‘Win on Sunday and sell on Monday’ seems like Yamaha’s motto since it showed up at the Grand Prix of France in the summer of 1961 for the first time. After clinching its first GP win in 1963, the folks at Iwata went on to win their first rider championship and constructor title in ’64. And the rest is history.
So, as a toast to its diamond jubilee in the world of racing, Yamaha unveiled the World GP 60th Anniversary Editions of its big guns- the R1, R7 and R3 last year. But how could they leave out the R15 that brings in a significant chunk of its sales?
Well, that’s what you see here- the Yamaha R15 V4 World GP 60th Anniversary Edition. Even though we have ridden the standard and M variants of the R15 previously, we felt this special edition needed a section of its own.
While Kenny Roberts put the yellow/black paint scheme on the pedestal and Valentino’s hi-viz yellow and blue will go up on the wall of fame, the 60th Anniversary livery on the R15 V4 has been inspired by Johhny Cecotto’s YZ500 race bike from 1978.
Adorned in white, the bike sports the iconic speed block design in red on the side fairing with the Yamaha logo, just like it was a few decades ago. The special edition also gets the thick red stripe on the rear section and fuel tank with a gold-tinted Yamaha logo for good measure. And with the ‘World GP 60th Anniversary’ branding on the seat cowl as well as on the front end of the fuel tank, I doubt you’d ever forget that this one’s special.
Adding to the look are the bronze wheels similar to the YZ500 and a yellow patch at the front as seen on Mr Cecotto’s bike sans the number. If only Yamaha added a yellow patch on the side fairing and offered buyers the option of choosing a custom number, the World GP 60th Anniversary Edition would be a complete heritage replica.
That said, the mix of bright red and yellow on a white canvas is difficult to miss, standing out effortlessly. And while Yamaha’s inspiration for the R15 V4’s design was the R7, the Anniversary Edition looks even closer to the latter. It also makes the R15 look bigger than it is, highlighting the sharp lines and creases that feature all over its bodywork.
Now, underneath the distinctive livery, the R15 World GP 60th Anniversary Edition is essentially the R15 M and hence lists the same features and tech. First up, it is fitted with a uni-directional quickshifter from the factory, which is uncommon in this category of motorcycles. The unit is operates smoothly from as low as 3000rpm with a reassuring 'click’ while shifting up. However, downshifts require minutely more effort and blipping action even with the slipper and assist clutch in play.
In addition, the R15 Anniversary Edition also gets a switchable traction control system like the M variant. The TCS activation bar sits on the top half of the Bluetooth-enabled instrument cluster and starts lighting up as the engine revs over 8000rpm. However, we found no real use for the system and an overkill for an 18bhp motorcycle. That’s not saying that the R15 isn’t fun. Having ridden the motorcycle in its standard and M variants earlier, the special edition is no different.
While it can feel drab up to 4500rpm, pushing past the 7000rpm mark awakens the VVA and the R15 begins to show off its potential. At full clip, the speedo reads a top speed of 146kmph which is way more than what we saw on the KTM RC 200’s unit during our test ride. Nonetheless, the engine isn’t utterly vibe-free with buzzing on the footpegs and handlebar as it inches close to its redline. Although, what’s truly commendable is the way the R15 V4 handles. Intuitive and light, the motorcycle tips into corners just as quickly as it manages to filter through traffic.
Should you buy it?
With an enthusiastic motor that revs up to 12,500rpm and an equally engaging chassis to match, the Yamaha R15 V4 is a delightful piece of machinery. And while it looks like its bigger siblings now, the World GP 60th Anniversary Edition just takes things up a notch, especially in terms of styling.
If you don’t mind the loud colour scheme and the extra attention this one gets, the special edition is the one to book. However, at Rs 1.88 lakh (ex-showroom), it will cost you an additional Rs 1,400 over the R15 M. But that’s the price you pay for a trickle of heritage and exclusivity.
Photos by Kaustubh Gandhi and Kapil Angane
Yamaha R15 V4 Left Side View