During our performance test, the 0 to 100 km/h sprint was completed in just 6.64 seconds. Fourth-gear top speed was an incredible 140 km/h (true-speed). However, the bit that impressed me the most was the way the bike behaved while overtaking trucks and cars on the highway. Sitting at 85 km/h in the fifth gear I simply twisted my right wrist and the R3 lunged forward with gusto to overtake a car. I didn’t feel the need to shift down as there was ample power available. The R3 and its parallel-twin motor are spectacular when it comes to performance, which, by the way, is available throughout the rev range. On the highway, the seating position also felt very comfortable as there was hardly any stress on my wrists and back, hinting that long-distance touring is quite possible on this lovely bike.
As soon as I left the highway for some zigzag ghat roads, I found myself playing with the slick gearbox and really exploiting the capability of that diamond frame. With smooth acceleration all I had to do was select the right cog and then attack the corners. It was quite stable throughout the ride. But one thing that bothered me slightly was the soft suspension setup. The ghat section I chose to test the handling is a bit bumpy in certain places and the soft setup somewhat hampered stability when I really pushed the bike hard. On smoother surfaces, however, it behaved quite well. Direction changes were handled in a civilised manner and, thanks to its compact and slim dimensions, agility was never an issue.
The MRF tyres also helped on smooth tarmac, providing ample grip. For track riding, though, I would say it would be better if you went in for stickier rubber. The twin-pot front calliper that bites into the floating rotor offered ample bite and feel although the test bike’s brake lever had a bit more play than usual. My biggest complaint about the brakes is that they come without ABS, a safety feature that is available on almost every bike in its segment. I hope that the company makes ABS available as an option as the bike is sold with ABS in the international market and it won’t be difficult for Yamaha to adopt it here in India.
Having put the bike through its paces in the city, highway and twisties, there was no doubt in my mind that the R3 is a sports bike for everyday use. It can handle the sorry roads of our country thanks to its soft suspension and despite the soft setup it is able to deliver neutral handling. Throw in a pair of imported tyres from France or Italy and it would take the handling to another level. But with a great frame, bite-full brakes, a powerful yet well-behaved parallel-twin motor, superior performance and, above all, agility of a much smaller bike make the Yamaha YZF-R3 a force to reckon with. However, at Rs 3.25 lakh (ex-showroom) and without ABS, Yamaha need to rethink the pricing. But if you are a Yamaha fan and have the money to spare, then the R3 is an excellent bike to own.