Out of the many ways you can launch a motorcycle, finally motorcycle manufacturers in India have begun to choose the right way. The Yamaha YZF-R3 India launch could not have been at a better venue. The Buddh International Circuit is probably one of the best proving grounds that our country has to offer and anything less would have been utterly boring. Right there, just with that, Yamaha got one point in our scorecards for not letting the R series launch happen in some boring hotel hall with hour long speeches. With the Yamaha YZF-R3 India launch having happened, all focus was now on whether the R3 justifies the 3.25 lakh ex-showroom price. With the motorcycles already having being despatched to the showrooms and bookings happening in plenty, the Yamaha fans for sure have no doubt on what the motorcycle is capable of. But then how capable is the Yamaha YZF-R3? Post the launch event we got to swing our legs around this twin cylinder from Yamaha for couple of sessions on the Buddh Circuit. And below is our first impression of this much awaited Yamaha.
Lets start with the ergonomics of the Yamaha YZF-R3. The seating position is quite relaxed and has a surprisingly low seat height of 780 mm. That’s lower even than that of the R15 which is at 800 mm. Foot pegs are slightly rear set and the reach to the handlebars are easy. The handlebar position also is a rather relaxed one with it not being as committed and leant forward like on the RC and the R15. A direct parallel for reference would be the seating position on the Ninja 300. Now both of us who rode the bike are 6ft tall and the bike did not feel cramped for space and nor did we look like giants on the bike. Some of the shorter journos also were equally comfortable especially due to the lower seat height. Plenty of space for the knees and actually it’s then that you realise how small the tank is.
Thumb the starter and twin cylinder 321 cc comes to life with a sweet sounding low bass idle hum. Blip the throttle ever so slightly and the revs build very quickly and by now we just wanted to get on the track. But wait, some interesting technical details first. The engine on the Yamaha YZF-R3 has a DiASil cylinder (basically made out of aluminium) which is slightly offset to the crack. This, Yamaha claims, improves and smoothes out the power delivery while ensuring very less vibrations. Back on the track we head on out of the pitlane. There are a combination of factors here that we need to talk about, first of all the tarmac at the circuit is smooth and brilliant and almost any motorcycle unless inherently flawed will feel refined here. But that said, we were not exactly keeping the revs low. Wring that throttle and the engine in the Yamaha YZF-R3 responds instantly and revs build very fast. The combination of the smooth track and the already refined and immensely responsive throttle meant that the motorcycle was propelling forward with absolutely no drama and speeds of 150 kmph was touched with ease and very often. Top whack that we saw on the straights were in the range of 168 kmph and we reckon it will do a 180 kmph with ease.
Now 42 PS and 169 kgs are definitely numbers to brag about and personally we were expecting an engine that will make us grin every time we twist that throttle. The refinement levels are so very good and power delivery is so very linear that to be honest it’s a little boring. Don’t get me wrong here, the Yamaha YZF-R3 is properly fast, but the way it delivers the power is not as involving like in the RC 390. Yes, there are lot of factors that need to be considered and maybe a proper on-road real life scenario will make us change our opinion, but yes, for now we stick to it not being/feeling “alive”.
But then there is one place the Yamaha YZF-R3 is VERY alive.
You are coming down the straight, the speedo showing numbers in excess of 150 kmph there is a hard turn coming up and then begins the fun. The brakes on this motorcycle are absolutely brilliant. Very good stopping power and held up to the hard treatment we were giving it. And yes, we have to say it, we did not miss the ABS one bit. While the front brakes were really sharp and progressive, the rear as usual lacked the same kind of feel. And now we come to the the part where the Yamaha YZF-R3 truly excels and how. I personally am no expert at the track and couple that with it being my first stint at this one I was all over the place when it came to lines. But not once did I feel that I could not handle it. I will use the overused term of ‘very forgiving’ to describe the handling of the Yamaha YZF-R3. You can almost never totally mess it up. Everytime you go wide or go in too hot, slightly roll off that throttle and caress those brakes and the whole motorcycle almost reads your mind and behaves so well under you.
The Buddh Circuit being the fast circuit that it is, the R3 saw very few hard braking areas and the rest was just up and down on the top three gears. Talking about the gearing the Yamaha YZF-R3 has a properly overdrive 6th gear (ratio – 0.800), not a friendly option on the track. But in real life conditions say like if you are touring, it is a proper value addition and makes a lot of sense. You can potter around in top gear at low speeds and pull away all the way to 160 kmph and beyond with ease. Coming to the tyres, the Yamaha YZF-R3 comes stock with MRF tyres. Off late the newer MRF Zapper FY and Zapper S are actually quite good. Not of the same league as the super sticky Metzelers out there on the RC 390 but definitely performs well in all conditions. So we already know these perform well, and on the R3 it held up quite well even on track. Combine that with the rather plush KYB suspensions at both ends and one thing is very clear. The Yamaha YZF-R3 is most definitely more of an everyday bike and a tourer and not a focused bike like the RC or even the R15.
So now that we know it’s a very refined, powerful and comfortable motorcycle lets come back to the all important number, the price. At 3.25 lakh ex-showroom, the Yamaha YZF-R3 is definitely cheaper than the Ninja 300. But it will be approximately 1 lakh more than the KTM RC 390 and thats a huge premium to pay for a motorcycle that does not have ABS and a slipper clutch even as an option. But even then, the Yamaha YZF-R3 has its excellent build quality and refinement levels that make it a very attractive prospect. News is that ABS will definitely make it into the R3 next year and so will better tyres at least as an option.There is still a lot more that we need to know about this motorcycle and most important of it all, we need to know how it works in the real world. So while we wait for the bike to arrive for its long term test, we leave you with some cool HD wallpapers of the Yamaha YZF-R3.