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2015 Yamaha YZF-R3 Press Launch, Report 1

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MD test rider Ed Sorbo is riding the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R3 in and around Sacramento, CA today. Starting with a street ride, the press launch continues on to Thunderhill Raceway this afternoon. These photos were taken by Ed at the technical presentation of the R3 given to journalists before the ride.

You can see our initial report on the all-new R3, which describes the significant engine and chassis features developed by Yamaha. Notably, Yamaha very likely will take the horsepower and torque crown in the lightweight sport bike category simply by reason of its 321 cc parallel twin engine configuration. This category arguably started with the Kawasaki Ninja 250, followed by the single cylinder Honda CBR250R. After Kawasaki upped the displacement of the Ninja (now the Ninja 300), Yamaha decided to go one step further. Of course, prices are also creeping up in the category, with the new R3 carrying an U.S. MSRP of $4,990.

Ed has an excellent frame of reference for testing the new R3. He has raced smaller displacement motorcycles for years, going back to the AMA 250 cc two stroke GP class dominated by Rich Oliver (Ed will be on track with Rich today). More recently, Ed has experience racing a Kawasaki Ninja 250.

We will post another report, including a riding impression, as soon as we can get Ed’s thoughts on the new R3. Stay tuned.

35 Comments

  1. As a former RZ350 and present EX250 owner I will agree that the RZ/Specll pipes sounded, handled, and wheelied great. Don’t know what you would have to spend for a good used one and not sure about parts availability. I would spend the money on the nice, new, warrantied R3 and ride it like I stole it.

  2. Vince says:

    I don’t mind. It allows the site to get a piece out quick, like the first part of the new R1 launch. Also some days I don’t have time to read much online so I like the way MD presents the reviews in two or three shorter pieces. Just my opinion…

  3. Hot Dog says:

    Beautiful bike!

  4. Bob L says:

    Checkbook is open!

  5. RRocket says:

    You might want to re-write. I’m betting the KTM RC390 takes the horsepower and torque crown in the lightweight category. Oh, and the KTM will also take the lightest weight crown too more than likely, no?

    • MGNorge says:

      Maybe, but the KTM being a single may not be able to quite match the Yamaha and how much air it can pump through it. By virtue of its 50cc displacement advantage the RC390 may top the Yamaha in maximum torque output?

  6. Brian says:

    Five grand will also buy a clean RZ350, a full set of gear, and a year’s worth of reg and insurance, it will be worth every penny you paid (or more) a year later (except the gear), you’ll rarely, if ever, pass one “just like yours”, you may want a second bike next year but you won’t want to give up the one you have, AND people will seek you out ask about and admire your ride… just sayin…

    • Dave says:

      Appkes & oranges. An rz is a cool old bike but it rides like what it is, an old bike. Clean ones are hard to find and riders interested in pre-mix and carbs are almost as hard to find.

      They’re after newer riders who would no accept the rz experience with bikes like this.

    • Provologna says:

      Even if the RZ350 was available new (which it most certainly is not) I’d still take this 4-stroke injected bike with about twice the torque, no pre-mix, no carbs, no fouled plugs, no top end rebuilds every too often, 50% less fuel consumption, radial caliper (I think), etc, etc, etc.

      • Curly says:

        Sounds like you and Dave have not spent much time in the saddle of an RZ350. They were not premix, rarely fouled plugs or ate pistons. With over 50hp on tap they would eat the R3 and spit it out before reaching 3rd gear. Okay, even with the stock cat converter pipes they would still make your clothes smell like 2-stroke smoke but they were (are) still a great ride.

      • todd says:

        Most two strokes I know make more torque per liter than four strokes. For instance, the RZ350 makes 30 lb-ft and the Honda CB350 puts out 18 lb-ft.

        • Dave says:

          This is because we’re in the habit of comparing displacement as a static measurement. A two stroke fires twice as many times per minute as a 4 stroke at the same crank speed so comparing the size of the combustion chamber is not really that useful.

          Stock RZ350’s made 42hp and should eat an R3’s lunch based on the above. Like I said before, apples & oranges. An RZ-350 is a 2T equivalent of a 500-600cc bike, which is what replaced them in the US market.

          • Brian says:

            That was a useful differentiation in 1978 when you were pitting XT/XR’s again YZ’z and CR’s, but modern 4-strokes have become far more competitive, to the point where 2 and 4 stroke 250’s now compete head to head in many MX classes. The R3 has the luxury of 30 years of technology and innovation to exceed an RZ in performance. Stock RZ’s were rated at 50+HP at the crank, Yamaha claims slightly more than 40 for the R3, and pipes and a rejet could get you 50+ at the RW and still keep your oil injection. Bottom line comparison in my mind is cost and character and while it IS nicer than the rest of the sub-400’s, at $5000, a rider has MANY oprions, and I would choose one less travelled but with more soul…(ps, you could add Hawk GT, CB1, VF500F, GPZ550, SV650, and FZR400 to the list of suitable sportbikes with more “soul’ for less money, each of those even cheaper than an RZ)

  7. mickey says:

    Oh to be 16 again…under 25 again…

    • Curly says:

      Oh to be my 1975 race weight again. 147 instead of 197! No wonder my 350 felt so fast.

      • mickey says:

        I hear ya. My 73 RD 350 used to carry me AND my wife around. Now it would probably groan under just my weight.

    • Oilhead says:

      …drilling out the airbox on the RD, repacking the DGs, slipping on a set of K&N clubmans, then turning the pistons to goo on the stretch of Hwy 90 from Brackettville…

  8. Marty O says:

    Looks better every time I see it. Can’t wait for some performance stats on this baby and for a fight with the baby Ninja.

  9. Jeremy in TX says:

    That is one pretty little bike.

  10. VForce says:

    I hear they are already working on the R4 😉

    Pretty soon we will be back to the 400cc sportbike war that was all the rage in Japan and Europe in the late 80’s/ 90’s. Some of the best handling/ most entertaining bikes ever made- FZR 400s, VFR/ RVF 400s, CBR 400s, Ninja ZXR400, and Suzuki GSXR 400… along with the naked versions- Honda CB1/ Suzuki Bandit 400.

    • Curly says:

      H’mm, stroking 10mm from 41.4 to 51.4mm would make it a 399!Go for it Yamaha.

      • Curly says:

        Darn, got that stroke spec wrong. Make it 44mm stroked 10.5mm up to 54.5 would yield a 397cc master of torque.

    • todd says:

      I’ve been jones’n for this bike for some time and then you reminded me of the FZR400. I think I’m back on the hunt for a clean, unraced FZR now…

  11. Selecter says:

    I miss when this site used to release an entire report or review at once, instead of in 2 or 3 parts to increase page hits…

    • When there is not much news to report, you have to drum up excitement. Not saying I agree with it.

    • carl says:

      AGREED!

    • Marty O says:

      I don’t mind it because then I know some stuff is finally coming on the bike and I can start upping my Google searches for the new bike when I start seeing things like this so I have info as soon as possible.

    • Curly says:

      But you will click back tomorrow to see if the rest is up won’t you?

    • TimC says:

      Yeah, my main gripe is there’s not necessarily a daily story, despite the website name. I’d be fine with little blurbs like this making that a reality.

    • Provologna says:

      Considering the ticket price (free) and quality (superb) I’ll take it as is.

    • Neil says:

      I don’ tmind at all. It’s like watching a soap opera where they tease you before the commercial. LoL! Ah the 70s! One Life To Live! Get out and ride!

    • Vince says:

      I don’t mind. It allows the site to get a piece out quick, like the first part of the new R1 launch. Also some days I don’t have time to read much online so I like the way MD presents the reviews in two or three shorter pieces. Just my opinion…