Yamaha YZF R3: First Ride

first_imgDull and muggy with the imminent threat of rainfall; not the best weather forecast you’d want to hear while heading for a few laps on the track. And not just any track, I’m headed to the Buddh International Circuit for a very special motorcycle. Yes, it’s finally here. After a lot of speculations, contemplations, spy shots and guessing games later, Yamaha has launched the much awaited R3 in India.The sight of a blue and silver R3 staring down the pit lane of the BIC was mesmerising to say the least. The newest Yamaha, and after a long time, is a handsome machine. Angular twin-headlamps, chiselled fairing and a sharp tail section, the R3 is as attractive as they come. Add to that the paint scheme in true Yamaha colours and you’ve got a mini supersport that’ll grab eyeballs standing still or on the move. It’s an extremely well executed design that’s hard to flaw.A closer look reveals the high quality levels on the motorcycle which is being manufactured in Indonesia and being brought here via the CKD route. Weld marks have been given a smooth finish while paint quality is at par with its competition. Hop aboard and you’re greeted by a fairly relaxed riding position and ergonomics that isn’t as committed as a KTM RC390 or the Hyosung GT250R. It did remind me of the Kawasaki Ninja 300’s relaxed, more touring focused riding position which won’t hurt your back or wrists on longish rides. Thighs wrap around the tank and weight is easily kept off the upper body as the feet find a relaxed position on the rearset footpegs. The feel and operation of the switchgear is top notch as I worked through the detailed meter console which offers dual trip computers, gear position indicator and instant fuel consumption read-outs. A large analogue tacho reads all the way up to 13,500rpm with the redline set at a 1,000rpm lower.advertisementThumbing the starter made the R3 wake up with a fast but mature idle of the 321cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine. The clutch feel is light and the R3 effortlessly set off the line. The first thing to notice was the slick gearbox and the positive action of the gear lever which was devoid of any play to speak of. Rising through the 6-speed gearbox and the revs, the linear power delivery comes to fore. This being a world-class race track, it was easy to give the R3 some free rein on the back straight after Turn 3. This was the kind of smoothness and refinement levels that I’ve not experienced before on any sub-400cc motorcycle available in India right now. Acceleration is brisk and power is available throughout the rev range tapering off only beyond 11,500 rpm by which the white LED shift light on the dash demands an upshift. What this 42bhp and 29.6Nm of torque from the R3’s engine just delivered in performance and refinement reflected with a pleasing smile on my face. Approaching Turn 4 I saw 170kmph on the digital speedo and it was time to hit the brakes. 298mm non-ABS assisted brakes is not something one would expect with the current flock of motorcycles in this segment yet the R3 sprung up another surprise with superb brake feel and bite that helped shed speed quickly and more importantly, without any drama whatsoever.As the pace built up, the 169kg R3 kept true to its handling and lines with a perfectly balanced diamond-framed, tubular chassis. This is a departure from the famed Deltabox seen on Yamaha’s bigger bikes and the R15 too but the forgiving manners of the chassis quickly put any doubts about the new frame to rest. The MRF Nylogrip Zapper tyres held up really well although better tyres will only help exploit the R3’s cornering abilities even further. For the track, wider clip-ons and further rearset pegs would’ve been perfect but on the road, the stock set-up would prove to be a boon for various riding condition. The 41mm KYB front forks are sprung stiff and the pre-load adjustable rear KYB monoshock was supple but the smooth tarmac at the BIC wouldn’t reflect the on-road performance of the suspension set-up. I reckon that the stock setup would work well for sporty riding over varied conditions. After just 5 laps, I was left wanting for more to know the R3 better but that’ll have to be reserved for later.A price tag of Rs. 3.25 lakh ex-Delhi isn’t exactly affordable but considering the higher sticker price of the Kawasaki Ninja 300 at Rs. 3.6 lakh, the R3 starts making some sense. More performance, more power, arguably better quality and looks albeit minus a slipper clutch but at a lower price point is a no brainer really. There is the KTM RC390 though which comes equipped with ABS, slipper clutch and a tad more power from a single cylinder, all at nearly half the price but it’s more committed as a track tool and quality levels aren’t at par. We’re pretty confident that the long wait to bring out a middleweight fighter in the segment will work in Yamaha’s favor.advertisementlast_img