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, and the following reasons, make are why I feel that the Yamaha R25 won’t be worth all the hype that it got upon it’s prototype unveiling. Heck, Yamaha garnered more eyeballs with a concept display than most manufacturers do with their production ready motorcycles. Here we go:
1. Premium Pricing
Yamaha has always priced their offerings at a premium compared to the competition. To be fair to them, their pricing strategy is usually backed up by good build quality and reliability, but this factor will still become magnified when we’re talking about a bike that will cost a couple of lakhs at the very least.
2. Crowded market, better competition
Okay, crowded might be stretching it a bit too far but by the time Yamaha launches the R25, it will have to contend with Triumph’s 250cc offerings as well as the new Pulsar 375. Suzuki might also finally wake up from their slumber and finally launch the GW250/Inazuma. The biggest thorn in the R25’s paw will undoubtedly be the KTM 390 Duke, a much more powerful bike that retails at a price point that I think Yamaha won’t even try to beat. Then there’s the Ninja 300 with its 50cc advantage and parallel twin engine, although I’m afraid Kawasaki has priced themselves out of the league with this one. Honda is also following in Kawasaki’s footsteps with the recently unveiled CBR 300R while closing the other end with the trio of 500cc engines, although it is unclear if they will be launched here.
3. No USDs
For such a track-focused motorcycle, the lack of upside-down forks is hard to comprehend. Both visually and technically, USDs are superior to conventional telescopic forks so it’s a wonder why Yamaha has scrimped on this, considering that they known for their sport derived advancements like the link-type monoshock on the R15.
4. No ABS
As far as we know, Yamaha isn’t offering ABS on the r25, not even as optional equipment.
5. Too little, too late (capacity, expected power)
For such a highly anticipated motorcycle that has been in the making for this long, 250cc will not just cut it. Thanks to Honda and Kawasaki, and now KTM, the game has now moved from 250s to 300s and beyond. Power and engine capacity will be the R25’s Achilles Heel no matter now good a handler it turns out to be, and it ought to be very good.
6. Too close for comfort (to the R15)
We have all seen the first pictures and videos by now. It is only expected that these two will look and feel so similar but still, this might be off-putting for potential customers who want something to differentiate their more powerful (and, more expensive, of course) bike from its little sibling.
7. Too track-focused
While being track focused is a huge part of the appeal for the R25, it is also a downer for many. Just look at the number of people who stayed away from Version 2.0 of the R15, thanks to the more focused ergonomics and pillion seat. There is a huge chunk of people who want the tuning fork logo on a moderately big, powerful bike, but not with ergonomics and power delivery designed for a Shaolin monk competing in the Olympics.
8. Yamaha’s lethargy
Yamaha has been terribly lethargic with their R&D and marketing in the country and it doesn’t seem like things will change with the arrival of the R25. It is almost as if they don’t know where they want to go in the market and this is the reason why many frustrated fans has finally, reluctantly, even, made the shift to other brands. They had a good run in 2008, taking the country by storm, but I don’t know where that team disappeared, to leave us with stickers and minor cosmetic changes for the last five years. Bajaj-KTM-Kawasaki, TVS Motors, Honda, and even Hero Moto Corp, in its own floundering, bumbling way, are more attuned to the market than Yamaha is now. The only bigger culprit in this department? Suzuki!
9. No Deltabox frame
Barely an hour after they unveiled it, the blogosphere and social media was awash with incredulous questions wanting to know just why did they see it fit to exclude the Deltabox perimeter frame from the R25. Yamaha’s Deltabox frame has been a signature statement for all their new track oriented bikes, so why is the R25 getting the step-brotherly treatment here? IS it only because of cost cutting or is there something else theyre not telling us? When even the R15 features a perimeter frame, why doesn’t the R25 get it? We don’t get it…
Anyway, that all that I could come up with when I wanted to write a blog post on the odds that are stacked against the Yamaha YZF-R25. To be honest, I tried to think of one more bullet point so that I can make it an even 10 but I couldn’t. This could be a testament to just how perfect the R25 could be for us. For the other part of the story, check out the 9 reasons why the Yamaha R25 WILL be worth the wait, here.