Sport Trainer? Fun Commuter? Either Or Both!

Done properly, brand indoctrination starts early, and the updated-in-2019 YZF-R3 is Yamaha’s primary bid for the supersport larvae it needs to support the rest of the range. The”R3” presents a race-tastic face to the world with design elements borrowed from its big brothers, the YZF-R6 and YZF-R1. It sports lower-drag bodywork and the same powerplant as the ’18 model for a net performance gain, however slim, and maintains its agile nature/fun factor for experienced pilots.

  • 2019 - 2020 Yamaha YZF-R3
  • Year:
    2019- 2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-2
  • Displacement:
    321 cc
  • Top Speed:
    117 mph
  • Price:
    4999
  • Price:

Yamaha YZF-R3 Design

It's all about performance as the R3 takes on aspects of the track-proven YZR-M1.

As always, form follows function with an overall design that is largely driven by racing considerations. The R3 gets the BNL treatment, and it’s all about performance as the R3 takes on aspects of the track-proven YZR-M1. A sleeker fairing leads the way with its customary intake cutout separating the new LED headlights below a newly-shaped bubble screen that forms a low-turbulence wind pocket, but you have to tuck in tightly — race-style — to benefit from it. The low-drag bodywork is designed to garner a claimed seven-percent better penetration and an extra five mph at the top-end. That’s right folks, it’s as lean as a snake with nothing of fat in evidence to slow it down.

The 3.7-gallon was reshaped to be both wider and lower at the top, and that works with the newly lowered handlebar position to pull the rider further into the bike for a better rider/machine connection. Inverted forks beef up the front end a bit, but the waist is as slim as ever where tank, frame and saddle meet.

The seat is heavily beveled so as to not bite the thighs when you deploy your training wheels or when you’re throwing the body-English around and caution to the wind. There’s a steep rise to the pillion pad that forms an excellent butt-stop for the pilot and leaves your passenger with a lofted vantage point. Fold-up passenger footpegs hang off the subframe, but other than a grab-strap of questionable strength, there’s nothing for your human cargo to hold onto besides yourself.

A bright LED taillight forms the tip of the tail, as it were, with license plate and rear directional lights mounted on a short mudguard to finish out the gear-in-the-rear. Short bars pull the rider forward into the Superman position, reinforced by the jockey-mount footpegs that tuck the heels in and make for easy body mechanics. It’s more properly a race-trainer than anything else at the end of the day.

Yamaha YZF-R3 Chassis

2019 - 2020 Yamaha YZF-R3
- image 801071
A freshly redesigned tripleclamp makes for a very eager nature in the corners, though the steering will only sweep through 16-degrees per side; you'll feel that when trying to navigate the parking lot.

Steel members are welded to form the main structure and subframe with the engine used as a stressed member in order to displace the downtube/cradle section of the frame and save some weight. Seems like it paid off; the ABS-equipped model weighs in at a low 375-pounds soaking wet with a roughly 50-50 split between axles. Inverted forks replace the standard stems from 2018, and that sees a freshly redesigned tripleclamp that sets the rake angle at 25-degrees with 3.7-inches of trail for a very eager nature in the corners though the steering will only sweep through 16-degrees per side, and that last will make itself felt when trying to navigate the parking lot.

The asymmetrical swingarm articulates the rear wheel with a KYB monoshock that delivers variable preload as the only suspension tweak on the whole bike. Suspension is on par with 4.9-inches of travel out back and 5.1-inches up front. A pair of 17-inch wheels bring a sense of symmetry back to the picture with a cast-aluminum structure that contributes to keeping unsprung weight low and the suspension as responsive as possible. New Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300 hoops round out the rolling chassis and provide grippy performance from knee-drag on one side to knee-drag on the other.

Braking duties fall to a 298 mm disc and twin-psiton caliper up front and the single-pot anchor and 220 mm rear disc. You’ve got a choice at this point; opt for the ABS coverage at point-of-sale for three extra Benjamins, or do without for the full-raw ride.

Suspension, Front: Inverted telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel
Suspension, Rear: Monocross single shock, adjustable preload; 4.9-in travel
Rake (Caster Angle): 25.0°
Trail: 3.7 in
Brakes, Front: 298 mm hydraulic disc; ABS model available
Brakes, Rear: 220 mm hydraulic disc; ABS model available
Tire, Front: 110/70-17 Dunlop® Sportmax® GPR-300
Tire, Rear: 140/70-17 Dunlop® Sportmax® GPR-300

Yamaha YZF-R3 Drivetrain

2019 - 2020 Yamaha YZF-R3
- image 801076
If you're looking for rider modes, traction control, and anti-wheelie features, you're looking in the wrong place.

Yamaha’s 321 cc parallel-twin engine reprises its role as the driving force behind the R3. It rocks a 180-degree firing order with a counterbalancer that takes the hand-stinging edge off the vibrations, and dual over-head cams that time the eight-valve head. The short-stroke engine is laid out with a pair of 68 mm bores with a 44.1 mm stroke and an 11.2-to-1 compression ratio that will put you at the expensive pump every time. There’s an offset to the cylinders that is meant to reduce piston-to-cylinder friction and allow for quicker revs, and that’s a good thing ’cause this mill likes its revs. Power peaks at 10,750 rpm with 21.8-pounds o’ grunt that top out at 9-grand. A standard, non-slipper clutch couples engine power to the six-speed transmission, and while I would have liked to see an anti-hop clutch here, it’s fitting that it doesn’t run one; the kids gotta’ learn sometime.

Transistor ignition and electronic fuel injection make up the fanciest parts of the engine management system, so if you’re looking for rider modes, traction control and anti-wheelie features, you’re looking in the wrong place. A tough chain-style final drive carries the power to the rear wheel, and if you have the stones for it, you can milk a top speed in the neighborhood of 117 mph out of this machine. Fair warning, she comes geared for the top end and will feel a trifle sluggish coming out of the hole.

Engine: 321 cc liquid-cooled, DOHC inline twin-cylinder; 8 valves
Bore x Stroke: 68.0 mm x 44.1 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.2:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: 6-speed; multiplate clutch

Yamaha YZF-R3 Pricing

2019 - 2020 Yamaha YZF-R3
- image 801066
MSRP on the YZF-R3 is holding steady from last year with new colorways for 2020.

MSRP on the 2020 YZF-R3 is the same as last year. The non-ABS model runs $4,999 and ABS is $5,299. Both models come in Team Yamaha Blue for 2020. Matte Silver or Matte Black are available only on the ABS model. Yamaha covers your new YZF-R3 with a one-year limited warranty.

Warranty: 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color:
└ 2019: non-ABS: Matte Black, Team Yamaha Blue ; ABS: Matte Black, Vivid White
└ 2020: non ABS: Team Yamaha Blue; ABS: Team Yamaha Blue, Matte Silver, Matte Black
Price: non-ABS: $4,999, ABS: $5,299

Yamaha YZF-R3 Competitors

2019 - 2020 Yamaha YZF-R3
- image 801077
2015 - 2019 Honda CBR300R
- image 790256
Honda wins at the checkout counter, but offers less in the way of performance.

There has been quite a race to the bottom within the sport-bike sector as of late, and all the big boys have their main players in place. It’s a fair-enough bet that anyone looking at any one of the Big Four might find something interesting from one of its domestic competitors, so with that in mind, I grabbed the CBR300R for my head-to-head.

Both favor that supersport style that sees near-complete coverage by windtunnel-tested body panels and rock a nose-down/tail-up stance that gives it that racer’s stance that so many find appealing, even if they have no desire to ever actually hit a closed-circuit. Honda’s own racing-team DNA plays a role in the overall CBR design, and unsurprisingly, it runs with lines and proportions that are very similar to the Yammy. The CBRs of today have lost that chunky Honda-ness that defined earlier generations in favor of this bold new look (wink, nudge) that carries itself with grace and dignity.

Honda leaves a few cubes on the table and runs a 286 cc mill against the Yammy’s 321 cc, and that has the expected effect on the power numbers. The Red Rider’s thumper claims 22-horses and 13-pounds o’ torque for numbers that are well short of the YZF’s 41/21.8. Top ends see a similar offset with Honda’s approximate top speed at a claimed 90 mph. Sure, it’s faster than you can legally use, but if the traffic is moving at 80-to-85 mph, it’ll be nice to have a little bit more meat on the bone like what the Yamaha brings to the table.

If Honda pulls out a clear win, it’s at the checkout counter. The non-ABS CBR300R rolls for $4,699, with a $4,999 MSRP on the ABS variant, and while that isn’t much of a difference, it still may be a factor for the entry-level crowd.

He Said

“I don’t know what it is about Yamaha’s whole YZF line, but the R3 is one sharp-looking specimen. It’s clean, and what it lacks in brute power it makes up with agility to retain some measure of replayability and appeal to non-noobish riders. Some may call it a bad thing, but the lack of higher engine-control gadgets helps keep price down and forces the rider to develop the proper skillset, so I’m OK with it.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “For folks that want or need a low seat height and aren’t interested in a cruiser, this could be your Huckleberry. It’s fun to ride as a commuter or just to knock around on the weekend. I think this could be one of those bikes you keep in your garage even after you park something bigger/faster/more powerful next to it.”

Yamaha YZF-R3 Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 321 cc liquid-cooled, DOHC inline twin-cylinder; 8 valves
Bore x Stroke: 68.0 mm x 44.1 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.2:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel Injection
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: 6-speed; multiplate clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Chassis:
Suspension, Front: Inverted telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel
Suspension, Rear: Monocross single shock, adjustable preload; 4.9-in travel
Rake (Caster Angle): 25.0°
Trail: 3.7 in
Brakes, Front: 298 mm hydraulic disc; ABS model available
Brakes, Rear: 220 mm hydraulic disc; ABS model available
Tire, Front: 110/70-17 Dunlop® Sportmax® GPR-300
Tire, Rear: 140/70-17 Dunlop® Sportmax® GPR-300
Dimensions & Capacities:
L x W x H: 82.3 in x 28.7 in x 44.9 in
Seat Height: 30.7 in
Wheelbase: 54.3 in
Maximum Ground Clearance: 6.3 in
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal
Fuel Economy: 56 mpg
Wet Weight: non-ABS: 368 lb, ABS: 375 lb
Details:
Warranty: 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color:
└ 2019: non-ABS: Matte Black, Team Yamaha Blue ; ABS: Matte Black, Vivid White
└ 2020: non ABS: Team Yamaha Blue; ABS: Team Yamaha Blue, Matte Silver, Matte Black
Price: non-ABS: $4,999, ABS: $5,299

Further Reading

Honda CBR300R

2015 - 2019 Honda CBR300R
- image 790252

See our review of the Honda CBR300R.

Yamaha YZF-R1/R1M

2018 - 2019 Yamaha YZF-R1 / R1M
- image 799968

See our review of the Yamaha YZF-R1/R1M.

Yamaha YZF-R6

2017 - 2020 Yamaha YZF-R6
- image 750513

See our review of the Yamaha YZF-R6.

Yamaha

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
- image 788830

Read more Yamaha news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: yamaha-motor.com, honda.com

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