CBR250’s launch doesn’t steal its due spotlight, or is it biding time to ensure their latest version means business? Let’s remain a little pragmatic here. The Honda’s new salvo’s not going to heavily revise Yamaha’s plans, but is sure to influence it wee bit. How about slashing a few grands and nudge the OTR figure under a lakh? Keeping the costs lower will be a steep hill to climb at which juncture comes the need to localize remainder of the still-imported components. With India fast morphing into a manufacturing and export hub for many a foreign player, isn’t the time ripe to make it completely Indian?
We aren’t oblivious to how tightly packed The R15 was with technology when it was launched almost three years back. Having been at the brim on almost all the fronts, the scope for improvement is realistically minimal especially in the light of opponents’ not-so-fast-paced demarches. The spy pictures, too, have evoked favourable response from even the usually critical quarters, and have almost solved the riddle surrounding the machine. The final product isn’t going to be way off from what was spied but still the pulse rate shoots up to learn the upgraded version is somewhere lurking around the corner. The expectations have again been heightened and this time, it should be worth the wait.