Yamaha MT-15: Road Test Review

16 August 2019, 06:04 PM Neil Nair

Introduction

Pros- Its visual appeal, gets a refined engine, offers good fuel efficiency

Cons- Has a stiff suspension setup, could get better build quality, is pricey

A few years ago, Yamaha decided to drop its facade of offering commuter-centred motorcycles and stick to what it knows best; absolute performance. And so we got the YZF-R15 V3, a proper track-ready and fun motorcycle. A demon on the racetrack, the R15 V3 proved to be a task for daily commutes in the city and barely comfortable with a pillion. Now, Yamaha also has the FZ-V3 which is a good commuter, but again, it’s not something one would consider if performance is numero uno on the priority list.

Enter MT-15. Much like Eve from the Bible, the MT-15 is created from the rib of the R15 V3 and is very similar to the latter and simultaneously makes up for what its fully-faired counterpart lacks. We have ridden the Yamaha MT-15 at the track and liked what it offered there. Now it was time to ride it where it belongs, in the hustle and bustle of a city. 

Quality

Before getting into the details, I’d want to address the design of the MT-15 which is unlike any other bike in and around its segment. It also is a welcome relief from the KTM Duke’s now dated styling. Yamaha has neatly incorporated the visual elements of the MT-09 into the MT-15, like the LED-DRLs and dummy air-intakes on the sculpted tank. It also gets a flat, one-piece seat and a slender midsection that would put swimsuit models to shame. 

 

Yes, the MT-15 is quite a looker, but to keep costs low, Yamaha has equipped the motorcycle with silver-finished telescopic forks and a box-type swingarm borrowed from the FZ-25. These are a compromise as compared to the inverted forks (with an aesthetic gold finish) and aluminium swingarm found on the international model. The cost-cutting also trickles down to the quality of parts like the switchgear as well as the fit and finish of panels which could be way better given that the MT-15 costs Rs 1.36 lakhs.

Yamaha MT 15

Yamaha MT 15

  • Displacement155 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)19 bhp
  • Kerb Weight138 kg
  • ;

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 1,36,330

Comfort

The MT-15’s switchgear is worth mentioning here as well courtesy the odd placement of the buttons. Yamaha has swapped the position of the turn indicator switch with the horn. It is amazing how I kept fumbling between the two even after spending a good amount of time with the motorcycle. The switches aren’t easy to reach either and feel unnatural to use.

 

Anyway, the MT-15 is a compact motorcycle to look at, and it feels the same once astride as well. It has a somewhat bent-forward riding position which makes you feel in control of the motorcycle and is spot-on for city riding. Now for the average-height Indian, the MT-15 would be a perfect fit. And for someone towering over 5’10”, I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the MT-15 is cramped but roomy it is surely not. 

The seat has firm cushioning which feels pleasant for a short while. But on our 200km intercity test ride, all I could do was adjust at intervals and grumble in agony about the firmness of the seat. On the plus side though, the seat stretches nearly to the side panels which have a textured pattern, providing excellent grip for the thighs.

And while the rear seat appears a bit small, our pillion test rider found it adequately comfortable only disapproving of the odd grab rails. The suspension setup on the MT-15 is stiff, especially at the rear. While it glides over minor undulations, the larger bumps are where things get rough. Every one of these bumps that the MT-15 goes through feels amplified since the rider is sitting upright, just above the monoshock.

Performance

Hidden underneath the ‘Deltabox’ frame is a 155cc, single-cylinder engine that is liquid-cooled. And since this motor has been directly borrowed from the R15 V3, it produces 19bhp and 14.7Nm and comes with the famed VVA tech. However, to give the MT-15 characteristics of the hooligan MT-09, Yamaha has equipped the bike with a larger sprocket. What this does is provide the MT-15 with faster acceleration so overtaking is quick without the need to downshift, even in higher gears. Its engine is also super refined and tractable for city use. It can potter around at 1500rpm even on the fourth gear without any complaints. There isn’t an issue out on the highway either as the engine offers power all through the rev band and is happy cruising around at 100kmph. Give it the stick and the MT-15 hits a top speed of 130kmph easily.

 

Adding to the experience is the six-speed gearbox which gets an assist and slipper clutch. It offers accurate shifts and also has a light clutch lever pull. Stopping power comes from a two-pot Bybre calliper at the front and a Nissin calliper for the rear along with a single-channel ABS. The front brake has a good bite but offers little progression whereas the rear lacks both feel and feedback. Now, the MT-15 feels right at home in the city in terms of performance as well as handling. Weaving through traffic is easy and its punchy engine further helps its cause. It can also cruise undauntedly at highway speeds. However, it is on the corners that the front end of the bike seems to lose feel and requires a wee bit of steering input to tip in. 

Technology

The MT-15 comes equipped with LED DRLs and an LED projector headlamp. On standard setting, it offers good spread but on high-beam, the setup loses out on spread and provides a decent throw of light. It also comes with an LCD instrument cluster that displays average speed, current, and average fuel efficiency, gear position indicator and a shift light along with other basic information. 

Nevertheless, the most unique feature on the MT-15 is the Variable Valve Actuation (VVA) technology which is mostly found on big bikes. Essentially, the VVA has two intake valve cams that switch between each other at 7400rpm, offering low to mid-range grunt while not giving up on top-end power. 

Fuel Efficiency

Given that the MT-15 is a performance-focused motorcycle, it returned an impressive average of 47.8kmpl on our test route. With a fuel tank capacity of 10-litres, the MT-15 can cover approximately 480kms without stopping for fuel. 

Fitness of Purpose

The MT-15 is aimed at the younger crowd and first-time buyers. It is also for someone that isn’t into the racer boy looks of the R15 and intends to ride mostly in the city. Not only does the MT-15 get an upright riding position, but it also offers the same potent engine as the R15 V3 with tweaks to make it more city-friendly. What's more, it comes with a Deltabox frame and almost the same equipment. In that case, the Yamaha MT-15 ticks all the right boxes.

Our Take

As a motorcycle, the MT-15 is an interesting proposition as it is fun to ride, looks unique and even offers impressive fuel efficiency. And while it does fit its purpose, the Rs 1.36 lakh price tag seems too much to ask for. It not only misses out on a dual-channel ABS but also sports a box-type swingarm to cut costs. The MT-15 could also do with a well-cushioned seat and a more pliant suspension setup to make it a better overall package. 

Photography by Kapil Angane

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