SHANNONVILLE, ON – A morning of road riding, followed by an afternoon at the Shannonville Nelson circuit. The 2019 Yamaha YZF-R3 is newly designed this year, receiving its first facelift since its conception in 2015. This new look gives the bike a more aggressive appearance than the previous generation.
It’s no secret that the YZF-R3 gets its aggressive good looks from its older siblings; the YZF-R6 and YZF-R1. So much so, that one could easily mistake the R3 for an R6 at first glance. Although the R3 is half the size of the R6, it still packs a fairly decent punch makes it quite predictable, yet fun to ride.
Ride comfort is decent; the geometry of the bike is good, and everything seems to be right where it belongs. The engine is more than sufficient enough for day to day riding, and getting you up to highway speeds with no problem. Despite the small displacement engine, passing is effortless if you click down a gear or two. Track riding is really ideal with the YZF-R3; it’s fun and very manageable, but it doesn’t have the power to make your underwear turn brown – this isn’t a bad thing. A decent buffer zone with throttle response is something you’ll wish you had when it’s too late.
Cornering on the roads and the track was easy, as the bike won’t punish you if you get a little overzealous. I scraped the pegs on more than one occasion on the track. I also cracked the throttle a little more than I should have in mid turn, but the bike behaved extremely well. A bit of wheel slip was observed, and a quick roll off the throttle was all it needed to tame the bike while completing the turn safely and continuing on.
As far as changes that come with this year’s refresh, only two would fall into the mechanical side of things. Yamaha has added 37mm KYB inverted forks (non-adjustable), and a pulley on the throttle body that allows for more gradual throttle response. This is as opposed to the previous generation model, which had more linear throttle response. The engine and chassis remain the same, which is fine since the parallel twin 321cc engine has fared well since its debut in 2015.
Also new to the R3 in 2019 are a new windshield, twin LED headlights, completely digital LCD instrument cluster, redesigned exhaust and gas tank to name a few. The gas tank is 14L and adopts its slim design from the R1 and R6, featuring indentations for knee grip. This allows the rider to stay that much closer to the bike and thus reducing wind drag. It also helps shield from the elements a little bit which came in handy on a chilly, and foggy morning so start off our ride. We even got hit with a bit of rain while on the highway portion of the test ride, and I found that riding in a tucked position helped keep the rain off.
ABS comes standard on the YZF-R3 in Canada, and the 298mm floating disc twin-piston caliper brake in the front is ample for a bike of this size. The YZF-R3 is also available in three different colour schemes; matte black, white and the easy-to-recognize Yamaha dark blue.
When appearance becomes more aggressive, one would presume that the riding position should follow suit. That’s just what Yamaha did with the 2019 R3. A sportier riding position is achieved by lowering the handle bar position by 22mm, which results in less wind interference, a lower riding position and 50:50 weight distribution. The seat height remains at 30.7”, making the R3 a comfortable height for both short and tall riders alike.
Overall, the R3 is a fairly comfortable bike as far as sport bikes are concerned. Even though the bars are lower than the previous model, I wasn’t rendered with sore wrists after a few hours of riding. Thanks to the low seat height, I was able to comfortably plant both feet on the ground with a bit of knee bend. The clutch is very light and easy to use; not once did I come close to stalling the bike. Low speed balance was good – it’s easy to roll at a walking pace, without having to put a foot down.
The YZF-R3 is one of the top selling bikes in Canada (for Yamaha), as well as one of the best-selling entry bikes overall as well. The 2019 Yamaha YZF-R3 comes in at $6,299 for all colour schemes. One accessory I wouldn’t hesitate to invest in is the endurance windscreen, which would help to keep you out of the wind just that little bit more.
In my opinion, the 2019 YZF-R3 is a great bike for starting out in both the street world, and the track world. It’s not so small that you’ll outgrow it within your first season of riding, and it isn’t too big or powerful that it will scare off new riders. The R3 seems to fall somewhere happily in the middle, allowing you to really push the bike to its limits on the track.