Yamaha is making a bid to cement their place as the front-runner as far as performance motorcycles are concerned. It’s barely a secret that the Indian public loved their RXs and RDs. Everyone went starry eyed when the Japanese manufacturer chose to make a comeback with the R15. However, after that initial flurry, it has been a rather sombre story. Sure you can point at the R1s, but then that’s for the bedroom posters, not so much a motorcycle that makes a regular Joe feel good everyday.

Enter the R3. Quite frankly, it’s probably a few years too late. But hey! This is Yamaha we are talking about and childhood heroes have a predetermined advantage that can’t quite be described on paper.

Clearly a YZF

You can tell at first glance that the R3 belongs to the YZF – lineage. The full fairing, sharp lines, forward crouching stance and the twin headlamps; all point to an aggressive, hit the race track sort of attitude.

A 321cc, parallel twin cylinder engine sits at the heart of the R3 with a single exhaust peeking out. The fuel tank is massively sculpted and provides excellent support apart from looking cool. There’s a large analogue tacho reading out the engine revs and it is flanked by a neat digital console which reads out all the other essential information. Clip on handlebars complete the stage with all the materials feeling great to touch and the level of finish remaining top notch.

At home on the highway

But it’s the ability to go that everyone expects from the R3. And Yamaha makes sure that the 321cc, motor doesn’t come up short. Churning out 42PS along with 29.6Nm of torque, the R3’s prowess certainly looks good on paper. Swing a leg over the motorcycle and thumb the starter and it settles into a gentle thrum at idle. Get a move on, and it is almost immediately apparent how easy this Yamaha is to use. Power is delivered linearly and you can use it even through crowded urban traffic without much hassle.

There’s enough bottom and mid-range grunt from the engine to make everyday usability a breeze. However, it is out on the highway, especially one twisting around a hill, where the R3 really shines through.

Bend that knee and kiss the tarmac

It is an incredibly well balanced motorcycle, which feels like an extension of yourself when you are riding. You see a corner approach, think about going around it and the R3 falls in line obliging you perfectly. It is incredibly light to turn in and also changes directions in a flash. It is an absolute corner carver and it has enough grunt to make it fun. If you do come across a steep gradient, the slick gearbox works with the slightest effort to keep the motor in the powerband. Ride is also well sorted for a motorcycle that manages to handle this well. It never feels overly harsh, the kind that tends to rearrange your internal bits.

However, there is one major chink in the R3s armour. Yamaha has chosen to fit the R3 with MRF’s tyres, which may be adequate on lower capacity motorcycles, but feels completely outclassed on the R3.

Start pushing it hard and you will find the tyres running out of performance. Moreover, if you like braking hard into corners and lining up the bike, the lack of ABS and the MRF tyres prove to be a bit of a dampener.


Given Yamaha’s ability to produce brilliant performance motorcycles, there is little surprise with how good the R3 really is. It is an excellent motorcycle for the enthusiast who wants to make it sing at the top of the rev band, and also proves itself to be an able everyday ride with an easy to use engine and a suspension that is forgiving enough over potholes. It has arrived late to the party and hasn’t managed to pull a bunny out of its hat. The lack of ABS and poor tyres at a price point that is well beyond the KTM RC 390 and only slightly below the Ninja 300 doesn’t do the R3 many favours either.