We’ve got a soft spot in our hard little hearts for Yamaha’s smallest supersport, the YZF-R3, even going so far as to strap on a tail bag and hit the road for a multi-day road trip back in 2016.
So we were happy to hear it got a few updates for 2019, including an aggressive new look and a sporty inverted front fork. Unchanged are the guts: a lightweight steel frame with the engine as a stressed member, a long asymmetrical swingarm mounted with a preload-adjustable KYB shock, and the quick-revving 321cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, fuel-injected parallel twin engine at its heart.
Also returning are the 298mm front brake disc with floating two-piston caliper and 220mm rear with single-piston caliper, and ABS is still available as a $300 option. With a 30.7-inch seat height and a wet weight of 371 pounds (on our 2016 test bike; the 2019 model may vary slightly), the R3 is still an accessible and fun to ride option for those looking for a sporty experience.
New for 2019 is a KYB 37mm inverted fork and a new triple clamp, which Yamaha says ties it closer to its R-series brethren. Its clip-on handlebars are now mounted 22mm lower than before, and combined with a redesigned fuel tank that’s wider above the knees and lower in profile, the new R3 allows the rider to tuck in and grip the tank better than before.
Lastly, the front fairing and windscreen have been restyled with an aggressive look that pays homage to Yamaha’s flagship MotoGP race bike, the YZR-M1. Not only that, Yamaha claims the new design reduces aerodynamic drag by seven percent, increases top speed by five mph and decreases turbulence around the rider’s head. A center duct in the fairing also functions to direct airflow to the radiator, contributing to engine cooling performance.
The 2019 Yamaha YZF-R3 will be available in dealerships in December 2018. The standard (non-ABS) model comes in Team Yamaha Blue or Matte Black for $4,999, and the ABS model comes in Vivid White or Matte Black for $5,299.