Both the R15 and CBR150R are extremely revv happy machines, ready to attack corners.
Entry-level performance motorcycles are gaining popularity in India. When Yamaha launched the R15 way back in 2008, it created a revolution of sorts. Three years later, the upgraded Version 2.0 of the Yamaha R15 was launched and Honda took notice. The Japanese automaker surprised everyone at the 2012 Auto Expo by unveiling the new Honda CBR150R. Both these machines are very similar yet different. While the Yamaha R15 is priced at Rs. 1.35 lakhs, the Honda CBR150R is priced at Rs. 1.55 lakhs (all prices on-road, Mumbai). Yet it’s difficult to choose either one of them.
Styling - The new Yamaha YZF-R15 V2.0 is an absolute cracker when it comes to design, with the R6 inspired tail section and the new ‘shelves’ in the front fairing, making it look fresh and energetic. While the Honda CBR150R looks conservative and the design is inspired by its elder sibling of the family. Every part is smaller than that of its elder sibling. The headlight, stubby exhaust, the smaller tail light and tyres makes it definitely look like a smaller CBR, which makes the bike a head turner too. With its distinct graphics and colors options, it stands out in the crowd. But the beauty pageant award goes to the Yamaha R15.
Instrument Cluster and Switch Gear - Both bikes have an analog tachometer and a digital speedometer but here again the R15 scores with its high quality switch gear and host of features it has to display on its instrument cluster. The switch gear in the CBR150R is massive disappointment because it’s a straight lift from small capacity bikes of the Honda stable and lacks the engine kill switch. The pass light switch looks decades old too. The Honda CBR150R makes do with a temperature gauge and digital clock to display apart from the regular trip-meter and fuel meter. But the CBR150R’s digital console shines with an all around piano black finish and in the night the RPM needle glows very brightly. This grabs the attention of the commuters around you.
Performance - Both the CBR150R and R15, come with the 150cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 4-valve engines and this is where the similarities end. While the R15 comes with an SOHC engine, the CBR150R comes with a DOHC unit. This is the sole reason which makes these bikes poles apart. The R15 produces 17 PS of power at 8000 RPM and 15 Nm Of torque at 7500 RPM which you might think is pretty high in the revv range. The CBR150R produces a power of 18 PS at a whooping 10,500 RPM and a low 12.66 Nm of torque at 8500 RPM, which on paper makes the CBR150R slower than the R15 because they weigh almost the same and power comes at very high RPM.
But as soon as these bikes get on the road, things change. Once the Honda CBR150R crosses 7000 RPM, it makes all its power and below 6000 RPM it’s as good as dead and the engine is tuned for drive-ability rather than performance in city. But no matter what, the RPM stays around 4000-5000, so you can easily make progress by shifting at around 7000-8000 RPM in city. Tall gearing of the CBR150R makes the engine easily rev to a stratospheric 11,700 RPM redline where it makes all its power and is faster than the R15 to 0-100 km/hr by 1 second, but slower than the R15 when it comes to 0-60 km/hr. The CBR150R reminds one of the VTEC, the technology found in Honda’s cars which no doubt makes it a pick for those fun track days or cornering hard on a winding twisty roads.
The Yamaha R15 is more practical bike to live with, when it comes to drive-ability in city. It has superior low end torque when compared to the Honda CBR150R. The screaming SOHC engine is also a hoot to ride and loves to redline. But it lacks the fun quotient which the CBR150R gives while riding hard. The new V2.0 is tuned to be a much friendly street bike than the older one which was specifically made with track performance in mind. The R15 and CBR150R even have the same top speed but it is the baby CBR which will put a wide grin on your face when you’re riding hard.
Riding Dynamics - Let’s come to brakes first, both have front and rear disc brake setup and both have superb brakes, offering great feedback enabling them to come to a halt exactly where you want them to. It’s because the dimensions, weight and the disc diameter are identical. Ride quality on both motorcycles is good, both bikes dismiss small bumps very easily, but it’s the bigger bumps which make the rider uncomfortable because of the dedicated riding position offered by both these bikes. The riding position on the CBR150R is spot on. It is comfortable for those long trips once you get used to the bike and gives good feedback to the rider too.
But it’s the Yamaha R15 with its aggressive riding position which gives massive feedback to the rider and makes the rider push harder and harder into corners every single time. The V2.0 has had lot of changes when it comes to dynamics. The weight distribution has been changed with more weight on the front, extra long wheelbase thanks to the aluminum swing arm and the fatter front and the rear tyre. All this has made the bike more stable around the corners than before but it takes a bit more effort than before to turn because of the 55 mm increase in wheelbase. It’s no slouch but it doesn’t feel agile in changing directions like the previous version.
The Honda CBR150R though has 1305 mm wheelbase and with a fairly dedicated position and twin tube diamond frame chassis handles beautifully, front suspension has a bit more travel then we expected. However, it’s still fun to chuck into corners and is easy when coming out of the corner at high speeds because of the top end power it generates with utmost ease, a true CBR characteristic. But it’s the tyres which are a complete let down, switching to soft compound tyres of the same dimensions will generate more confidence in the rider. Both bikes should check the rear suspension as the factory settings come on extremely softer side.
Verdict - If you enjoy riding, want the practical pillion seat and if budget permits, then go for the Honda CBR150R. But, if you would be riding solo most of the time and you have a tight budget and still want a stylish motorcycle with high quality levels and low end torque for your daily commute, then go for the Yamaha R15. After all, these bikes are very similar when it comes to measuring performance and dynamics but what you need to choose is which of these bikes characteristic suit your needs.
If you are looking for a high revving motorcycle with sharp handling and surefooted brakes, both the Yamaha R15 and Honda CBR150R will please you to a great extent.
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