Doin’ Time

Suspension up­grade firms up the ride

Motorcyclist - - Contents - —Ju­lia La­palme

A bash plate for a Honda. A paint job for a Har­ley. Suspension up­grades for every­one else.

our yamaha r3 has served as a week­day com­muter, week­end canyon carver, and as a race­bike in the mak­ing. No mat­ter the duty, our big­gest com­plaint has been its su­per-soft suspension setup. Get this lit­tle R3 out in the twisties—or on a tight, quick-tran­si­tion­ing race­track—and the un­com­mu­nica­tive suspension is a bar­rier be­tween a rider and speed.

Af­ter­mar­ket suspension to the res­cue! Well, more like a shock from a Ninja 650, pur­chased from ebay for $45. The mod was sug­gested by Jesse Nor­ton at yama­har3rac­ing.com. Nor­ton’s $30 shock-adapter kit makes in­stal­la­tion easy, and As­sis­tant Edi­tor Will Steen­rod, who han­dled the in­stall, said that the big­gest chal­lenge was pulling the body pan­els off the R3. Go fig­ure. The 650 shock is about an inch longer than the stock R3 part, so it was no sur­prise when the R3 rolled out of the garage a lit­tle bit taller. If it means I get a lit­tle more legroom to the foot­pegs and quicker steer­ing, I’m all for it!

My first ride on the new rear suspension was a 60-mile free­way haul from Or­ange County to Hol­ly­wood. There was no mis­tak­ing the change ei­ther. The R3 is no­tice­ably stiffer—thick seams be­tween con­crete slabs have left me stand­ing on the pegs and rid­ing the R3 like a jockey perched over a gal­lop­ing horse. So our lit­tle Yamaha is no longer a soft ur­ban char­iot—but how will it fare in the twisties?

Be­tween sweep­ers and switch­backs, the R3 felt a bit quicker to turn in. Even more promis­ing, the rear end felt more planted as I pow­ered out of turns. It’s just the con­fi­dence boost I’ll need when I head back to the track. The front end, how­ever, re­mains quite soft, so con­sider the R3’s suspension still a work in progress.

wrist Ju­lia La­palme msrp (2017) $4,999

miles 1,721

mpg 63 mods Ninja 650 shock

up­date 4

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