Yamaha R3: The 300cc Superbike
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.