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Yamaha YZF-R3: First Ride Review

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Pratheek Kunder

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Introduction

Yamaha YZF-R3 Front View

The YZF-R3 is one of those motorcycles that every bike enthusiast in India knows about. Yamaha sold a few hundred units of it in India a few years ago, but the bike had to be discontinued due to the implementation of stringent emission norms. Nevertheless, this bike is making a comeback here with a few latest features this time around. In fact, its aspirational value has gone up, thanks to the revised styling. Where its smallest sibling, the R15, is making all bikers go in awe due to its stunning design, the YZF-R3 is comparatively less aggressive.

The Visuals

Yamaha YZF-R3 Right Side View

Now, if you look at the R3 closely, you'll see a lot of design elements have been borrowed from the older-gen R1. This is a good thing because the R1 is worshipped in India and that feeling is likely to be shared with the R3. The fascia of the latter has the sharpest design lines - credit goes to the split headlamp and also the air intake gap. I like how the windscreen smartly merges with the front of the fairing. From the side, those large fairing labels are what give the R3 its sportsbike vibe. On the other hand, the rear is fairly simple-looking but exhibits some aggression.

The Package

Yamaha YZF-R3 Handle Bar

The YZF-R3 is built around the famous diamond chassis. Inside it, there's the 321cc, parallel-twin, liquid-cooled engine. Unlike the last-gen R3 that was sold in India, the new one gets 37mm KYB USD forks up front and a monoshock at the back. The instrument console gets LCD treatment. The size of this screen is decent and the layout of the ride data is such that it is easily readable. However, other than the usual readouts, such as the odometer, trip meters, real-time fuel consumption, it doesn’t come with any additional features. The bike gets LED lights throughout. The other thing you should know about the bike is the fit and finish. They are excellent and you can see some good craftsmanship throughout.

The Ride

Yamaha YZF-R3 Left Front Three Quarter

The Japanese can do one thing that no other brand can – getting the overall refinement of the engine right. The R3’s engine churns out excellent refinement and smoothness throughout the rev band. There is some minor buzz post 7,000rpm, but that can only be felt on the handlebar. The easy-revving nature of the engine allows you to stay in the top range most of the time and that’s where the majority of the performance is. There’s good mid-range too, but the top-end keeps you engaged most of the time. However, the lack of strong low-end does take away some of the city fun. Then, the fuelling and the throttle response on the R3 are excellent.

Yamaha YZF-R3 Left Front Three Quarter

In fact, it is possibly one of the biggest highlights of the bike. You should also know that this 321cc engine is extremely tractable. It can do 50kmph while in sixth gear, which means city riding should be easier on the left foot. But there’s barely any torque generated in such situations, so you will need to downshift to the third gear for quick overtakes. The bike felt light, agile, and extremely well-balanced. There have been times when I was doing triple-digit speeds on those marvelous Thai roads and the R3 made me smile throughout. The feel from the front is so good that you are tempted to push the bike to its limit – and those Dunlop Sportmax tyres let you too.

Yamaha YZF-R3 Front View

The overall balance – at slow speeds or high – the R3 manages to churn out a confident ride. With the presence of the decently sized windscreen, you can easily tuck in and find the top speed of the bike. But slowing down from that speed is a bit bothersome. It's not the bite or power from those callipers – those work perfectly fine – but the feel on the levers, which is barely present. Regarding the ride quality, Thailand roads weren't really the right place to test it as the quality of the tarmac is top-notch. This is something we'll learn about in detail when we test the bike on varied surfaces in India.

Should I buy one?

Yamaha YZF-R3 Right Side View

The YZF-R3 will come as a Completely Built Up (CBU) unit from Indonesia, which means, the bike is not going to be aggressively priced. The price of this Yamaha is likely to be between Rs. 4 lakh and Rs. 4.3 lakh (ex-showroom), and that is quite a bit. But for that price, you will get a fantastic engine and a chassis that allows you to have fun every time you enter a nice corner. The ergonomics are pretty good for city rides, sports touring, and also, racing. However, the feature list is small and uninspiring and that could prove a major setback for this motorcycle. If you want a motorcycle that will put a big smile on your face every time you ride it and aren’t really bothered about the feature list, the YZF-R3 is the bike for you.

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi

Gallery

Yamaha YZF-R3 Radiator
Yamaha YZF-R3 Front Suspension
Yamaha YZF-R3 windscreen
Yamaha YZF-R3 Mono Shock Absorber
Yamaha YZF-R3 Rear Wheel
Yamaha YZF-R3 Rear Wheel
Yamaha YZF-R3 Tail Light
Yamaha YZF-R3 Exhaust Headers
Yamaha YZF-R3 Front Wheel
Yamaha YZF-R3 Bike Seat

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