GREAT APPEAL: Wheels24's bike guru Dries van der Walt says Yamaha's R3 is sporty, sexy and nimble. Image: Dries van der Walt
Johannesburg - Yamaha's R3 is a new contender in the competitive 300 - 400cm³ sport commuter segment of the market, where it does battle with the likes of Honda, Kawasaki and KTM.
Taking design cues from the new R1, the R3 is an attractive machine. It seems quite sizeable for its engine capacity, with little apart from the somewhat skinny Michelin Pilot Street tyres to give away the fact that this is a small-capacity machine.
Despite its size, the R3 is actually light and narrow, making it a pleasure to use as a commuter.
The little Yamaha in action
Once you sit on the R3 you realise that it is quite compact, with a seating position that could be a problem for bigger riders – my 1.8m frame was already a bit of a push. Being that Yamaha South Africa targets the R3 mostly at female riders, however, that is less of an issue.
Image gallery: 2015 Yamaha YZF-R3
While the target audience are likely to appreciate the bikes size and weight, they are as likely to appreciate its performance. The plucky little 320cm³ inline twin engine pulls well enough at low revs, but produces a noticeable added kick from above 7 000 rpm. Running the motor in the 7000 - 9000rpm range, the R3 doesn't just leave the traffic behind but also keeps up with the bigger bikes from robot to robot. The little Yamaha makes a good highway commuter: it could maintain speeds well in excess of the speed limit with ease, and I was able to coax it to an indicated top speed of 178km/h with the rev counter 1 500 rpm shy of the red line. At the speed limit, there is ample power in reserve for an overtaking manoeuvre.
Lack of grip
The bike handles well enough, but unfortunately it is let down by lack of grip from the tyres, especially on wet surfaces – I would highly recommend replacing the stock rubber with something grippier as soon as practical. Brakes, on the other hand, are almost beyond reproach. Although the initial feel on the lever is a bit vague, the stopping power is more than ample for the bike's weight. The addition of ABS is very welcome, and unlike on some other bikes, the ABS is not over-sensitive – it is there when you need it and stays out of the way when you don't.
During the bystander test, the R3 scored high in deception, with most onlookers guessing it is a bigger capacity bike than it really is. It also scored high among women, who liked it for its sporty looks, easy manoeuvrability and relaxed upright seating position.
Then there’s the price...
The crunch comes with the price, and the R3 suffers the same problem as its similarly-priced competitors – there isn't a great deal of difference between its R 69 950 price tag and that of a low-km used 600 cm³ commuter bike. Yet despite this, bikes in this category seem to do well, and there certainly is nothing to prevent the R3 from being successful – it delivers light weight, nimble handling and sporty performance with a good dollop of sexiness thrown into the mix.
Model: YZF-R 3
Type: Four stroke, parallel twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder
Displacement: 321 cm³
Maximum Power: 30.9 kW @ 10,750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 29.6 Nm @ 9,000 rpm
Fuel supply system: Electronic fuel injection
Fuel type: Unleaded 95 octane RON
Fuel consumption: 4.01 L/100km (actual)
Type: Constant Mesh, 6-speed
Final drive: Chain
Overall length x width x height (mm): 2 090 x 720 x 1 135
Curb weight: 169kg
Fuel tank: 14 L
Front: Single 298mm disc
Rear: Single 220mm disc
Front: 41mm KYB® telescopic fork;
Rear: KYB® single shock
WHEELS & TYRES
Front tyre: 110/70-17M/C 54H
Rear Tyre: 140/70-17M/C 66H
PRICE: R69 950