After riding Yamaha’s spectacular YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M, stepping down to something like the R3 might seem a bit dull in comparison. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Yamaha’s latest entry into the beginner bike market. As I noted in my first ride review following the R3’s press intro in Northern California, the R3 is a bike gentle enough for a new rider, yet entertaining enough for an experienced rider to still have some fun.
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Though there wasn’t a dyno on hand to verify this, according to my butt dyno the 321cc parallel-Twin felt more powerful across the entire rev range than the motorcycle Yamaha used as a benchmark: Kawasaki’s Ninja 300. It’s light, nimble and entirely unintimidating to ride, too – attributes any new rider will appreciate.
With the benefit of more power, the Yamaha’s initial standing over the Kawasaki shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Also consider the fact the R3 weighs in under 370 lbs. (according to Yamaha), uses forged aluminum pistons and offset cylinders, and it’s clear that, like the literbike category, the Tuning Fork company is also aiming to conquer the littlebike category, too. Better still, at $4,990, it slightly pips the $4,999 Kawasaki and comes in about $500 lower than the $5,499 KTM RC390, its real rival in the class. Also consider the KTM comes with ABS at that price, which is an option unavailable for the R3.
In case my written word wasn’t enough to sate your curiosity, here, now, is my spoken word about the R3, shot immediately after my last track session aboard the bike. If it appears as though my mouth is having a hard time processing what my brain is trying to tell it, know this: the R3 is good. How good? Stay tuned, as we’re gathering the main protagonists in the class to discover exactly that.