2019 Yamaha MT-15

The Call of the Rider

Published on 27 Jan 2022

(OCTOBER 2019) A motorcycle maker must be looked at from a 360-degree view when we consider the design innovations of that manufacturer. Take Yamaha for instance - it seemed for a while, in the sub-continent, that the brand was not doing anything exciting, not innovating. Yamaha was carried by the FZ series and the R15, with some support from the Ray scooter, and maybe a couple more two-wheelers.

But on the global stage Yamaha was not really standing still. The brand had great success with the incredibly swift and tech-laden superbike R1 and sibling R6, and in 2005 Yamaha introduced the hugely successful MT (Master of Torque). This range was widely varied, producing in-line 4-cylinder, in-line triple, V-twin, parallel twin, and single cylinder models. Available in single cylinder 125cc format upwards to the 998cc 4-cylinder flagship. So, overall, Yamaha was not lacking in innovation; not lacking in spirit; not lacking in the excitement that gets the two-wheeler’s heart pumping at high revs. Internationally, Yamaha was busy.

And now for Sri Lanka, AMW/Yamaha have added all of these heart-pumping features to offer the local rider fraternity the MT-15. This machine debuted in India in May this year, the first time in the South Asian region, and was introduced to our market in September this year, and enjoys “…very high demand, with youngsters going crazy…” for the unique bike, says AMW Yamaha Deputy General Manager Zahran Ziyawudeen. Designed by the experts at Yamaha Japan, executed by India Yamaha, the MT-15 is a bold design all its own and has been developed answering the call of the rider.

The MT-15 is a 155cc 4 stroke, 4–valve, liquid-cooled, single, dripping with the MT DNA of its successful forefathers. Today, Motor brings you the full test ride of this exciting new motorcycle. Taking what is essentially the R15 performance engine and building a frame and concept around it has placed the MT-15 in the rider segment that Yamaha identifies as the ‘fast and furious’, the ‘young and restless’. The design language and the marketing representation of the MT-15 certainly talks easy with this rider group.

AMW and Yamaha speak of the MT-15 as being fast, exciting, sporty and stylish, and together with its ‘dark’  Samurai warrior concept and architecture reminiscent of Darth Vader / Transformers the MT-15 could truly be a highly attractive Yamaha for the ‘fast and furious’ and the ‘young and restless’ youngsters. No matter where, or what era one comes from, one simply has to be entranced by those horizontal lighted up eyes either side of the single projector headlamp. Overall, “Like a praying mantis,” an associate remarked.

From the other perspective of being astride this machine, the rider is mounted on the saddle quite high up (810mm seat height as compared with 790mm of the sibling FZ), looking out over the surrounding sea of traffic from a commanding position. This ‘high-seat’ psychologically lifts the rider above other wheeled citizens of the roads and combined with the smooth effortless acceleration of the 155cc of Blue Core power plant and the wonderful surge of low and mid-range torque, gives the MT-15 rider-warrior a definite power position on the road. The acceleration of the MT-15 is not a kick in the lower back, more like a glorious ‘fun rush’ speeding your seat far ahead of other road users. I remember reading somewhere that the MT-15 gets upto 60kmph from zero in an eye-watering 3.78 sec. Yes. And that was very much how it felt out on the road when ‘my’ MT-15 and I explored each other during our recent rendezvous.

Back to the high seat and the overall geometry of the MT-15. Designed and constructed as it is, for the fast and the furious, the young and the restless, the type of buyer that Yamaha has in mind for this machine, the MT-15’s ergonomics and juxtaposition of the mechanicals would generate a whole slew of fresh and experimental riding experiences. In this, I am pretty sure the MT-15 will see occasional off-roading on flat gravel, too. Taking into consideration the nimbleness of ‘my’ bike I can imagine that the bike’s geometry will be pretty entertaining and heaps of fun in the dirt, too.  Although, and here we must underline, the MT-15 is not a dirt bike. It is a fast, easy to ride, hyper-naked creature, coming with vast bragging rights for its uncompromising style and super performance, and designed for the road. While some bikes would go through life as commuters, and others as ‘Supersport’ machinery, the MT-15 enjoys being different. Take for instance the high-revving nature (10k+ redline), high compression ratio (11.6:1), 4-valve fuel-injected engine, 6 speed gearbox, slipper clutch with assist, Variable Valve Technology (another inlet valve taking over from its lower-rev mate at 7,400rpm, speeding you all the way up to the 10k redline, and the engine not running out of breath). With all of these specs, the R15 engine powering the MT-15 is said to produce 19bhp (14.2kW, 19.3PS) of power, almost half as much again as the commuter sibling FZ (13bhp), and generates bags of grunt from the moment you twist throttle beyond idle.

The seamless acceleration from the electronically regulated fuel delivery, the close ratio gearbox and the smooth snicking of the gear lever up and down the ratios provides a powerful linear drive on the road. When it’s time to stop, ABS on the front disc assembly aided by the aforementioned slipper clutch and assist help haul the bike down in a short distance and without fuss. Take note though, ABS on sandy/oily surfaces may not function as designed; the front tyre has to have appropriate surface grip for optimal ABS function. What’s the benefit of this talked-about slipper clutch? It helps in smoothing downshifts and can prevent rear wheel lock-up in crisis situations where the rider might smash down through the gearbox in a bid to slow down quickly.

The MT-15 revives the senses. It certainly wakes up the rider. While not a true Supersport bike in concept, it goes into the foothills of Supersport more than any other recent Yamaha we’ve ridden - in fact I’m nostalgically thinking of the two-stroke Yamaha machines from yesteryear. Yamaha knew more than a thing or two about building two stroke machines. Exciting stuff.  Oh how sweet were they!  And I must say that the MT-15 - all 4 strokes of the motor - gave me a high from riding the bike. For the rest of our day together I was ‘zinging’. I had this smile on my face all day long - you know how it is when you’ve cracked the jackpot. Or ridden a real fun two-wheeler you just want to write home about

Yamaha Japan, AMW Sri Lanka, Yamaha India and the MT-15

Associated Motorways (Pvt) Limited (AMW) and Yamaha Motor Company Limited, Japan, go back over four decades since when AMW began distribution of the Japanese made Yamaha motorcycles. Soon, India Yamaha Motor Pvt Limited joined, with the export of the Indian made Yamahas arriving in Sri Lanka. Mr Zahran Ziyawudeen, the Deputy General Manager of AMW Yamaha tells us that the bike is targeted at the 18-25 year old male. “The MT-15 falls in to the 150 Sport segment, and in this segment Yamaha hold Number 1 position in Sri Lanka with 53% market share with the Yamaha FZ and R series bikes. With the MT-15 introduction to this segment we believe we could increase our market share to over 65% in the sport segment. Yamaha Brand Ambassadors are Bathiya Jayakody and Santhush Weeraman, musical stars very much in the hearts of Sri Lankans, and enjoy a vast following among the youth of the country” he says. The Yamaha line-up to Sri Lanka riders, in addition to the newly introduced MT-15, are the FZ and FZ-S (FI ABS Version 3.0), the FZ 25 (250cc), Fazer, R15 (Sports 150cc) and Saluto 125.  This range is available island wide from Yamaha’s 245 Sales Dealers.  Service and Spares are likewise island wide through the AMW / Yamaha Dealer network. AMW / Yamaha have arranged leasing / financing facilities to make it easier to reach these bikes and the MT-15.     

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