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Yamaha YZF-R3 First Ride Review

12 August 2015, 09:33 AM Vikrant Singh

What is it?


The new Yamaha YZF - R3 is what the R15 would have grown up to be if it were an actual living thing. The R3 is bigger, brawnier, and naturally more powerful than its 150cc sibling. It looks better too. Not so much in terms of cutting edge modernity, but its visual presence is that of a more mature, grown up and purposeful motorcycle. And we absolutely love those headlamps. The R3 also looks like a motorcycle that wants to go fast. And it does! But, we will get to that in a bit. 

First, let's look at some facts. The Yamaha R3 isn’t as exotically built as the R15. It doesn’t get a deltabox frame, no aluminium swingarm and it doesn’t even get a radial rear tyre. Instead, the R3 has a tubular, diamond type, steel frame, telescopic forks upfront and a non-linked monoshock at the rear, and single disc brake setup at both wheels, without ABS. The engine is a 321cc, 42bhp, twin cylinder unit and at least on paper (for a bike weighing in at a wet 169kg), the recipe seems pretty inviting.

So, how does it ride?

Yamaha YZF-R3 [2016-2017]

Yamaha YZF-R3 [2016-2017]

  • Displacement321 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)41.4 bhp
  • Kerb Weight169 kg
  • ;

Last known Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 3,32,874

Besides the tyres not proving to be as sticky as say the Metzelers that one gets on the KTM RC 390, the Yamaha R3 scores pretty well. It is a spacious motorcycle with nicely judged seating position. It isn't overtly racy nor can it be termed as an upright commuter. It’s somewhere in between and hits a sweet spot much like the Kawasaki Ninja 300, only better. 

But, it is the riding dynamics of the Yamaha R3 that impresses most. The engine – parallel twin, liquid cooled, fuel injected and pumping out more power than the Ninja - is easy revving and refined, and it packs in a good measure of performance in the mid- and top-end. It isn't going to blow your socks off, but it will keep you entertained, involved and happy. And just for the record, it will take you past 170kmph without complaint. So, yes, it is fast.

Now, when we first looked at the spec sheet and found things like USD forks, aluminium swingarm and radial rear tyre conspicuous by their absence, we had our doubts about the R3 matching up to class standards or even its own sibling, the R15, in handling terms. Three corners into the Buddh International Circuit and it was all dispelled.

The R3 is as sweet handling as the R15: it feels light and progressive at turn in; beautifully balanced and rock solid when leaned over, and even under braking there's no real drama. It is one of those bikes that feel comfortable to ride hard almost immediately. It is undemanding, communicative and a lot of fun!

Wondering how comfortable it is to ride on the road? Well, we are too because we only sampled the motorcycle at the racetrack. But, if I were to make an educated guess, I'd say it will be pliant and it will care for the rider's back over poor roads.

Anything else I should know?

Well, for starters, it has a nice digital display. The only analogue element is the large tachometer. The display, which is one of the easier ones to read in this class of bikes, also throws up info on the selected gear, instantaneous fuel consumption, tank fuel level and engine temperature, besides the speed, two trip readings and time. The R3 is also very well put together. Good quality finish, tight panel gaps and hardly any loose ends that might result in a rattle later on.

What the new Yamaha R3 could do with, however, is a better exhaust note. But then, that's something an aftermarket exhaust should sort out without a problem. It is also only available in two colours, which is unnecessarily limiting. And finally, besides not having ABS (like the KTM and Honda) and adjustable levers (like the Benelli), the R3 also doesn’t get a slipper clutch (like the Kawasaki). Clearly, it isn’t the best specced for its price, that’s for sure.

Why should I buy one?


The Yamaha R3 is good-looking, comfortable to be on, and it isn't short on performance, particularly for its class. The R3 is decently priced too at Rs 3.25 lakh, but yes, having missed out on ABS, a slipper clutch and better tyres, it does make the pricing seem a little steeper than it actually is, all things considered. But, the biggest reason to buy the R3 has to be its versatility. We know for a fact that it is a fun bike to ride on a racetrack. But, given its seating ergonomics, large seat, decent wind protection and expected good ride quality, it should also make for a good touring and daily commuting machine. And it is well built.


Where does it fit in?

Given the pricing of the new Yamaha R3, it goes head-on against the Kawasaki Ninja 300. But, if we look at the bike's ability, it makes for a worthy alternative to the Honda CBR 250R as well. The KTM RC 390 also competes in the same space, but in character it is just too different; it's just more hardcore.

(Photo courtesy: Eshan Shetty)


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