• Yamaha Aerox 155

In the quest to become India’s sportiest scooter, does the Aerox fly too close to the Sun?

Imagine my disbelief when I heard Yamaha launched a scooter quick enough to cause mayhem. Again! The last time we saw drama like this from the boys in blue was in 2008 when the R15 was punching holes through the 150cc segment with its performance, handling and all-out design. Thirteen years later Yamaha India decided it was time to launch a maxi-scooter powered by the same, uber-impressive motor. So if the Yamaha Aerox 155 is as destructively good as they say it is, this was a job for none other than TURBOCHARGED’s very own, Scooter boy!

There are two kinds of 6am shoots for us motoring journalists, one where sleep-deprived eyelids need serious motivation and the other like the eagerness of having your McDonalds order to be ready. Wanting to ride the Aerox 155 falls under the latter category, given that it is powered by one of my favourite engines. Having ridden the R15 V4 just a week ago, I was still under the blues of letting it go, but here it was, the encore! This was certainly shaping up to be a good day out riding and I even wore my leathers and the Aerox felt befitting of the effort!

I love how it looks. There is no doubting the fact that this is easily one of the best looking scooters out there. It’s big and muscular, but taut like a gymnast and not a bulky gym bro with skinny legs. From the sharp sportsbike like front-apron to the tapered, upswept rear, standing tall on 14-inch rims and fat sticky tyres, this scooter looks well built for a maxi scooter. Also, build quality has been Yamaha’s forte and the Aerox follows tradition. However, the design language isn’t a derivative of India’s demands it’s a fashion statement from South-East Asia and that’s what makes me a little nervous. See, I love the mean-looking LED headlights and brawny front apron, but not the amount of room the scooter offers behind it. Yes, with the fuel tank up front, I get an enormously roomy 24.5-litre storage space under the seat, but why just a 5.5-litre fuel tank? Everything about this scooter is fresh, but you get a basic backlit digital instrument console. You get Bluetooth connectivity, but the information spread feels like an afterthought. Why do we need two bands reading rpm? I like the beefy exhaust and super sharp tail light, but why has the radiator been positioned in a vulnerable location? For now though, let’s attribute these feelings to the process of acceptance of the new.

Let’s focus on what this scooter is built for, speed and handling. With a 126kg kerb weight, The Aerox isn’t the lightest scooter out there but feels ridiculously well balanced, almost motorcycle like. Its weight distribution makes for a riding experience unlike any other traditional scooter in the country. Handling is sharp and sweet and you are instantly smitten by its composure on the road. The seat is large and comfortable and the handlebar is at a level that allows you to hold a more aggressive body language. Pair the dynamics with a 1,325mm wheelbase (similar to the R15 V4), meaty 110/80 R14 front and 140/70 R14 rear tyres (grip from the MRF tyres is excellent) and the Aerox delights around corners! However, its Achilles heel has to be its suspension setup. The front forks manage our battered roads rather well, but the rear suspension is simply not tuned for our roads. Moreover, while the ABS enabled 220mm front disc offer decent stopping power, the rear drum brake just feels out of place on a performance-oriented scooter like the Aerox. This may be a racing scooter, maybe ideal for South-East Asia even, but in the Indian context, its setup isn’t as convincing as I’d like.

Having said that, performance is one of its biggest strengths and the acceleration is as refreshing as an ice-cold can of Red Bull. The liquid-cooled, 155cc, 4-valve SOHC engine churns out 15PS and 13.9Nm and coupled with Yamaha’s VVA technology and CVT behaves lively even low down in the powerband, unlike the R15 that hates mundane, slow speed stuff. It handles city commutes rather beautifully and revs to 8,500rpm quickly, also courtesy of the crisp fueling and throttle response. Needless to say, reaching 100kmph feels like a warmup. With an engine like the R15’s under the skin all other scooters upto 160cc are running the 100-meter dash for second place. Remember Usain Bolt’s Olympic sprints? A final noteworthy mention has to be the start-stop system on the Aerox as it is so seamless!

So yes, I have no qualms in stating that this is one of the most exciting scooters I have ridden, at least here in India. But why I feel so bittersweet about the Aerox 155 is because it’s like an awesome pair of sneakers you could only find in international markets and then suddenly, it’s made available in your city. And when you order one in a size that you know fits you well, you realise, something that fits ‘them’ may not fit you as perfectly. Just like a UK10 is not the same size as a US10, with the Aerox, I would say, try it before you buy it!

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