Long-Term Yamaha R3: Introduction

A track bike in the making.

Yamaha R3 on Glendora Mountain Road
Small bike, big dreams: the R3 is stock for now, but will begin preparation for track days and racing!Photo: Julia LaPalme

It's time to introduce the latest bike that has joined our long term fleet: the Yamaha R3 . Truth be told, this little Yamaha was delivered to us months ago, and has since been sitting in my garage while I have been recovering from a rotator cuff injury. After a few months of physical therapy, and staying off bikes almost completely, I was finally able to dust this poor neglected Yamaha off, and take it for a ride.

After a couple days commuting back and forth from home to the office, the R3’s diminutive size has proven to be very manageable. With a 30.7-inch seat height, and at 370 pounds with a full tank (according to our scales back in 2015), the bike is very well proportioned for my 5-foot-5 frame and 30-inch inseam. The little 321cc parallel twin gives a distinct engine pulse, and the power is just right for around town and still enough to ride the freeway without feeling like the engine is at peak revs.

Yamaha R3 front three quarter
The R3 in all its stock glory: 321cc of parallel twin fury.Photo: Julia LaPalme

Feeling ready to stretch its legs (and anxious to blow off steam over the weekend), I took the R3 up Glendora Mountain Road, one of my favorite local tight twisty roads in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Flicking the bike back and forth through the tight and cambered sweeping switchbacks highlighted the R3’s soft suspension. I wasn’t running at such a pace that it was preventing me from having a good time (and keeping up with my coworker on his Italian sport bike with an engine three times the size of the R3’s), but it was certainly noticeable. Ultimately I came away from that Saturday ride feeling energized and excited to be taking this R3 to the track.

Speaking of which, one of the main reasons we got this R3 was to get me on a bike that will be fun and manageable for delving into the world of track days and club racing. I will participate in a few instruction courses, and get my racing license, and actually compete on this little Yamaha in a handful of races! That’s the plan, anyway. We will keep the bike stock to start, but eventually we’ll be tweaking it here and there as necessary, as limitations arise on track. I’ll admit, I’m a bit nervous and intimidated to be getting into the racing world, but it’s going to be fun!

Yamaha R3 rear three quarter
At a slight 370 pounds, with a 30.7 inch seat height, the R3 is well sized for me.Photo: Julia LaPalme