Comparison: Honda CBR 150 R vs Yamaha YZF – R15 V2.0
To start with, the YZF R15 was already a superb motorcycle. We thought Yamaha cannot make an already great design better. But they did! and 4 years later after the release of the R15 V1.0, in came the R15 V2.0. With a much better handling package, styling package and brake upgrade, the 2.0 was a delight to ride and even better to look at. And all these years Honda stood on the sidelines, silently watching every move of the whole Indian motorcycling industry which included their jap rival, Yamaha. And after the Release of the R15 V2.0 Honda couldn’t wait no more and they brought their 150cc screamer as a worthy rival to the R15. Enter the CBR 150 R.
Now a little history lesson. Honda had a very powerful 150cc 2 stroke in their cards about a decade ago. The NSR 150. But the emission norms caught up with Honda and they were forced to pull the NSR off the market in 2001/2002. At about the same time, Honda decided to build a 4 stroke 150cc as a replacement for the NSR 150. A 150cc worthy to wear the CBR badge. And so the CBR 150 R was born. The old ceeber had a screamer engine and produced 19hp and 13.7 nm of torque. But again the people at EPA decided to tighten their grip on the emission standards and that again made Honda redesign the CBR 150 R. They added a fuel injection, did some cosmetic changes, fiddled with the exhaust and voila the new 2011 CBR 150 R was born. The CBR in its new avatar made less power, got fat but looked better and the EPA people was happy.
Now about the new CBR? Unlike the R15 engine which is based on a T135 moped engine, CBR’s engine was built from scratch. Its High revving DOHC 4 stroke in its current Fuel injected form produces 17.6 ps @ a high 10500 rpm and maximum torque of 12.66nm @ 8500rpm.
So how does it Stack up against its only rival the YZF- R15 V2.0? Lets find out….
How does the CBR look? It looks almost similar to its bigger sibling, the 250 R. From the front it looks very much similar to the 250 R. The 100/80 size tire on the front adds to the beefy looks. Same story from the sides but one can easily notice the shorter wheelbase and shorter exhaust of the 150R. Rear, even though it looks similar to that of the 250R the smaller 130 section tire will easily give away the 150 R. CBR has “VFR”ish smooth curves which looks good in person but nothing that we haven’t seen. The design lost its freshness as the previously released CBR 250 R has the same styling. It looks simple. More like a sedate full faired sports tourer than a sport bike. In fact very few people noticed that we where riding a CBR 150 R. When riding along with the 250R, people wont notice the subtle differences between the two. The paint quality on the panels and tank was nice. But the glossy touch on the Frame and clip ons could’ve been avoided. It not only looks cheap but also doesn’t jell well with the overall look of the motorcycle. There are also quite a few exposed elements of the engine and electronics which is an eyesore. Switch gear also lacks a premium feel. Cost cutting is eminent when looking at the Switch gear. It doesn’t offer a pass switch or an engine kill switch. So when you stop and start the bike in traffic, you’ll have to wait for the self check to complete. But as a compensation, self check completes quite quickly. Rear view mirrors offers good view. Mirrors look identical to the ones on the R15, but is setup a little less wide. One other thing we noticed was the absence of an anti theft shutter key like on the old CBR. Cost cutting?
Instrument cluster offers just enough information and is similar to that of the 250 R. You get a big rev counter along with a neutral light, Odometer along with a trip meter(only one), a clock, Fuel indicator and a coolant temperature read out. Other indicators include two turn indicators, a malfunction indicator, and a high beam indicator.
The R15 on the other hand looks gorgeous from every angle. It is sharp, aggressive and mean. Both from the front and rear. Every panels are painted in matching color tones. No Glossy metal parts on this one other than the tank and rims. In looks department R15 V2.0 takes the cake. R15 V2.0 also got better build quality. A lot of effort has gone into designing the fairing of R15. you will really have to look hard to see the engine parts through the fairing. The mesh which covers the slots on the fairings looks up market. Rear view mirrors are set wide apart and are also useable and offers unobstructed view of the rear. There are also minor things like the dual throttle cable on the R15 versus the single throttle cable on the CBR 150R. Everywhere an R15 V2.0 goes, there will be some one admiring its looks. And according to a few bystanders the R15 V2.0 looks the best and we won’t disagree.
R15′s Instrument cluster is a disappointment when it comes to information. You only get a rev counter, a big speedo readout, two trip meters, an Odo meter and a fuel gauge. Other indicators include a neutral indicator, a turn indicator, a high beam indicator, a malfunction indicator and an overheat warning indicator.
CBR has a shorter seat height than The R15 V2.0. Even for us 5’7″ test riders, Honda felt small. Seat has better padding and is not too soft or too hard. Seating position is comfortable but has enough room to shift your weight around without much effort while taking a turn. We really liked the seating position. Pegs are positioned at the right angle, not too backward or too forward. Long rides on this one will be a hoot. Clip ons are also longer. Though comfortable, longer clip ons do pose a problem under full turn as your fingers hits the tank more often than you think. One other thing i liked the most is the pillion comfort. Pillion seat is wide and padded well. The pegs for the pillion is designed so that you can sit straight and in the seat rather than on it. Honda has given a lot of thought for the poor soul who sit behind. The rear seat is more comfortable than a CBR 250 R’s and 250R has one of the best pillion seat for a sub 250cc sport bike! The grab rails are a boon in stop go traffic where there is a lot of braking and accelerating. Not once did i slipped off from the seat during my time as a pillion in those conditions. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a pillion on the 150 R.
R15 V2.0 is aggressive in its seating position as much as in it looks. You sit far more forward. You have more weight on your wrists and the seat is as hard as it gets. It is great for spirited riding around a track or twisities but not so for long rides or through traffic. You can feel the weight on your wrists under braking. Even though it gets better in time, it still feels uncomfortable comparing the CBR. Pillion seat is actually the worst in the country. You need a ladder to climb up onto the pillion seat of the R15 and great lower body strength to hold yourself onto the seat. all your weight is on the foot under braking and if you are not paying attention you’ll be sitting on the riders shoulders! The absence of a grab rail only worsens the problem.
CBR 150 R has a DOHC 4 stroke 150cc Liquid cooled engine which produces 17.6 ps at 10500 rpm and 12.66nm of torque at 8500 rpm. Honda uses a closed loop fuel injection system(which offers a much more precise fueling) on the CBR versus an open loop fuel injection system used on the Yamaha. The CBR starts quite quickly and idles smoothly with a soft exhaust note. Engine noise is also on the lower side. Clutch action is very soft. Shifting to first gear and slowly releasing the clutch without adequate throttle will result in a stall. The torque is almost non existent till 3000 rpm. Honda bogs down mysteriously during take off when the clutch is released too suddenly even when the revs are kept at 5000 rpm. The short stroke engine needs quite a bit of clutch and throttle effort to get it off the line without stalling. Being a short stroke, the engine is eager to rev and the revs climbs up quickly once after 3000-4000 rpm. After this rpm range the power is delivered in a relatively linear manner. Mid range though not as strong as R15′s it still has ample power to keep the revs climbing without much lag. You can comfortably cruise at 70-80 kph in topgear but still has enough juice to reach a 130-140 kmph without downshifting. Gearbox is slick like any other Honda. At high revs this engine produces a sharp exhaust note. Engine is smooth till 8000rpm and after that it produced some slight vibrations. But that can be our relatively new test motorcycle which only ran about 200 kms. The vibes will decrease once after a few 1000 kms on the odo as per Honda. The engine is so smooth that you wont recognize the rpm needle hovering at around 7000-8000 rpm until you take a look at the tacho! The little Honda keeps on producing power till 10500 rpm and keeps most of it past 11000 rpm. And that is the beauty of this engine. The gearing along with the high revving engine makes you see a 100+ on the speedo in third gear. Yes, this little Honda is a proper screamer.
But there is a catch. We took the Honda for a spin through the congested city roads of Cochin. Accelerating from a stop requires more effort. You’ll have to shift to 1st while tackling a speed bump. But I did not find it such a bad thing. The engine is very smooth so that you can keep the revs above 7000 rpm easily and the engine wont feel stressed. We where riding in mostly 1st and 2nd gears through city and the engine didnt felt stressed even past 9000-10000 rpm! We tried with a pillion and at that time too Honda is right at home past 9000 rpm. The non O ring master link type chain made a lot of noise when riding with a pillion, and that was a bit annoying. Avoid short shifting and the Honda is fine to live with. This engine is not designed to run slow. The smaller and shorter wheelbase Honda can be flicked easily in traffic. The comfortable seating position makes things even more easy. As for the fuel efficiency, we got 35-40kmpl with very hard riding and through city. Under normal conditions you can expect 40+. With its 13.1 liter tank you can expect a range of 550kms+! Now that is a bonus for tourers!
The suspension setup was relatively soft for our heavier test rider. Front end was not too stiff or too soft. The shorter wheelbase Honda will flip from side to side very quickly. The short wheelbase also caused the rear end to move around quiet a bit under hard braking. The 4 level adjustable rear non link type mono suspension was pretty spot on for my weight (55 kg). Centralized exhaust position offers better weight distribution and the CBR is a really fast corner carver if you know how to tap the engine.
You have to keep the Honda above 8000 rpm to properly take a corner. Too low an rpm or if you run a gear higher, you’ll go wide when exiting as there is inadequate low end power. The lower grade MRF’s (comparing Yamaha’s) on the Honda offers more than enough grip for street use. A really good move by Honda as these tires are supposed to last longer than the radials on the Yamaha. Even though the tires are low grade, it is hard to unsettle the CBR in a corner. The “Pentagon” frame (as Honda calls it) is one of the best. The frame can definitely handle more power. We are pretty sure that the tires wont deter you from taking a corner in confidence. In city, Honda just soaks up the pot holes. It is very comfortable. The suspension has an 4 way adjustable spring so that you can set it right where you want it. Honda uses a 276mm rotor at the front and 220mm rotor at the rear. The Nissin calipers on the Honda offers good stopping power. Braking though a bit soft, was almost at par with that of the Yamaha. Overall, Honda demands more from the rider. And that is why we loved it.
Yamaha uses a SOHC 4 stroke liquid cooled 150cc engine on the R15 which produces 17ps at 8500 rpm and 15 nm of torque at 7500 rpm. Unlike the CBR the square engine on the R15 produces ample amounts of torque at low revs. It needs lesser clutch and throttle effort to pull away cleanly from a dead stop. The low end torque is enough to putter around in city stop go traffic from rpm as low as 2000 in second gear. Mid range is also better on the R15. You can short shift The R15 and use the torque to propel you forward. Gearbox on the Yamaha is also very smooth, but i’m not a big fan of its long throw shifter. It produces a thud sound when short shifting. But high rpm shifts are quite smooth and precise. 2000 – 7000 rpm Roll ons felt better on the R15. There is a significant build up of power past 5000 rpm and it peaks at 8500 rpm before tapering off. Yamaha’s engine loses its breath after 9000-9500 rpm. R15 engine is also smooth till 8500 rpm. Past that the engine seems stressed. Fuel efficiency was at 35 kmpl. Under normal conditions you’ll go further than that. With a tank capacity of only 12 liters, R15′s total range is lower than that of the CBR. R15 has a total range of about 500kms.
Every enthusiasts know how a Yamaha R15 V2.0 rides. The Deltabox frame which uses the engine as a stressed member has been praised nationwide for its capabilities to handle power upwards of 30 bhp. Yamaha R15 still offers one of the best handling package in the country. The Deltabox frame, Aluminum swingarm, Radial tires and stiffer suspension offers great handling through corners.
Under hard braking Yamaha keeps its ground. Even if the rear tire locks Yamaha will come to a stop without any fishtailing. The radials on the Yamaha offers a lot of grip and through the corners Yamaha is a delight. When it comes to city riding, on one hand R15′s low and midrange torque requires less downshift, but on the other the more forward biased seating position and longer wheelbase along with the flatter tires requires you to put more effort while tackling traffic. R15′s engine, though torquey but not as rev friendly as the Honda, still does a good job. But we would’ve loved to see the Yamaha keep its power past 9000 rpm. Yamaha’s engine goes to sleep where Honda’s wakes up.
We did a head to head drag to find out which one is faster to a 100 Kph. On the CBR, the deficit in low end torque is pronounced when taking off. CBR is also much more weight sensitive than Yamaha. Keep the Revs above 8000 rpm, shift at 11000 rpm and the Honda will have an edge. CBR stayed a bike length ahead of Yamaha if the shifts where executed right. We did a total of 7 runs with 2 different riders. One who weighs 67kg and another who weighs 55 kg. CBR finished ahead 5 out of 7 times. CBR is faster if the revs are kept above 8000 rpm. Yamaha’s slower revving engine (comparing CBR’s) requires you to shift properly and fast if you want to keep up with the Honda on a straight. In fact i was amazed at how fast a CBR revs comparing the R15. On the corners though R15 V2.0 has a slight edge over the CBR. The tubeless Zapper FQ and Zapper Q on the CBR, though sticky enough is not as good as the MRF Revs radials on the R15.
Yamaha YZF – R15 V2.0 lives upto its name. It has good low and midrange power. It looks like an SBK. It is well built and has quality exterior. It has a lightweight aluminum swing arm, a stiff front suspension and a linked mono rear suspension making it one of the best handling motorcycle in the country. The brakes are slightly better than the Honda and it also has good tires to top it off. But, it lacks the top end rush of the CBR. It lacks the closed loop fuel injection. It lacks the 55 watt headlamps. It lacks the comfort.It lacks the adjustable rear shocks.Its rear seat is small and high enough to scare away most pillions. At rs 121000~ OTR R15 V2.0 is a no compromise handler and an able performer. But it is what makes the R15 a great looker and handler which makes it uncomfortable to ride in city and during long rides. So if you want the best looking motorcycle in the country. look no further than the R15.
Honda has a really sweet engine with a usable mid range and an amazing topend. A good frame which offers great handling and looks which resembles the CBR 250 R. The engine is fuel efficient yet fun to ride. It is miles more comfortable for both the rider and pillion than The R15 V2.0. It has a closed loop fuel injection system, a 55 watt head light for those night rides and long tours. It handles great, flicks easily and is a delight on corners. But yes, it lacks the low end torque and a few switches, has medium tires and chain but those are just minor issues. Being a Honda you can expect the build quality to improve in the next few years. It still has better build quality than most other motorcycles manufactured in India, but it not just at par with that of Yamaha. With Honda reliability you can also expect the engine to probably last longer than you! All this for about rs 10000rs premium over an R15 V 2.0. Base model costs 131000~ OTR and deluxe variants costs 133000~ OTR. That is not that big of a premium considering the features you get. That DOHC engine alone is worth the premium. But still, if the CBR is 5000rs cheaper Honda will surely see more sales numbers. And also that decrease in price will keep the 150R further away from the CBR 250R which may otherwise cause a sibling rivalry. Honda showed us that a great handling machine can be comfortable too. And that balance my friends, is hard to come by.
|Specifications*||CBR 150 R||YZF R15 V2.0|
|Engine type||Fuel injected(Closed loop) Liquid cooled 4 stroke DOHC||Fuel injected(Open loop) Liquid cooled 4 stroke SOHC|
|Bore x Stroke||63.5 mm x 47.2 mm||57 mm x 58.7mm|
|Displacement||149.4 cc||149.8 cc|
|Maximum Power||17.6 ps @ 10500 rpm||17 ps @ 8500 rpm|
|Maximum Torque||12.66 nm @ 8500 rpm||15 nm @ 7500 rpm|
|Transmission||6 speed (1 down, 5 up)||6 speed (1 down, 5 up)|
|Frame type||Twin Tube Diamond (Pentagon)||Deltabox|
|Dimensions (Width x Length x Hieght)||695mm x1977mm x1130mm||670mm x 1970mm× 1070mm|
|Caster( ͦ )/ Trail(mm)||25/90||26/98|
|Tank Capacity||13.1 ltr||12 ltr|
Test Vehicle provided by EVM Honda.
Geared by Auto Queen,Cochin
Words by Navin
Inputs & Feedback- Ranjith , Navin & Swaroop
Photos by Rifaz & Ranjith
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