YAMAHA R3 (2019 - on) Review

Highlights

  • A brilliant middleweight sportsbike
  • Engaging handling on road and track
  • Surprisingly practical as an everyday bike

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
Power: 41 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.7 in / 780 mm)
Weight: Low (373 lbs / 169 kg)

Prices

New £5,649
Used £4,500 - £5,600

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The A2-compliant Yamaha R3 have received its first update since launch in 2015 to help bring it in line with the rest of the manufacturer’s sports machines and act as a stepping stone between the A1-friendly Yamaha YZF-R125 and 116bhp Yamaha R6.

Riding the bike on road and track in Valencia, Spain, the R3 has been morphed from a respectable, well-rounded sportster, to a head-turning R1-inspired pocket rocket.

Although a more sports-orientated model than the previous machine, the R3 remains a practical all-rounder, with Yamaha keenly aware that many of the riders purchasing this machine will do so as an only mode of transport.

This bike replaced the 2015-2018 Yamaha R3

Watch: Yamaha R3 and R125 tested on video

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Yamaha have developed the new R3 to be more engaging than the previous machine, without sacrificing any of the everyday practicality.

In order to achieve this, the Japanese firm have gifted the bike with new gold non-adjustable 37mm upside down KYB forks, which replace the conventional items on the 2015 version. Designed for greater rigidity, the rear shock now also features a stiffer spring and revised standard preload and damping, too.

The result is a predictable, well-handling motorcycle that would be just as at home on the daily commute, as it would be charging along your favourite backroad. The stiffened springs give good feedback and are still able to soak up any potholes and speed bumps with ease.

Yamaha R3 handling

At no point on our 155km road ride did the bike feel out of shape or incapable of tackling the surface before it. Combined with a comfortable seat, sitting on the R3 is a nice place to be and you would easily be able to cope with longer stints in the saddle on both motorways and rural routes.

Alongside the suspension, the 2019 R3 also benefits from new Dunlop Sportmax GPR300 tyres, which replace the previous OE Michelin Pilot Streets. Offering adequate dry road grip, but lacking feel when pushed particularly hard on circuit, they would be perfectly acceptable for daily use, however should be replaced if trackdays are on your agenda.   

What’s more, the brakes are lifted straight from the old model, with the ABS cutting in noticeably at the front end under rapid deceleration and pushing back against the lever.

Yamaha R3 on the road

The riding position has also been tweaked, with the clip-ons now 22mm lower than the previous incarnation, as well as being two-degrees more open. Although more sporty, it’s by no means a focused over-the-front stance and the R3 remains a comfortable and easy-to-use motorcycle.

Alongside this, helping you to corner is a revised fuel tank and cover, which now sits 20mm lower and 31.4mm wider above the knees, allowing you to hug the tank more firmly mid-corner for greater control.

With a low seat height of 780mm, a light clutch and a kerb weight of just 169kg, it’s ideal for those stepping up from a 125cc machine, or shorter riders and was perfectly capable of scything through Valencian traffic jams, as well as cutting through the glorious mountain roads.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The new machine shares the same practical 41.4bhp 321cc parallel-twin engine as the previous incarnation, with Yamaha keen to retain the same forgiving, novice-friendly nature achieved with the old bike.

Although non-threatening, the motor is far from dull, revving cleanly all the way to its 14,000rpm redline in a linear fashion, whilst delivering a thrapping throaty soundtrack, reminiscent of a mini-twin race bike.

Yamaha R3 on track at Valencia

On a twisty road, it can be incredibly engaging, with the rider having to work the slick gearbox hard in order to keep the motor buzzing in the upper echelons of the rev range. This is important, as the bike can feel gutless below 5000rpm when you really want to press on.

Around town, the ratios are perfectly acceptable, with the bike happily cruising between third and sixth gear depending on the scenario, with enough left in reserve to keep ahead of the traffic at all times.

Unfortunately, although the gearbox felt crisp on the road, when pushed on track during the launch, the bike did occasionally fail to shift into fifth gear and also jumped out of fourth into third under hard acceleration.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Underneath the second-gen Yamaha R3’s new looks lies the same tubular steel frame and 41.4bhp 321cc parallel-twin engine as the original 2015 model.  

Gaining a small update for Euro4, the Japanese firm instead focussed their time on the looks and handling, with fresh bodywork, switches and a more modern LCD dash, plus better tyres, USD forks and stiffer shock. 

Build quality is impressive, with no unsightly panel gaps. Gold USD forks also invoke a more premium look than the old bike, improved further by the R1-inspired front fairing. Behind this sits a fairly basic set of switches. Everything placed logically, but the buttons are smaller than on rivals like the Honda CBR500R, which can sometimes make operation fiddly – especially the indicators, which sometimes fail to engage with bulky gloves. 

With less torque than the rivalling CBR, to extrapolate the most from the R3, you really need to wring its neck, too - extracting every morsel available from its 321cc engine between gear changes, waiting for the neat display to flicker into life before snatching the shift.  

With next to nothing below around 6000rpm, you need to ride it like an old two-stroke and overtakes must be planned methodically, with larger obstacles sometimes requiring two downshifts to gain the desired momentum.  

Our Yamaha R3 owners' reviews show nothing but glowing comments at time of writing.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

At £5299 cash and £5396 on the road at its launch, the 2019 Yamaha YZF-R3 comes in at exactly the same price as the 2018 out-going machine, making it serious value.

What’s more, on top of the upgraded suspension, aerodynamics, styling, gauges and riding position at no extra cost, the R3 is also very well priced alongside its rivals. 

At £6099 on the road, Honda’s 2019 CBR500R produces just 5.5bhp more than the Yamaha at an additional cost of £800. At 192kg wet, its also considerably heavier than the R3, cancelling out some of that power advantage.

That said, the Yamaha is £50 more expensive than the base model Kawasaki Ninja 400 and the KTM RC390. However it is £100 less than the World Superbike championship inspired KRT edition Kawasaki.

Twin test: Yamaha R3 v Honda CBR500R

First published 26 June 2019 by Dan Sutherland

Yamaha R3 takes on the Honda CBR500R

With their comfortable, roadbiased stance and frugal twin-cylinder engines, it’s all too easy to cast A2-compliant sportsbikes off as little more than a styling exercise, with none of the traditional thrill power or cornering prowess that we seek when choosing a bike. However, 500 miles on the Yamaha R3 and Honda CBR500R have smashed that preconception to pieces, with both offering bags of cornering ability and enough poke to keep up with and stay ahead of the traffic – all wrapped up in a set of sleek, superbikeinspired plastics. Both would make the perfect poster bike for the aspiring sportsbike enthusiast, but top honours have to go to the CBR. Although £800 more expensive, there’s more road presence, a better soundtrack and plusher suspension. Capable, frugal and comfortable, it’s the perfect do-it-all performance bike, regardless of your skillset.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

Alongside the vastly improved styling, the Indonesian-built machine has also received a new full LCD display, which replaces the part digital design on the older bike.

Sitting above a set of MotoGP-inspired machined triple clamps, the new dash is logically structured, with all of the necessary information noticeable at a quick glance.

Displaying your speed most prominently, there is also a gear indicator, adjustable shift light, fuel consumption information, rev counter and even trips for fuel reserve and oil. What’s more, despite the piercing low sun on the day of our test, it was also easily readable in any light conditions.

Optional extras

To help give your R3 a more personal touch, Yamaha have produced a series of accessories to sit in tandem with the bike. Ranging from an Akrapovic slip-on end can, to a pillion seat cover, the range goes much further than simple aesthetics, with both a tank and pillion seat bag also offered as part of the manufacturer’s commitment to practicality.

What’s more, from March 2019, Yamaha will also sell you a ‘Sports Kit’ consisting of a larger double-bubble screen, number plate bracket, crash protection and LED indicators in one complete package.

Colour options

Yamaha R3 World GP 60th Anniversary

For 2020, the Yamaha R3 will be available in an M1-aping Icon Blue or stealthy Midnight Black.

To celebrate 60 years of Grand Prix racing, Yamaha unveiled a special livery for the R3 in 2021. The bike is finished in a classic red and white speed block livery with a yellow numberboard on the nose fairing.

Specs

Engine size 321cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled DOHC parallel twin
Frame type Tubular steel
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 780mm
Bike weight 169kg
Front suspension Telescopic upside down 37mm KYB forks
Rear suspension KYB shock, pre-load adjustable
Front brake Single 298mm hydraulic disc, two piston floating caliper
Rear brake Single 220mm hydraulic disc, single piston caliper
Front tyre size 110/70/17
Rear tyre size 140/70/17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 74.3 mpg
Annual road tax £45
Annual service cost £120
New price £5,649
Used price £4,500 - £5,600
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 41 bhp
Max torque 21.8 ft-lb
Top speed 115 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 230 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

A new model for 2015, this is the first time Yamaha have updated the R3 format. Although the old bike was a perfectly credible small sportster, the new machine has been littered with upgrades, including upside down forks and re-worked styling to make the bike look more grown-up and bring it in line with the rest of Yamaha’s sportsbike range.

That said, the new machine still shares many similarities with the old bike, including a 780mm seat height, the same 321cc capacity engine and a production line in Indonesia.

Other versions

Whilst there is only one version of YZF-R3, the bike sits in a long line of sporty Yamaha’s; ranging from the CBT-friendly YZF-R125, to the supersport YZF-R6 and the YZF-R1 superbike.

Yamaha also produce a naked MT-03, which uses the previous generation R3 as a platform to form a more upright street bike. Both machines share the same engine, chassis and wheels, with the only changes really found in the styling and ergonomics. 

Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA R3 (2019 - on)

2 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA R3 (2019 - 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 (2019 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
5 out of 5
11 August 2021 by Rich

Year: 2021

Annual servicing cost: £120

Very happy with the R3, actually better than I thought it would be. I bought it after having restored a rather battered YZF-125 during lockdown, which I rode for a while once finished. I was surprised how good it was, but ultimately its a 14bhp 125, which limits the enjoyment to be gained from it. The R3 might be loosely viewed as a YZF-125 with 40+bhp, and that's how it feels to be honest. Had a good few bikes down the years, and the R3 reminds me a lot of one of my favourites namely the Honda CB250RS. Both are pretty limited in power but can be ridden hard without going ballistic, you have to put a bit of effort in to make quick progress but it feels quite rewarding when you do. I think the bike looks great and have been surprised at the number of positive comments it receives from other riders when parked-up. The R3 would make a good next bike for someone stepping up from a 125.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

I find this bike really comfy. Took a bit of a flyer when buying, just sat on it at the Dealership as couldn't get a demo at the Dealers I contacted. Glad to say it is very comfy and not too much weight on the wrists. Very happy about this; had to sell my Kawa W800 which looks like a comfy bike but was anything but! I'm 6 foot and 55+ years old, so my days of riding extreme sports bike are long gone, but the R3 seems very well proportioned for a taller rider. Suspension is fine, not felt lacking in any respect, brakes are pretty good (a touch more power at the front would be nice, but not a massive issue). Handling is splendid, the riding position and slim waistline allow you to move around on the bike easily on twisty roads. Did a 125 mile ride non-stop last week, no aches or pains, happy with that.

Engine 5 out of 5

Still running in mostly below 6-7,000 rpm but plenty of grunt, spins up really quickly. First & second gears are very low, might think about an alternative sprocket combination in the future but OK for now. Gearbox very slick, no false neutrals, neutral very easy to find when you need to.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Build quality is very good, its a well screwed together bike. Spotted a small coolant leak at 500 miles which will hopefully be resolved at the 600 mile service.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Bought at £5k OTR, more than happy with that price. Cheap tax and insurance and seeing 70MPG during running-in period. Looks like tyres, chains, sprockets etc will be pretty reasonable going forward too. Feels like a lot of bike for the money.

Equipment 5 out of 5

All the equipment you need basically. Gear indicator is easy to see and useful on a bike that revs like the R3. Fuel gauge seems accurate. I added a small Kriega US-5 tail bag, fitted over the passenger seat, which is handy and looks OK and in proportion to the bike.

Buying experience: Bought from Appleyard's Keighley whilst on holiday in Yorkshire. All good, no issues, decent place.

5 out of 5
29 August 2020 by Anthony D Pike

Year: 2020

As an experienced rider,this machine is all you really need for street riding.Highly recommended.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Superb dash.Standard tires fine in warm dry conditions

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