THIS photocopied picture shows a new Yamaha sports bike that's never been seen in public before – and it could be the firm's response to the Honda CBR250R.
The new bike's design appears to be based on that of the existing Yamaha R15, a 150cc machine that's effectively the firm's range-topping bike in the massive Indian market. Locally built to keep costs down, it's seen as a real superbike in India, but the launch of Honda's more powerful CBR250R is a threat to its position. Yamaha has long been rumoured to be developing a 250cc single-cylinder sports bike based on the R15, and this could be it.
Unlike the existing R15, the new design has a sportier fairing and seat design, with a marked step between the rider and pillion seats, plus a much more elegant and stronger-looking swingarm, which appears to have been borrowed from the European-market R125.
Although this is the first picture showing the bike in its finished state, the same machine was spotted testing on the road in India in December. At the time, Indian sources suggested it was a new R15 due to be revealed as 2011 model in January this year, but that unveiling never happened. Were Yamaha's plans for a revamped R15 revised when the Honda CBR250R arrived? Or is this a separate model?
If, as the Indian press suggests, this is merely an updated R15 then it's unlikely ever to make an appearance in the European market. But should it turn out to be a rival to the CBR250R then there's a much stronger chance a similar bike could be offered over here.