Ever since its launch in the Indian market in 2008, the R15 has been ruling the 150cc performance segment quite comfortably. Infact, the version 2.0, launched in 2011, upped the ante a notch more with even better design, handling and performance. But the king of the segment now faces serious competition from Honda’s CBR150R. So, which of the two Japanese toys should you be looking at? We tried finding the answers by playing it fair and putting both the machines against each other.
Design Both the CBR150R and R15 are inspired from bigger models in their respective families. The R15 is almost identical to the 1000cc R1 and this version 2.0, launched last year, simply looks stunning, thanks to the newly designed rear end, which received most of the criticism because of the skinny looks. The CBR150R gets design elements from the bigger VFR1200F and looks beautiful and striking, if not outwardly sexy (can I use this word?).
The racy paint schemes on offer on the R15 makes it more attractive while CBR inspires with its impressive design which includes the contoured headlamp and the creatively designed exhaust system. One can easily discuss how good the bikes look in their own way and the trust me, the discussion would not finish with an agreement.
In the end, all it will matter is what you like more.
Engine Both these motorcycles easily out-do all the other 150cc bikes in India and falls in the premium segment, visually and with the price tag. The CBR150R has a slight edge in terms of overall acceleration and top speed due to the extra 0.7PS of power but not by a big margin. In real world usage, the extra torque of the R15 (15Nm vs 12.66Nm) means that the Yamaha R15 has more pulling power which means less gear change during heavy traffic, but then again, the difference is negligible and can't be felt. Both the engines are high revving and needs to be pushed in every gear to extract all the power from the motor.
The Honda comes with trademark engine smoothness while the Yamaha has little more grunt in its motor. The engine works quietly and the gear shifts always feels smoother on the CBR than the R15. Both the fuel injected bikes returns almost the same average and there is not much difference to choose from.
The R15, true to the bike it mimics (the R1) is a proper sports bike with aggressive seating posture and less weightage towards comfort. During extended riding sessions, this translates into more weight on the rider’s wrists and shoulders thus inducing fatigue and tiring rides unlike the CBR, which offers more comfortable upright seating posture. The CBR has wider seats and is more practical for the pillion rider.
The R15 has a huge advantage over the CBR150R here due to Deltabox frame for superior rigidity balance. Further, it is the first Indian bike to have an aluminum frame which improves handling around turns. Ride both the bikes back to back and the R15 easily feels far superior dynamically, without sacrificing on comfort. The tyres too are better on the R15, made of softer compound, than on the CBR150R. That said, the CBR150R is built around a Diamond type frame and does have a more relaxed riding posture but its suspension is set-up hard and hence uncomfortable for not-so-smooth terrains. The CBR is more easy and comfortable to ride in the city roads though, with shorter turning radius and easily accessible gear position, the CBR proves to be more forgiving.
Features and Verdict: Yamaha R15 lacks behind when we move towards the instrument panel, the R15 features a rather simple instrument cluster housing a tachometer, a big LCD with warning lights. On the contrast, CBR's display shows much more information with temperature and clock. Also, the CBR 150R's instrument panel looks more appealing when compared to the R15's.
Both the bikes are quite equally matched in the main parameters that defined a performance motorcycle. However, the R15 scores over the CBR150R in terms of being better equipped with a pass light switch, engine kill switch and of course, better tyres. Further, its priced lower too, with an owner saving Rs 10,000 over the CBR150R – this is serious money for a typical buyer, who wants to taste the performance more than comfort but then Honda is more of a perfect blend between comfort and performance with added looks.
With Yamaha's lone presence in the segment coming to an end with Honda's launch, both the bikes looks promising. Even though Yamaha has a slight edge over the CBR in terms of equipment and handling, Honda strikes back with a sober design and great engine. Yamaha R15's lower price tag certainly helps to win this battle of nerves.