The R15 V3.0 is propelled by a new 154cc liquid-cooled engine. Apart from the extra displacement, this engine also benefits from a higher compression ratio, making it 2bhp more powerful than the outgoing model. The engine feels docile and smooth in the lower rev range, just like any commuter bike. But then you get a nice punch in the mid-range, and the engine undergoes a change in personality. The exhaust note becomes louder and the torque pull keeps getting stronger right until 10,000rpm.
Gas it hard, and the R15 will chew up the first three gears in no time, going past 90kmph. Keep shifting through the gears, and it will touch 140kmph (indicated) before starting to run out of breath. The R15 is in the sweet spot while cruising at 100kmph on the highway, with enough power in the reserve for a quick overtake.
All through this, the throttle response is crisp and smooth. This especially comes into play while you are commuting. The clutch is light and the ratios are well spaced out to keep you from switching gears too often. In moving traffic, you can stick to the fifth gear, while the second is perfect for stop-and-go traffic. It is very easy to filter out traffic too, as long as you manage to keep the weight off your wrists. Although you can feel the heat on your shins when you are stationary for too long, it is nowhere as bad as other liquid-cooled motorcycles. There is a slight buzz on the footpegs and the tank at low revs, although they get ironed out once you go past 5,000rpm.
The real treat in store however, is when you chance upon a set of twisties. The R15 feels in its element when you are throwing it around corners. It demands just a fraction of your effort leaning into a corner. Once in, it feels planted and sticks to the line perfectly. It will gently forgive your over-enthusiasm and remain undeterred by the small bumps that you might have overlooked. And for those nasty ones, you can make mid-corner corrections without much of a worry. Even if you are in a gear higher while entering the corner, you can just gas the R15 and be sure that the bike will pull through. This specific R15 gets the optional Metzler rear tyre, which costs an additional Rs 10,000.
Back at the track, I had cribbed about the front brake lacking a sharp initial bite. On the street, it makes sense to have such a setup considering that ABS is not offered even as an option. The soft initial bite aside, the front brake packs good progression, feel and stopping power, even on wet surfaces.