Yamaha has revealled the new YZF-R3, and it is not just aimed at first-time road riders. On the road or the track, this little bike has plenty to offer.
Have you finally considered getting your motorcycle licence, but the choice across the learner-approved range is either too powerful, expensive or just plain ugly?
The answer could be the 2019 Yamaha YZF-R3.
Yamaha has broken down the walls of an excellent first bike. The new R3 has a wealth of technology, upgraded from the last model, to offer a legitimate miniature MotoGP bike with inspiration taken from its full-powered relative, Valentino Rossi’s YZR-M1.
New and Improved
For 2019 the YZF-R3 has seen a few critical changes from the previous model, including the styling. An upgraded fairing has been fitted to bring it in line with the other models in the YZF range, giving the R3 an unquestionably aggressive look to fit in with a junior race-bike feel. Not just for good looks, the fairing reduces drag by a claimed 9%, which means when ducking behind the windshield to overtake mates (on a private road, off course) it gives an 8kph increase on the top speed. Along with the updated fairing and aerodynamics, the R3 boasts new KYB 37mm upside down forks – technology only seen on the top-of-the-range models introduced a few years ago – to give the R3 greater rigidity, balance, cornering performance and feedback from the front end. There’s also an upgraded rear shock featuring a stiffer spring and adjustable preload.
Other updates include a brand-new LCD instrument display, new handlebars set 22mm lower and a 31.4mm wider tank for additional comfort.
The beautiful thing about the R3 is when you’ve had enough of sitting on the speed limit, wack some road-going performance tyres on and take it out to a race track.
But not everything has changed on this pocket rocket. The famous twin-cylinder 321cc, DOHC engine which puts out 30.9kW of power and 29.6Nm of torque has been retained. It offers adequate power to be confidence-inspiring without so much grunt that the front wheel is elevated in hairy situations.
Underneath all the glamour of the new fairing, the same steel, diamond-type frame has proved itself worthy of staying.
With all the upgrades Yamaha has still managed to keep the price down, matching it to last year’s model pricing.
Put To The Test
We put the R3 through its paces as a daily commuter, including a massive six-hour round trip through congested western- Sydney traffic to the undulating roads of the Blue Mountains. It was an excellent test of comfort and handling.
Almost immediately after jumping aboard, we were thrilled at how comfortable it felt. That’s something that LAMS riders will benefit from. Newbies on the R3 will appreciate the predictable handling, solid engine performance and a chassis that gives the inexperienced bloke an ideal platform to improve his riding skills.
The Yamaha YZF-R3 isn’t designed to be a touring bike, but can compete comfortably with other larger-capacity machines on the roads and highways. It’s comfy sitting on 110kph with enough power to still get out of trouble.
A common problem among inexpensive, small bikes is the bumpy ride that comes from a cheap suspension set-up designed with budget in mind. The R3 has an upside-down fork and upgraded rear shock with adjustable preload to provide the comfort needed on long trips, but still with the stiffness and balance to hammer the bike through tight and twisty bends. After a couple of hours, the back did begin to ache, but comfort was found by adjusting the preload in the rear to give more gentle rebound when hitting bumps.
The 321cc engine proved worthy when lane splitting to the front at traffic lights and blasting ahead of everyone else, thanks to the low-down torque the twin-cylindergives. At slower speeds when many riders find it difficult and unstable to lean a bike into the corners, the upright riding position and rigidity of the front end delivered bloody good cornering without speeding up along those twisty roads. This is vital for a red P-plater on a four-demerit-point limit. You’re going to want to be keeping it to the speed limit. Otherwise the new bike will be sitting in the garage for three months while you catch the bus to work.
The beautiful thing about the R3 is when you’ve had enough of sitting on the speed limit, wack some road-going performance tyres on. It’s a bike that can race as is and becomes a weapon on the track.
Riding around the tight and technical Luddenham Raceway the bike felt right at home. It offers certainty to be able to get the knee down and the confidence to push the limits without fear of front-end washout. Should you have an unfortunate incident on the track, the support of OEM and aftermarket parts means quickly and affordably finding a new set of fairings and the excuse to upgrade to an aftermarket exhaust system for a couple of extra kW and the ability to wake up your whole neighbourhood when leaving for work in the morning.
A Good Option
According to Yamaha stats, a large portion of the R3’s target market is made up of mostly blokes who are first-time riders and daily commuters. It’s a competitive and lucrative segment for all manufacturers, not just Yamaha. They reckon that once a rider moves through to an unrestricted licence, they’ll be faithful to their first brand of motorcycle. This revelation is suitable for first-timers as manufacturers like Yamaha are keen to produce a premium first product to keep riders on their machines.
The R3 is available in three colour options: Yamaha Blue returns, joined by Power Black and the eye-catching Candy Satin Red with its matte finish.
This motorcycle ticks all the boxes for first-time riders, first-time track hoons, professional racers and returning riders. With a price tag of $6299 plus on-road costs, you’d be crazy to look past this motorcycle as your first bike or track bike.