Yamaha GYTR 300SSP racebike ridden

Our man Al got to try out Yamaha’s Supersport 300 race bike at the launch of the new Yamaha R3 last week. Here’s what he thought.


Yamaha GYTR 300SSP

I’D JUST about settled into the R3 by lunchtime. I’d done a hundred kilometres on the road, and a session on the Ribera circuit to get my eye in, and was just beginning to grow fond of the wee beastie. But now my name’s on the list for a session on this sweet-looking mini-race replica.

Yamaha’s brought three of these machines here – 2019 R3s with a proper chassis and engine race kit. The motor’s got a full Akra system, higher-revving DORNA-approved kit ECU, pistons, cams, inlet stacks and a quick-action throttle. Meanwhile the chassis has Öhlins internals on the forks and an Öhlins rear shock, Pirelli Supercorsa SC1s, a Brembo floating disc plus Z04 pads, ABS delete, Goodridge steel hoses, race plastic, seat and rearsets. It’s an imposing, tough-looking little weapon, and I’m looking forward to a blast.

Sadly, that lasts about two corners. I’ve never ridden a racebike which felt so different from the stocker before – the friendly, soft, settee-like experience of the road bike was gone, replaced by a tall, skinny, hard-edged ASBO of a bike. It’s slammed onto its nose, the pegs are high and the bars low, the Supercorsas have an aggressive profile that puts you on edge, and it feels like it wants to kill you.

After a lap or two, I get into it a bit more and like any really aggressive race bike, the harder you can push, the better it gets. The suspension only works when you start to go quicker, the tyre profiles exist simply to get the thing on its ear, and while the steering is lightning quick, it’s not at all unstable.

There’s lots of good stuff of course – the engine puts out a claimed 49bhp with the kit, and there’s a load more revs to use at the top end. Gearing has been lowered to a mad 18/56 (from 14/43) , though it’s still hard to get your gears right round this circuit. The brakes are transformed by the pad hose and disc, and the Pirelli rubber feels much softer and grippier.

The main problem though is I don’t fit the compact, high-pegged, low-barred bike very well. I’m well outside the parameters for a typical SSP300 rider, in terms of sheer mass and bulk of course, and I’m not really feeling at home at all. One 15-minute ride isn’t enough to get into the groove either – another session on the little racer would have got me much more in the mood for it I reckon. As it is, my next session on the stock bike was even more hilarious as I re-adjusted to the road rubber, commuter brakes and casual ground clearance.

If I could have the racebike engine and brakes, with a halfway-house rubber choice plus the more relaxed road geometry and riding position, though, I reckon I’d be in SSP300 heaven…