Yamaha has been churning out rather good commuter bikes of late, which is why their latest comes as quite a surprise.autos Updated: Jun 02, 2010 13:33 IST
Yamaha has turned on the heat in India over the past few years. Its premium, performance bikes such as the YZF-R15, Fazer and FZ helped restore the company’s image. These models also served to add some much-needed zing to the Yamaha stable.
So here’s Yamaha’s latest commuter model, the YBR 110. It’s a motorcycle that intends to lure the commuter bike buyer, which constitutes the largest chunk in the Indian market.
There’s not much on the outside that differentiates this Yamaha from its rivals or predecessors. Dated looking in comparison to such brilliantly styled rivals as Honda’s CB Twister, the YBR is built on an age-old platform. But its large proportions are a bonus in this segment, where rival commuter bikes often look and feel undernourished.
The YBR 110 comes with upmarket alloy wheels and deploys a bikini front fairing. Yamaha has done well to provide it with a powerful headlight, and the instruments are smartly turned out too. A speedometer and fuel gauge are prominently placed along with the regular array of warning lights.
The YBR is equipped with decent switches, including a pass-light flasher and engine killer. Riders will like its well shaped clutch and brake levers, and the soft and comfortable palm grips. The 13-litre fuel tank looks standard, capped with a bowler hat-style filler lid, but leads smoothly into the seat and broad flank panel region.
The tail fairing and brake warning light look bland. The YBR takes a step backwards by using an archaic tubular grab handle. It does win some brownie points for its smartly upturned exhaust and upmarket alloy footrest mounts. It comes with good paint lustre, neat fit and finish and excellent quality. Plastic and rubber components are all of a high standard.
The YBR 110 is powered by a button-started, 106 cc engine common to its earlier ancestors like the Libero. It’s a conventional, four-stroke, twin-valve and air-cooled power plant that mounts its single-cylinder vertically. The YBR 110 deploys a steel, twin-tube frame, with its engine bolted on just ahead of the tubular swingarm section. Air and fuel are monitored via a standard carburettor.
The YBR’s power output of 7.6 bhp at 7500 rpm is disappointing vis-à-vis the CB Twister, which outputs 9 bhp from an engine of displacing the same cubic capacity. The YBR’s maximum torque output is 0.8 kgm at 6000 rpm.
The YBR 110 delivers performance and power that was once acceptable on any Indian commuter bike. But now the Honda CB Twister makes it feel underpowered and outdated. Our fastest 0-60 kph time on the YBR 110 was 8.61 seconds, which compares poorly with the 7.13 seconds the Twister takes.
The YBR 110 does, however, come with a delightfully light clutch which is great for urban Indian conditions. The engine also stays silky smooth and vibe-free at almost all rpm. Power delivery is smooth, with each gear ratio thought out. The Yamaha also gets a smooth-shifting, four-speed gearbox that operates via a heel-and-toe shift lever. Top speed is a true 94 kph.
Suspension is conventional, with telescopic front forks and twin hydraulic shock absorbers at the rear. Both front and rear wheels are 18 inches in diameter.
The YBR comes with a plush seat that offers enough width and length, and provides the rider a well thought out, upright riding stance.
However, on the handling front, the YBR 110 does not match its rivals. While straightline stability is acceptable, cornering manners are iffy, and nowhere in the league of its arch rival, the Honda CB Twister. Ride quality though is good, with the suspension allowing a plush ride even when riding over poor road surfaces.
The YBR 110 comes with 130 mm drum brakes at both ends. Brake feel is adequate but not as good as any disc brake-equipped rival. We managed to stop the YBR from 60 kph in 21.1 metres.
The YBR 110 scores really well on the fuel economy front. This Yamaha is just as miserly with petrol as every commuter motorcycle has to be in order to succeed in a mileage-obsessed country like India. The bike delivered 56.3 kpl to a litre of fuel in real-world conditions. It improved on this figure a bit to provide 57.7 kpl when negotiating our highway test route.
We come away from the Yamaha YBR 110 a tad disappointed. Yes, part of that has to do with tall expectations after Yamaha’s brilliant models in recent times but it’s more to do with the YBR failing to offer any real USP. The YBR comes with top-class quality, sound engineering and a really refined engine.
But that still doesn’t make up for its bland styling, average handling and dated feel. There’s nothing to make us take notice of it as a motorcycle that’s just been launched. The bottomline is that having experienced brilliant Yamaha bikes like the YZF-R15, Fazer and FZ, we know this Japanese manufacturer is capable of rolling out far better commuter motorcycles in India.