2009 Yamaha Vega 115 Ride Review : Basic, but very Smart

Date posted on August 29, 2019
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Yamaha’s new entry-level underbone model is an impressive package that balances style, performance, efficiency, functionality, quality and comfort at an affordable price.

After introducing and upgrading models in the medium to high end price model range, Yamaha Motor Philippines (YMPH) have turned their focus on the fast growing 100cc-125cc entry level market.
Like in other ASEAN countries, models in this segment are the biggest sellers year after year because they are primarily used for commuting to and from work, school or shopping as well as for various business applications. The combination of a simple, reliable and economical four-stroke engine with a light, easy to maneuver yet stable 17-inch wheels of an underbone has proven to be the choice for millions of first time buyers. Its affordability has also provided mobility and independence for many.
The Yamaha Vega was developed by Yamaha to be marketed and produced in all the ASEAN countries. Its guiding concept of development was themed “New Smart Basic” with the goal of creating a user-friendly motorcycle for daily use with good style, good engine and excellent fuel economy. It should also be fun and agile and enjoyable to ride in commutes as well as practical and functional.
The new face of the Vega not only looks good, it is also designed to provide important functions of wind protection, mud deflection and redirecting air flow to the cylinder head for improved cooling. The new flasher design gives the Vega its unique appearance and identity. The instrument cluster is clear and very simple.

The entry-level Yamahas, like Crypton R of the past, came in yellow or red colors with very colorful graphics. The new Vega’s color choices and graphics are more upscale and more in-line with the modern Yamaha motorcycle image.

Unlike the Crypton Z engine which was developed for performance as the top priority, the Vega’s new engine was aimed at practical functionality for everyday use by beginners. The new 115cc air-cooled, 4-stroke engine features a longer stroke than previous 110cc models. It has a newly developed compact combustion chamber, aluminum “cast-in sleeve” and larger cooling fins to improve cooling and efficiency. Engine operation, vibration and reliability are improved with larger diameter crank journal bearings. The throttle response is enhanced by using the carburetor from the Crypton Z model. A new Air Induction System (A.I.S.) is also used for clean emissions.

The clutch of the Vega uses a tuned diaphragm instead of conventional springs to manage the load involved while shifting, resulting in improved and better clutch operation and feeling.

The 4-speed rotary transmission was designed to ensure a practical and comfortable performance. The gear ratios are optimized for stop-and-go city riding conditions as well as for tandem riding.
The riding position and ergonomics were designed to ensure comfortable and relaxed riding. Both the longer travel front suspension and the rear two-step spring rear suspension are tuned for comfortable shock absorption.

Riding the bike confirms that Yamaha has succeeded in its design goals for the Vega.
Seasoned Yamaha users who have experienced the Crypton Z and X-1 will not be impressed with the engine power especially those looking for a sportbike. However, while the engine is not that powerful, it delivers decent amount of punch with a solid feeling that will make stop-and-go riding a pleasant experience. The 115cc engine feels more powerful than the 100cc models and yet still gives excellent fuel economy. Some riders have reported to get more than 50 kilometers per liter from the Vega.
It is not meant for aggressive sporty riding or racing. The suspension is really soft and comfortable for the daily jaunts around town. The front disk brake and big rear drum brake delivers good braking performance matched by the good traction of the stock Dunlop tires.

The things we can think of that can still be improved are the old fashioned rear end with the metal grab handle and more clearance in the lower leg shield when shifting.

Overall, the new Vega will satisfy a greater portion of the entry-level market. It does not have the strongest engine nor the best sporty handling but it delivers an impressive balance of everything you need in an underbone; Japanese quality level, good looking, reliable and decently strong engine, easy to ride for beginners and comfortable chassis as well as economy for daily use.

At the affordable price of P54,200, the 115cc Vega is well-built with a good engine and commands the “Japanese brand” image, so the over-all feeling about it is that it is a more expensive bike. If that doesn’t make you happy, you might have a problem.

Al Camba : Like in any Yamaha motorcycle, one of the most impressive features on their bikes is always the engine. The newly developed 115cc engine, although not as powerful as the X-1 or Crypton Z model, is still strong enough with impressive acceleration at low speeds but I think the top gear ratio is a little short because the engine still feels it can accommodate a taller top gear. However, considering that this was designed as a commuter, the gears were designed to have good efficiency and performance in the lower gears under heavy load or tandem riding.Styling wise, the new front face is very attractive and fresh and has a modern upscale presence. The color is nice and the over-all body shape is aggressive. However, the rear is a bit old style with the dated taillight design and tube-type passenger grab handle that looks and feels cheap. However, for a low cost bike, it’s good that the passenger foot rests were not welded directly to the swingarm. The sides are very smooth and the keyhole to open the under seat compartment is uniquely located at the rear fender. The instrument panel is a little bit too basic with no gear indicator (although there is top gear and neutral light) but I think this was part of the over-all design theme of keeping it simple. Riding the Vega, the stock Dunlop tires offer good traction, the front disk brake and rear drum brake whose diameter is bigger than usual, perform well and the gear shifting is smooth. The front and rear suspensions are soft and comfortable at moderate speeds but will not be at their best when the pace gets faster. It is clearly designed more for comfort rather than sporty riding. The throttle response is almost linear and precise and it’s easy to maneuver the Vega in traffic, you don’t experience any “jerkiness” or lag. Also, like with any other Japanese bike, the center stand operation is effortless which makes it easier to live with if you are always on the road for short trips. The lower portion of the leg shield plastic is too near the shifter lever that sometimes your foot tends to hit when shifting. Over-all, for a low priced bike, the new Yamaha Vega is very good in terms of achieving quality, function, performance, comfort, style and most importantly price.

Philip Bonza: The color for me is sportier than the previous Crypton R, I like the Yamaha blue and black combination. The overall impact of this bike on me is that it has a sportier look than the old Crypton R model. I like the contour of the body especially front end. I like the shape and the details of each edge. What I don’t like is the color of the signal lights and the material, it is an old-fashioned lens compared to the clear and sporty headlights. The taillight and the instrument panel are a little old-fashioned for me compared to the other models in this category. There is no rubber coat on the metal of the rear pegs and also the rear pillion, passenger pillion. The brakes are excellent especially on the rear. There’s a little vibration coming from the engine that you can feel especially on the legs compared to the Yamaha Crypton Z model which has an engine balancer. The riding position for my height is too far forward and I can feel the tip of my toes touching the edge of the leg shields. The handling is ok, it is easy to maneuver. It is comfortable to ride. The suspensions are working well especially on the front. The suspension is too soft for my style of riding. The power is a little less compared to the previous model which can be felt especially on uphill climbs. But overall this bike is easy and comfortable to ride, has good suspension, good brakes although with a little less power and a little bit of vibration. But this bike has a good future in the market.

Ricci Abrina: The new Vega is well-built. You can feel it from the shifting of the gears, it’s very precise and smooth for an entry level motorcycle. We tested it under heavy rain conditions and it was not so twitchy and scary. The test bike we had with the Dunlop tires was very good in wet weather and I think it will also be good in dry conditions. I like the brakes, they are strong especially the rear brake. It has a bigger drum brake at the back compared to other bikes in this class. The design of the back part of the motorcycle is not as modern as the other bikes in this class, but the front part looks very good. The seat grab at the back looks like a part of a bicycle. The Yamaha blue color and white graphics are very nice and makes the Vega look like a brother of the R6. When shifting aggressively, your foot has a tendency to get caught in the plastic flairing, it is too near the shifter. The gauges are very simple entry-level in design. Maybe they could change the numbering or the graphics to improve it. It doesn’t have a gear indicator on the panel, however, you would know at least if you are on top gear or neutral. The Vega does not have an audible turn signal indicator, since it is an entry level bike it is better to have this feature for beginner riders especially when riding along the busy city streets. The power is good it definitely has some edge over the other 110cc models that we had before.

*This article was published in InsideRACING’s  Volume 7 Number 8  2009 issue.