Yamaha YZF-R3 in the driving report

Yamaha YZF-R3 in the driving report

Sleek entry-level racer

Yamaha discovers the A2 driving license class and brings a sleek entry-level racer with the brand new Yamaha YZF-R3. Razor sharp?

End of 2013. Yamaha secures the brand name R3, which the trade press worldwide oracle. Would the new one YAmaha YZF-R3 will be a three-cylinder racer based on the MT-09 just presented? Easy, with pressure in every situation, and affordable? Even if this idea has lost none of its appeal to this day – those who keep an eye on developments on the world market must realize that there has been a gap in the portfolio of the Blues in the so important category of, let’s say, inexpensive third-liter athletes with everyday skills gaped. It is precisely those motorcycles that are very popular with buyers in mega markets such as India, Southeast Asia and South America and, as a positive side effect, fit pretty well into the European A2 class, which is still on the upswing in this country.

Yamaha YZF-R3 in the driving report

Sleek entry-level racer

YZF-R3 has a 321 cubic in-line twin and bridges the gap between the YZF-R125 and R6. In contrast to the two thoroughbred racers, however, it aims to combine sportiness, comfort and suitability for everyday use. If you are looking for the next article in the magazine, disappointed because of this compromise, rest assured – the driving presentation took us along the Spanish Costa Dorada southwest of Barcelona through the hinterland to the Circuit de Calafat, where the YZF-R3 proved to be worthy of its big name.

Clear challenge to the competition

In any case, optically alone, the Yamaha YZF-R3 sends a clear declaration of war to the competition. Unmistakably R-Yamaha, especially in the “Race Blu” shown here, and quite sexy in the author’s eye. The first fitting immediately shows that you are serious about suitability for everyday use, but that the sports group has not forgotten. The seat height is moderate at 780 millimeters, the handlebars are attached above the fork bridge, thus enabling a long-distance, touring-sporting seating position with a bearable knee angle. There is also enough space for pilots beyond Rossi dimensions. Only the mirror boom, they should be a little longer.

It starts through the bustle of the city, which thanks to the ergonomics that are compatible with beginners and the low weight of 169 kilograms (factory information) does not turn out to be a test of nerves. The completely redesigned in-line two-cylinder of the Yamaha YZF-R3 cuts a fine figure here, takes on the gas early, from almost 3000 revolutions, and pleases with smooth running without annoying vibrations. The 42-hp four-valve engine has a number of technical finesse: forged aluminum pistons, offset cylinders for lower friction losses in the combustion cycle, downdraft injection, hardened connecting rods. The clutch and transmission are easy to move, and so we arrived quickly and relaxed in the curvy hinterland, where the gas can finally stay open longer on remarkably flat asphalt.

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Race Blu or black with red details – the Yamaha YZF-R3 looks sexy.

Of course, a third-liter twin like this does not tear your boots off your feet and want to be turned, but the engine of the Yamaha YZF-R3 delivers its power in a very cultivated and linear manner. From 7000 revolutions it really gets going and turns happily up to almost 12,000 revolutions, after which it gets tough. As with the competition, the motto is: shift and turn – and as with the competition, it’s a lot of fun on the right road.

Especially since the handling was as playful as it was good-natured. From the central position, the Yamaha YZF-R3 turns quickly and with very little effort. When leaned, it runs stably and inspires confidence, to which the Pilot Street (110 in front, 140 mm in rear, easy to handle) also contributes. The Michelin gives a very good feeling for the grip level and hardly stands up when braking in an inclined position. The R3 can be fired from curve to curve to your heart’s content – great!

Via the Autobahn to the race track

Before arriving at the Circuit de Calafat, a short stretch of the motorway. The wind protection is good, even without biting into the fuel filler cap, and thanks to the long sixth gear, the Yamaha YZF-R3 Tacho 160 shakes off its sleeve quite easily. The impressions gained so far are consolidated on the circuit: The small Yamaha circles the slopes in a handy and stable manner. The spring elements are not adjustable except for the preload at the rear and are designed to be comfort-oriented, but damp enough and therefore play a surprisingly long time. 

The only real point of criticism must be the defensive design of the front brake of the Yamaha YZF-R3. At first, their deposits bite into the 298 millimeter disc too toothless. You have to grab a lot harder to find that the achievable delay is really good. Actually unnecessary as there is an anti-lock braking system on board as standard. Nevertheless, under the impression of the circuit excursion, it is not surprising that Yamaha will host an R3 Cup in France – the Pocket Rocket, with a few small modifications, provides a really good basis for a rookie racer.

Yamaha YZF-R3 is available for 5400 euros

Even non-racers will enjoy the complete equipment: great cockpit with large analog tachometer and digital information about daily kilometers, fuel gauge and average consumption; The water temperature display and even an adjustable shift light can be found in the control center. The processing of the Yamaha YZF-R3 made in Indonesia is very clean, only the materials used show the red pen dictation in places, such as the simple steel swing arm.

Conclusion: For around 5400 euros, the Yamaha YZF-R3 ends up in the middle of the competitive field of A2 racers, which across the board are recommended less for their uncompromising sportiness and more for their suitability for everyday use and user friendliness. The R3 is no exception. It is not a small R6, nor does it want to be. Those who get off the sporty, wiry R125 and climb onto the R3 could be irritated at first. Razor sharp? More like Swiss officer’s knife sharp, balanced and versatile. The price turns into a shoe: 5400 euros, that’s not even a thousand more than the current premium 125 cc, so the rise is a small step in financial terms. And we look forward to a rendezvous for the sporty third-liter.

Technical data Yamaha YZF-R3


Forged aluminum pistons, offset cylinders, hardened connecting rods, ABS, … – everything on board the 169 kg Yamaha YZF-R3.

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