Bajaj V15 Review - Mileage, Design & Performance

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  • Posted on: Aug 7, 2016
With the launch of the V15, Bajaj redefined what a two-wheeler icon is. Not from the date it was launched, or when the first customer gave a positive feedback; but right from inception. The V15 is an icon! Not more, not less.
Bajaj has built the V15 from the remains of the famous Indian Naval Aircraft Carrier, the INS Vikrant. Now, what’s interesting is that only a small chunk of the ships remains was purchased by Bajaj. So the V15 is not a bike built completely out of the metal of the Vikrant, but a small amount of the aircraft carriers remains has been used to build the V15’s fuel tank. How much? That’s a well guarded secret by Bajaj. But the certification from authorities does put a trusted seal that this statement is true. Now Bajaj sourced this metal only for Rs. 1.8 lakh. Do you remember a stronger marketing talking point which any company in the world has created for just Rs. 1.8 lakh? And its not just the bike which you’re selling, its more about patriotism and the pride of owning something like this, which never existed in the market.
At an asking price of Rs. 62,002 (ex-showroom Delhi), the Bajaj V15 is a unique product proposition. It is pitched as a cross between a commuter & a cafe racer with a 150cc motor. A combination which tries to deliver the right amount of everything to a target audience which has been used to traditional designs. While the V15 might not be the best looking bike for this price, it does stand out for what it offers. The INS Vikrant started its journey in 1943 till 1977 when it was decommissioned. Bajaj claims that they’ve brought back the icon to life 2016 onwards and would even consider more variants of the V15.

Design


When you look at the V15, it’s clearly different from other bikes you would park next to it as competition. It’s neither a sporty looking 150cc bike nor a plain Jane looking commuter. And it’s clearly not an outright cafe racer. What it is in real is well balanced package including the riding position of a commuter, the heart of a 150cc motor and the rear seat cowl giving it that cafe racer look. Is it something which buyers would fall in love with at first sight? We don’t think so. But thanks to the overall package, and the aura that it has, it is surely growing on potential buyers and the sales figures justify that.
At the front you have a very bulbous, almost V shaped headlamp
with a healthy dose of chrome to make it look premium. This is easily the most unique face in the Bajaj product line-up. It has a bikini fairing with body colour around this clear lens headlamp setup and a small black windscreen on top which also houses the number plate. Below, you get the front mud guard in body colour and the telescopic fork are painted in black. There’s also a useful black mudguard extension which should help prevent mud spray on the engine and riders feet. The V15 gets a 240mm diameter front disc brake mounted on 5 bi-spoke alloy wheels in black. The rear view mirrors when looked from the front have an uncanny resemblance to those on the Avenger. But every manufacturer shares the parts bin across products to keep costs in check.
 
We found the instrument cluster to be rather ordinary. You get a round dial on the left with the speedometer and an analogue odometer counter. It could have at least been a digital odometer counter to look at par with the times. On the right you have a digital fuel gauge along with a display for a couple of tell tale lamps. Quality of plastics overall is nothing to complaint about, it’s typical of Bajaj and should last the distance.
 
Come to the side profile, and the V15 continues with its oddball design. The fuel tank, as Bajaj likes to call it, is ‘Pumped Up’. Rightly so, because the brand has made use of the metal from INS Vikrant over here and it has to show. You get a chunky chrome ‘V’ badge on the tank and the chrome fuel filler cap does have a mention of the INS Vikrant. There’s red decals on the fuel tank for both the white & black painted models. Recently, Bajaj also introduced the cocktail wine red colour for the V15, which gets these decals in a black shade. Below, the 150cc engine is painted in standard silver paint and the side panel below the rider seat carriers over the same elements like the fuel tank, along with a ‘V15’ badge for branding. The seat is a long single piece unit, but the rear cowl makes it look like its not. Bajaj has cleverly incorporated an allen key like design to the back of the key, which opens up this rear cowl. Once removed, the bike has enough room to have two on board, but you have to then either hold the cowl in your hand, or plan accordingly and get it removed at home before heading out. The seat is soft and keeps the rider happy when on the go. Do note, the rear seat cowl is an optional accessory, and not offered standard.
Towards the end, Bajaj has planted an XL sized exhaust end can. The brand claims that this was part of the plan to offer a large exhaust with a nice bass-rich exhaust note. Which is true, and the V15 does sound unlike any other Bajaj. But is it really that great? Not really. The exhaust is flashy too with a chrome heat shield and the tip also covered up to shine. The tail lamp section is unique and is flushed well with the rear fender. There’s an ample amount of chrome over here and tapers towards the tip with LEDs incorporated for better visibility. The rear grab rail is painted in red, to add some contrast even when the bike is seen from behind. You get a standard 130mm drum brake at the back.

Engine Performance


Powering the Bajaj V15 is a 149cc, single-cylinder, 4-stroke, air-cooled petrol motor producing 12 PS of power @ 7,500 RPM and 13 Nm of torque at 5,500 RPM. Now are these segment best for a 150cc motor? Not really. But that was what Bajaj wanted to deliver. The V15 as the brand claims is more of a commuter, and not a performance motorcycle to much miles on high speed. Bajaj did mention that they have worked on having the torque delivered lower down the revv range, and this does  reflect when you’re not he move. The bike pulls easily from a standstill and has enough mid-range punch even if you’re on a higher gear for a particular speed. The torque available avoids any kind of engine knocking and nervousness. It’s very comfortable cruising at speeds up to 80 mph. Riding it in the city is very easy and even in top gear, you can let the speeds drop around 30 kmph and you can still get away without changing gears. The clutch is light and the gearbox works well. There was no false shifting that we encountered even once. High speed performance on the other hand is a negative. Revv the bike hard and it doesn’t like it. The engine allows noticeably vibrations to be felt and the V15 struggles to climb to triple digit speeds.
Ride the V15 in a leisure manner and keep it under or around 80 kmph and it will be the happiest. The bike would easily deliver over 50 kmpl of mileage in real world situation, and that’s a decent figure for a 150cc block. Bajaj does repeat that the exhaust on the V15 is special, and yes, it does sound different compared to siblings in the showroom. Also, this is their latest iteration of the 150cc motor so they have worked on overall refinement. So you hear more of the exhaust than the induction noise which was very audible on older Pulsars.

Ride and Handling



Bajaj hasn’t tried any tricks in the handling department and has stuck to basics resulting in a no-nonsense, standard affair on the tarmac. The bike is built around a dual-cradle chassis and gets a telescopic front fork along with a conventional twin-spring gas-charged rear shock absorber unlike the bigger Discovers which get a mono shock. Coupled with fatter tyres as per segment standards, Bajaj has got the ride & handling package right on the V15. The bike feels planted, and is very easy to flick around in traffic. Even if you carry a little bit speed higher than standard commuters around corners, the V15 stays well balanced.
The suspension does a good job of soaking up the bumps and keeping the rider & pillion happy on the seat. What’s a negative is that the rear suspension is non-adjustable for pre-load. So you have to make peace with the slightly stiff stock setup. The Eurogrip tyres have been worked upon, after facing strong criticism when seen on the Pulsar 200NS. For the amount of performance the V15 packs, these tyres do a decent job of maintaining grip. The front 240mm disc brake is just enough coupled with the 130mm rear drum when it comes to stopping power required.

Verdict:

:
Is the Bajaj V15 something you must buy? It’s a big YES if you want to be closely associated to the history & heritage attached to the INS Vikrant. This is probably the best tribute which you can pay to the Indian hero of wars at sea. It’s a complete package, if you want a motorcycle to commute within the city. It’s comfortable, has decent grunt to amble in city traffic and it looks unique too. Bajaj is trying to sell the best of three worlds in this motorcycle (commuter, 150cc performance bike & cafe racer), and for the asking price, its almost justified. If it’s only performance that you want, we suggest you look elsewhere.

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