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Test riding the Yamaha YZF-R3

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Yamaha returns to performance sector with YZF-R3, and it's a comfortable ride

After the 2008 launch of the YZF-R15, which was India's first affordable performance bike, Yamaha has been quite silent as far as performance motorcycles are concerned. Now, however, it is back with the YZF-R3, which we rode at Greater Noida's Buddh International Circuit (BIC).

The YZF-R3 offers neutral handling and allows the rider to push harder with confidence. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
The YZF-R3 offers neutral handling and allows the rider to push harder with confidence. Pics/Sanjay Raikar 

The R3 is a stunner. Its dual headlamp and low screen give it an aggressive and sporty stance, which is marred only slightly by the wide-set rear-view mirrors. The multi-layered full fairing makes the bike feel slim while adding to its aerodynamics. The stepped seat completes the sporty look at the rear.

At the same time, however, it is not a track-focused super-sport weapon. It is intended for everyday urban use, so its clip-ons are relatively high and the riding position is upright and relaxed, without much weight on your wrists. The low seat and high footrests are good for short riders and offer a comfortable, yet sporty riding position.

The all-new DOHC, eight-valve parallel twin motor shares its technology with other Yamaha models. The 321 cc over-square engine produces 42 PS at 10,750 revolutions per minute and 29.6 Nm at 9,000 rpm, all of which is transmitted via a six-speed gearbox.

The Yamaha YZF-R3 is quite the looker, even at when stationary
The Yamaha YZF-R3 is quite the looker, even at when stationary 

The R3's light steel diamond frame with the engine as a stressed member has excellent rigidity. Front to rear weight distribution is nearly 50:50. The rear swing-arm is a pressed steel unit with Yamaha Monocross pre-load adjustable suspension. The front forks are 41 mm without any adjustment.

The front disc brake has a floating 298 mm rotor with a four-piston calliper and the rear has a 220 mm rotor with single-piston calliper. The R3 is shod with MRF tyres: front 110/70/17 and rear 140/70/17.

Once you turn on the ignition, the multi-function display comes on. The RPM meter is analogue, the speedometer is digital and there is a lot of information for the rider. A push on the starter button brings the twin-pot motor to life and it settles down to idle.

The 321 cc parallel twin makes 42 PS. Note, the R3 uses a diamond tubular chassis instead of Yamaha's trademark beam frame
The 321 cc parallel twin makes 42 PS. Note, the R3 uses a diamond tubular chassis instead of Yamaha's trademark beam frame 

As we followed the Japanese instructor around the BIC, it was possible to test the Yamaha's bottom end and mid-range performance while exiting the pit-lane and the R3 doesn't disappoint. Its power is well-spread; it builds up as the rpm increases and the real action starts as the rpm needle starts climbing past the 8,000 mark.

At the end of the back straight I was tucked in behind the screen in the fifth gear with the speedo indicating 171 km/h. There is hardly any vibration from the engine, even at 12,500 rpm. The motor delivers good performance and is extremely refined. The gear shift is light and positive.

The R3 is a neutral handling motorcycle and can be flicked through corners with a lot of confidence. Its suspension set-up is on the soft side, which is more suitable for street use and it endows the bike with a good ride quality.

When I pushed the bike round corners and started powering hard while fully leaned over, the rear wheel started chattering due to the soft rebound damping setting. The MRF tyres provided decent grip. A sticky set of boots will further improve the bike's handling. The Yamaha YZF R3 is a good all-round motorcycle for road and track. It will be suitable for newcomers inclined towards track-days.

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