2018 Yamaha YZF-R3

Entry-level energizer

2018 Yamaha YZF-R3
2018 Yamaha YZF-R3CRS

Sometimes, it takes a problem to invent a solution. Example: Wanting to engage young people in motorcycling resulted in Yamaha creating the YZF-R3, a neat little sportbike that, although light in performance, gives away nothing in appearance. Indeed, the R3 looks reasonably like a scale model of the mighty YZF-R1. The engine is a tidy 321cc parallel twin, giving it a 28 percent displacement edge on some competitors’ 298cc engines. It even has dual overhead camshafts, forged pistons, liquid-cooling, and electronic fuel injection (EFI) like its big brothers, the R1 and YZF-R6.

Priced 25 percent below Yamaha's WR250R dual-sport bike, the R3 actually offers twice the cylinders, more displacement, far better performance on the road, and 85 percent more fuel capacity—a great combo if you're laser-focused on the street experience and uninterested in dirt. Surprisingly though, despite its slick bodywork and more compact dimensions, the YZF-R3 returns "only" an estimated 56 mpg to the WR250R's estimated 71 mpg. And so ends this ad hoc street/dual-sport comparison! In the film Napoleon Dynamite, it was all about "Vote for Pedro." Well, for lightweight streetbike fun, we'll say, "Vote R3!"

Likes: Crisp styling, larger-than-typical (for the class) parallel twin, available ABS

Dislikes: At a claimed 375 pounds, the R3 ABS weighs just 28 pounds less than Yamaha's stronger MT-07

Verdict: This pretty little sportbike packs a punch but it could lose some weight

2018 Yamaha YZF-R3 Specs and Pricing