2024 KTM RC 125 vs Yamaha R15 V4: European vs Japanese Sports Bikes
news

2024 KTM RC 125 vs Yamaha R15 V4: European vs Japanese Sports Bikes

Reviews by Team Drivio | Mar 14, 2024

On paper, the Yamaha R15 V4 comes across as the more powerful and better-priced bike of the two

  • The R15 V4 is the only bike in its segment to get a quickshifter & a TFT display
  • Compared to that, the RC 125 does feel a bit bland in terms of features
  • When it comes to design, nothing beats the R15 V4 in this segment

The Yamaha R15 V4 has consistently held the title of India’s preferred sports bike, owing to its potent engine and exceptional handling capabilities. Moreover, these attributes are harmoniously integrated into a forgiving chassis, enabling novice riders to navigate learning curves with ease. 

However, with the recent update of the smallest KTM RC, the RC 125, the question arises: Does it rival the dominance of the R15 V4 in the entry-level sports bike segment, or does the Yamaha still reign supreme? Let’s delve into that inquiry.

KTM RC 125 vs Yamaha R15 V4: Designs

In the realm of motorcycles, speed is only one aspect of the equation; appearance plays a crucial role as well. In this regard, the KTM RC 125 holds a distinct advantage with its captivating aesthetics. Whether it's the imposing front dual projector scowl, the sharp fairing with its aggressive cuts, or the sleek tail unit, every element contributes to its striking visual appeal. From a distance, one might even mistake it for a larger RC model, adding to its allure.

However, when it comes to features, the Yamaha R15 V4 begins to outshine the KTM RC 125. While the KTM may flaunt LED indicators, the R15 boasts more practical elements like an LED headlight and, notably, Variable Valve Actuation (VVA). This technology allows the R15 to distribute power efficiently across the entire rev range, facilitating smoother city riding. In contrast, the KTM's power delivery is less forgiving, lacking drive at low revs and requiring constant gear shifting and high revs to maintain adequate speed.

KTM RC 125 vs Yamaha R15 V4: Engines

While there's no denying the importance of engine displacement, the Yamaha R15 surpasses the KTM RC 125 with more than just a 30cc advantage. Yamaha's implementation of Variable Valve Actuation (VVA) has revolutionized the R15 V4.0, transforming it into a versatile machine suitable for various riding styles, rather than being solely focused on spirited riding.

Although the KTM RC 125 boasts the most potent 125cc engine available on any two-wheeler in India, performance is ingrained in KTM's DNA. The crucial question, however, remains: which of these bikes is the faster one?

SpecsYamaha R15 V4KTM RC 125
Engine Capacity124.7cc single-cylinder liquid-cooled 4-valve DOHC engine155cc single-cylinder liquid-cooled 4-valve DOHC engine equipped with VVA
Power 14.5PS @ 9,250rpm19.3PS @ 10,000rpm
Torque12Nm @ 8,000rpm14.7Nm @ 8,500rpm
Gearbox6-speed transmission6-speed transmission

The statistics unequivocally favour the Yamaha. The R15 exhibits significantly faster acceleration to 60kmph, and this lead extends further when considering the time required to reach 100kmph. Moreover, the R15 demonstrates remarkable in-gear roll-on acceleration, thanks to the VVA technology ensuring consistent power delivery across the rev range.

The presence of VVA, typically found in litre-class track weapons or MotoGP racers, on a small-capacity motorcycle like the R15 is indeed a pleasant surprise. Compounding the advantage is the R15's lighter weight, being 12kg lighter than the KTM, which significantly enhances acceleration in the context of these small-displacement bikes.

The slip-and-assist clutch on the R15 V4 facilitates lighter clutch action and smoother downshifts, a feature absent in the KTM RC 125, which reserves this technology for its RC 390 and 390 Duke models. Furthermore, the R15's smooth six-speed transmission provides valuable experience for transitioning to larger bikes in the future. In comparison, while the KTM RC 125 competes closely with its Japanese counterpart, it lacks the refined performance of the R15 in this aspect.

KTM RC 125 vs Yamaha R15 V4: Suspension, Tyres & Brakes

In India, navigating through road imperfections is inevitable. When unexpectedly encountering sharp bumps, riders will appreciate the sophisticated suspension system found on the KTM, which exhibits slightly slower rebound damping compared to the R15. This characteristic ensures that the RC remains composed and stable over bumps, minimizing rider discomfort.

Conversely, the R15 tends to feel more unsettled when traversing road imperfections. The narrow handlebars exacerbate the twitchiness resulting from the R15's sharp steering geometry, demanding the rider's full attention.

DetailsYamaha R15 V4KTM RC 125
Front Suspension43mm USD fork41mm conventional telescopic fork
Rear SuspensionDie-cast aluminium swingarm with 10-step preload adjustable monoshockDie-cast aluminium swingarm with 7-step preload adjustable monoshock
Tyre Sizes

Front: 110/70 - R17

 

Rear: 150/60 - R17

Front: 100/80 - 17

 

Rear: 140/70 - 17 (Optional Metzeler radial tyre available)

Brakes

Front: 300mm disc, four-piston radial caliper

 

Rear: 230mm disc, single-piston caliper

Front: 282mm disc, dual-piston caliper

 

Rear: 220mm disc, single-piston caliper

KTM India has opted not to compromise on the quality of components for the baby RC, endowing it with the same equipment as the RC 200. This sporty setup, combined with aggressive ergonomics, renders the RC a thrilling performer in corners. While it may not match the R15 in agility or ease of manoeuvrability, it compensates with exceptional stability. 

The longer wheelbase, relatively relaxed steering geometry, and wider radial tyres contribute significantly to its stability. These attributes enable the RC to effectively harness the power of its 125cc engine, as the chassis is engineered to accommodate much higher power outputs, nearly three times that of the RC 125.

KTM RC 125 vs Yamaha R15 V4: Dimensions

The higher saddle height of the RC 125 poses a challenge for shorter riders, making it difficult to place both feet flat on the ground. Additionally, the elevated footpegs require more effort to reach when coming to a stop at traffic signals. Conversely, taller riders may find the higher-set footpegs somewhat cramped. In essence, the KTM lacks the plush comfort expected by some riders. However, the Yamaha R15 fares no better in this regard.

DimensionsYamaha R15 V4KTM RC 125
Length1990mm1977mm
Wheelbase1,325mm1341mm
Ground Clearance170mm160mm
Kerb Weight142kg154kg
Fuel Tank Capacity9.5-litre11-litre
Seat Height815mm835mm

The R15's narrower and lower clip-ons promote an aggressive riding stance, ideal for spirited weekend rides but less suited for daily commuting. While the discomfort may not be immediately noticeable, prolonged rides on the R15 can lead to wrist, back, and neck pains over time. In comparison, the RC 125 offers slightly better ergonomics, resulting in a less taxing riding experience.

KTM RC 125 vs Yamaha R15 V4: Prices

The KTM RC 125 undoubtedly offers an exhilarating ride experience and is clearly designed with novice riders in mind. However, there's a significant caveat: its starting price of Rs 1.89 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) presents a tough decision when compared to the slightly cheaper R15.

PriceYamaha R15 V4KTM RC 125
Ex-showroom, DelhiRs 1,82,000 onwards Rs 1,89,542

Moreover, considering the rate at which riders tend to outgrow the RC 125, the prospect of discussing an upgrade with your parents within a year may not be an enjoyable conversation. In this context, opting for the 125 Duke initially might be a more appealing proposition, potentially saving your parents some money and making future upgrades less contentious.

Verdict

The Yamaha R15 V4 certainly has its drawbacks. Its aggressive riding position can take a toll on your body, and the overall ride setup is more challenging compared to some alternatives. Moreover, the learning curve for mastering the R15 is notably steep. While it may take time to physically outgrow the R15, many riders will find themselves seeking a more comfortable option for daily commuting.

However, if your aim is to develop fundamental sport riding skills, the R15's exceptional engine performance—more powerful, tractable, and efficient than the KTM RC 125—combined with its sharp riding dynamics, offers an excellent platform for honing your abilities.