Yamaha have let us loose on their brand new model for 2015, the YZF-R3 at the European press launch in Spain and while the full review will be with you in the next 24 hours, here are our first impressions.
In what is a competitive and quickly growing market, the Yamaha's sporty looks and brand new 321cc twin cylinder engine places it alongside the Honda CBR300R, Kawasaki Ninja 300 and KTM RC390 as an A2 licence friendly sports bike with added comfort and flexibility.
For Yamaha this model covers the gap between learners or less experienced riders on the YZF-R125 and the supersports 125bhp R6. The target audience is riders aged 18-25 who are either sports minded or who are looking for a move up from the 125cc category.
The motor is a high-revver but you don't have to work it as much as a 125cc machine nor the single cylinder CBR300R. I've ridden the R3 on the Spanish highways where it easily kept up with the quickest of traffic, through towns where the low grumble doesn't reverberate too offensively off surrounding buildings. I've also covered some 30 miles of beautiful twisty mountain roads where the bike pulled easily on the inclines and flowed nicely through the quick turns thanks to its light weight and nimble chassis. The easy-to-read instrument panel offers a clear indication of the revs, with the red line sitting at 12,500 rpm, though the motor tends to start screaming for another gear from 7-8,000 rpm. 1st gear is short and designed simply to get you moving before clicking up. Leave it in 1st and you'll find the throttle turn snatchy. 2nd is also quite short so you'll be quickly into 3rd and 4th which can handle most corners or manoeuvres from 20mph upwards. 6th, as you'd expect, is more like an overdrive for cruising.
The seat is flatter than most sports bikes but still has a definite sportiness to ensure the tuck position for the sportier ride yet when combined with the clip-on bars offer a comfortable ride.
Priced at £4,799 and available in two colours, either Race Blu or Midnight Black, the R3 should be in UK dealerships from the end of April.
For photos and video from the launch plus a full review and competitor tech specs, keep you eyes on Bike Social.