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Yamaha R3 review

How I acquired my 2nd hand first bike
2 February 2022
Exploring Ibiza on a 50cc Piaggio Typhoon
8 February 2022

By Clavar Ochieng

subject: YZF R3
popular name: Yamaha R3.
price at the dealership: KES. 773,000


The YZF R3 or simply Yamaha R3 as popularly referred to in the Kenyan market is powered by a 321cc parallel twin, liquid cooled, 4-stroke, fuel-injected engine making 36bhp at 10,500rpm and 19.8-foot pound of torque at 9,000rpm according to the manufacturer.


Photos by Wakili Timam


The Yamaha R3 boasts a dual channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) technology which is meant to make it safer when it comes to emergency braking even though I am of the opinion that this ABS technology is greatly affected by the narrow rear tires (size 140) which makes the bike skid on emergency braking due to lack of traction. Similarly, the R3 is fitted with only one brake disk on the front wheel which some people might find a little uncomfortable but this can cancel out with the simple fact that the bike is fairly light and therefore the single disk should bring it to a halt easily. Did I mention anything about the lights? I don’t think so but listen, the R3 is fitted with very bright LED bulbs that have both low and high beams and of course, the low beam also acts as the DRL. This comes in handy when it comes to visibility and you won’t have to spend a coin more adding lights to the bike.


Compared to its fore fathers-the R6 and the R1, this bike is fairly low and any rider will comfortably flat foot on it. I mean I am 5 foot 6 and I could comfortably do all the magic you could think of including back pedaling without having to struggle, something I was not able to do on the R6 sometime back.

The R3 has a fairly lean body frame and this makes it the go to bike when it comes to lane splitting and its narrow tank, which is only 14 liters (too bad for long distance riders), not only allows the riders’ legs to comfortably reach the ground but also accords them proper handling when it comes to curving out those corners for the leaning freaks.

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Photo by Riamacha Alexander

Why the R3?

For anyone looking for a fast, reliable and easy to handle bike, the R3 is your best bet. Why? This bike will give you a top speed of over 170kph easy without having to feed it on steroids like other bikes that we know. Again, due to its weight and height, the R3 can be considered the best commuter bike as it will take you to your work place and back every day and still have some energy to take you and your pillion on one of those weekend rides as long as you don’t take it off road, who takes a sports bike off road anyway?


Photo by AleXt Ferguson

This bike has one of the best engineering if you asked me. The power deliverability is so intent for such a small cc bike, the gear shifting is so smooth and no, it doesn’t have a quick shifter which of course a new rider won’t be needing as they don’t even know what that is. The machine is both air and liquid cooled thus it won’t be burning your genitals when stuck in traffic, no one wants burning genitals and this is thanks to its small engine. You want to know what I mean? Try getting stuck in traffic with an R6.

On the final lap of why you need to buy the R3 as your first bike is BEAUTY. It’s no secret that most first time riders buy their bikes as a calculated effort meant to bring in more traffic “pillion wise”. Well, coming in choices of 2 i.e. full black and blue with shades of grey, the 2020/2021 R3 is such a head turner I must say or should I say chick magnet?

This is the type of bike that will make everybody’s head turn, especially the other gender; (this I say with authority out of experience), while at the same time earning you mad respect among fellow bikers.


Photos by Kchael Michaels

All that glitters is not gold

Enough of the positives, what don’t I like about the R3?

For starters, I wouldn’t buy the R3 for my personal use because I am not a new rider and as such, it wouldn’t give me the kind of power I would wish to have between my legs. Having mentioned that the R3 has been engineered meticulously, I still think a few tweaks can be made here and there that would go a long way in improving its overall performance and make it more likable. First, what scared me most and got me carefully calculating my next riding steps was the fact that despite the bike having ABS, it still skids a lot especially when you down shift while at high speeds. This I suspect could be due to the rather narrow hind tire which is just size 140 and maybe the feather wait, so how can this be remedied? We ask the manufacturers to give it size 150? Well; am just thinking out loud here so don’t start rattling my feathers with arguments such as am not an engineer and therefore I wouldn’t know why they gave it such tire size; ooo blahblahblah…Another negative I noticed, which is purely cosmetics is the position of the horn button. Having ridden other bikes, I found it a little too far for my reach, something that made me not to use the horn the entire 600kms I test rode the bike.

It’s very normal to drop the bike, not just amongst new riders but even the experienced ones do drop their bikes, so, could the manufacturer please provide crush bobbins on the R3 or simply put provisions for them; before some local welder decides to ruin the beauty of the bike by doing some mumbo jumbo on it in the name of protecting the side covers? halloo???

If you are 85kgs and above and well-endowed with a giant of a stomach like some of us, please don’t buy this bike as you will be looking like some * predator that I wouldn’t want to mention for the sanity of this article. You would probably need an ADV or one of those gigantic cruiser bikes if you have to ride that is, otherwise, get yourself a truck as even a sedan won’t cut it or simply stop eating…on a lighter note though.


Parting shot

Yamaha has done the biking community justice by engineering and introducing the R3 to the market and this goes a long way in horning riding skills amongst the new riders; whilst giving them both the fun and respect they deserve. By introducing this bike into the Kenyan market, we as the Kenyan bikers now have some form of relief as we can now own genuine Japanese bikes with zero millage; without having to go through the hassle and bustle of having to wait over 3 months just to receive a bike we ordered from abroad which usually turns out to be used anyway.

For those who might argue that the bike is overpriced locally, how about you look at it from this angle, for one, it’s a zero millage bike, secondly, its fully registered, thirdly, its available locally, just walk into the showroom and walk out with your bike, fourth, the bike has a 6 moth warranty on the engine, fifth, it’s a Japanese bike with the best engineering you can think of, sixth and the final, Toyota Kenya allows for financing option so, is that enough pitch, no? you probably need to adjust your budget or look for one of those Chinese bikes. Sorry.

I have come up with this review after I was given the R3 for 2 days and had the opportunity to ride it to the UBUNTU breakfast run in Machakos as well as other places covering a distance of just of 600kms and I must say I enjoyed the bike so much considering the fact that I am an ADV rider. My general opinion, it’s a great bike to start with.


Chief Priest (+254-721-488-349).

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