Yamaha YZF-R15 Gets Updated with Variable Valves

03/31/2017 @ 1:11 pm, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

What you see here is the very unassuming 2017 Yamaha YZF-R15, a 155cc single-cylinder sport bike that was designed with the Asian market in mind – as such, the bike will debut in Indonesia in April 2017, and the rest of the ASEAN market later this year.

Hold on before you click through though, as while the R15 might be too small by our Western market standards, the new Yamaha YZF-R15 packs some interesting technology, namely Yamaha’s variable valve actuation (VVA).

Because of this technology, Yamaha says that the 2017 model of the YZF-R15 achieves a 18% increase in power output (19hp in total), and a 4.7% increase in fuel efficiency, all from its 3% engine displacement increase and with the VVA technology.

For those who aren’t familiar with Yamaha VVA, you can consider it a very basic version of variable valve technology. Yamaha’s design uses a mechanism to shift between intake lobes for low-rpm engine speeds, and another lobe for high-rev engine speeds (check out the video below).

This has the benefit of not only changing the valvetrain characteristics, but it also allows Yamaha to use a SOHC cylinder head, instead of a DOHC arrangement, which means the cylinder head is more compact.

Other changes for the 2017 model year include bigger brakes up front, and upside down forks for the suspension. The 2017 Yamaha YZF-R15 also continues the use of a slipper-assist clutch, as we’ve seen on the previous model years.

Why would Yamaha invest so much technology in its bargain basement sport bike model? The answer is in the numbers. As we know, the motorcycle market in Indonesia alone is 5.6 million units.

As such for the first year of sales, Big Blue expects to move only 50,000 units of the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R15  – which happens to be more bikes than Yamaha North America sells in the United States each year.

Video of Yamaha Variable Valve Actuation (VVA):

Source: Yamaha

  • Brett Lewis

    Perhaps this technology can trickle-up from here?

  • MrDefo

    I kind of want one. Just to see how it goes.

  • Fivespeed 302

    I would totally ride the crap out of this bike here in Florida.

  • Fivespeed 302

    Yamaha should skip the Grom market entirely and bring this baby to the USA.

  • Ulysses Araujo

    Very possible as it is already in the N-Max 155cc scooter. If a small and cheap scooter gets it bigger bikes will not get it only if packaging issues arise or power delivery is already considered adequate (though it never is for most of us :).

  • mcarroll38

    VTEC just kicked in, YO!

  • MikeD

    About friggin time !!!!!!!! The automotive world has been enjoying variable lift, duration and timing for many years now.
    About time someone would package all of it or part of it for motorcycle use besides overpriced Ducati and the half a$$ implementation by Kawi on the Concours 14 and Honda on the VFR800 2002-up.
    Maybe there’s someone in motorcycledom that uses all(variable lift, duration, timing) at the same time but i can’t think of who.
    Give VVT-L to the R6, being a 600 it sure as heck could use it to improve the low rev range and an even more wild top end all while probably improving driveability and emissions.

  • MikeD

    Obligatory Comment. Dear Leader feels proud.

  • MikeD
  • Westward

    That would be a mistake. Honda is going to cultivate a generation of young riders, because their first bike will be a Grom or it’s Kawi competitor. That will translate into larger displacement bike sells as they grow up. Yamaha will be caught sleeping… Personally I would rather have that Honda 155SS Racer, though I tend to lean more towards the Yamaha camp, but if they are not competing, they are not competing…

    I’m looking for a corner market commuter…

  • Fivespeed 302

    How would Yamaha introducing a Grom lookalike do Yamaha any good? Yamaha introducing a 150cc sport bike replica would offer a cheap Grom alternative.

  • a tom

    Hopefully it hits the YZF-R25/R3s as well. The R15, even with the bhp bump is not practical on higher speed roads, but the 250cc/300cc bikes would work well in both developed markets and non-developed markets…. a 300cc bike with nearly 50bhp? Yes please!

  • Paul McM

    Glad somebody’s trying this. But honestly, this is lipstick on a pig. Only 19 HP. And should we really get excited, knowing that adding just 50-75cc would produce a better, simple engine with more power?

  • Al Putra

    you guys don’t need to be excited, but asian young riders? yes, they’re excited. considered the super duper crowded road here, with massive amount of bikes on the road, 19 HP is plenty. that’s why this bike is for asian market :)

  • papayola

    Indonesia!!! Our shared market will be honda cbr150r facelift, yamaha new r15 and suzuki gsx-r150

  • Bruce Steever

    License class restrictions are a real thing in these markets. More displacement is often not an option.

  • Bruce Steever

    Such a great idea, amazing no one thought of it. It’s almost like there’s some kind of engineering challenge that prevents VVT multicam systems from working at 16k rpm, though. I wonder…


  • Brett Lewis

    The GSX-R1000 could be on your list too, Suzuki is updating the smaller Gixxers, maybe they get it?

  • MikeD

    My UN-educated opinion: Why bother when you have to modify A LOT of things to make it fit in the same given space and results are already impressive using current conventional “timing” methods ?
    I, for one, welcome our VVTL Overlords ! I have tasted the results long ago and i like it !!!
    You’re more than welcome to explain why you think not . . . just saying.

  • MikeD

    It’s a SOHC 155cc Pip Squeak Single . . . what were you expecting ? As it is already it’s making 122.5 hp/L, give it some slack.
    If it were at least supercharged like that Peugeot Scooter from back then then it would be something else.

  • MikeD

    Doubt it. But hey ! Maybe they’ll surprise us ?

  • Angel Eyes

    Weight. Complexity. Space. Friction. Valve float.

  • paulus
  • MikeD

    Let them Brainiac Powertrain Engineers worry about that. Our worry is how to pay for it.

  • Bruce Steever

    The engineers can’t ignore physics… no matter how much you pay for it.

    Pneumatic valves (or some yet-to-be developed iteration of electronic valve actuation) are required to handle these sorts of engine speeds with variable timing. All we get right now is cam phasing, because that’s all that can handle the high rpm demands.