• The Yamaha YZF-R3 runs on rails when attacking corners.
    The Yamaha YZF-R3 runs on rails when attacking corners.
  • The sporty and nimble riding character of the bike makes ...
    The sporty and nimble riding character of the bike makes it fun in the ghats.
  • Bite from the brakes is strong, and they offer fade-free ...
    Bite from the brakes is strong, and they offer fade-free performance.
  • The digital-analogue instrument cluster is easy to read e...
    The digital-analogue instrument cluster is easy to read even in the day.
  • The switchgear is top drawer and buttons are placed intui...
    The switchgear is top drawer and buttons are placed intuitively.
  • The tank rises high, but doesn’t get in the way while cro...
    The tank rises high, but doesn’t get in the way while crouching.
  • The 321cc parallel twin engine has butter-smooth performa...
    The 321cc parallel twin engine has butter-smooth performance on tap.
  • The pillion seat is quite high and small, as is standard ...
    The pillion seat is quite high and small, as is standard on sports bikes.
  • The exhaust note is soft, we wish it sounded a little mor...
    The exhaust note is soft, we wish it sounded a little more aggressive.
  • Tyres are a massive letdown as they offer feeble traction...
    Tyres are a massive letdown as they offer feeble traction on the go.
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Yamaha YZF-R3 review, road test

12th Feb 2016 8:00 am

The YZF-R3 reflects Yamaha’s racing DNA in its looks. We find out if it has the go to match the show.

  • Make : Yamaha
  • Model : R3

After what seems ages, Yamaha has finally built upon their YZF-R15 legacy and launched a proper, twin-cylinder, small-capacity sports motorcycle for the masses. The YZF-R3 had been long anticipated since it was first shown in October 2014, and then spotted testing in India in May 2015.

We finally got a first taste of this racy Yamaha when it was launched, at the Buddh International Circuit. We’ve just put rubber to the road to see what the motorcycle performs like in everyday Indian conditions.

The YZF-R3 looks very sporty. The Yamaha’s twin headlamps look sharp, and the pilot lamp in the centre looks good too. The wind deflector is transparent, and allows you to look at the road with ease when tucked in at speed. If you compare the front of the motorcycle with that of the smaller R15, it looks more muscular and grown up. The mirrors are wide enough for riders to easily see what’s happening behind.

The R3 has a sharply designed instrument cluster, with analogue tachometer and digital speedometer backlit in soothing white. The digital LCD also displays fuel and engine temperature levels, apart from an odometer and trip readings, along with the usual suspects. Behind sit clip-on handlebars, which end in a pair of comfortable palm grips. Switchgear is top notch and absolutely sublime to operate.

The tank is quite angular and muscular, and high set. The R3 seat is finished in black, and lets you move around easily, comfortable enough on long and short rides alike. The pillion seat is rather high and small, as is common on sportsbikes.

Overall fit and finish on the motorcycle is top notch, with nothing to complain about at all.

Propelling the Yamaha YZF-R3 is a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, parallel-twin engine, which displaces 321cc. Each cylinder has four-valves, controlled by dual camshafts. The cylinders are coated by a Yamaha trademarked DiASil coating, to reduce friction. The R3 motor remains silky smooth throughout the rev range, with barely any hint of vibrations.

The engine makes a maximum of 41.4bhp of power, delivered at 10,750rpm, and peak torque is 3kgm, delivered at 9,000rpm. The power curve is linear. Although one will notice that once you pin the throttle, post 3,000rpm there’s an urgency, as all the engine horses ride in, gaining smoothly in aggression past 6,000rpm. The tachometer needle swings freely to the 12,500rpm redline, and hits the limiter at 13,000rpm.

The engine is quiet and doesn’t sound aggressive at all. This gem of an engine is mated to a smooth-performing gearbox, which shifts precisely with the minimum of light toe input. The clutch too, feels spot on.

The YZF-R3 is quick off the mark, covering naught to 60kph in 2.62 seconds and 100kph in 6.75secs. We touched a true top speed of 155kph.

The R3 does exactly what you expect from it. It responds well to steering inputs and steers with neutral character.

The chassis and suspension work well in-tune to make this happen. Yamaha is offering 41mm conventional forks in front, and a preload adjustable rear monoshock. These are set slightly on the firmer side for normal city riding, as expected of a sportsbike, and work perfectly when pushing the motorcycle hard, to keep the rider in control at all times.

Tyres on the R3 are a massive letdown, and play spoilsport, as they lack grip. The compound of the MRFs has them made to last longer, at the cost of road-holding. This is not a bad thing for most people, who will ride the motorcycle in city traffic. They will, however, have to be careful when pushing hard, or riding in the wet.

The R3 brakes have adequate bite, and performance is fade-free. The control levers have excellent feel, and let you know exactly how much stopping power one has on tap. ABS brakes are sorely missed, especially keeping in mind the performance of this quick bike, while you are left in the lurch at the other end, with feeble tyres.

The Yamaha YZF-R3 returns 22.8kpl in the city, through heavy traffic, and 24.7kpl on the highway, which is good for this class of a quick and sporty bike. The real time fuel-efficiency readout isn’t quite as realistic as it should be, and is something you can go by with a pinch of salt, as it showed us figures in the high 30s to low 40s.

It’s always impossible for motorcycles to provide us the best of all worlds, but Yamaha has come close enough with the YZF-R3. Throughout the test, the R3 performed well, be it in terms of everyday riding, or exclusively hard pushing on the twisting ghats.
The R3 shortcomings that need to be dealt with are a lack of ABS for the brakes, and weak tyres, besides which, you will find it hard to put your finger on anything else. The engine is very much to our liking, and so is handling.
At Rs 3.26 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Yamaha YZF-R3 makes a great bargain that also leaves change in your pocket compared to its ‘greener’ twin-cylinder rival from Kawasaki, which it matches or outdoes on virtually every front.
The Yamaha YZF-R3 then, gets a big thumbs-up in this test.

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