New Yamaha Bikes at WSBK, Chiang International Circuit, Buriram

Built by a local Thai businessman, the Chang International Circuit at Buriram held the Thai round of the 2017 World SuperBike Champsionship on 11-12 March. Since Thailand is a large market for “big bikes” the mainstream manufacturers were there to show their latest models. Yamaha arrived with their range of MT bikes, their new R6, the new Aerox 155 scooter and a minature test track.

2017 Yamaha R6
2017 Yamaha R6

The 2017 Yamaha R6 has had a substantial cosmetic update compared to previous model years. Taking design cues from the latest iteration of the Yamaha R1 and R1M the bike showed some obvious similarities. Personally I like the new “smoothed” look and the introduction of LED lights makes sense. Whether Yamaha can maintain sufficient customer interest to generate sales volume in the depleted 600cc class is another matter.

2017 Yamaha R6
2017 Yamaha R6

Beside their main display area Yamaha had set up a test ride area. I signed a form, chose a bike – the new Aerox 155 – and then I was dressed by two Yamaha assistants in protective knee and elbow armour, and lent gloves and a helmet. All that had to be done was to follow a Yamaha rider around a course of cones for five laps, and then I was given free rein.

2017 Yamaha Aero 155
2017 Yamaha Aero 155

What was the Aerox 155 like? The style of the bike is quite “racy” for a bike with small wheels that isn’t going to be raced (officially!). The photo above is from the Bangkok show last December. That bike had a rear seat cowl, an optional accessory.

2017 Yamaha Aerox 155
2017 Yamaha Aerox 155

To ride, the bike felt quite nimble, quite at home on a coned circuit which gives an impression of what it might feel like weaving through city traffic. The engine was smooth. Acceleration felt good enough for a scooter. The rear brake was sufficient to lock up and slide the rear tyre. For an automatic, it felt like a good, practical bike that is relatively “fast” for a scooter. There was even a storage compartment under the seat that could fit a full-face helmet plus half that volume again.

Would I buy an Aerox? No. At 6’1″ tall, the Aerox felt too small. My knees with knee pads pressed against the inside of the front cowling and the sculpted seat didn’t allow me to slide back far enough to be comfortable. Perhaps with a different seat design that allowed for longer legs, the bike might attract the “farang” crowd away from the enormously popular Honda PCX. I certainly liked the Aerox’s style.