Yamaha Ray, launched in 2012, was aimed at fairer-sex and later, the company rolled out the Ray-Z for its male customers. Going a step ahead, the Japanese manufacturer launched its third offering by the name of 'Yamaha Alpha' a few months back at the 2014 Auto Expo and according to the Japanese manufacturer this scooter is an ideal family scooter. Yamaha Alpha is a trendy, up-market looking scooter which is based upon Yamaha Ray's platform and shares the same engine as well. Yamaha is known for manufacturing performance motorcycles worldwide. However, the Japanese two wheeler giant entered the Indian scooter market a bit late.
The Indian scooter market is growing rapidly and automatic scooters are becoming quite popular nowadays, especially in urban cities where increasing traffic density and lowering average speeds are putting things in favour of these automatic scooters. These are easy to ride in city traffic and provide ample storage space. Some good players like Honda Activa, TVS Jupiter, Hero Maestro etc. are already doing well in the market with Honda Activa ruling the roost. Yamaha is known for providing quality products which is visible in the Yamaha Ray and the Yamaha Ray-Z. We rode Yamaha Alpha extensively to find out whether Yamaha Alpha lives up to the family scooter tag and is competent enough to take on its rivals like the Activa, the Jupiter and the Maestro ?
Styling and design
At first glance, the Alpha feels larger, roomier and high on quality. In terms of styling, Yamaha has provided the Alpha a mature look to make it more family oriented. Yamaha Alpha looks completely different from its Ray siblings which is a good thing. The Japanese manufacturer has beefed up the body of the Alpha to make it appear more like a conventional looking scooter. At the front the Alpha features a broad headlamp which is mounted on the handlebar and looks pleasing. The headlight is bright and effective during night. The Alpha however misses out on the twin pilot lamps like on the Jupiter. The indicators on the new scooter have a teardrop design and are situated in the lower front body just like the Maestro.
The simple-looking front apron and the large front mudguard on the Alpha provide the scooter a typical family-scooter look. Yamaha has not provided the storage cubbies under the handlebar of the Alpha, which we feel, if provided would have been of good use. Yamaha Alpha also comes sans the sporty graphics of the Ray as it’s targeted as a family scooter. The rear design of the scooter makes it stand apart from its rivals the Activa, the Maestro and the Jupiter.
The tail light on the scooter is placed unusually lower than the turn indicators, this positioning gives the scooter a distinctive rear. While we feel everyone might not be pleased with this design, we sure like it. On the Activa, the Maestro and TVS Jupiter, the tail light and turn indicators are a single unit. In terms of tail light the Jupiter scores over the other two as TVS has equipped the Jupiter with LED tail lamp which lasts longer than the normal bulb and makes for a practical choice.
The broad grab rail at the rear of the Alpha is comfortable to hold for the pillion and does not look odd. The exhaust features a swept back design which syncs with the scooter nicely. Overall, the scooter looks similar to Hero Maestro. Two things which we did not like on the scooter - one, the basic key hole and second, the scooter comes sans an anti-theft key shutter, a feature that is standard on other rival scooters.
Another thing worth mentioning on Yamaha Alpha is the seat which is wide and longest in its class. The seat provides excellent space for two persons and even a third person can be easily accommodated. The seat is quite comfortable and has good cushioning and is well suited for both short and long commutes. The scooter is well suited for tall-riders as well. Yamaha has increased the seat height on the Alpha which has resulted in class leading under-seat storage space of 21 litres which means that the storage can accommodate a half-face helmet, on-board tools, documents, office bags etc very easily. The Alpha's rivals- Honda Activa and the Maestro both have just 18 litres of underseat storage while TVS Jupiter has 17 litres of underseat storage. Even its own sibling, the Ray has just 15.5 litres of storage space.
Instrument panel and Switches
The instrument panel on the Alpha is very simple and basic like on the Honda Activa and TVS Jupiter. It includes a speedometer, an odometer, fuel-gauge and turn indicator light. The instrument cluster on the Alpha has been borrowed from its sibling Yamaha Ray. The console is easy to read in all riding conditions. Hereagain TVS Jupiter gets one extra mark as it features the Econometer and the low-fuel warning indicator which is even missing on the Activa.
The overall build quality of the switches on Yamaha Alpha is excellent and the switches work perfectly. The switch gear is very user friendly and a newbie rider can easily operate it. The plastic quality of the switches is good like on the rival scooters. But the Alpha misses the pass light switch which is present on the Jupiter. Rear view mirrors are well positioned and offer good vision on the Alpha.
The floorboard of the scooter is larger than that of the Honda Activa and TVS Jupiter. Due to bigger floorboard, there is enough leg room and space for carrying extra baggage which results in extra storage capacity which is a vital thing for a family oriented scooter. Yamaha has also provided a parcel hook on the Alpha which is located under the front of the seat - this helps to carry bags and is very convenient. One thing which let us down on Yamaha Alpha is the lack of front storage. Other two rivals TVS Jupiter and Honda Activa also lack the front storage but Hero Maestro scores in this section as it has front storage space.
Yamaha Alpha is available in five colour options:
2. Radiant White
3. Graceful Grey
4. Brilliant Black
5. Fiery Red
Engine performance and efficiency
Yamaha Alpha is powered by the same engine which is also found on the Ray and Ray-Z which means it gets a 113 cc, four-stroke, single-cylinder, air-cooled engine. The power figures of Yamaha Alpha are similar to its siblings the Ray and the Ray-Z - a peak power of 7 BHP at 7500 RPM and peak torque of 8.1 NM at 5000 RPM. The engine of the scooter is mated to a CVT-transmission. Here the Alpha has the biggest displacement engine, even if by a small amount. The Activa is powered by a 109 cc engine, the Maestro gets its power from a 109 cc engine and TVS Jupiter is powered by a 109.7 cc engine. The engine of the Alpha comes to life with the press of the starter button and is smooth and utterly refined.
The scooter has good throttle response and acceleration is excellent especially the low end is very impressive. The Variomatic drive transmission does its duty well and manoeuvring the scooter in traffic is like a breeze. Due to the linear power delivery the commuting capability of the scooter further increases. The pickup of the scooter is excellent and overtaking becomes an easy task due to the Rev happy nature of the engine. The top speed of the scooter is between 85-90 km/h, which is quite decent for a 110 cc segment scooter. The straightline stability of the Alpha is good on high speeds and the engine does not vibe too much at this speed, this impressed us a lot. Must say Yamaha Alpha is fun to ride scooter.
Suspension and Braking
Yamaha Alpha is equipped with telescopic suspension at the front like on TVS Jupiter which does its duty well and results in a smooth riding experience. The Alpha easily tackles poor road surfaces and confidently absorbs pot holes. Brakes on Yamaha Alpha are confidence inspiring and 130 mm drum brakes at both the front and the rear stops the scooter without creating any fuss.
The drum brake setup provides good feedback and has enough bite. The Alpha does not come with a brake lever lock which is disappointing, while its rivals are equipped with it. Honda Activa is the winner in the braking department as it features 'Combi-braking' system. Another thing we missed on the Alpha is lack of disc brake, we think the company should have provided it as an optional feature. Regarding fuel efficiency, the Aplha managed to provide an overall decent 57 Km/l which is quite respectable.
Ride quality and handling
Yamaha Alpha has an upright and comfortable seating position like its rivals the Activa, the Maestro and the Jupiter. This upright seating position with well positioned handlebars comes handy while manoeuvring in heavy traffic and aid the rider during both short and long commutes, plus provide a good view of the road ahead. Changing lanes is a hassle free task on the scooter due to its light handling. Yamaha Alpha's build quality is impressive, the under-bone type steel frame of the scooter keeps the scooter unbalanced even on the rough terrains.
The scooter feels stable and planted at high speeds. Manoeuvring the scooter is quite easy due to its agile handling. Yamaha Alpha rides on 10-inch pressed steel rims at the front and the rear. The scooter weighs in at 104 Kg which makes it one of the lightest scooters in its class and this reflects in the handling of the scooter. The Alpha feels light to handle in every situation whether while cornering or going straight. The scooter feels stable on turns and MRF tyres play their role well by providing good grip. Overall the ride quality of the Alpha is impressive.
Verdict. Is it worth buying ?
The answer is YES, even if at a price. Yamaha is known for providing quality products and the same goes for the Alpha also. The scooter has good built quality, fit and finish which are its strong points along with the class leading underseat storage plus best in class seat. Though the scooter is not feature rich like the TVS Jupiter and Hero Maestro but still no product is perfect and the same goes for Yamaha Alpha also. The Japanese manufacturer has priced the Alpha at Rs. 49,518 (ex-showroom, Delhi). At this price, Yamaha Alpha comes out to be a practical all-round performer and a good family scooter. The Alpha is equipped with Yamaha's refined engine, telescopic suspension and is fun to ride as well and is a recommended family scooter to go for.
Yamaha Alpha Specifications :
Engine type - Air-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC, 2-valve
Cylinders - Single cylinder
Displacement - 113 cc
Bore × stroke - 50 mm × 57.8 mm
Compression ratio - 9.2:1
Max. output - 7 BHP at 7500 RPM
Max. Torque - 8.1 NM at 5000 RPM
Clutch type - Dry, centrifugal automatic
Transmission type - V-belt automatic
Ignition system - CDI(Capacitor Discharge lgnition)
Brakes (front/rear) - Drum / Drum
Tire size (front/rear) - 90/100-10 (53J) / 90/100-10 (53J)
Suspensions (front/rear) - Telescopic / Unit swing
Headlight - 12V 35W/35W
Frame type - Steel pipe underbone
Overall length/width/height - 1,795 mm × 675 mm × 1,124 mm
Seat height - 775 mm
Wheelbase - 1,270 mm
Min. ground clearance - 128 mm
Weight ( full fuel tank) - 104 kg
Fuel supply system - Carburetor (pressure diaphragm type)
Fuel tank capacity - 5.2 L