A ride in the dark side

Yamaha Philippines gave us a taste of the dark side of Japan with its recent MT-15 night ride. The event gathered members of the media to experience Yamaha's new hyper naked. The MT-15 was just launched earlier this year at the Inside Racing Bike Fest and Trade Show.

First Ride: Yamaha MT-15 image

The MT-15 takes after its bigger siblings in the MT-line, the MT-07, MT-09, and MT-10. Like the name suggests, MT stands for Master of Torque, and the MT-15 upholds this reputation with a potent 14.7 Nm and a slipper clutch to smoothly and effectively regulate its power.

The MT-15 is distinguished by twin horizontal LED position lights, with a small projector headlamp below. Yamaha offers it in three colors: Ice Fluo, Matte Blue, and Tech Black. Ice Fluo features a light shade with bright red contrasting wheels. Tech Black, on the other hand, is painted in black with neon green accents and wheels, Matte Blue is the most conservative of the shades but comes with blue wheels.

First Ride: Yamaha MT-15 image

The MT-15 is powered by a 155 cc liquid-cooled single cylinder engine with Variable Valve Actuation. This allows it to produce 19 hp at 10,000 rpm and 14.7 Nm at 8,500 rpm. It's paired to a slipper clutch that makes it even easier to shift gears and rev match for smoother power delivery.

The MT-15 rides on the R15's platform with an upside-down front fork and swing-arm with single shock absorber. It's brought to a stop by front and rear discs.

Providing all the info to the rider is a blue backlit, fully digital instrument panel. Besides the typical rev counter, clock, and digital speedometer, it also includes a gear indicator and shift light. There are also built-in real-time and average fuel consumption readouts as well as range.

First Ride: Yamaha MT-15 image

Before the ride started, a short briefing was led by the Yamaha’s chief instructor of Motorsports and Safety Promotion, Neil Hindang. He provided basic tips and precautionary measures, to make sure that every participant was ready for the trip.

Despite the threat of rain, the ride pushed through, starting off at the Yzone flagship showroom at the Greenfield District in Mandaluyong.

First Ride: Yamaha MT-15 image

The MT-15 was easy to get moving. A rev-happy engine and very light clutch made it easy to slip into gear. The bright LED lights lit up the road ahead. Speed and revs were also easy to glimpse on the blue backlit instrument panel.

Our first challenge was filtering through traffic to get to Marcos Highway, and eventually, Marilaque Highway. Its light weight also made it easy to handle and relatively narrow width made squeezing through cars a breeze. A built-in flasher made it easy to signal to cars we were coming through.

First Ride: Yamaha MT-15 image

We had to keep a tight convoy. Naturally a few cars would get in between. Yet catching up to the others was hardly a challenge as the bike's bright rear taillights were easy to spot. Shortening that gap was practically instant thanks to the slipper clutch and rev-happy engine. I was so focused on the lights ahead that I didn't realize I was near the redline already. Thankfully, the built-in shiftlight lets you know, allowing you to shift up and continue accelerating.

As another car pulled ahead, I slammed on the brakes. With just a little twist, the bike slowed to a near crawl without even locking up. There may not be ABS, but with the MT-15's powerful brakes and responsive bite, it's easy to reign in speeds without the fear of a lock-up.

As the roads began to clear along Marilaque, so too did our speeds increase. Yet we kept our adrenaline in check by limiting it to 60 km/h. Crashed cars along Marilaque road served as a grim reminder of what could go wrong.

As for the MT-15, it was an eager accomplice. It's easy to handle for any beginning rider, yet is also quite responsive for more experienced ones. Applying some light countersteer gets the bike to lean. You don't even have to lean very far for it to take on some sharp curves.

First Ride: Yamaha MT-15 image

The slipper clutch made it easy to rev-match when upshifting or downshifting. In fact, it felt like the bike was practically doing it for you, and making you feel like a pro. Throughout most of Marilaque's roads, we found ourselves on third or fourth gear for the best response. Though even on fifth gear, the engine has enough torque to accelerate uphill.

Though it was 73 kilometers away, it felt like our final destination arrived too soon. Punta de Fabian Resort in Baras, Rizal offered enviable overlooking views of Laguna Lake.

First Ride: Yamaha MT-15 image

After parking and registration, Yamaha had prepared a little program with dinner and refreshments waiting. Arranged at the dining area was the MT lineup, composed of the MT-10, MT-09, MT-07, and MT-15. Yamaha's Marketing Section Senior Manager, Jude Camus, officially welcomed us to the venue.

First Ride: Yamaha MT-15 image

The next day, the sun rose to show us the true glory of Punta de Fabian's vistas with Laguna Lake stretching into the horizon. Breakfast was waiting and so was the ride back to Manila. Having gotten to know the MT-15 the night before, the journey flew by even faster.

The MT-15 certainly proved to be an ideal night ride partner, equally enjoyable during the day. The slipper clutch is truly a boon to use in traffic, making it easy to change gears with little effort. It's also an enjoyable machine for out of town rides, with great handling and a broad power band. Our only complaint is the rather stiff seat and the horn that's positioned pretty far right on the handlebar.

The MT-15 is now available in all Yamaha RevZone and 3S Shops nationwide with an SRP of P159,000. As the slogan says, the ferocity will let your darkness rise, as this devil will definitely tempt you on every curve.