Yamaha YZF-R3 (2015): FIRST RIDE!

Top quality motorcycle for all occasions, even riding along Spanish pavements


  • Fun-filled twin with a top class chassis and motor which is easy to manage for beginners but tonnes of fun for the more experienced.

Last autumn when the motorcycling world was cooing over a brand new batch of extreme one-litre superbikes, a much smaller capacity machine was unveiled which is set to put up one hell of a fight in an emerging and already competitive sector of the market in the UK; A2-licence friendly sports 300s.

Yamaha may be playing catch up compared to Honda, Kawasaki and KTM whose CBR300R, Ninja 300 and RC390 respectively are at least 6 months ahead with their availability. But as two of those old sayings go, ‘good things come to those who wait’ and ‘the best things come in small packages’, so when we were invited to the European press launch for the brand-new-for-2015 YZF-R3 near Barcelona we got to test both sayings with a day of road and track riding.


The 320cc, 41bhp, four stroke, inline twin cylinder bike is the latest addition to the firms’ R-series (R for race). It offers younger or new riders a more suitable step up from the A1 compliant, 15bhp, YZF-R125 instead of heading straight onto the 124bhp R6, an unchanged model for this year. The R3 has clearly been influenced with certain characteristics from others in the range including an R1-style longer swing arm and R6-style 2-into-1 muffler. In fact the R3 has the same swing arm to wheelbase ratio as the R1, handy for that all-important power delivery.

Take a look at the video from the press launch here:



Check out our 2019 Yamaha YZF-R3 review here.


A2-licence friendly makes it ideal for those stepping up from 125cc

Just by looking or even sitting on the £4,799 R3 you get a good feeling with its comfort, build quality detail and sharp looks. Yamaha are enjoying a purple patch with the super successful MT range and the incredible new R1 and the R3 looks to continue the trend.

Within the first mile the bike becomes very familiar. It’s not complicated to ride by any stretch in fact by modern day standards the array of controls is basic – a light clutch, silky smooth throttle, ABS-enabled brakes (fitted as standard on UK bikes), and a beautifully balanced chassis. The R3 is weighs 20kg less than the R6 and distributes its weight 50:50, aided by the R1-style short muffler.

Several town-based miles followed by a faster highway section before escaping into the scenic and sweeping Spanish mountain roads allowed the R3 to show off its versatility. And that was before exploring the extent of the bikes’ sports identity at the Calafat circuit near Tarragona.

Yamaha's current R-series and the appropriate licencing

The twin cylinder engine is certainly most comfortable in higher revs and is much easier to ride than a 125cc or even the single cylinder Honda equivalent. Lower gears and revs remind you this is still a very healthy option for town riding. First and second gear are short and can be a little screamy encouraging a degree of hooliganism if you don’t change up quickly before the revs run out. This might be ideal for beginners or city traffic but I found it a little snatchy. Third and fourth feel much more homely and are where you’ll spend most of the time - they are punchy enough to pull out of the tighter corners, overtaking and are ideal for 30/40mph zones. 6th gear meanwhile is more like an overdrive for relaxed cruising.

The R3 will comfortably reach three figures (mph) so motorway riding will be a doddle. Even the exhaust note at lower revs doesn’t offend yet open the throttle enough to find peak torque and performance, above 9,000rpm, and the R3 begins to sound like a Moto3 race bike.

The chassis is very well balanced offering confidence when manoeuvring at low speed plus on the faster, twistier sections. The bike is light and turns quickly thanks to a sturdy KYB suspension and Michelin Pilot Street tyre combination. The R3 impresses in every scenario.

169kg makes the R3 20kg lighter then the R6

It’s a comfortable bike to spend time on too. At 780mm, the seat height is lower than its main competitors but at 6ft, I didn’t find the need to stretch my legs out. This is because the riding position is aided by a saddle which is a little flatter than you’d expect on a sportier model and a narrow tank around the knee area. Clip-on bars on top of the clamps promote a more up-right riding style.

The very clear and easy-to-read instrument panel offers just what is needed without going overboard with menu options or flashing colours: a digital speedo and gear indicator plus large analogue rpm gauge are prominent enough although the fuel gauge is perhaps a little too basic.

Easy-to-read instrument panelFlatter but narrow seat offers a room and maneuverable feel

Yamaha’s styling department have earned a collective pat on the back having produced such a good-looking bike. Side-by-side headlights and boomerang style fairings plus good quality mirrors and a fly screen that offered plenty of wind protection not only give the R3 a ‘race feel’ but offer practicality too.

On track and the R3 shows another side of its character. Corner speed and momentum are important factors on a smaller capacity machine yet the throttle response, engine power, excellent chassis and over-performing tyres were the ideal combination for flowing Spanish Circuit de Calafat. Every journalist bar none arrived back in the pit lane beaming after a 20 minute session so don’t be afraid to take the Yamaha to a twistier track day at Cadwell Park, Donington or Brand Hatch Indy circuit for example and give the 600’s a run for their money!

Good grip even from the street-purpose Michelin's

The tank will hold 14-litres of fuel which, when ridden sensibly, will be good for 175 miles. Yamaha are offering a range of accessories such as a slip-on Akrapovic muffler, seat cover, sports screen etc.

Yamaha describe it as a ‘supersport bike you can ride every day’, and the marketing team have earned their money on this one. 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 and it comes with Bike Social’s recommendation. If you fit this category then one model worth considering is Yamaha’s own MT-07 priced at £5,199, only £400 more than the R3 although the A2 licence restrictor kit will set you back a further £150.

One of two colours: Race BluOne of two colours: Midnight Black

The R3 is available in two colours, Race Blu or Midnight Black. It will be in UK dealerships from the end of April 2015, is priced at £4,799 and comes with a 2-year warranty.



Yamaha YZF-R3

Honda CBR300R

Kawasaki Ninja 300



Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke 4-valve, DOHC, inline twin

Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke 4-valve, DOHC single cylinder

Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 8-valve, DOHC, parallel twin

Water-cooled, 4-stroke, single-cylinder






Max Power

30.9kW/41.4bhp @ 10,750rpm

22.7kW/30.4bhp @ 8,500rpm

29kW/38.9bhp @ 11,000rpm

33kW/44bhp @ 9,500 rpm

Max Torque

29.6Nm/21.8 ft-lb @ 9,000rpm

27Nm/19.9 ft-lb @ 7,250rpm

27Nm/19.9 ft-lb @ 10,000rpm

35Nm/26 ft-lb @ 7250rpm

Fuel capacity

14 litres

13 litres

17 litres

10 litres


L: 2,090mm

W: 720mm

H: 1,135mm

L: 2,035mm

W: 720mm

H: 1,120mm

L: 2,015mm

W: 715mm

H: 1,110mm

L: 2,002mm

W: 873mm

H: 1,267mm






Set height





Weight (wet)












Action camera: Drift Ghost-S

Helmet: Shark Race R-Pro, designed by Rich-art Concepts

Gloves: Savage Waterproof by RICHA

Boots: S-Speed by TCX


Would you be tempted by a 300cc sports bike?  or !