The Yamaha R3 is a stepping stone bike in the Yamaha range that sits between the learner-legal Yamaha R125 and the supersport Yamaha R6. Since jumping off an R125 making 15bhp and onto a 116bhp R6 would be a bit of a shock to the system, Yamaha decided to introduce the R3 with a more manageable 41.4bhp for less experienced riders to cut their teeth on.
The DVLA agree that sending new riders out on powerful bikes is a recipe for disaster and the A2/A1 licence system means that there is a logical gap in the market for a machine like the R3.
But the Yamaha R3 hasn’t just been chucked together to meet a licence requirement, it is a genuinely impressive motorbike. The engine was an all-new parallel-twin with some clever design features to increase power and efficiency.
The lightweight, forged pistons run in DiaSil-coated cylinders that reduce internal friction and the crank is off-set to allow the pistons to run true on the downstroke and minimise piston slap.
Peak torque comes at 9000rpm and the R3’s best powerband runs from here to the 11000rpm redline, but the bike has plenty of low-down grunt for a small-capacity machine.
The Yamaha R3 is built in Jakarta and is a larger capacity version of a 250cc bike sold in Asian markets. The build quality is still top notch and the bike doesn’t feel like it was built to a budget.
Yamaha R3 quick stats: first generation
- A2-licence compatible supersport bike
- 321cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke, parallel-twin
- 41.42bhp @ 10,750rpm
- 21.8lbft @ 9,000rpm
- 169kg fully wet
- ABS as standard
- 780mm seat height, 14 litre tank
The R3 has the same length swingarm as a Yamaha R1 to aid stability and steering geometry and it feels stable and predictable without being reluctant to tip in, and the braking stability coupled with unobtrusive ABS results in a confidence-inspiring package.
The main success of the Yamaha R3 is that it is really good fun to ride. It’s just quick enough to keep more experienced riders interested and a great way for new riders to earn their wings.
What are the Yamaha R3’s competitors?
Yamaha aren’t the only manufacturer to have built an A2-friendly machine. There’s the KTM RC390, Kawasaki Ninja 300 which has been replaced by the Kawasaki Ninja 400 and the Honda CBR300R.
Most manufacturers also make a naked version like the KTM 390 Duke or Yamaha’s own MT-03.
Second generation Yamaha R3
The 2019 Yamaha R3 gets much more aggressive styling, similar to the Yamaha R1. And the improvements aren’t just skin deep either. The second generation R3 gets new USD forks from KYB to sharpen up the handling.
The old instrument panel is also replaced by an LCD flat dash that wouldn’t look out of place on a superbike. The riding position has also become sportier, with clip-ons positioned 22mm lower than before.
Watch the 2019 Yamaha R3 promo video below...
Yamaha R3 GYTR race bike
The 2019 Yamaha R3 was revealed at Eicma 2018 alongside a special racing version that complies with the 2019 FIM Supersport 300 rules. The GYTR (Genuine Yamaha Technology Racing) development program version is available to buy as a race pack.
The pack includes Öhlins Racing suspension and a Brembo front disc, partnered with a titanium Akrapovič exhaust and GYTR engine kit.