We love the Yamaha MT-09 for its superb dynamics and that brilliant triple engine. Its front-end rarely stays on the ground, even in the third cog. The compact dimensions combined with its lightweight body allow for a motorcycle that is sure to deliver the Thrill of Riding. However, Yamaha has now launched an MT for the masses. But unlike its elder siblings, the Yamaha MT-15 has actually been derived from the R15 V3.0. Is it really an MT or is it just an R15 sans the fairing? And we have the answer for you.
We managed to sample it not in its home environment but the Buddh International Circuit for a very brief period of time. The MT-15 left a lasting impression, especially in the cosmetic department. For starters, the DRL integrated headlamp looks uber cool and vicious at the same time, adhering with the ‘Dark Side of Japan’ theme. Dark being the theme, Yamaha has introduced only two shades for now – matte blue with fluorescent (with neon rim tapes!) and stealth black. In the black shade, the MT-15 may seem like a smaller FZ25 but the matte blue bike really stands out.
The second thing you will notice is its compact dimensions. Attention to detail is impressive with elaborate radiator shrouds that come embossed with Yamaha MT-15 badging. Even the underbelly cowl looks delicious. The Indian version makes do with conventional forks and not USDs and the exhaust has been lifted straight from the R15’s inventory, along with the instrument cluster. A swingarm is a box-section unit for optimizing costs but nevertheless, the MT-15 feels like a typical Yamaha – well finished and built to last.
The engine too has been carried over from the R15 V3.0 albeit a few changes to go with the street fighter genre. With a cubic capacity of 155, the liquid-cooled single generates 19bhp at 10,000rpm and 14.7Nm at 8500rpm. The rear sprocket size has gone up to 52 teeth from 48 for improved acceleration. Even the ECU has been remapped to provide maximum bandwidth in the low/mid-range. The compression ratio stays the same at 11.6:1. You also get a 6-speed transmission with a slip and assist clutch.
The saddle height is 810mm and as soon as you swing a leg over it, you notice how compact the motorcycle really is. The riding position is typical of a naked with tall and wide bars and the single, stepped seat equates to an aggressive riding position that will remind you of the KTM 200 Duke. With a kerb weight of just 138kg, the MT-15 is lighter than the R15 V3.0 by 4kg and a full 10kg lighter than both the 125 and 200 Duke. As soon as you thumb the starter, the throaty motor comes to life with absolutely zero vibes being transferred to the rider. The whole package exudes lightness and the same is reflected when it comes to operating the clutch. The action is light and the gearshifts are seamless, as expected from a Yamaha.
We rode the R15 V3.0 for a few quick laps before the Yamaha MT-15 and initial impressions after riding them back to back suggest that the MT-15 is quicker than the R15, and is more tractable too. The Yamaha MT-15 feels livelier thanks to the 4kg advantage and loves to be revved hard. And when you do so, there are hardly any vibes. Only after 8000rpm there are little tingles felt in the bar and begs, but Yamaha has done a great job at keeping the refinement levels high.
The USP of the MT-15 has to be its super-agile nature. With a wheelbase shorter than almost every other motorcycle in its class, including the KTMs, the Yamaha is one darty machine. It loves changing directions and your mind will take some time to tune with the inputs as every little nudge is reflected on the road. The front end is light and would’ve been a lot better if we were provided with USD as on the international variant. There’s lack of feedback at both ends and I even felt the rear end to be too soft for my individual liking.
I’m on the heavier side of life but a few clicks on the firmer side should take care of that. Space is at a premium too and that takes away the comfort factor, especially if you’re someone my size (6ft, heavy built). If you’re into spirited riding, you’ll also want to get rid of the MRF Nylogrip Zappers as they simply feel out of place on a performance oriented machine like this. Last but not least, the single channel ABS has been perfectly tuned with very less intrusion but brakes offer very little bite and feel wooden.
Now for the pricing. The MT-15 has been priced Rs 1.36 lakh, which puts it bang in between the FZ25 and R15 V3.0. The MT-15 caters to the youth thanks to its stealthy looks and a punchy motor, along with its agile handling. The FZ25, on the other hand, takes care of mature riders looking for a fast commuter while the R15 pleases track junkies. The MT-15 is actually an R15 under the skin but the in-house changes have paid tribute to the original MTs and retained the character, thankfully. But should you be spending so much money on a performance 150cc or opt for a TVS Apache RTR 200 that offers a lot more and costs a lot less? The Game is on!