Trail riding has seen an increase in popularity in the past few years and proof of this is the increased number of entry-level dual sport motorcycle choices available in the market. Also, this popularity is also probably driven by the establishment of off-road riding schools such as Mel Aquino’s Yamaha Off-Road Training Camp that offers basic off-road classes for beginners up to advanced trail riding for experts. Many new riders in particular recognize the importance of learning the basics of motorcycle riding in low traction environments to make them better road riders. No wonder most top level motorcycle racers cross-train on dirt.
Universally called dirt bikes, there are actually three types; dual sport, enduro, and production. Dual sport motorcycles are different from enduro and production motocross motorcycles because dual sport bikes are street legal, with all the requisite signal lights, head and tail lights, plate number hanger, side mirrors, and horn, unlike enduro and production class motorcycles that are strictly confined to trails and for competition use only and cannot be registered for street use.
One of the newest offerings, and perhaps one of the most popular, is the WR155R from Yamaha. Inspired from the bigger and more advanced dual sport Yamaha WR250R, the WR155R offers beginner riders modest dirt bike performance without the speed and complexity of a much bigger machine.
Powering the WR155R is a smooth VVA-equipped, 4-stroke, sohc, single cylinder, liquid-cooled, and fuel-injected 155cc motor also found on the NMAX, R15, MT15, and XSR155 street bikes. Power is rated at 16.49 hp at 10,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 10.55 lb-ft at 6,500 rpm, the most powerful in its class. This is mated to a smooth and precise 6-speed transmission with widely spaced gear ratios for low speed off-road riding and relaxed highway cruising.
Unlike the WR250R, the WR155R uses steel instead of aluminum for the chassis. This is probably a cost consideration instead of weight, giving the WR155R the same curb weight as the WR250R. Nevertheless, the semi double cradle steel frame design gives the WR155R excellent balance, rigidity, and stable handling when riding on or off-road.
The front suspension features a 41mm upright front fork with coil springs and a damper system on both sides. On the rear, a linked type Monocross rear shock absorber produces a softer spring rate and a more progressive damping characteristics. The gas-charged shock absorber also delivers consistent performance during long periods of off-road riding.
The WR155R rolls on 21 inch front and 18 inch rear laced aluminum rims wrapped in dual purpose IRC Trails GP-22R tires that provide excellent traction on loose dirt and acceptable grip on tarmac. Just don’t lean it too much while cornering on wet roads. For serious trail riding we suggest you switch to full knobbies.
Braking duties are handled by a single disc with a two pot Nissin caliper in front and a single disc with a one pot Nissin caliper in the rear. The front brake has a soft initial bite with progressive power as you squeeze harder on the front lever. The rear brake is also easy to modulate to the point of locking up and is quite useful during off-road riding.
While easy to ride and light to maneuver on and off road, the biggest stumbling block for beginner riders will be the WR155R’s 880mm tall seat height. The suspension compresses a little when you sit on the saddle but riders less than 5 ‘6 in height will find it difficult to reach the ground with both feet. If you’re comfortable with using just one foot at a standstill then this won’t be a problem. At least the saddle is narrow for easier access to the ground at the expense of some ride comfort especially on longer trips.
Then again long distance ride comfort is not a priority with most dual sport motorcycles because the overall ergonomics is optimised for maximum machine control when riding off road, and in this regard the WR155R truly shines. The long saddle extends almost halfway to the fuel tank to allow you a multitude of positions when negotiating steep grades or tackling difficult trails. The reach to the tall and wide handlebars depends on where you are positioned on the saddle but it feels natural whether you’re seated or standing up. The serrated rider foot pegs keep your boots firmly planted even on the roughest terrain.
The instrument pod is a simple LCD affair that displays a huge amount of information for its size such as a bar type tachometer, a digital speedometer, fuel gauge, gear indicator, odometer, trip meter, fuel mileage, VVA indicator, and a clock. Switches are where you expect them to be with the inclusion of a headlight flasher and a hazard light switch. The WR155R uses a halogen bulb for the headlight and regular filament bulbs for the taillight and turn signals that are plenty bright for nighttime riding.
With an SRP of PHP169,000 the WR155R is certainly not the most affordable among the entry-level dual sport bike segment. But for that price you will certainly get a bike with a highly refined liquid-cooled motor with best in class power, a 6-speed transmission, a suspension with well sorted damping characteristics, good overall ergonomics for on and off road riding, superb build quality, and of course that undeniable handsome WR styling.
At the end of the day it’s what or how you will use the bike that will ultimately decide which bike to buy. While there are certainly cheaper options out there, more comfortable, or more off-road capable, the WR155R simply offers the best all around performance that’s hard to ignore.
Engine : efi, liquid-cooled, single cylinder, sohc with VVA, 4 stroke, 4 valves
Max. Power: 16.49hp @ 10000 rpm
Max. Torque: 10.55 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm
Seat Height: 880 mm
Fuel Capacity: 8.1 liters
Curb Weight: 134 kg
Tire Front: 80/90-21 IRC Trails GP-22R
Tire Rear: 110/80-18 IRC Trails GP-22R
Brakes F/R: Disc/Disc
Price: PhP 169,000
C! Rating: 9/10
+: Smooth motor with class leading power, 6-speed transmission, great overall ergonomics, and well rounded performance.
-: An upside-down fork would be nice