Yamaha Yamaha R3 (2019) Review

Yamaha R3 2019

Our man Al is around double the age and weight of an average 300SSP rider – how would he get on with the new pocket rocket on the roads and track at Valencia?

THINGS CHANGE fast these days. It’s not so long ago that a ‘supersport’ bike would only really have meant one thing to me – an inline-four 599cc machine from Japan. Now? The new 300 Supersport class has changed all that, giving the moniker to machines with half the cylinders, capacity and power.

I’ve got previous with this sort of bike though. When I was half the age I am now, in my early twenties, my girlfriend at the time, Nicky, had a Kawasaki GPX250R, and I did a load of miles on it, including a few months working as a bike courier in Glasgow. Nicky’s wee Kawasaki twin was revvy as hell, but had good brakes and sharp handling for the time.

Fast forward 25 years, and I’m in Valencia, Spain for a spin on the latest entry to this current class of mini-sportsters. Yamaha’s R3 has evolved its way out of the R25 250cc version, and like the rest of the class, has two main markets really. One is the enormous sales in India and SE Asia, where this sort of bike is hugely popular, and the other is Europe and the US, where novices, shorter folks and older riders looking to downsize in power and size all enjoy the benefits of a small-bore sportster.

I’m all set to enjoy the benefits of my winter gloves and textile jacket though. It’s absolutely Baltic here – there might be blue skies all round with no clouds and loads of sun, but it’s the first week in January, and the mercury is hovering around six degrees, with a biting northern wind. The poor buggers who only packed perforated race leathers are looking blue and chapped already, as we jump on the little sportsbikes, and head for a 60-mile road ride to the track.

First impressions of the R3 are good – it’s low-slung, and I can get both feet flat on the deck, which is unusual these days. The LCD dash is clear, the riding position is committed but comfy, and if it was ten degrees warmer, I’d be having a right old laugh. As it is, I’m concerned about the grip from the polished asphalt, the lunatic Spanish drivers, and keeping up with the Yamaha test rider who’s sailing away into the distance already.

The R3 motor is just about powerful enough to be a ‘proper’ bike engine. Okay, you’re flat out almost 100 per cent of the time, but it’s a real step up from a 125 or a 250 single. The power delivery is revvy but not horribly so, and there’s appreciable low-down torque, with a definite midrange. The gearchange is neat and precise, and didn’t get angry even once at my classless, full-throttle-clutched upchanges.

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