Yamaha Aerox 155: Quick, convenient and practical

Zippy in the city and comfortable on the highway — the Aerox 155 is a great choice for a sports scooter

Yamaha has taken a plunge into the unknown by launching a liquid-cooled 155cc sports scooter with a step-through construction — characteristics that are completely alien to India, at least at this end of the market. Will it pay off? We take a spin to find out.

The Aerox is breaking new ground in the scooter segment, not just with a liquid-cooled engine, but also with its design. Its step-through format means that it immediately stands out from the ocean of flat floorboards in India, and while it is a unique form-factor, it is also certain to prove prohibitive for many buyers looking for a more practical machine. Even those not in the market for it will however, find it hard to deny that the Aerox is super cool looking.

Up close, you will find some room for improvement. Certain areas like the switchgear and bodywork look and feel quite nice, especially the double-layered bodywork on either side of the lower apron. Other areas, however, such as the flimsy fuel filler flap and pillion footpegs that do not sit flush against the bodywork, do not quite feel up to the mark. There are also some inconsistent panel gaps and shut lines across the scooter, and Yamaha would do well to tidy up these blemishes, considering the Aerox’s premium position in the market.

Despite its size, though, it is not the most spacious scooter around. Of course, there is no space for luggage on the floorboard, but even space for your feet is in short supply. The apron will constantly foul the knees of taller riders, and you cannot slide back too far on the seat because of the prominent step on it. In this situation, you could even injure your knees if you hit a bump too hard.

One area where there is an abundance of space, though, is under the seat. With the fuel tank relocated to that prominent spine section, there is a generous 24.5 litres of space under the saddle. At just 5.5 litres, however, the fuel tank is certainly on the smaller side for a scooter with these credentials.

The Aerox sits in quite a premium market position and it packs in its fair share of features. The headlights and tail-lamp are LEDs, and you also get fully-digital instrumentation. LED headlights on mass-market two-wheelers are getting better and better, and the Aerox’s unit also performs quite well, with good brightness and spread. The digital cluster also shows a good deal of information, with the usual trip and fuel consumption related data as well as a VVA indicator and a tachometer.

Bluetooth connectivity is included, but like most other Yamaha systems in India, functionality is quite limited. You do not get on-screen navigation instructions or music playback controls, but you do get call and SMS alerts, and can also check your last parked location as well as use your mobile phone as an auxiliary dashboard for the scooter, among other things.

Thanks to the location of the fuel tank, the filler is external, and you need not get off the vehicle during fuel stops. Opening the flap is also quite seamless, thanks to a slick multi-function keyslot. To help reduce the frequency between those openings, Yamaha has also thrown in an excellent stop-start system. Rounding out the package is single-channel ABS, a side-stand cut-off feature and a small cubbyhole on the back of the apron that features a DC charging port.

The liquid-cooled, 4-valve 155cc motor in the Aerox is quite heavily derived from the R15’s engine, and even gets VVA technology just like its sportsbike sibling. It may have lost a few ponies compared to the R15, but this is still one of the quickest accelerating scooters in the country. The Aerox does not quite have that instant kick that you get from an EV, but once it gets going, it is properly rapid and very linear, and does not lose momentum until the speedo is showing triple digits. There is little else in the scooter segment that can keep up.

With a healthy (by scooter standards) 15hp on tap, it feels zippy in the city, effortlessly seizing gaps in traffic and shrinking the distances between stop lights. It is equally comfortable out on the highway, smoothly holding speeds of 90 to 100kph. You even have a little left in reserve for overtaking, though you are reaching the end of its performance by that point. The highest we saw was an indicated 117kph, and even at this speed, the motor felt absolutely smooth and refined, just like it does through the entirety of the rev range.

Fuel efficiency can also be surprisingly good when you are careful. Sure, when you are riding hard, the efficiency drops well below the 40kpl mark. When you dial it down a notch, things improve considerably. The sheer grunt of it means that you do not need to use very large throttle openings to get around, and when ridden with a careful right hand, the Aerox can even deliver as high as 50kpl in the city. Out on the highway, at a steady 65 to 70kph cruise, you should get even more!

Part of the Aerox’s stellar fuel efficiency in the city is down to its excellent stop-start system. Barely have you come to a stop, and the engine has already been killed. And when the signal turns green, the Aerox has your back, bringing the motor to life in an instant when you twist the throttle, thanks to an integrated starter generator unit.

If there is one shortcoming with this engine, it is the sound. The exhaust note is quite ordinary, and a sportier soundtrack to go with the rest of its sporty nature would have gone a long way in elevating the experience.

In comparison to the feather-light, quick-turning scooters that we are used to, the Aerox feels distinctly more heavy-steering, and requires some effort to tip into bends. The upside of this is unflappable stability and composure. Whatever speed or lean angle you are at, this scooter feels sure-footed and unshakable. It holds a line excellently, and the stability and heavy-steering are both functions of the large 14-inch wheels and wide tyres. In fact, the Aerox feels almost motorcycle-like through the corners.

Pleasantly, the heaviness of the handling is not felt as much at low speeds, and the Aerox is quite manageable in the city. It feels more like its 126kg kerb weight at low speeds, there is loads of steering lock available, and even though its 790mm seat height is slightly taller than most scooters, it is still quite accessible.

All this handling performance comes at the cost of ride quality. The front fork feels nice enough, but the shocks have a definite firm edge to them, so the ride is definitely not what you would call plush or comfortable. At the same time, however, it is not harsh or jarring either. At high speeds or on a smooth pavement, there is little to complain about, but going over bumps at city speeds is not the most pleasant affair. If you do want a little more comfort, Yamaha does offer accessory gas-charged shock absorbers from KYB with preload adjustability.

One area where there are no accessories to fix shortcomings, is braking. The 230mm front disc brake offers just about adequate stopping performance, but could do with some more feel and modulation at the lever. The real problem, though, is at the rear, where the 130mm drum brake feels positively feeble. A rear disc brake would go a long way on this scooter, and is something that we feel should be offered, at least as an option.

With a zippy engine and the effortlessness of a CVT, the Aerox provides quick and convenient urban transportation. It is also more practical than something like a motorcycle, thanks to a large under-seat storage compartment. Its repertoire extends to highway touring, too, and of course, it is going to be a hoot when you attack some corners. So, it is a great sports scooter, and if these are aspects that appeal to you, then the Aerox should definitely be on your shopping list. At ₹ 1.29 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), its price tag is not unreasonable either.

You will, however, have to accept the fact that some compromises need to be made in the areas of comfort and convenience. The floorboard is limited on space and the suspension set-up is not the most comfortable around. It is also not quite as roomy for taller riders as its dimensions might suggest.

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