YAMAHA R3 (2015-on) Review

Published: 13 April 2015

The YZF-R3 could be the next miniature hero from Yamaha

YAMAHA R3  (2015-on)

The YZF-R3 could be the next miniature hero from Yamaha

  • At a glance
  • 321cc  -  41.4 bhp
  • 57 mpg  -  175 miles range
  • Medium seat height (780mm)
  • Suitable for A2 licence
  • New: £4,799
    Used: £3,900 to £5,100 See all YAMAHA R3s for sale

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The R3 is a credible, genuine, practical sportsbike that has the ability to entertain even the most sceptical old goat of a motorcyclist. Are you looking at a future legend? If enough riders are swayed by its charms then you may well be doing just that.

Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5

The handling on turn-in is predictable, with a stable feeling mid-corner and no twitches from the Thailand-made Michelin Pilot Street tyres. Our test rider’s 14-stone frame put demands on the suspension that may well sit outside the R3’s design parameters, but it never protested. One section of the Calafat circuit where we tested the bike features a quick succession of corners that require direction changes and a stolen shortshift through the gears at the same time. It’s the kind of rider behaviour that will unsettle a flighty machine, but the Yamaha is too neat and tidy for that. Bumps in Calafat’s surface are in the ideal place to throw the R3 off its path, but the bike soaks it all up without so much as a shrug. On the road, as on track, The YZF-R3 is stable without being stubborn when asked to turn in and the suspension never cries foul as it copes with the bike being thrown this way and that.

Engine 5 out of 5

The engine is lively enough to entertain yet has enough poke to pull a taller gear than is ideal. The 41.4bhp motor gives its first gentle wave of extra zip as the needle strikes 5500rpm and then it starts to pull again at 7000, keeping going through 8000rpm as well. But its strongest surge comes at 9000pm, which is where it delivers a peak torque output of a sliver over 21lb-ft. It then runs hard to 11,000rpm, when a small white LED flashes on the top of the instrument cluster to suggest that the rider gets busy with his left foot. This is the Yamaha’s strongest powerband, but the R3 feels anything but peaky.  The new engine inherits much from Yamaha’s R1 and R6, with lightweight forged pistons that are 10% lighter than traditional cast items to reduce inertia and are also stronger for increased reliability at high revs. Carburized con-rods are lighter and more rigid than standard ones, a DiaSil cylinder means less internal friction (and more power) and the cylinder is also offset from the crankshaft, keeping the piston running truer on its downstroke to reduce power losses.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The R3 is the first geared bike made in Yamaha’s new factory in Indonesia. Indonesians buy seven million new bikes and scoots every year – a third of them are Yamahas – and the company have opened their own factory in Jakarta’s Pulogadung district. The R3 is a version of the 250 made for riders in the Far East, where there are different licence restrictions. The ‘made in Indonesia’ sticker on the frame may concern some, but the finish on the R3 is good. The bodywork and paint is lustrous, there are tidy details like the sculpted handlebar ends. The only parts that stand out as signs of cost saving are the chunky rear brake and gearshift levers.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

The £4799 launch price is £100 cheaper than the main rival, Kawasaki’s Ninja 300, and it’s £200 less than the nutcase KTM RC390. It’s quite a chunk more than Honda’s £4299 CBR300R and an even bigger slice on top of Kawasaki’s forthcoming Ninja 250SL – but the Yamaha is playing a different game to those two. It represents very good value, and a fuel economy return of around 60mpg is the icing on that cake. Yamaha UK have put the R3 on their Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) scheme and its initial price is £79 a month.

Equipment 4 out of 5

The instruments get the essentials across clearly. The digital speedo is prominent alongside an analogue rev counter. There are two trip meters, two fuel economy readings, odometer, fuel gauge and a water temperature gauge. The R3 also tells riders how long it’s been since an oil change and alerts the rider when the next change is due. The handlebars are clip-ons, but they’re mounted above the yoke and give a generous lift for more comfort on the road. The screen offers further road manners, while the optional accessory version is shorter and offers less shelter for those who want a sportier outlook. Brakes feature ABS as standard and the system works well, not intruding even during braking from high speed unless you are in an emergency stop scenario.

Owners' Reviews

2 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA R3 (2015-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your YAMAHA R3 (2015-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.5 out of 5
Engine 4.5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.5 out of 5
Equipment 3.5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Point, shoot, commute ...

11 October 2015 by MTO

Light, agile, easy to ride in traffic, and looks fantastic if you can get over the pinched-up gas tank. Power band of a street-scaled R6 means a painless low-rpm urban crawl with healthy upper-tach blasts that exceed anything needed on the street. ... Read more Don't worry about the "321." There's no city scenario where this thing lacks, so long as you're willing to keep it in its power band. More than enough on the freeway, though you'll only keep up with the litre boys while they pause to once-over your little SS-styled masterpiece. Like all of the smaller spinners, you can pin it in a few gears and go pretty danged fast without getting to lose-your-license fast too fast. I'm still averaging 58 mpg (U.S.) urban, measured at refills. The only downside I've encountered is somewhat busy tracking at freeway speeds when there is a strong crosswind present. That's pretty much what you sign up for on such a lightweight faired bike, but the solution is light grip on the bars, a little countering, and go with the blow. I really don't long for anything else, unless I need to run for my life from the 3 a.m. freeway hooligans.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Just perfect for my purposes. Hardcore racers no doubt want better of everything.
Engine
5 out of 5
Quiet, smooth, and docile as a scooter at low revs, yet torquey enough for easy second-gear launches. Howls like a banshee when you twist the rip stick and MOVES. Not an R1, but not a 250 experience by any means.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Typical Japanese, so far.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Cheap to buy, fuel, and maintain. My city mileage during break-in is sitting at 58 mpg (U.S.)
Equipment
3 out of 5
I don't miss the missing ABS or slipper clutch one bit, but the market may say otherwise. The included analog tach and hi-rez info center are as good as on any bike at 3x the price. Clock and gear indicator are appreciated on every ride.
Buying experience

Salesman entertained me with a sincere report that when the Dow dropped below 15K the U.S. dollar would collapse and Barack Obama would declare martial law and retreat to a bunker on the newly-named Mt. Denali to rule the U.S. with his wife Michelle (who would be revealed to the world as a tranny) and Hillary Clinton. I know this is the internet, but attention, internet ... I'm not making this up. Most of the guys at motorcycle stores have fallen off bikes and gotten concussions, so ... Anyway, at less than 6K U.S. out-the-door with a very earnest in-person tale of the Apocalypse (I've always suspected the Daily Mail makes theirs up) I'd say this was a phenomenal buying experience.

4 out of 5

The best of the new breed.

09 August 2015 by LineyP

Excellent at what it is designed for and an A2 license holders dream. Dripping in sportsbike style and easily the prettiest bike in its class... But if you are after a rip-roaring baby speed monster; this isn't it. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
An excellent commuter tool and handles motorways and dual carriageways as easily as a twisty backroad. Very comfortable, even after a 4 hour trip on the M25 and confidence inspiring, especially for the shorter rider. I have yet to experience the ABS but it is a welcome addition.
Engine
4 out of 5
A capable all rounder; easy to get on with around town and on carraigeways. As echoed in most reviews, power delivery is in the upper end on the rev counter, from about 7000rpm to 10000rpm, with noticeable extra pull at 9000rpm. Plenty of power to pull away from traffic when required, either at the lights or in 6th while overtaking. However, this isn't mini R6 in the same vein as the 400cc sportsbikes of old and would maybe benefit from an extra 20bhp for us riders with an A license.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
1000 miles is too early to tell for the long term but it is well put together with solid feeling plastics, lustre paint and sound mechanicals thus far.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Excellent value at £4982 OTR inclusive of registration and first year tax. Returns 67mpg on average. The only negative would be insurance. As Yamaha have defined the R3 as a 'supersport', the insurance is relatively high (it would be cheaper to insure an MT07 for example).
Equipment
4 out of 5
Informative dashboard / clocks. Combination of analog rev counter and digital display add to the premium feel other bikes in this class lack. ABS is very welcome for the newer rider. Mirrors are good for this type of bike but still have a tendency to show the rider their elbows Official optional extras are starting to be released from Yamaha (single seat cowl, Akrapoviç exhaust) but many third party extras (exhaust options, tail tidys etc) are available.
Buying experience

Bought brand new (still in the packing crate) through an official Yamaha dealer. Excellent experience all round. Serviced by the same dealer at 600 miles, very competent and friendly. Paid £4892 OTR.

Read all 2 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2015
Year discontinued -
New price £4,799
Used price £3,900 to £5,100
Warranty term Two years
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £41
Annual service cost £90
Performance
Max power 41.4 bhp
Max torque 21.83 ft-lb
Top speed 108 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 57 mpg
Tank range 175 miles
Specification
Engine size 321cc
Engine type 8v parallel twin four-stroke
Frame type Steel diamond
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 780mm
Bike weight 169kg
Front suspension 41mm non-adjustable forks
Rear suspension Single rear shock adjustable for preload
Front brake 298mm single disc with single-piston caliper.
Rear brake 220mm single disc with single-piston caliper.
Front tyre size 110/70 17
Rear tyre size 140/70 17

History & Versions

Model history

New model for 2015

Other versions

None

Photo Gallery

  • YAMAHA R3  (2015-on)
  • YAMAHA R3  (2015-on)
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