Yamaha YZF-R3 – First Impression
- 6721 Views
- Write a comment
The pros: Looks are similar to Yamaha R series, excellent build quality, comfortable riding position. Every Part perform very well.
The cons: The bike should have equipped with ABS.
The crux: It is wonderful 300cc sports machine that are capable of being good in the city, extraordinary on highways.
We ride the latest Yamaha on the renowned Buddh International Circuit.
Yamaha Motor India introduced the YZF-R3 in the India market on 11th August. Launched at the Buddh International Circuit, the R3 is the latest entrant in the 300cc category. We were there to experience the motorcycle in all its glory in the best place in the country.
During the launch presentation, Yamaha India Vice President of Sales & Marketing Mr. Roy Kurian mentioned that due to recent launches primarily concentrating on the mass market, people had started questioning Yamaha’s intention as a manufacturer of performance motorcycles. That if Yamaha has changed their approach towards the Indian market completely. The launch of Yamaha YZF-R3 is the answer to all those questions and doubts and Yamaha believes that it shall clear the air on what they stand for.
In essence, the R3 is the first real competitor for the Kawasaki Ninja 300. The smaller Ninja has always been a unique motorcycle in its segment since its inception given that it has always had a parallel twin engine. As a result, it has been a top performer against its competition consistently which has mostly come from the single cylinder CBR250R or 300R and lately from KTM RC390. But that hasn’t really effected Ninja much. Also, the RC390 has more differences than similarities to actually pose any direct threat to the Kawasaki.
So as it came to be, it was upto one of the Japanese manufacturers only to stand upto the challenge. While Honda is still busy making gentle single cylinders in the class and the Suzuki is currently nowhere to be seen here, it is the Yamaha that came forward and delivered.
Design and Appearance
The YZF-R3 is the latest motorcycle that carries forward Yamaha’s R series legacy and it is clear in its design language. A Sportbike with dual headlights, layered side fairings and a sharp tail. The basics are spot on.
The headlight, though familiar, is unique and interesting. The front end is typically sharp for its intent while the headlights are bent inwards from below giving it a fresh and an aggressive feel. It’s wide from the front and brings likeable bulk to the overall design. The design has right proportions and it strikes a good balance between a sizeable and a compact motorcycle.
The build quality and fit-n-finish of various parts is excellent as expected from Yamaha and the motorcycle is quite a looker. The display console is a mix of an analog RPM meter along with a digital speedo meter displaying the most important set pieces of information. Besides that, we get temperature, odo meter, trip meter, gear and fuel indicator as well. Finally, there’s an RPM indicator light that can be set as per riders’ preference at a particular RPM. It flashes whenever the RPM hits that set-mark indicating the rider to upshift.
The riding position is very friendly and comfortable. The seat has enough room for the rider to move front and back as per the comfort level. Handlebar is a two piece unit (clip-on) and the reach is such that the rider doesn’t have to stretch himself forward giving more of an upright riding position. Rider foot-pegs are well placed and set at a position which is accommodating for most riders. Overall, the motorcycle has a very comfortable riding position which has a sporty flavor to it.
Chassis & Suspension
R3 is equipped with KYB suspension at front and rear. Front has 41mm conventional forks while the rear is a mono-suspension with 7 step spring preload adjustment. The mono-shock is directly attached to the swing-arm unlike its younger sibling the R15 which has a link-type mono-suspension.
The frame is a diamond type structure made of steel specifically developed for this motorcycle. It wraps around the engine which is a stressed member.
The engine is sweet. It’s a parallel twin 321cc engine, liquid cooled, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder producing 42PS of maximum power @ 10750RPM and maximum torque of 29.6NM @ 9000RPM. The engine is fed by the fuel injection system which maintains optimum air-fuel ratio for smoothest throttle response and engine performance under varied riding conditions.
The cylinders are DiASil (all aluminum) for reduced weight, friction resistant microstructure and better heat dissipation. Also, an offset cylinder design is used for reduced horsepower losses eventually achieving higher level of power output. An offset cylinder is one in which the center of the cylinder is offset by a few millimeters from the center of the crankshaft to eliminate the force of the piston's motion towards the cylinder wall at the moment of maximum internal cylinder pressure during combustion.
We had the whole track available to us to see how the motorcycle actually rides on the best road in the country with nobody to interfere and no traffic lights (in a sense).
The R3 is an enjoyable motorcycle to ride. The motorcycle has enough power to keep amateurs happy and is an appropriate tool for riders who are starting on their Sportbike journey. The motorcycle is light to lift from the side stand and the wet weight of 169kgs is hardly noticeable. The weight distribution, according to Yamaha, is a perfect 50/50 front and rear.
The handling is predictable and there are no negative surprises in store for the rider. The steel tube frame that houses the engine as a stressed member does a good job at keeping the handling more neutral than being outright sharp like a Supersport. This combined with a very comfortable riding position shall make R3 a very good motorcycle to ride in the city. The seat height is good and quite low. At my height (around 5 feet 7 inches), I was able to put both my feet flat on the ground comfortably further enhancing the confidence in managing the vehicle.
On the track, the R3 was absolutely stable at high speeds and the engine felt equally smooth even at redline. The motorcycle could be redlined easily in the first 4 gears; however, the needle didn’t quite get there in the 5th gear. As per Yamaha, the 6th gear is overdrive and shall provide excellent cruising experience while keeping the fuel efficiency in check. The 6 speed gearbox is slick and made positive gear changes throughout the ride. Given that it was a brand new motorcycle and had already done at least 15 laps on BIC, the quality of the gearbox seems phenomenal. Upshifts without using the clutch were easy and I never faced any single issue with it. For downshifts, pulling in the clutch slightly did the job well.
The front and rear suspension provide stable ride at all speeds while I could feel that the factory settings were favoring towards a comfortable ride. The R3 doesn’t have ABS but the brakes were still good enough, at least for what I was able to throw at them on the track. However, I can’t say much about the rear brake performance because I hardly used it. For numbers, the front brake is 298mm having a 2 piston caliper while the rear is 220mm with a single piston caliper. The motorcycle is shod with MRF tyres which should be good enough for the daily road use. On the track though, better rubber would be needed to explore the limits of the R3. Things were a little less confidence inspiring on cornering compared to on the straights.
At the end of our session, one thing became clear that Yamaha has created a motorcycle that is easily capable of taking the fight to the Ninja 300. The comparison is inevitable and at least the specifications are in favor of the Yamaha. We shall confirm the same on the road to be sure.
As far as the Indian market is concerned, there’s been a question doing the rounds recently if R3 could be as impactful as the R15 was way back in 2008. In my opinion, it’s not a fair question to put at Yamaha because when R15 was launched, there was nothing like it in its segment and not even in the segment above it. Also remember that Yamaha was in a terrible situation back then and it actually needed (not required) something absolutely unique to bring them back on the track. Something that no one has ever done before. YZF-R15 was that motorcycle. Now, the situation for Yamaha is different, they are not desperate. Their motorcycles are selling well and even the scooter business isn’t doing any bad. Finally, they are entering an already established segment, so they have a different kind of a challenge to take care of.
Right now though, Yamaha needs to strengthen their image and position further as a performance motorcycle manufacturer. The base was laid strong with the R15 and now the arrival of R3 shall make it stronger.
And to think it in a way, we now have the choice of two motorcycles with wonderful 300cc parallel twin engines that are capable of being good in the city, exceptional on highways and immensely enjoyable on the track. What’s not to like?