Yamaha R3 Review

Solid foundation which you can build a great riding career on

Yamaha R3 Review
Excellent Beginner Motorcycle
​If you want a sporty looking bike with a great exhaust note at a reasonable price, the R3 fits that bill.
Great looking bike
Extra engine displacement gives it more power
Low seat height and overall weight
Minimal suspension adjustment
Soft brakes are weak

Yamaha R3 Review

Check out our hands-on 2019 Yamaha YZF-R3 review.

Yamaha has been eerily silent in the beginner bike scene for the last couple decades. It has been dominated by Kawasaki, Suzuki, and now even Honda has entered into the fray with their CBR 300 and CBR 500. Yamaha’s new R3 has been worth the wait. 

This bike has a solid foundation which you can build a great riding career on. Plus it looks AMAZING. If you are in the market for a new motorcycle, before you run out and buy a Ninja 300 or even my favorite bike right now the KTM Duke 390, you should check out this little Yammy.

The R3 Is An Excellent Beginner Motorcycle

One thing about this website is I insist on being honest, both with the reviews and even my shortcomings. This is one of those times. To be frank, I’ve never really liked Yamaha’s. That isn’t because they are bad motorcycles, it’s mainly the types of people I saw riding them.

When I learned to ride in California most people on Yamaha’s stuck to the very popular R6 or R1 sport bikes. The vast majority of these riders were only concerned about trying to look cool and doing wheelies. A motorcycle ride to them was riding to the local Starbucks and ‘posing’ with their Yamaha for an hour. This was a big turnoff to me.

Yamaha’s new products have been making me take a second look. First with their FZ-08 and now with this R3. The R3 seems like an EXCELLENT beginner motorcycle. Hell, it just seems like an excellent motorcycle in general, beginner or not! Maybe all these years I’ve been wrong about Yamaha.

Engine In the Yamaha R3 Is Impressive

​The R3 is solidly in the same class as the CBR 300 and the Ninja 300, but it cheats a little bit, and I love that. It is powered by a 321cc engine, which gives it more power than the CBR at 286cc’s and the Ninja at 296cc’s. It has nearly as much displacement as the KTM Duke 390 which clocks in at 373cc’s.

It reminds me of Kawasaki’s venerable Ninja 636 which was a 600cc class bike that had a 636cc engine. It gives it just that slight edge when it comes to off the line power and higher speed cruising. The same thing occurs with the R3, it just simply has a bit more ‘grunt’ than the other 300 class motorcycles.

The R3 also has the best stock exhaust sound in it’s class. It sounds like a much larger bike, and instantly puts a grin on your face when you twist the throttle.

The R3 Clearly Has Some Inexpensive Bits

Yamaha has kept the price low on it’s R3 and there are a few obvious places it has cut cost. The first and most noticable is the brakes. The front brake just doesn’t have the bite you want it to have, especially if you are riding more aggressively. Don’t get me wrong, it will still stop the bike, but it’s an area that could use some improvement. Yamaha has tried to address this with some aftermarket modifications like steel braided brakes lines that are available.

The other bare bones area in this bike is the suspension. It’s a bit soft and offers little adjustment which means you don’t have the confidence you might have when riding a motorcycle with a fully adjustable front and rear suspension.

Do these two things add up to deal breakers? Definitely not! In fact, I think they are goods things, especially if they have allowed Yamaha to keep the price as low as it is. It will also let you experience a ‘level up’ when you do finally move to your second motorcycle. Let’s face it, if your first car was a Lamborghini, any car other then that would be a downgrade. If you start with the absolute best there is no where to go in your journey.

The same for motorcycles. By cutting your teeth on this Yamaha with it’s very few imperfections, it will help prepare you for your second motorcycle. Neither the brakes or suspension on this bike are horrible, they just aren’t as polished as the rest of the bike.

Higher Speed Power an Advantage for the Yamaha R3

The increased engine size really let’s the R3 take the lead compared to other bikes. You can be cruising at 75mph on the freeway and still have enough engine torque to pass cars if you need. In fact, this R3 will easily go over 100mph if you simply twist the throttle.

It strikes a good balance between a forgiving lightweight motorcycle at low speed, and a powerful enough bike to keep up with the higher speeds. If your daily commute involves freeway riding or you have some aspirations to do some light touring, the R3 may be the tool for the job.

Comfortable Cockpit

 The R3 does come with clip-on handlebars attached to the forks, but they are slight raised for a less aggressive seating posture. That means you can travel for longer distances in more comfort. Your wrists and lower back will thank you!

This seat is also comfortable for shorter riders. The narrow tank and low 30.7inch seat height really make this bike accessible to people who are height challenged. I imagine you could do a few modifications to the suspension and shave the seat to make it even lower


​If you want a sporty looking bike with a great exhaust note at a reasonable price, the R3 fits that bill. The Kawasaki Ninja 300 has the edge if you want ABS brakes, but that is also nearly $1,000 more. I might not have started out loving Yamaha, but I think they have carved a little home in my heart with this bike.


  • Great looking bike
  • Extra engine displacement gives it more power!
  • Low seat height and overall weight


  • Minimal suspension adjustment
  • Soft brakes

Yamaha R3 Videos

Lots of reviews by active motovloggers on the R3 Yamaha. Check out some of our favorite video reviews of the R3. Enjoy


Chaseontwowheels jumps back on a Yamaha R3 to see how he really feels and this time it’s not during a Demo Ride.

Hammy Moto

This recent reviews compares the 2016 Yamaha R3 VS Ninja 300. Very thorough review comparing two of our favorite beginner bikes in 2016/2017.


In this video the The Missenden Flyer get his first ride on a Yamaha R3.