By Marissa Baecker
In my last article I wrote about the advantages and enjoyment of riding a scooter.
But scooters aren’t for everyone. In fact, the method of transportation that individuals choose says a lot about who they are. It is almost an expression of fashion offering a sneak peak into the personality of the individual behind the wheels or the bars. So if you don’t like the look of a scooter but still want an economical way to get about town and peddling isn’t an option, perhaps the 300cc entry-level motorcycle is worth considering?
I learned to ride when 300’s weren’t an option. As such, I have snubbed my nose at them for many years as I didn’t think they had a purpose for me personally. They were introduced into the market by motorcycle manufacturers to offer new riders a low-powered bike to develop not only their skill but their love of motorcycling. The introduction also solved transportation issues by offering a consistent, reliable, economical and stylish way to get about town when gas prices were on the rise.
A friend of mine, a strong dirt bike rider, bought a 2015 Yamaha R3 as her first street bike, despite my recommendation that her skill was beyond a 300cc motorcycle. I was right and later that season, she bought a Yamaha R6 (600cc) supersport race bike. However, she never sold the R3, and I didn’t understand why, until I rode it.
The Yamaha R3 is the perfect lightweight, economical ride not only for the new rider to develop skill on but it is also a whole lot of fun for the more seasoned two-wheeled vet and will certainly takes care of the vanity issue of not being seen on a scooter.
Although the R3 is classified as a supersport (race) bike, the seating position is somewhat relaxed to give it more of a standard sport or upright riding position for that added confidence the newer rider needs. Throw a leg over and surprisingly, the low 30-inch seat height is still comfortable for the longer legged feet are planted on the aluminum pegs. Turn the key, familiarize yourself with the analogue tach, digital speedo, digital gear indicator, odometer and even a shift light and you will soon forget it is a 300cc motorcycle.
Open throttle and power is delivered consistently and evenly across the six-speed transmission but fifth and six gears are more for overdrive to lower the rpm on the highway. The liquid cooled, in-line twin, four-stroke is tuned to offer no surprises to catch a newer rider off-guard. The reliability of even torque and power delivery allows the more experienced to have a little fun, rev higher into the RPM to find that extra power and push the limits. A heavier bike requires stronger handling but the R3 flips around in the corners like pancakes on a Sunday morning.
The 2015 Yamaha R3 weighs a mere 366 lb (166 kg). The lightweight steel frame holds the weight evenly allowing for agile handling while maintaining stability. Move up a class to a Yamaha R6 and you experience not only a 56-pound weight increase (419 lbs, 190kg) but a whole new ride experience. Fifty pounds doesn’t seem like much, but flipping side to side through a series of twists, it makes a difference. Of note though, is that the lighter weight R3 would need a bit more muscle to handle in a strong wind, where that extra fifty pounds on the R6 would be a welcomed accessory.
Aside from the charm and good looks of the R3, is economics. With a 14-litre fuel tank and three-litre reserve upon illumination of the low fuel light, at today’s fuel price of 1.09/litre, you can fill up for $15. How far does that go? Based on my experience, roughly 24km per litre or 336 km a full tank. For perspective, a university student living downtown Kelowna could travel to UBCO 25 times. To and from school for two weeks equals 20 trips plus a bit of errands around town and the freedom of independent transportation. That’s worth thinking about.
The Yamaha R3 MSRP is approximately $5,100.00.