Ever since Yamaha introduced the XSR line of bikes, it had a lot of us at the office foaming at the mouth thanks to the neo-retro design language. Now, since many of us who ride at MotoDeal are more accustomed to small bikes, the idea of piloting a big displacement motorcycle is a little daunting, especially for beginners.
Now, Yamaha has a solution for neo-retro fanatics that don’t want or need that much bike and comes at a more affordable price tag, the 2020 Yamaha XSR155.
- Great build quality and design
- 6-speed transmission and slipper clutch
- Light handling
- LED lights
- High seat height at 810 mm
- No ABS
In truth, we love it. From the top, its got all that big bike goodness with the large tank, and the round LED headlamp. The best part about this motorcycle is actually the seat, which is clad in light-colored and grippy upholstery. It gives a nice contrast to the matte silver on the tank, which is made out of plastic which is could be a good and a bad thing. It’s good because you can squeeze the tank with your legs and it won’t be too uncomfortable, and it won’t dent. The bad thing is that it flexes. Then again, that depends on what you prefer.
Other than that, you get Yamaha’s Deltabox Frame, which means that the engine hangs as low as possible from the frame instead of being cradled like most backbone chassis. The result is an overall lighter bike with pretty excellent handling characteristics, which we will talk about later. Apart from that, you also get excellent-feeling switchgear along with quality fit and finish all around.
Though, there are a few more gripes that we have with it, such as the horn button’s size and placement all the way to the right of the control cluster. It’s something to get used to, but overall, we feel that it is one of the better-designed motorcycles especially in the 150 cc class. The fit and finish are similar to high-displacement offerings in the market, while the design and overall dimensions don’t make it feel that you’re only packing 155 ccs between your legs.
You may be only packing 155 ccs, but Yamaha’s Variable Valve Actuation (VVA) technology makes the bike come alive at higher RPMs. Past about 7,000 RPM, the engine sings thanks to the VVA technology baked in. Riders who are used to bigger-displacement motors will find the 155 Liquid-cooled SOHC engine a little bit lacking to get up to speed, however, for most riders who are used to smaller bikes, the XSR155 is a joy to wring out and reach the end of its rev range. While most bikes will start to taper off at higher speeds, the XSR still has a noticeable pull even when in 4th gear. At 19.3 hp and 14.7 Nm of torque, the engine is rather powerful for its size, and it is pretty substantial. At lower speeds, the XSR is can be lugged thanks to the rich fueling and amazing slipper clutch, so you can either wring it out or putter around town and save some fuel. Speaking of the clutch, Yamaha’s slipper clutch is one of the highlights in terms of performance. The lever only requires a light squeeze to operate, and downshifting is smooth even in less experienced hands. Paired with a 6-speed gearbox that is very easy to actuate and use, banging up and down the gears as well as finding neutral is a breeze. The feedback is very crispy, and the lever is sturdy.
As for handling, the bike features a more modern street-fighter stance with wide handlebars and slightly rear-set footpegs that are similar to many modern naked bikes like Yamaha’s very own MT-15. The seat is also relatively flat, which allows the rider to choke up on the tank or lean forward for a more aggressive riding stance. The pegs are still flat enough to give you a nice surface to stand on, which is apt if you want to turn this motorcycle into a scrambler or tracker down the line. Out of the factory, Yamaha installed a set of IRC Trail Winners, which is a road-biased dual-sport tire that measures in at 110 mm in the front and 140 mm in the rear. In traffic and during in-city commutes, the bike handles exceptionally well given that it only has a wet weight of 134 kilograms making it very flickable. Though the rather tall seat height of 810 mm may pose a challenge for shorter riders, the tradeoff is a rather substantial ground clearance metric of 170mm. On a high note, disc brakes in the front and in the rear help bring the XSR155 to a stop smoothly, with great feel and modulation. The rear brake is easy to modulate and the front has decent stopping power. With better tires, expect braking distance to get shorter and shorter.
Fuel efficiency is quite stellar in our opinion. With city rides clocking in a very respectable 39 kilometers per liter. Leisurely rides on the XSR could get you past 40km/L without traffic, but if you’re more liberal with the throttle, the number dibs down to about 35 km/L.
Given the riding posture of the motorcycle, you can commute with the XSR155 pretty easily. During long rides even with a backpack and a full set of gear, the XSR is nicely dampened thanks to its upside-down telescopic forks and mono-shock at the rear. The seat is nicely padded and the riding posture is not that compromised. Taking bumps with the bike is not that jarring even over less-than-stellar road conditions.
On top of that, the controls are light and fatigue is not much of an issue. The bike didn’t give us much to complain about, though the larger-than-average dimensions made squeezing into the smallest of cracks in traffic a little nerve-wracking. It was still doable, but a little more mindfulness is needed in this regard.
Practicality and Usability
Because of its comfortable stance and light controls and light weight, the XSR155 is one of the more usable bikes or easy to ride motorcycles in its class. With a weight of just over 130 kg wet, squeezing in through traffic is not a problem, though the added width thanks to the handlebars and rather tall mirrors make filtering a slight challenge, as is the tall seat height.
Again, being quite light, the bike is easy to point and turn coupled with the light clutch and easy-to-modulate front and rear brakes. Being closer to a standard motorcycle, however, you don’t get any storage anywhere, so to bring more things with you, consider riding with a backpack, getting a cargo net, or other storage accessories.
Tech and Safety
Another area where the XSR155 impresses is in its gauge cluster. It may be the size of a traditional gauge cluster found on classic bikes, but it is an all-digital affair with backlighting, a speedometer, tachometer, fuel level indicator, gear position indicator a trip computer, average speed, and fuel consumption. This little pod contains a lot of features, meanwhile, the switchgear is also quite refined, and the electric starter gets the bike going in a flash. LEDs are standard all over the motorcycle and offer decent performance. You also get LED daytime running lights, and LED rear brake lamp and turn indicators. Though no hazard functionality is present.
Other items that we would have liked to see with the XSR155 was the inclusion of a side stand kill switch and ABS, which we feel should be standard at the price that this bike commands.
At P162,000, the XSR155 costs quite a bit of money for a bike that only has a 155 cc engine. When we first swung a leg over it and tried it out, it seemed like it was more of a looker than a performer, but after spending some time with it, we can safely say that the XSR a pretty decent performance machine, but a stellar daily commuter.
If you’re not into big bikes, not interested in big bikes, or want a bike that has that kind of vibe, but without the intimidation of a large engine, then the XSR155 is a prime candidate. It’s very forgiving given its low displacement, but once you get up in the rev range there is a little more oomph that you can feel. It’s a great all-rounder and a capable handling machine. Our only gripes with it as a beginner-friendly bike is its tall seat height.
You mostly pay for the refinement with the XSR155 and the ease of use along with the brand name that goes with it. Every bit of the XSR feels refined and not clunky, and that could be worth the price of admission because it does look like a bigger bike than it actually is and it's got the quality to go with it. The design alone struck a chord with many riders and even a few newbies. If you don’t like something on the bike, then a quick trip to the shop should solve the problem, and that’s just another reason to get this handsome ride.