A sports class heart and agility of a lightweight street fighter, Yamaha MT15 looks like it ticks all the correct boxes. Or does it?
Every now and then there comes a motorcycle that makes you go ‘wow’ in your head. ‘Yes it’ll be fun and I can afford this’. Yes Yamaha MT15 from Yamaha is one such machine. The idea is to utilise that nippy little 155cc single cylinder from the Yamaha YZF-R15 into an everyday naked street fighter design. Inspired by its bigger brother MT09, here is the MT15 as the saviour.
Agile and responsive for you to filter through traffic, accurate handling for corner carving and looks futuristic. All this makes you go weak in the knees thinking your prayers have been answered. The KTM 125 is too underpowered and KTM 200 is out of budget. You could pick an Apache RTR 200 4V or a Pulsar 200 but they lack character.
So this Yamaha MT15 should be the answer to all your requirements. But are you ready to lay that down payment for a motorcycle that lacks the basic requirement of a fun cheap as chips motorcycle, the cheap bit!
How good does the Yamaha MT15 look?
When it comes to the design, it definitely is a great looking motorcycle. I mean pictures don’t do justice to how aggressive and plain cool the MT15 looks in flesh. All the pictures that you see are mostly of the black colour, trust me the blue looks even better.
Breaking the conventional face as the R6 and R1 and MTs do, it has two sharp DRLs accompanied by a single projector LED head lamp.
Remember the one unveiled in Thailand last October, only the shocks and bright neon coloured wheels are different. Granted that those two were the most critical design components that made you gawp, but then the price would have become even more ridiculous.
It is a very compact machine with a tiny little tail section. That compact LED tail light helps highlight that MRF tyre as wider than what it is.
What is the seat height on the Yamaha MT15?
Fairly low is the answer. Seat height is 810mm which is decent enough for shorter riders. Taller people would feel slightly bothered. Rider triangle is tuned for a more aggressive stance which actually looks very nice when somebody rides it in front of you.
Switchgear placement is simple and easy to reach even with small arms like a T-Rex. Plastic quality though does need improvements. All others in the segment have decent quality now.
And then is the ground clearance which is set at 155mm. Why would Yamaha do that? I mean the sportier R15 has 170mm clearance but they gave the supposedly more practical naked street fighter lesser ground clearance.
Yes, lesser ground clearance does increase stability when you ride enthusiastically, but I don’t think that is the priority here. You are better off with your R15 doing slightly off-road bits than the naked MT15. Hell, even the FZ25 has 160mm ground clearance with even lower seat height.
Does Yamaha MT15 have a powerful engine?
Ahh yes, now we’re talking business. The 155cc single cylinder is borrowed from the R15. It produces the same power and torque output, 19bhp and 14.7Nm respectively, and has the same 6-speed gearbox.
But the difference is in the bikes electronic brain, both have different ECUs. Yamaha MT15 is tuned for more low and mid-end grunt than the higher rpm output on the R15. Why does it need variable valve actuation? You figure out and let me know because I got nothing.
But I can tell you that it is immense fun to ride. Changes directions like a housefly this thing. Agility with stability is something MT15 masters. And since you sit upright the degree of control is much confident. Engine response is butter smooth too. It just keeps on working day night whatever rpm that suits you.
How does the Yamaha MT15 perform as a commuter?
MT15 will be a fun little commuter for your everyday needs. It is light enough to change lanes with telepathy, should be frugal and the seat is just about comfortable. Shock setup too feels in the vicinity of medium soft. Seat’s a bit hard at cushioning which will take some time getting used to.
Funny thing is for some reason Yamaha has decided to test it on a world-renowned Formula 1 racetrack rather than its true environment, the city. Let’s be honest nobody is taking it to a racetrack because in the words of Yamaha themselves “young males living in metros” are the target audience.
Funny as I thought gender aside most novice riders will love the lightweight agility of the Yamaha MT15. And if you drop it thankfully there is not much protruding out to repair. I’ll do an extensive city highway test if Yamaha decides to lend me one for a few days. Until then rest assured it’ll be an excellent quick city commuter.
Yamaha MT15 versus rivals?
Ohh there are quite a lot of them, literally in Yamahas own portfolio before you start looking at other manufacturers. Yamaha MT15 is cheaper than the R15, slightly more expensive than the FZ25 and way prettier than the Fazer 25.
Then you have the cheaper KTM 125 Duke which is down on power, the powerful Bajaj NS200 which is too mainstream and TVS Apache 200 4V which is excellent but still lacks exclusivity. So MT15 is the obvious choice. It is brilliant when it comes to design and is agile to perform everyday congestion duties.
It has a liquid cooled engine so it’ll take Indian summers easy too for you. But here’s the sad part, it is still expensive for what it is! You can save money and buy the dramatic looking KTM 125 Duke or the RS200. Or you could pick the more sedate and torque-laden FZ25 if you have to carry a passenger every now and then.
And if you still lust for power and panache, spend a bit more for the KTM 200 Duke which returns more than what the Yamaha MT15 does. The choice is yours, but make the correct one!