Test Rode R3: Ninja 300 vs YZF R3
So today I got the chance to ride the Yamaha R3 2016 ABS model. I have owned a ninja 300 (with akrapovic exhaust no baffle) for a year now coming at 12,000kms on the clock and up to my first valve clearance check. My views may be different to others but after the test ride I can see why reviewers give the ninja 300 higher ratings.
Just a background story, I went to check what the yamaha r3 had to offer only because I disliked the 12,000kms clearance check intervals and the 6,000 kms servicing intervals. Apart from that yamaha apparently has more low down power so I went to check what all the fuss is about haha.
Weight of the Motorcycle:
The test ride of the yamaha r3 (akrapovic metal snub exhaust with baffle):
Upon hopping on, the FIRST thing you notice is how SKINNY and LIGHT it is. It honestly felt soo much smaller than the ninja 300.
Feeling of the controls:
The second biggest thing I noticed that caught my attention was that the controls honestly felt a bit plasticy, the fuel tank shell is pretty plasticy and the handle/throttle were hard rubbers as opposed to the soft rubber on my ninja 300. The blinker switch also felt cheaper primarily because it wasnt smooth tipped like the ninja 300 blinker switch. In saying that they worked perfectly and still presented medium quality.
The body of the bike feels cheapish in comparison to the ninja as I tapped the shell knocking it with my knuckles. The shell plastics responded plasticy and hollowish in comparison to the solid quality feel of the ninja. The actual fuel tank is PLASTIC - that annoyed me the most, I love tapping my ninja 300 shell because it responds with a nice (expensive feeling) *ding*.
The brake leavers (uncoated silver) were pretty cheapy feeling too, not soo smooth like the ninja, plus the ninja brakes are coated in black providing that expensive feel you desire in sport bikes.
Seating Position and Seat Comfort:
The third thing you notice is the seating position is not leaning forward its more sit-up style, however because of the nature of the bike you can still lean in - not as much as the ninja 300 though. In saying this, to some people, the ninja 300 looks worse when people are sitting on it (despite the lean-in) because the rear seat is lower than compared to the R3. This making people look like they are "sitting on" the bike rather than "in the bike." The yamaha sort of feels like you are more in the bike because the rear seat is actually slightly higher. If you look at photos of people riding both bikes on the net, it seems that this is true - this is heavily up to debate though. In addition to this, the seat is very narrow and stiff, perhaps on long rides this would result in a sore (a$$).
So driving it around automatically you feel the lightness of the bike, the versatility is superb. You can turn sharp and the bike will listen, you can fling it in the opposite direction and again, the bike will listen. What I found though is that this lightness subtracted from the sportiness, finesse and sport bike discipline that the ninja 300 had to offer. The ninja 300 felt more planted/ smooth and comfortable on the road while the yamaha felt light, nimble and throw-able.
The clutch engagement was very early (this may change depending on every bike) and it was in the same spot every time. You knew exactly where the engagement was all the time every time. The Yamaha r3 DOES NOT have a slipper clutch which, to some people, it's the end of the world, to me however, it's a good thing. The reason being that I like the normal wet clutch on the yammie is that it doesn't POP OUT on WOT. Too many times has my clutch actually popped out on my ninja 300 causing an over-rev.
In terms of the engine refinement I am inclined to say that the bike failed when comparing it to my ninja, the engine did not provide a smooth delivery of power for me, however there was more low down power which I appreciated. When comparing this to my ninja, the ninja provided smooth engine tone and power delivery whilst the yamha was pretty bone-ish throughout the rev range. I dont know how to best explain it, but perhaps the words I can use to describe the engine delivery of the ninja 300 is: smooth, finesse, deep sounding - the yamaha r3 is: bone-ish and punchy and light sounding, however I dont know if this akrapovic exhaust (with baffle) had anything to do with this.
Comparing this too my ninja:
Honestly I could not wait to hop on my ninja 300 because of how luxurious and perfectly built it is. The motorbike engine sound and delivery is smooth, perhaps the clutch is weird but tolerable, the body of the ninja is bigger and heavier providing that stable (big back wheel, 1l bike) feel. Swinging the ninja 300 left and right was more disciplined and not extremely fast/light/throw-able like the yamaha r3 to the point it feels like a mosquito. The handles and controls of the ninja are amazing, the ergonomics are perfect primarily because they are balanced, feel good and dont feel cheap. I do wish they provided a gear indicator because I dont count my gear shifts at all whic puts me in bad situations sometimes. The ninja does need to get to 7k rpm to really provide its power however, it is smooth delivery of power and engine tone until the 7 thousand +. The yamaha was rocky and harsh in comparison to the ninja which honestly aggravated me. Hopping on the ninja 300 again settled me back to that happy smile and smooth power delivery/handling. These handling characteristics of the ninja are probably due to its bigger bike size, different suspension mechanism, and lower bike hight. To me this situation appears to be a toss between smoothness/finesse/ergonomically orientated/ smooth power delivery (ninja) vs reliability/bone sporty bike that has tight/chuck-able handling characteristics.
In saying this I am looking to sell my ninja 300 because I cant justify paying $400AUD for a "valve clearance check" every 12,000ks when yamaha is around the 40,000km mark and the servicing intervals are every 10,000kms haha. If there are typos sorry, wrote this review while getting a hair cut haha
Last edited by JahmelD; 05-22-2016 at 11:04 AM.