Long-Term Yamaha R3

Crash protection and lever upgrades.

Yamaha YZF-R3
Yamaha YZF-R3Julia LaPalme

Since my last trackday-turned-race-weekend, the R3 has played the part of both trackbike and commuter bike. From playing testbike at our company’s Hack Day Track Day, where it was a favorite among beginner and experienced riders alike, to doing the daily grind to and from the office, the R3 has proven to be a versatile little motorcycle. I’ve yet to take it on any long-distance rides, but it’s a happy little in-town and weekend twisties warrior.

Recently, T-Rex Racing sent a crash-protection set for the baby Yamaha, including engine-case covers, frame sliders, exhaust slider, front and rear axle sliders, and a set of rearstand spools (t-rex-racing.com; $351). Installation was relatively simple, except for the tedious task of pulling body panels off to install the frame sliders. My one complaint comes from the oddly shaped frame sliders, which have a rounded point that I've jabbed my shins into a few times. In leathers, the knee pucks hit the sliders, but in jeans I've earned a couple bruises thanks to these protruding hunks of plastic. All in the name of saving the bike, right?

After installing the kit, I laid the bike down on its side to see how well the exhaust slider would protect the can. Thankfully I had someone to help lift the bike up, as it became clear that the exhaust slider didn’t prevent the exhaust from touching the ground. What does that mean in a crash? The exhaust might be usable, but it’ll still get damaged.

In addition to the bike protection, I got a set of articulating levers from Norton Fab Motorsports ($120). Jesse Norton, the company's owner, is an R3 racer and a machinist, and he's combined his two interests to create a range of parts for the little Yamaha. These three-quarter-length levers, in anodized black with blue lever-adjuster dial, have a tighter feel to them than the OE levers. That is to say, they're machined more precisely, eliminating play where there shouldn't be any. With the levers' folding action and shorter length to accommodate lever guards, these puppies will be less prone to breaking in a crash or tip-over (knock on wood). I hope not to test that anytime soon.