2015 Yamaha YZF-R3
You might think being almost two metres tall and having 30 years road riding experience tucked under my ever-widening belt, I would shy away from the idea of folding my lanky frame onto a motorcycle designed for learner riders. But that’s where you’d be wrong.
Like many, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Yamaha’s all-new YZF-R3. It’s not your average tootle-about-town commuter made to look a bit sporty – it’s instead a serious piece of sportsbike kit with genuine R-Series DNA.
Following two full days of riding the 321cc parallel twin R3 on the road and the track, I realised nobody has it better than Australia’s newest riders.
For just $6999 rideaway, you can own a genuine sportsbike which is still tame enough to build your confidence as a new rider. Its drawcard is that it punches well above its weight in the handling and power departments in the hands of an experienced rider.
While some of the R3’s styling cues reflect the recently released YZF-R1, there’s more than a sprinkling of R6 thrown in, including the sharp nose, twin headlights and race-inspired ducktail.
The engine layout gives the bike some girth, helped along by a bulging, multi-element fairing. The single disc up front is one of the few indications it’s a small-capacity machine. Being an entry-level bike, most of the standard equipment has been fitted (including ABS) with a price point in mind, but there’s nothing cheap-looking about it.
From the rider’s seat the R3 feels as big as it looks. Despite having a low, 780mm seat height and 160mm ground clearance, there’s enough space to fold long legs. The two-piece seat provides a bit more space to move further back if needed.
The footpeg position is less racy than its bigger siblings, providing a more upright riding triangle – an indication the bike is being marketed to a broader spectrum of users than the race-pedigree R6 and R1.
The analogue tachometer on the dash has a smile-inducing 12,500rpm redline indicated and the digital screen displays speed, gear selection, fuel and temperature full time, while a scroll through menu provides trip meters, fuel economy and a clock.
SKY’S THE REV LIMIT
These days it’s not uncommon for small-capacity production engines to be able to rev out to crazy numbers. The R3’s 321cc, DOHC, eight-valve engine will happily rev to its 12,500rpm soft-cut rev limiter all day. But it’s the mid-range power it produces that’s most impressive.
The specs reveal a claimed maximum 30.9kW and 29.6Nm, spread nicely across the rev range. The wide band of usable power decreases the amount of tap dancing required on the gear shifter to keep the little engine in its sweet spot.
This parallel twin differs from the mill fitted to Yamaha’s popular MT-07 LAMS bike in a number of areas, mainly in its bottom-end layout. Where the MT-07’s 270-degree crank produces oodles of torque, the R3 has a 180-degree crank and balancer shaft for smooth, high-revving power. This little bike can get up and move quite briskly, even with a large human on board.
From the moment I threw my leg over the R3, it felt right. Thanks to the comfortable suspension set-up, a full day on the road failed to produce any fatigue. Its claimed 169kg (wet) weight has allowed Yamaha to set the bike up a bit softer than a thoroughbred racing machine but it’s still agile and easy to manoeuvre thanks to its lightness and 50/50 weight distribution.
When given the green light to push the limits of the little bike on day two, the R3 proved it’s more than up to the challenge and remained impressively stable.
Yamaha’s YZF-R3 possesses superbike looks and superbike feel, but it’s much more than that. Just about anyone could learn the art of motorcycle riding on one. It would make a great commuter and will also take you long distances in relative comfort. For those with a faster pulse, the R3 will eagerly take on more than a bit of spirited riding and would more than hold its own at a track day – it also doesn’t fall short in the looks department.
But, most importantly, it’s a bike a rider can buy as a novice and still be enjoying what it has to offer in years to come.
– Excessive boot wear for taller riders
Read the full review in the current issue of Motorcycle Trader.
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