Yamaha R3: The 300cc Su­per­bike

Motorcycle Monthly - - First Ride - Tested by: Carli Ann Smith Photography: Yamaha

It’s got the looks, it’s got the poise, it’s got a small en­gine. The R3 is an amaz­ing pack­age from Yamaha for those with sporty as­pi­ra­tions. £4799 | 41bhp @ 10,750rpm | 22lb-ft @ 9000rpm | Liq­uid-cooled four-stroke par­al­lel twin 321cc

YoumaY think that Yamaha has jumped on the 300cc class bandwagon, when ac­tu­ally it could be said, Yamaha is go­ing back to its roots. think back to the RD se­ries fromthe 60s/70s, show­ing rid­ers that you didn’t have to be on a big bike to have fun and go fast. Just like the two-stroke RD range was de­rived from the race track, so is the R3 – just this time it’s the YZF-R1m and maybe the gap from­road to race is a tad big­ger.

Tell me about the en­gine

the Yamaha R3 has been de­signed to fill the gap be­tween the YZF-R125 and the R6 and as such, it needed to be pow­ered by an ex­cit­ing but friendly en­gine to ap­peal to both camps of rider – the liq­uid-cooled, four-stroke, dohc, par­al­lel twin 321cc does the job and does it well.

it pow­ers out 41bhp@ 10,750rpm – mak­ing it a2 com­pli­ant and about as pow­er­ful as the orig­i­nal RD250LC

What’s the chas­sis like?

(okay, no more an­cient Yamaha ref­er­ences from­nowon) – and has 22lb-ft of torque at 9000rpm. It’s been pur­pose­fully de­signed to of­fer added ‘spice’ and fo­cus has been put on the mid to high range.

The bore and stroke is sim­i­lar to that of an R6 (68 x 44.1mm and 67 x 42.5mm re­spec­tively) and it has plenty of punch, redlin­ing at 13,500rpm. Fit­ted with a pro­gres­sive throt­tle pul­ley, it en­sures the power de­liv­ery isn’t scary for new rid­ers and first gear is easy to man­age through town. The six-speed gear box comes in handy for mo­tor­way use – stick it into sixth to cruise and it’s not un­com­fort­ably revvy.

Yamaha has taken steps to make it ef­fi­cient as well as fun: plat­ing the pis­tons to re­duce weight, car­burised con rods – as seen on pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion R1s – and off­set cylin­ders to re­duce the fric­tion against the cylin­der wall.

I got an av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion of 63mpg fromthe 14-litre fuel tank and can’t say that econ­omy was front of my mind while rid­ing up the un­du­lat­ing roads of Barcelona and out on the track so the fig­ure could eas­ily be more. Be­ing a su­per­sports bike, a lot of em­pha­sis was placed on han­dling by the devel­op­ment team – a di­a­mond steel frame holds the en­gine, and just like its big­ger broth­ers in the R-se­ries, weight dis­tri­bu­tion is 50/50. A long swingarm, which is around the same size as on the R1, helps main­tain this. The long swingarm also adds high­speed sta­bil­ity to a chas­sis that turns quickly.

KYB takes care of the sporty but com­fort­able sus­pen­sion – forks on the front with 130mm travel and sev­en­step pre-load ad­justable di­rect link monocross on the rear.

At 169kg fully fu­elled, it weighs 20kg less than the R6 – a bike that is one of the lighter op­tions fromthe 600 class. ABS comes as stan­dard and the R3 is fit­ted with hy­draulic disc brakes on the front and rear which work well and bring the bike to a pro­gres­sive stop.

The 780mm seat height means it’s ac­ces­si­ble to rid­ers with legs on the shorter side. At 5ft 6in, I could eas­ily put my feet down prop­erly on both sides, some­thing which is al­ways a con­fi­dence booster.

The dash is dom­i­nated by a largeRPM in­di­ca­tor, there’s a gear in­di­ca­tor, speedo and an ad­justable shift light, clock, fuel gauge, cur­rent fuel con­sump­tion, av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion, coolant tem­per­a­ture gauge, two trip me­ters, fuel trip me­ter, oil trip me­ter and oil change in­di­ca­tor.

Should I buy one?

There are es­sen­tially two camps of rid­ers for whom it could be a dream bike – young rid­ers who are sports­bike minded who may be re­stricted to an A2 li­cence or who are mov­ing up the cc-lad­der but also more ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers look­ing for a fun su­pers­port bike that’s more af­ford­able than a big­ger ma­chine.

Talk­ing of af­ford­abil­ity – it’s worth check­ing out the PCP deals with your lo­cal au­tho­rised Yamaha dealer. With a de­posit of just over £1100 and monthly pay­ments of £79, you could be rid­ing away on one…

Colour op­tions in­clude Race Blue and Mid­night black and the bikes will be in deal­ers at the be­gin­ning of May.

There’s a whole host of ac­ces­sories that you can add in­clud­ing: Akrapovic slip-on­muf­fler, seat cover, li­cence plate holder, en­gine pro­tec­tors, sports screen, rim­stick­ers, tank pad, LEDindi­ca­tors and a num­ber of lug­gage op­tions. It comes with a two-year war­ranty.

So, what’s it like to ride?

I’ve owned my R6 for around six years so the bike had a lot to live up to. Would it give me the same smile as my beloved ma­chine? It did – in fact it gave me a big­ger one.

It’s easy to look at a bike such as the R3 and think that be­cause of its ca­pac­ity it’s purely for new rid­ers – it’s not. It’s great fun and for some rid­ers, know­ing that they’re us­ing all the en­gine and power makes it more fun. Like­wise for new rid­ers, it will re­ally build your con­fi­dence – a com­bi­na­tion of things in­clud­ing the ABS, the rid­ing po­si­tion and the power de­liv­ery make it a friendly ma­chine, but one you can have fun and ex­per­i­ment with.

The rid­ing po­si­tion isn’t too ex­treme – yes, it’s sporty and there is some weight on your wrists but not as much as you might think, which would make rid­ing it ev­ery day a plea­sure rather than a pain. It’s nim­ble in traf­fic and the fo­cus on ‘ease of han­dling’ is ev­i­dent as you weave in and out of parked cars and traf­fic. There’s move­ment in the bars too – 34º both ways to be pre­cise – which makes it easy to move around and park up in tight spa­ces. The clutch was light and easy and it was smooth through­out the revs.

We had the op­por­tu­nity to ride at the Calafat track in Spain – on track you can see the full po­ten­tial of the R3 and re­ally see it’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Mov­ing around the flat top seat was easy and the Miche­lin Pi­lot Street types – 110/70 on the front and 140/70 on the rear – per­formed well on track as well as on the street.

Yamaha points out that it has wind pro­tec­tion in the form of a slightly higher than nor­mal wind­shield. Of course, it’s not as much as you’d get on a scooter – but it does help buf­fer some of the wind over the top of you.

I like this bike and I love what it rep­re­sents – good fun on small­er­ca­pac­ity ma­chines. The ride is what you make of it and the R3 is happy to be your re­li­able friend, but it’s more than happy to get up to mis­chief if you want to…

The fam­ily lines are easy to spot, R3 looks very sim­i­lar to an R6 or even an R1!

Good for new­bies and rid­ers look­ing to down­size.

Dash is com­pre­hen­sive in de­tail.

Switchgear feels qual­ity.

Front brake hauls up well.

Head­light apes the racey look.

The fin­ish across the bike is top notch.

High-ish bars help the com­fort.

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