Yamaha will shortly announce prices and details of the deliveries for their new sportsbike the YZF-R3 (Yamaha have launched the YZF-R3 sportsbike in India at Rs 3.25 lakh). Let's get to know it a little bit better.
The R3 looks fresh but distinctly a Yamaha design. The cues start with the twin headlamps that remind you strongly of the R6S with the old-school rounded edges cleaned up and straightened out. The look is purposeful and full on intent.
The top fairing is a clean design with a not-so-short screen that should work well to keep wind blast at bay. Given a top speed in the 170kmph region, we expect only track fiends to regularly face wind blast, of course.
The side fairing uses a triangular coloured panel and a matte black second panel that reduces the visual weight of the motorcycle and makes it look very dynamic and as if all the weight is up front. Like with the R15, we expect to see excellent rattle-free long term performance and light damage from low sides. The tank and the tailpiece are more or less as you'd expect on a current Yamaha.
There are some nice details though. The wheels with a split-spoke design look great as do the generous heel plates. Unfortunately, it also brings to notice, for instance, that Yamaha have chosen not to offer radially mounted calipers which may not be a functional leap forward in this performance class but looks way cooler.
Valentino Rossi on the launch of the YZF-R3 in India
The Yamaha engine is a brand-new 321cc parallel twin with a 180-degree crank. The engine is much the same as the 250cc unit from the R25 but is bored out 8mm more, from 60 to 68mm to gain 72cc. The stroke remains identical at 44.1mm. Obviously, this makes the engine more oversquare which usually implies less resistance to high revs. The engine has a compression ratio of 11.2:1. That's a high-ish ratio but not high enough to run into constant trouble with bad fuel.
To start at the top of the engine, the counterbalanced 321cc unit is fed by a fuel-injection system and is liquid-cooled. Four valves feed each cylinder and it's a proper DOHC unit unlike, say, the R15 which employed a single overhead camshaft design.
Underneath works a forged piston. Only the KTM 373cc engine uses those in India, the Yamaha is second. A forged piston can be slightly lighter but more crucially, it's much stronger. Like the R15, the cylinders use a DiASIL aluminium cylinder. This gives the motor a longer life as well as better heat dissipation abilities. If the R15 is any indicator, the R3 engine should be bulletproof. The cylinder design is also offset. That means the cylinders aren't exactly above the crankshaft. They're offset so that the alignment of the con-rod is perfect on the power stroke to minimise any friction losses at the most crucial phase of the combustion cycle.
The gearbox is a straight forward six-speed unit which we expect to be super slick and reliable as Yamaha gearboxes have proved to be so far.
The R3 was always built with a price and a relatively new rider in mind. That's why it uses a twin-spar style diamond frame but sticks to steel instead of the more expensive aluminium for the chassis and swing arm. Yamaha say they kept the wheelbase to swingarm proportions exactly the same as the R1 in the hunt for excellent handling and the R3's wheelbase is a little bit longer than, say, the KTM RC 390. The steering geometry is a relaxed 25 with 94mm of trail.
Yamaha have worked hard to centralise mass and keeping in mind the new rider, the bike's been made light - 167kg kerb weight - while the seat height is very accommodating at just 780mm.
The suspension up front is a non-adjustable KYB 41mm right side up fork. On it is a floating 298mm rotor and a two-piston caliper. Yamaha is not offering ABS with the YZF-R3 in India. At the other end is a 220mm single disc and a KYB monoshock with preload adjustment. The Yamaha in India uses 17-inch aluminium alloy wheels wearing MRF110/70 and 140/70 section tyres (See our small sportsbike spec comparison to know more).
The R3 wears clip-on handlebars and above themis a new LCD unit that shows gear position, fuel remaining, coolant temperature, a clock, two tripmeters and an oil change indicator light.
Yamaha offer the R3 on the blue-white, red-black and all-black colours and it remains to be seen whether India gets all or a subset of these colour ways. Also if Yamaha choose to localise then there's a chance that the tyre and battery brands could be different from the international specification.
Update:Yamaha will offer two colours in India for the YZF-R3 - the blue and white and the all-black.Yamaha have also pulled off a coup by pricing the YZF-R3 at just Rs 3.25 lakh ex-showroom Delhi. Stay tuned for a first ride story later today.
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