When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to get a motorcycle. After several tries, I finally persuaded my dad to lend me $300 bucks for a used 1974 Yamaha RD350. At the time, the RD was considered an entry-level bike. For me it definitely was. And it was much more than just my first motorcycle. It was light and fast, not unlike the new 2015 Yamaha YZF-R3. But the RD, with its roots deeply seeded in the TZ racers of the early 70s, was quite a handful for a beginning rider.
Although it threw me down the road a few times, I was happy to be starting out on a small, lightweight motorcycle. Eventually, the two-stroke era faded and small four-strokes took over. But all the cool 400cc mini superbikes were sold everywhere else, not in the US. Yamaha did bring the FZR400 to the States, but it disappeared after only a few years. I guess small entry-level bikes just didn’t sell. Too bad, because we needed more of them. Kawasaki had the Ninja 250, which was a hit with beginners, but for some reason it wasn’t all that cool. Plus, nobody was stepping up to challenge Kawi.
Again, we must all remember that the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R3 is an entry-level bike with a very reasonable price tag. At just $4,990, it’s quite a bargain. And by the end of the day, I was really enjoying the R3 on the track. It does all the things a good motorbike does as long as you don’t force the issue. It makes you work in different ways to achieve the performance you desire. For beginners, it’s capable and accessible, and it’s a great platform upon which you can improve your riding skills.
The R3 will be available in three colors: Yamaha Blue/Matte Silver, Raven Black, and Rapid Red. Additionally, there is a whole host of Yamaha Genuine Accessories that includes my favorite—an emissions-compliant Yoshimura slip-on exhaust.
Thomas Montano, the 2001 AMA Pro Thunder champion, has competed at the Isle of Man TT more than a dozen times. His best finishes there were a 10th in the 1997 Junior TT and a 13th in the 1996 Senior TT. Montano has been a fixture in NorCal’s AFM series for decades, where he continues to compete.
|ENGINE TYPE||321cc, liquid-cooled 2-cylinder DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder|
|BORE x STROKE||68.0 x 44.1 mm|
|IGNITION||Transistor Controlled Ignition|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||41mm KYB fork; 5.1 in. of travel|
|REAR SUSPENSION||KYB single shock; 4.9. in. of travel|
|FRONT BRAKE||298mm floating disc|
|REAR BRAKE||220mm floating disc|
|FRONT TIRE||110/70-17M/C 54H|
|REAR TIRE||140/70-17M/C 66H|
|L x W x H||82.3 x 28.3 x 44.7 in.|
|SEAT HEIGHT||30.7 in.|
|RAKE (CASTER ANGLE)||25°|
|FUEL CAPACITY||3.7 gal.|
|FUEL ECONOMY||Est. 56 mpg|
|CLAIMED WET WEIGHT||368 lb.|