Yamaha R3 vs. R6 – Which is the best entry-level bike

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In this review of Yamaha R3 vs. R6 we compare a street legal racing bike against a lightweight fast contender. We examine the bikes on a list of factors like speed, acceleration, engine size among others.

The Yamaha R1 is a beast in the superbike section but it is handsomely priced and beyond the reach of most bikers. It is for this reason that Yamaha decided to introduce more affordable bikes that deliver the thrill bikers are searching for while at the same time being lightweight. Welcome to the world of the Yamaha R3 and R6 superbikes.

Searching for the right superbike is not that simple – especially when you are faced with a street legal racing bike like the R6 and you have a lightweight machine like the R3. In this Yamaha R3 vs. R6 review, we examine these bikes on a list of factors and specifications and tell you which delivers a punch when it comes to street racing.

How the Yamaha R3 vs. R6 compare

Model Yamaha R3 Yamaha R6
Displacement 321cc 600cc
Redline 12,245 rpm 15,500 rpm
Max Power 42 HP @ 10,750 rpm 121 HP @ 13,000
Compression 11.20.1 12.40.1
Oil Capacity 2.27 quart 3.22 quart
Height 44.69 in 42.91 in
Ground Clearance 6.30 in 5.31 in
Wet weight 366 lbs. 401 lbs.
Max Payload Weight 353 lbs. 425 lbs.

Yamaha R3 vs. R6 – Key Differences


The R6 is the faster one courtesy of a 599cc liquid cooled DOCH engine. This enables the bike to reach a top speed of over 160 miles per hour while delivering a torque of 45.5 foot pounds. Compare this with the R3 liquid cooled 321cc inline DOHC twin cylinder engine that delivers a torque of 21.8 foot pounds. Top speed is limited at 111 miles per hour. It would be unfair to compare the two engines properly as the two bikes where intended for different markets. What Yamaha had in mind in the R3 is a fast bike that is more affordable than the speed crazy R1. The R3 generates a maximum power of 42 HP @ 10,750 rpm while the R6 does this at 121 HP @ 13,000 rpm.

When it comes to speed you need to be careful when choosing the right superbike to start with. The R3 is a great beginner bike as it allows you to learn how to ride a superbike while not been too aggressive at the same time. It also makes for an excellent choice for a someone looking for their first superbike. Once you get the feel of riding at high speeds you can then upgrade to the R6. This bike borrows a lot from its big brother the R1. It’s 599cc engine makes it ideal for middleweight superbike category. The bike is fast especially when you are hitting higher rpm. This is where raw power is unleashed enabling you to reach speeds of over 160mph. Once you are familiar with racing in entry-level and middle category superbikes your next goal is the much competitive 1,000cc category. Here you have bikes like the Suzuki Hayabusa, BMW S1000RR and the Yamaha R1. These kind of bikes are simply fast. Something like the Kawasaki H2R is capable of reaching speeds of up to 400 km/h hence been named the fastest production bike in the market. The R1 not only looks good but accelerates really fast. You can do 0 to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. If you are an adrenaline junkie then your top goal would be to acquire the R1.


When it comes to the design the R6 has an edge over the R3. Yamaha primarily objective when designing the R3 was to have a bike that is lighter than the R1 and a bike that is costs less than $5,000. The R6 received a huge boost in 2017 when it was redesigned to resemble the R1. This meant a change to its aerodynamics which led to an 8% reduction in drag. Now it spots a magnesium subframe, aluminum fuel tank, titanium valves and exhaust and traction control. An aluminum deltabox twin-chassis wraps the inline four. The bike is available in intensity white/matte silver, team Yamaha blue and matte grey.

The basic design of the R3 is something similar to the R25. It has a low seat, you have windshield that helps deflect wind and an engine that is bored out. To help keep the bike lightweight, Yamaha designed a 10-spoke cast aluminum wheels and downdraft induction fuel injection system. If you choose the YZR-R3 you get ABS. The R3 spots all aluminum cylinders. Some improvements have been done on the 2018 model like dual ABS brakes and the fact the bike is Euro IV complaint. The R3 version that comes minus ABS retails at less than $4,999 an is only available in Team Yamaha Blue. Other versions with ABS are available in Matte silver, black and team Yamaha Blue.


The R3 is a great entry level bike that offers average fuel economy at 56 miles per gallon. The front suspension consists of 41mm telescopic KYB while the rear has mono-shock KYB. You also get a low seat at 30.7 inches. For the R6 you have more powerful suspenders. At the front you get 43mm KYB front three way adjustable forks while at the back you have a mono-shock four adjustable. The seat is higher than the R3 at 33.5 inches.

If you are looking for an entry level bike then you best choice would be the R3. The bike does 0-60 km/h in under 3 seconds which is pretty awesome for an entry level bike. However, the R3 has being faulted for having a poor braking distance. According to the bike designers, the R3 has a braking distance of 131.5 feet. This represents the time it will come to a complete halt from 100km/h to 0.

Yamaha R3 – In-depth Review

The Yamaha R3 was created as a more affordable lightweight sports bike to compete in the 300cc category. It is for those who cannot afford the more powerful and pricier R1 super bike. It features a low seat and is quite similar to the R25. The R3 competes well with other brands like the Honda CBR300R, Kawasaki Ninja 300 and KTM 390 series. If you want to push the R3 to maximum power then you have t go all the up to the 7,000 rpm redline. The bike features fast acceleration that sees it accelerate from 0-60 km/h in 3 seconds.

The R3 operates through a downdraft induction fuel system. This delivers fuel to the liquid cooled 321cc inline twin-cylinder engine hence enabling the bike to produce a maximum power of 42 HP @ 10,750 rpm. The R3 is able to achieve a top speed of 111 miles per hour while delivering over 21.8 foot pounds of torque. The seat height is set at 30.7 inches while the bike itself weighs 368 pounds. An ABS version weighs 375 lbs. You get a modest 56 miles per gallon on the bike which is pretty decent for city cruising. The suspension consists of front 41mm telescopic KYB and back KYB mono-shocks. The R3 is available in vivid white or raven black.

To reduce unsprung weight, the bike features a 10-spoke cast aluminum wheels. You will also discover that the engine cylinders are all made from aluminum. The downside is that the bikes braking system is not that good to enable the bike bring all that horsepower to a halt. You will have to be creative with the engine braking for deceleration. The suspension is also not that great as it allows minimal adjustments.

What we liked:

  • Lightweight
  • All aluminum cylinders
  • More affordable than the R1

What we did not like:

  • Poor suspension
  • Braking system not that good at high speeds

Yamaha R6 – In-depth Review

The Yamaha R6 was introduced in 1999. It belongs to a class of super sports bikes under the 600cc category. When it was first designed it sported a new engine capable of producing 108 HP while stationary. The R6 later underwent several innovations, the first being the introduction of fuel injection in 2003 and changing it to YCC-T ride by wire in 2006. However, some of the best changes occurred in 2017 when the R6 underwent a complete cosmetic renovation in its aerodynamics. The aerodynamics where inspired by the R1 and where reported to reduce drag by up to 8%. Other additions would include ABS brakes, new rear shock, front 43mm inverted fork, new aluminum fuel tank, traction control, and riding modes.

Another cool update in 2017 was the introduction of a OBD port. However, unlike the one in your car that gives you a complete diagnostic report, this one you need to purchase a separate adapter that you connect to the OBD-II scanner.

The R6 is a beast in the super sport section. For starters it comes with a liquid cooled 600 cc engine. It has horizontal inline-four that produce over 116.7 HP @rpm of 14,500. It is a DOHC with sixteen titanium valves. The super engine is capable of producing an impressive 45.5 foot-pounds of torque and reach a top speed of up to 160 miles per hour. The six speed transmission is paired with an aluminum deltabox twin spar chassis. For the suspension you have in the front inverted KYB 43mm fork and some mono-shock KYB for the rear. The seat is high at 33.5 inches but not as high as the R1 at 33.7 inches. You can get the R6 in intensity white/matte silver, matte grey or team Yamaha blue.

The R6 is the predecessor to the R1. The R1 has been Yamaha flagship brand for many years and for good reasons. It looks supercool, its aggressive on the throttle and its 998cc liquid cooled DOHC engine is capable of generating more than 200 worth of horsepower @rpm of 13,500. The R1 also generates 82.9 foot pounds of torque @rpm of 11,500. On the road it will hit speeds of over 160 mph and is well capable of competing with other larger 1,000 bikes like the Hayabusa or the Kawasaki ZX-10R. When compared to the R6 the R1 has a higher seat at 33.7 inches and this means you need to crouch really hard to view the road ahead. Most of the electronics on the R1 have been put on the R6 and this makes them quite similar.

When it comes to the world of superbikes it is prudent to start with a lower cc bike like the R3. Get the feel of the wheel then upgrade to the middleweight category where you have 600cc bikes like the R6. If you are very confident of your riding skills you can now take the challenge to the beast of a machine the R1. Riding a higher performance bike like the R6 or R1 can be risky. The raw power generated by some of these bikes can literally throw you out of your seat if you are not carefully. You also get to cruise at unimaginable speeds of more than 160 mph.

What we liked:

  • Improved electronics
  • The bike is created for speed
  • Great suspension
  • Durable aluminum chassis

What we did not like:

  • Had problems with tachometer at some point
  • Lacks a diagnostic mode option


It is no secret that the R6 has become one of Yamaha’s bestselling super bikes. 2017 changes have brought with it a more robust aerodynamic design that borrows a lot from its big brother the R1. You also have an array of electronics like traction control and improved suspension. When compared to the R3 the R6 is in a class of its own when it comes to speed. It leads the pack in the 600cc section. The R3 is the cheaper version of the R1. It is fast but the many riders have faulted its braking system. If you are looking for something that will turn heads then go with the R6 however, if you are looking for an entry-level bike that is affordable then the R3 is out top choice.

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Steven Reilly is a qualified mechanic and his passion for cars goes beyond just the technical aspects. He is also an amateur racer and all round car enthusiast. When he is not driving them, he can often be found in his garage under the hood of a rare model. Steven Reilly has lost track of the number of hours he has spent setting up his fine collection of rebuilt models. He believes that cars can provide a constructive and fun opportunity to teach the youth important life skills. In line with this, he is developing a community outreach program, potentially dubbed ‘Cars for change'.
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