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Remember the visuals of India’s first and much celebrated aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, flashing on your TV and computer screens in the last week of January this year? A brief intro of the INS Vikrant was followed by the painful images of her getting scraped. And before you could finish cursing the authorities for not taking care of our 1971 war hero, there came a reassuring message as to how Bajaj had acquired the metal from the dismantled Vikrant, melted it and was using this metal to make a new motorcycle – giving new life to a legend or making it immortal! What a masterpiece of a marketing strategy! And what better time to unleash it than the Republic Day! I so badly wanted to own one of that mystery motorcycles even before it was born! The mystery motorcycle was ultimately unveiled by Bajaj just before the Auto Expo 2016. This turned out to be a 150cc motorcycle with which Bajaj wanted to target the creamy layer of commuter segment (the commuters who would want a ‘little more’ than just commuting from home to work and vice versa). The bike was christened V15 and got people talking about it due to its rather unusual appearance, which doesn’t fit anywhere in our usual classification of motorcycles. It is a bit of commuter and a bit of café racer and a bit of cruiser as well! We got to ride the V15 in Pune yesterday and here’s our take on it.
As we said, the Bajaj V15 is a rather unusual looking creature. You find it hard to understand its form and categorize it as a café racer or a simple commuter, but it does manage to stimulate your senses. It manages to capture your attention for a lot longer than you would otherwise give to a commuter motorcycle. And after you are done trying to understand it, there are certain elements in the V15 which force you to appreciate the thought process behind its design – be it the muscular tank, the generous amount of chrome, the neatly designed instrument console, the trendy rear with LED tail lamp, that 3-dimensional ‘V’ logo on the tank, or that ‘made with INS Vikrant steel’ logo unit inscribed on the chrome fuel tank cap. It has a road presence that would be enviable for any motorcycle slotted into the commuter segment. While we were riding it in Pune and out near the villages, we got so many curious questions from both young and old who stopped us and enquired about the bike. At one point, I was riding behind an army truck for some time near Baner and the soldiers sitting in it had their eyes constantly glued to the bike. I so wanted to stop them and tell them the ‘war machine’ background of the V15 and see their reactions! I am sure a few would’ve been instantly interested in buying it just because of its INS Vikrant story.
A rear seat cowl comes bundled with the standard accessory set of the V15, which is rather easy to put on the bike. All you need to do is to slide it in and tighten two screws with the help of the tiny Allen key integrated in the key of the bike itself. The fat tyres on the 18-inch wheel at the front and a 16-incher at the rear enhance its cruiser appeal.
A special mention here needs to be given to the exhaust note of the bike, which plays a big role in the overall imagery of the bike. Bajaj has spent quite a bit of time to fine tune the aural note from the V15’s exhaust and as a result we have an exhaust note which feels meaty and bassy.
The plastic quality on the switchgear was acceptable. The overall fit and finish & the paint quality of the V15 is just top notch.
But there are things in the V15 that looked a bit overkill. The headlamp assembly in particular looked out of proportion when seen from certain angles. Also you badly miss the engine kill switch on it. Essential goodies like trip meter and a tachometer have also been given a miss on the V15.
The Bajaj V15 comes fitted with an all-new 149.5 cc power plant that makes 12 bhp at 7500 RPM and 13 Nm of torque at just 5500 RPM. The 12 odd horses that V15 produces doesn’t sound like a lot when you compare it with other 150 cc machines that are there in the market. With these horses, it manages to reach around 80 kmph mark before it starts losing its breath and sounding harsh. But Bajaj says, this motorcycle is intentionally made to not go really fast! They say that if you want to judge it, judge it from the amount of torque it produces and how easily and early it comes. And evidently, the V15 has ample amount of low and mid range torque that makes it such a pleasure to ride within the city. Frequent overtakes were a breeze without having to shift down. The bike is capable of managing mild city traffic in fourth gear with occasional downshifts to third gear, most of the time. Oh, by the way, the V15 is fitted with a 5-speed, all-up-pattern gearbox that is not really the best we’ve seen from Bajaj. The gearbox did not provide satisfactory or reassuring feedback and we found it particularly tough to downshift when stationary. The clutch had a late bite point as well and the bike wouldn’t move an inch until the clutch was fully released – It was a minor adjustment issue but an extremely irritating one. Otherwise, the engine felt really smooth and the power delivery was linear as long as you don’t try riding it beyond the 75-80 kmph mark. You could also feel some vibrations in the bike beyond this point.
Photo Courtesy: Preetam Bora
Photo Courtesy: Preetam Bora
The low seat height, wide handlebars and footpeg position give it a very distinctive commuterish stance. The seat was comfy and offered generous amount of saddle space to the rider as well as the pillion. The handling of the V15 is neutral and you are warned not to treat it as a corner craver, but it is not as lazy as a cruiser either and you can manage to cut through city traffic rather effortlessly. The skeleton of the V15 is made up of a new double cradle chassis that is mounted on conventional gas charged shock absorbers at the rear and telescopic suspension at the front. This setup, though on the stiffer side, manages to neutralize most of the potholes and speed breakers thrown at it with utter ease. It feels stable and planted at straight line high speeds and manages to hold the line into corners as well if ridden sensibly.
The brakes (a 240 mm disc at the front and a 130 mm drum at the rear) felt adequate for the kind of velocity this bike can attain.
Bajaj V15 Review: Spec Comparo
Bajaj V15 Vs. Other 150-160 cc in the market. Click to enlarge the image!
This spec comparison sheet was provided to us by Bajaj. It clearly gives us an indication as to where Bajaj wants to position the V15!