A Japanese magazine, Young Machine, has carried an article that shows images of what looks like a finished, production version of the Yamaha R25 concept. The motorcycle is likely to be named the YZF-R25 when it arrives in production form in the middle of 2014 and goes on sale in various markets around September-October this year.
I got up close to the concept when it debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show and it's an impressive motorcycle (see) though I think Yamaha are running behind the market. The R25 should have been in the showrooms for at least two years already by my reckoning.
The concept is said to be derived from Yamaha's YZR-M1 racer and promises to offer superbike thrills from a compact sportsbike package. The concept wore a 250cc parallel twin of undisclosed power. The surprise was the chassis, a tubular steel perimeter frame that came with right side up forks, rear monoshock and normal looking brake components, wheels and tyres.
Young Machine's article now shows the air intake in the fairing has disappeared. This is something we expected - the R25 simply won't be fast enough in production form to gain significantly from an air intake. The ram air effect (think of it as a natural supercharger) requires wind pressure that comes at much higher speeds.
The front of the fairing has a twin headlamp with each beam taking a narrower shape that looks great. It looks like a Yamaha without a doubt but sleeker and sharper.
Leaked images of the Yamaha R25 production model
Also visible is a neat, small pillion pad and foot pegs, and instead of the race exhaust on the concept, a production exhaust with heat shield and all.
The concept R25 was 2,000mm in length, 720 mm wide and 1,140mm tall. That's 30mm longer, 50mm wider and 70mm taller than the YZF-R15. On the other hand, that makes the R25 30mm shorter in length than the Honda CBR250R, just as wide and 13mm less tall. We are reading that the concept's dimensions are going to be the production version's as well. This rings true. Differences if any will be minor.
So what we are expecting is a motorcycle that looks like the R15 in silhouette but with a sleeker top fairing, well-made aggregates (which is a Yamaha constant even in India). I believe that the engine will be, unlike the CBR250R and more like the Ninja 250R, a high revving parallel twin. Which means about 35-37PS at between 11,000 and 13,000rpm. That is serious power. But what gives it a proper kick is tight control on weight. Which is why I think the frame is a tubular perimeter rather than a pressed steel twin spar which would have visually looked more right but would be heavier. Working with the engine will be a six-speed gearbox.
2014 Yamaha R25 Concept
On the chassis front, I expect nothing more than preload adjustability on the rear monoshock. Other equipment? I think the brakes will have standard ABS and when the bike comes to India, Yamaha will have an Indian supplier making OEM tyres for the R25.
I had touched upon the issue earlier but the big challenge for the R25 is going to be pricing. Suzuki are on their way to slow sales with the Inazuma priced at Rs 3.1 lakh ex-showroom. Thankfully, the Yamaha is faired and promises to have a out and out sporty engine with good to great power output. This suggests that Yamaha will probably price the motorcycle at par with the Ninja 300 or about Rs 3.5 lakh ex-showroom and roughly Rs 3.9 on-road when it comes to India.
This of course means the motorcycle will have to go into CKD assembly in India. If Yamaha choose, on the other hand, to produce it here with local components then the price should drop, our estimates, by another Rs 50,000 but no lower. In any case, making a high-performance twin cylinder engine is not going to be cheap so there is no way Yamaha can (and indeed should) price the R25 close to the CBR250R which has the same displacement but only one cylinder and much less power. Could Yamaha make a single cylinder engine just for India? I've made the case for it here.
With more information coming out? I'm not sure Yamaha India is currently focussing on the premium market hard enough to spend the effort needed to create an India-specific single cylinder engine from scratch. Plus the Rs 2.1 lakh, 44PS KTM 390 Duke has made playing price games with single-cylinder engines very difficult. So chances are we are getting a Ninja 300 beater and not a CBR250R/300R challenger. In international markets though, Honda prices the CBR at par, more or less, with the Ninja 300.
What remains undisclosed now is when India is getting the R25. The production motorcycle will debut in mid-2014 and I'm pretty confident Yamaha will launch the R25 here before 2014 is over. The rationale is simple. Yamaha have focused on volumes in the past two years and the scooters have given them great, consistent growth. But margins in the big volume segment are low and India is headed towards becoming not just the world's largest two-wheeler market but also the world's largest market for middle-displacement motorcycles.
I do not believe Yamaha is blind to this and the R25 is the kind of product that should have the stuff an R15 owner needs to upgrade and remain within the Yamaha family. Yamaha had disappointed its Indian fans by not offering meaningful upgrades to their premium motorcycles in India over nearly the past decade but I think that phase is coming to an end. Finally.