About a month ago, Yamaha finally answered the prayers of enthusiasts worldwide by unveiling the prototype of their forthcoming R25 supersports motorcycle at the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show. It couldn’t have come sooner for them, because Yamaha is the only major manufacturer that’s missing from the international quarter liter game now. The ball that has been set rolling by Kawasaki with the excellent Ninja 250R has been gaining steady momentum with Suzuki, Honda, KTM and even Hyosung offering their own products, in diverse styles and engine capacities. And with good reason too. In Europe– a sizeable market for sporty motorcycles like the ones we’re discussing – bikers over the age of 19 are restricted to a peak power output of 47bhp and power-to-weight ratio below 0.26bhp/kg under the A2 license regulations. The story is much simpler in India though: you either have a learner or a full driving license, both of which are not too hard to obtain. Either way, there aren’t too many choices if you are a cash strapped biker like me who can’t afford to shell out the moolah for a full-fledged liter-class superbike. Not to mention that living on a daily basis with such a powerful motorcycle would be foolhardy; not impossible but certainly stressing. And our stupid government regulations don’t permit sales and imports of anything below 800ccs. Ostensibly, a move done to protect our indigenous manufacturers, this rule doesn’t make much sense when you examine it. For crying out loud, there’s no Indian manufacturer at the moment that’s even contemplating building anything remotely close to even 500ccs as far as we can see. There’s absolutely nothing in the country bridging the gap between 250s and 650ccs except for the KTM 390 Duke and Ninja 300. Then we have a couple of Hyosungs and then it is onwards to Ducatis and the liter class. This is a recipe for disaster if you’re ready to move up from a quarter litre to something more powerful. The choices become rapidly smaller and the prices become arrhythmia inducing.
But, slowly and gradually, the times are changing. Triumph is hard at work with their 250cc offerings and Harley-Davidson is finally breaking their tradition by unveiling the Street 500 and Street 750. It is in such a hotly contested market that Yamaha is going to introduce the R25, whenever that happens. This is the second part of my story where I examine why the Yamaha R25 will be worth all the hype. Heck, Yamaha garnered more eyeballs with a concept display than most manufacturers do with their production ready motorcycles. Let’s begin:
1. Yamaha does fun and excitement like no one else
Over time, Yamaha has become synonymous with performance, excitement, and fun. Yes, there are other manufacturers making far more exciting motorcycles, but there’s just something about Yamaha that sets it apart from the rest of the pack. We certainly hope the R25 will continue this proud tradition.
2. Racing pedigree
The Yamaha traces its lineage straight back to the legendary YZR-M1 MotoGP bike. How much of that is marketing gobbledygook and how much of it is perceptible, will be clear once Yamaha releases the full specs of the motorcycle.
Even without the headlights, indicator, and other accouterments for the road, the Yamaha R25 is a looker, as most race-derived Yamahas are. To an untrained eye, the resemblance to the 2008 Yamaha R6 will be uncanny.
4. Top notch parts
Yes, despite the lack of USDs and ABS, whatever Yamaha has outfitted the R25 with promises to be top-notch parts. As always.
The timing couldn’t have been better to launch a proper quarter liter bike here. The Ninja is still an excellent motorcycle, while the Honda CBR250R isn’t really worthy of the CBR monicker, being more of a relaxed sport-tourer. Triumph and Harley are hard at work with their products and so this is the perfect moment for Yamaha.
6. Learnt from the competition
This is an extension of the previous point. Coming late to the party does have its perks. Like say, you can make a grand entrance. Yamaha has learnt from the competition and will be deftly avoiding all the pitfalls that others have faced in this segment.
7. World class
The Yamaha R25 is a quarter liter that will be equally at home on the streets of Venice as it is in an Indian galli. It has been made to cater to all the major motorcycle markets in the world. Okay, may be not China, but those codgers will eventually come up with their own replica.
8. Made in India
Because, well, why not?
9. Rossi, Rossi & Rossi. And Rossi!
There’s nobody in the motorcycling universe, maybe any motorsport, who’s as popular as The Doctor. This is the reason why he will be in MotoGP as long as he wants; he sells. Rossi’s endorsement will be a big reason for the R25’s success, not only for the motorsport aficionado but even the wannabes whose only connection to MotoGP is Rossi.
EDIT: A reader on Reddit wondered why would Yamaha provide USDs on such a small capacity bike, it doesn’t make sense. He’s right, it doesn’t, but marketing has always been about tailoring bikes to tastes, to what sells. Which is why you will see Hyundai Accents with rear spoilers and 150cc motorcycles with full fairings. Yamaha has always gone a step ahead with technology which is what made us wonder why no USDs on the R25. If it were any other manufacturer, we wouldn’t have asked this question.