If I have to name two things that sell the most in India, I would have to say they are religion and patriotism, and the folks and Bajaj Auto cannot be blamed for utilizing the latter to market their new commuter, the V15. Built partly (a very small percentage) with the scrap metal from Indian Navy’s now decommissioned and dismantled aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, the V15 has been brought into production to pay tribute to the legendary warship. The metal from INS Vikrant has been used only in the fuel tank and the percentage mixed is a well guarded secret.
The motorcycle itself has been developed from ground up with an all new design, new double cradle chassis and a newly developed engine that is exclusive for the V15. The engine, with a new stroke and bore configuration, has been tuned to deliver a healthy low end mid-range power and torque. and is aimed at hassle free city riding.
So how well has it been designed and does that engine perform well enough? We rode the V15 around the busy streets of Pune, the kind of conditions the new motorcycle will be spending most of its lifetime. Here’s our tuppence
Gone are the days when people would settle for an average looking commuter and manufacturers are making sure they don’t leave the customers disappointed. Bajaj have also designed the V15 to make it stand apart from the existing crop of the so-called executive commuter machines.
The V15 looks like no other motorcycle in its segment. Its distinctive, without a doubt, but does manage to look slightly out of proportion at times. One such instance would be when the pillion seat cowl is removed and the sloping rear end of that minimalistic single piece black seat is left bare. That 13-litre fuel tank – the only part that gets its metal from the INS Vikrant is a sculpted, chiselled unit, and along with those rather small side and rear panels makes the V15 appear brawny, if not too tasteful for some on the sides. That design is quite peculiar, though it would appeal to a lot.
What’s a bit more controversial, though, is that elongated Iron-Man face headlamp with a chrome lining and a black crown atop. It’s a design which the motorcycle users in this part of the world haven’t witnessed before, and has been evoking strong reactions ever since it first emerged. Then again, people disliked Chris Bangle’s flame surfacing, they dislike Lady Gaga’s dressing sense, and they hate Quentin Terentino’s violence – and yet all of these people are icons in their own right. A bold move is often disregarded and ridiculed, until it drives home a point in the most emphatic way possible – commercial success. Even with all the furore over that headlamp, the V15 may silence all its critics if it shifts 50,000 units a month. Will it? We’ll all see, very soon.
What’s neat though is the fit and finish. The paint job feels top notch for the price and so does the hardware. The front gets a pair of beefy 33mm dia telescopes, one of the biggest in the segment. The headlight is equipped with two pilot lamps and a powerful 55/60W main illuminator.
The chiselled fuel tank gets a 3D chrome V emblem while the side panel gets V15 badge
The fuel filler cap also gets a laser engraved anchor logo with “Made with the invincible metal of INS Vikrant” written at the bottom
The fuel tank lid gets a plastic cap which flips open to give access to the keyhole
The tail panel comprises a two-piece, two tone unit finished in glossy black and satin silver. The pillion grab bar is painted in red.
An elongated LED tail light with chrome surround lends a minimalistic yet appreciable look to the rear, adding a retro touch to the motorcycle.
The exhaust canister end, and the heat shield get chrome treatment. That exhaust has a throaty sound and makes the V15 stand apart from its peers.
A rear cowl (standard, but gets mentioned separately in the invoice – 1000 bucks extra) covers the rear section of the seat. You can easily remove it in a matter of seconds. The ignition key has an integrated allen key to facilitate this operation.
Interestingly, while Bajaj does not want to classify the V15 into any specific segment, they are calling the rear cowl as a cafe racer cover. Once removed, the nuts can be screwed on the inside of the cowl so they don’t get misplaced. The cowl is a standard accessory and so is an additional grab rail for which the customers are required to shell out about a grand extra.
The V15 gets its own logo while Bajaj branding is literally non-existent on the body. The only Bajaj marking you will see is on the engine and a small, trademark Bajaj “B” on the instrument panel.
The Bajaj V15 is available in two colours – Ebony Black and Pearl White. Both motorcycles get identical graphics and the fit and finish levels are commendable, especially at that affordable price point. However, there are a few bits that bothered us. The plastic on the side panel, for example, had already showing signs of fade. The rear view mirrors offer a decent view of the traffic approaching from behind but the vibrations at speeds above 60 kph shake things up terribly for a clear visual.
The switchgear quality is decent, though nothing to write home about. The instrument panel is minimal with a dual coloured LED fuel level indicator, tell-tale indicators and analogue speedo and odometer. No trip meter to track your fuel consumption here.
We caught some curious eyes scanning the motorcycle with two folks walking up to us and asking about the price. The lack of any recognizable badges on the motorcycle confused them as they wondered if the V15 was an import. Now many folks in India are ridiculously misinformed about motorcycle brands and their respective prices. The curious duo guessed than the V15 would cost anywhere between INR 1.75-2 lakh. They were pleasantly surprised to hear that the V15 comes with a price tag of Rs 62,000 (ex-showroom Delhi) and we are sure we found two potential buyers for Bajaj already.
The V15 caught unusual amount of attention wherever we went
The fuel tank is the only part which uses the metal from INS Vikrant. How much? Well, that’s still a well guarded secret
The instrument panel displays very limited information. The dual coloured LED fuel level indicator is a neat addition to the mix
The engine has been developed to cater the needs of an everyday commuter offering oodles of torque at the very bottom of the barrel
The headlamp is rated at a powerful 55/60W. We rode the motorcycle during daytime only though, and cannot comment about the performance of that unit in the dark
The beefy 33mm front forks are the largest in its class. The 240 mm disc upfront does a decent job of dropping the anchors
The riding position is upright and comfortable for the everyday use
The rear cowl covers the pillion section of the seat but can easily be removed in a matter of seconds
The LED tail light with chrome surrounds lends a retro fell to the motorcycle
The rear view mirrors provide a decent view but vibrations at higher speeds make them go blurry
Engine, Performance and Braking
As mentioned before, the V15 has been developed from ground up, including the engine. Now Bajaj already has two engines with near 150cc displacement but the two-wheeler maker decided to create a new motor for the V15, one that delivered a superior low and mid-range performance. And thus was born a new 149.5cc single cylinder 2-valve DTS-i motor that dishes out 12 PS of power at 7500 rpm and 13 Nm of torque at 5500 rpm and comes mated to a five-speed transmission. The engines bore and stoke stands at 57 x 58.6mm.
Those output numbers might not be too impressive, but all that power and torque is available from really low down the rev range, making the V15 an amazingly tractable machine. So while the peak torque kicks in at 5500 rpm, a major chunk of that figure, about 12.5 Nm comes in at as low as 3000 revs.
Even before we started our test ride, the Bajaj officials categorically told us not to expect the bike to impress in the higher rev-band. A few hours with the bike corroborated their understanding about the bike. The V15, however, more than makes up for its lack of top end performance with its chunky mid range which enables quick overtakes and impressive in-gear acceleration.
You can ride the V15 at as low as 30 kph in fifth gear with absolutely no engine knocking. The same gear lets you reach a ton; however getting there takes quite some time. The motor feels smooth and refined between 30 to 60 kph which is a sweet spot for any commuter. Vibrations start to appear as the speedometer ventures beyond 60 kph and while the rubber covered foot rests and bar end weights try their bit, they do not completely eliminate the shiver.
Transmission is crisp and we did not face any trouble with the shifter in the three hour long test ride. The throaty exhaust note is a good addition to the mix and manages to catch a bit more attention than your everyday commuter. We could not test the fuel economy but Bajaj claims that the V15 can deliver 55 kmpl in real world, everyday riding conditions.
Braking duties are performed by a 240mm disc upfront and 130mm drum at the rear and both perform a decent job. The rear brake was slightly tight given the test motorcycles had clocked a little over 200 km on the odometer. But the overall feedback, especially from the front was commendable, shedding speed efficiently once the anchors were dropped.
As we said before, the V15 isn’t a ground breaking motorcycle in terms of performance; that wasn’t the idea while developing the motorcycle anyway. According to Bajaj officials, the Discover 150 was aimed at providing sporty and powerful experience in the commuter segment; the V15 – comfort and convenience. The commuters want low and mid range grunt, and the V15 delivers those things in spades.
The V15 is a typical commuter in terms of riding position with a high raised handlebar and front set footrests. The riding position is upright and comfortable for everyday use. The seat height of 780mm should suit short riders too. The saddle has been well designed and padded to accommodate the rider and pillion comfortably.
The suspension setup is just about right, with 33mm conventional telescopic fork setup upfront and twin gas shocks at the rear soaking up undulations quite efficiently. The double rated rear springs come handy in adjusting well to a range of surfaces. The suspension on the V15 is comfortable, but it stops short of being overly cushy. It’s taut enough, but stops short of being stiff. It’s a nice balance, which should delight the customer in this segment with its versatility. Whatever little roughness manages to translate through those springs and gas chambers is handled rather aptly by that big, wide well-padded seat which managed to impress us and kept our behinds fresh as a daisy even after three hours of testing under a relatively harsh Pune sun.
The wheelbase of the V15 is relatively long for a commuter motorcycle, offering it good stability in a straight line. The beefy tyres go well with the design of the motorcycle while also offering decent levels of grip. The Eurogrip rubber that the V15 comes shod with didn’t give us much of a chance to whine, at least while handling the bone dry surface of Pune streets on a scorching hot day.
Going by its output figures and positioning, the V15 isn’t your weekend companion to assault the twisties en route the top of your nearest hill. It’s a package which is inclined towards comfort, appeal and convenience, and it manages to do rather well in those departments. The upright handlebar, and easy reach make the V15 a breeze to manoeuvre at slow speeds. Pune’s notorious roads provided us the perfect ground to test the V15 for those qualities and it managed to come out with flying colours.
In all, the V15 won’t trigger an adrenaline discharge, or make your feel like taking it to your favourite set of bends to test its lean angles. It would, however, make you feel at home right from the time you set your posterior on that soft saddle. It’ll trundle along merrily through the city streets and will have enough in reserve to not disappoint you as you breach the municipal limits. It’s a reasonable performer which should delight those looking for a distinctive personality for their motorcycle along with oodles of comfort and convenience.
The commuter segment is growing beyond conventional looking motorcycles and with the V15 Bajaj plans to capitalize on that opportunity. That design may not please all, but the reaction of a few blokes we met while shooting the bike leaves us with ample optimism, and we wouldn’t be surprised one bit if this one actually turns into a big success. The V15 is a likeable little machine with its own , unique character and it might just click for the audience that Bajaj is targeting.
We know there always are a lot of naysayers, but the Pune based bikemaker just managed to shift 35,000 units of the Avenger last month. That’s an enormous number for a brand which was nigh dead. That was apt, and clever, and there were a million guys who thought that the re-launch of the Avenger was akin to flogging a dead horse. Turns out it wasn’t. The V15, thus, even with all its quirks might just leave its detractors egg-faced. We’ll all have to wait and watch.
That ex-showroom price tag of INR 62,000 looks juicy, and is the single biggest reason why Bajaj Auto is, and should be confident of this rather unique bike’s chances in this market.
Here are some more images and technical specifications of the Bajaj V15.
Bajaj V15 Specifications:
|Type||Single cylinder, 4 stroke, SOHC 2 valve, Air cooled, DTS-i|
|Max power(PS @ RPM)||12 @ 7500|
|Max torque(Nm @RPM)||13 @ 5500|
|Front fork dia. (mm)||33|
|Rear||Twin-Spring loaded hydraulic type- with gas filled|
|Front||240 dia disc|
|Rear||130 dia drum|
|Front||90/90 – 18 51P|
|Rear||120/80 -16 60P|
|System||12 V, 4 Ah VRLA|
Bajaj V15 Image Gallery: