Yamaha R3 Report

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Road Test: Yamaha R3 = Twin Cylinder / Eight Valves / 55 watt headlight.

Today in March 2016 it is almost 28 years since I last tested a twin cylinder bike. In 1988 I tested the Yamaha-Rajdoot RD350 (better known as Yamdoot) twin cylinder bike, two-stroke, two carburetors – there was no fuel injection at that time (maybe 2-strokes cannot be fuel injected). But in 1988 I was also 28 years younger.  Today I am more than 69 years old, while at that time I was just 41 years old.

Basically I am not in favor of two or more cylinder bikes – they push up the cost and if and when you have to do up the engine, you have to have TWO of everything – two pistons, two sets of rings, eight valves – most of today’s 4-stroke power bikes have four valves per cylinder – so two cylinders == eight valves.

The RD350 – better known as Yamdoot , was 2-stroke, so it did not have valves – thank god = money saved on valves at least.

The other thing is that most of today’s so called power bikes have a very short stroke, high rpm and high compression ratio (CR) – so they have poor Low-End-Torque and very low Engine-Life-Factor (ELF). Just see my Test Report of the Honda CBR250 on this site and you will see. The Honda CBR150 is even worse. It revs too high and has a very high CR. Its ELF is even lower than the CBR250.

Coming to this bike under test – this Yamaha R3, it is definitely high revving. It produces max power at 10,750 rpm and has a CR of 11.2, giving it and ELF of 0.83, Compared to the ELF of Bullet500 standard which is 2.307. Thus this engine will not last long as compared to Bullet500 – that is LAW OF NATURE. Cheetah – the fastest animal in the world which runs at 120 km/hr lives 14 years, while tortoise which runs at 120 inches per hour lives for 300 years and more. In fact, the same tortoise on which Charles Darwin did research in the islands of Galapagos in the Pacific Ocean in 1830 – is still alive! And it was already 100 years old when Darwin saw him.

So, what is this Yamaha R3 bike?

See the rear swing-arm widening in the middle


It has a TWO CYLiNDER engine of~~321 cc, each cylinder having bore X stroke of 68 mm X 44.1 mm (each cylinder has a displacement of 160.157 cc, so two cylinders total 320.314 cc~~321 cc), operating at a Compression Ratio (CR) of 11.2 (90% of bikes have a CR less than 10). R3 produces 30.9 kw of power (==42 ps==41.4 bhp) at 10,750 rpm, and develops a torque of 29.6 Nm at 9000 rpm. Fuel feed is by fuel injection and ignition is transistor controlled.


It is Liquid cooled – see the radiator just above the front wheel.

It has six gears – the old RD350 also has six gears. This Yamaha R3 has four valves per cylinder. It has disc brakes on both wheels – a 298 mm disc on the front wheel and a 220 mm disc on the rear wheel.

17-inch diameter tires on both wheels are 110/70 front and 140/70 rear. There were no disc brakes on the old RD350. In fact disc brakes did not exist in India in 1988 when I tested the Yamdoot (RD350) in 1988 for Car & Bike International magazine (now defunct) then published from Pune. The first bike in India to have disc brake (on the front wheel only) was the old 156.5 cc Hero Honda CBZ – totally different from the current CBZ Xtreme (and Hunk), which are derivatives of the Honda Unicorn – a totally different engine, in fact a totally different bike, even though the name is same.

The wheel-rims are 10-spoke mag-alloy jobs and the front forks are 41 mm inner tube dia with 130 mm travel, while rear suspension is mono-shock with 125 mm travel.

The 1380 mm wheelbase features a fairly long rear swing-arm which, as opposed to all other bikes I have tested, is  (in the first photo above) not uniformly rectangular throughout its length like almost all others, but is wider/thicker in the middle. The swing-arm is pretty long having a length of 61 mm == 2 feet


To start the bike I looked for a kick starter, but there is no kicker – only electric start. I prefer bikes with kicker. If I can kick start a Bullet500 by kicking, why not a 321 cc bike? If the battery is weak or dead, you have to push start. Push starting a 169 kg bike is no joke for me. I am only 54 kg in weight and 174 cm tall. So I pressed the starter button and the engine fired. Idling held and the engine kept purring. It has a “toe-only” shifter which I hate. I prefer “heel-toe” shifter which is much more convenient and easier to use – whether you are wearing polished corporate leather shoes or chappals. Anyway, I pressed toe and got into first gear, turned the throttle and moved off. Got out of the colony where I live and got on the road to Mulshi Dam where I test all the bikes.

The road is good but has undulations and rough patches at some places. When I went over these I could feel them in my spine. To me, the suspension of this bike is stiff. Maybe it has to be so as required by the purpose for which this bike is built – which is performance! The 70 profile tires are no help. There is not much cushioning in such low profile tires. They even call it a superbike. But it does not agree with me. I am 70 years old! To me comfort is primary and at age 70 I am never in a hurry and do not race. I prefer the suspension of Hero Passion XPro which I currently use everyday – much more comfortable.

One thing I observed is that of the three headlights, two remain ON all the time – you cannot switch them off even if you want to. This is good for safety so that oncoming traffic becomes better aware of you, and in the US & Europe it is by law compulsory. Yet it takes a toll on the battery. But then, is battery more important or your safety? Though I wish these were L.E.D. lights which hardly consumes battery, not halogen bulbs which this bike has, & consumes much battery. The other thing about headlights is that headlight does not turn with the handle. I do not like such bikes. Even the Hero Karizma ZMR is the same. Indeed a lot of bikes have headlight fixed with the fairing and does not turn with the handle. It has become almost a fashion. Be that as it may, I don’t like it. It might even be fashionable, but I am not in favor of it. Call it a kink in my brain if you will, but it doesn’t agree with me. On the positive side, the headlights are of 55 watt power, like Bullet and the illumination of the road ahead at night is excellent.

Another thing that I am not too happy about, are the clip-on handlebars. Sure, they are not as bad as the Honda CBR250 (test report is on this site) or the Bullet Continental GT which make me “Homo-Bendus” instead of “Homo-Erectus”, but they are not too comfortable for my 174 cm height or my 54 kg weight. If I slide my ass backwards to get more surface area to park my ass, I become more homo-bendus=too much forward lean, which makes my shoulders uncomfortable. If I sit very close to the fuel tank, it is slightly better but still not too comfortable. So this bike becomes a competition: Ass comfort (more surface area to park ass) versus shoulder comfort, i.e., leaning forward. It is a trade-off between the ass and the shoulder!

Seeing the power and speed of this bike, the horn is quite loud, which is as it should be for most traffic except buffaloes. It is a known fact that buffaloes react only to natural sounds like say, human voice which they are used to from their keeper. Also, among all creatures, buffaloes have the lowest “brain weight-to-body weight” ratio, i.e. they have the least brain weight compared to their body weight.

The power and pickup of this bike is awesome. You can overtake almost any other vehicle, be it a BMW or an Audi. Among the bikes commonly seen on our roads, you can definitely overtake any of them with ease. The TORQUE however kicks in only at 5000 rpm and beyond. Comfort notwithstanding, the road-holding on smooth roads is excellent.

Low-End-Torque (LET) is quite poor compared to even 100 cc bikes. Being a two-cylinder bike, I expected LET to be much better, but it is not so. So if majority of your riding is going to be in city traffic, you will have to stay in low gear, which is not too good for fuel economy. Petrol prices are going to go up. Brent Crude (the benchmark for oil price worldwide) which was $31/- per barrel a month ago (govt. reduced price at petrol pumps) is today $41/- a barrel. I expect this price to go up further.

My test ride was over more than 60 km including excellent tarmac surfaces, curves and slopes, but was single seat. The top speed I did was 100 km/hr, but this bike can go much faster. My partner Devjeet Saha (40 years younger than me) has already done 140 on this bike and he says this bike can go even faster.

If you look at the pillion seat, you will see that it is six inches higher than driver seat. It is like driver is sitting on ground floor and pillion is sitting on first floor. What this does for the CENTRE OF GRAViTY – and hence stability and road-holding of the bike double seat, you can well imagine. Women wearing sarees who sit sideways (both feet on one side) would find it impossible to sit pillion on this bike. It may be possible for young girls wearing short skirts or trousers who sit like riding a horse with legs on both sides.

All-in-all a very powerful bike – you may even call it a superbike, with excellent 55 watt headlight, most suitable for highways and open roads. Excellent road-holding on smooth tarmac, though suspension is a bit stiff! If you believe in staying ahead, this bike is for you.


Photo Credits: Djclicks.com






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