Let me put an end to the battle at the start itself. The best bike between ZMR and R15 is R15. But wait… given a choice to BUY a bike I would buy the ZMR. So where does the ZMR score better? Read on.
Both bikes are good lookers. But R15 is a class apart. It is a bike designed at one shot compared to the ZMR which evolved from the classic Karizma. Hence the R15 looks purposeful whereas ZMR is fanciful. R-Series styling is spot on. The Delta-box chassis suits a fully faired bike and mono-shock rear adds more juice. Relatively, the ZMR looks more fancy – a sort of hayabusiness with larger proportions. So the ZMR has better street presence whereas the R15 is extremely smart. Comparing pictures of ZMR and R15 side by side, the R15 wins hands down. But compare them on road, the ZMR’s larger proportions does make you look good enough. But, both bikes don’t have a graceful butt though
Here comes the biggest difference. A tuned 150cc Vs relaxed 223cc. Both the bikes have extremely refined engines, deliver great power and are fuel injected. However the greatest difference is how they deliver power. The difference is visible in the specs:
R15: 17bhp@8500rpm, 15Nm@7500rpm
ZMR: 17.6bhp@7000rpm, 18.7Nm@6000rpm
The ZMR is around 20kg heavier so the higher torque and power are offset, but the difference is the 1500rpm difference between the two engines. In real world this makes a lot of a difference for the normal biker. In the R15 you have to wrung out pace like a racer, whereas the ZMR is a lot sedate in its power spread. So for the discerning rider, the ZMR will feel a lot faster. A proper biker would like the R15 as this is how sports bike behaves. You need to hold bikes like R15 in the power band. In contrast the ZMR is designed as a tourer for Indian conditions – Its heavy, extremely reliable, looks big and has power at lower revs. If you look closely why bullets are preferred for touring, you’ll see that power and torque peaks for a bullet as low as 2000-3000 rpm. Power at lower rpm has several advantages – a more relaxed engine, and a better drivability.
R15 wins hands down on a track. Delta box and a link type monocross suspension is way ahead compared to the ZMR. One can never catch R15 on a racing track. But on city roads the ZMR is as good as the R15.
Both bikes are equally good. The R15 might deliver slightly better mileage with careful driving.
Overall the R15 is a great bike and boasts best in class technology. It looks amazing as well. The ZMR on the other hand is an evolution. ZMR appends fuel injection, disc brakes and better styling to the Karizma. At the start of the blog I had mentioned I would buy a ZMR over the R15 mainly due to the way the bike delivers power at lower revs. Personally I don’t prefer to screw the engine hard to extract performance as I wont be using the bike on track. Also, when touring a 223cc bike delivering roughly the same power, better torque and more heavy weight than a 150cc is better suited. Also within city, the ZMR has better performance and good street presence. So technically the R15 is a better bike, but if you prefer power delivery as per my taste, the ZMR is the one.
One line Verdict: Technically R15 wins, but the old wine in new bottle kicks