2019 Yamaha YZF-R3: Entry-Level Sport Bike Gets a Fresh Face and Better Handling

The affordable Yamaha R3 just became an even sweeter value proposition.

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Year Make Model: 2019 Yamaha YZF-R3

Topline: Yamaha gives its entry-level sport bike a nice facelift with a new look that’s more in line with its big brothers and a few tweaks to improve handling.

What’s New: The Yamaha R6 was new for 2017 and the R1 was new for 2018. Now the little R3 finally gets its turn for an update in the 2019 model year. Its most noticeable update is its new look with a redesigned front fairing with slimmer LED headlights and a center duct bringing air right to the radiator. It also has a new fuel tank and slightly lower handlebars giving it a more aggressive riding position. The biggest performance upgrade of the 2019 Yamaha R3 is its all-new 37-millimeter inverted front fork sourced from KYB which promises to improve handling. Rear suspension is the same preload-adjustable KYB shock from the pre-facelift R3.

Yamaha has ditched the analog-digital hybrid gauge cluster on the R3 which was starting to look a little dated and replaced it with an LCD instrument cluster. This display complements the bike’s facelift nicely giving it a more modern feel from behind the handlebars.

The engine is unchanged soldiering on with a 321cc liquid-cooled, fuel injected parallel-twin with DOHC and four valves per cylinder rated at 42 horsepower and 21.8 pound-feet of torque which are pretty strong numbers for an engine this size. Yamaha is claiming 56 mpg and the bike has a delightfully low wet weight of 368 pounds, or 375 pounds for the anti-lock braking system-equipped model.

Pricing is identical to the 2018 model at $4,999 for the base model or $5,299 if you want ABS. They’ll be available as soon as December of 2018.

Quotable: “Powered by a 321cc twin-cylinder engine that delivers excellent power for navigating cross-town traffic, carving twisty roads, or participating in a track day, the new 2019 YZF-R3 and YZF-R3 ABS models are user-friendly and feature Yamaha’s race-inspired R-series styling. While the ABS model adds confidence-boosting stopping performance, both models are perfect for first-time riders or experienced sportbike pilots who prefer a lightweight, nimble machine,” said Yamaha in a press release.

2019 Yamaha YZF-R3, Yamaha

What You Need to Know: Retro naked bikes might be all the rage for young riders these days, but the entry-level sport bike segment is still a very competitive one. The new R3 will be contending with the likes of the Kawasaki Ninja 400, Honda CBR300RR, and Suzuki GSX250R. Small, sporty, affordable bikes are better than they’ve ever been and you can add the 2019 Yamaha YZF-R3 to the list.

The updates might not be anything major, but it’s good to see Yamaha keeping this little runt fresh and appealing to new riders shopping for their first bike or experienced riders looking for a light and affordable track toy.