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Having owned both a CBR250R and a Yamaha R3 I thought some of you (JKV357) might like to hear my thoughts on how they compare. Please be aware that the following is all from the perspective of riding motorbikes because they are a nice way to travel. I’ve a long history of racing on bicycles, particularly off road, but when I get on a motorbike it’s to chill out and ride at no more than seven tenths.

My main reason for switching to the R3 was to gain a little more power, although the smoother low rev operation of a twin cylinder motor was also welcome. The CBR was fine for going with the flow of traffic where I live but gave few opportunities for overtaking. The R3 does allow far more confident overtaking. Near where I live there’s a section of dual carriageway that runs in and out of a valley. On the uphill my CBR would be flat out at 70mph. The R3 will accelerate healthily from 70 in top gear there and carry on doing so well past 80.

At those speeds the wind flow round the fairings is distinctly different between the two bikes. On the CBR on cold days I could feel the cold air on the outside of my fingers where they curled under the grips and also across the tops of my thighs. My lower legs and upper body were well protected from wind blast and rain. On the R3 it’s quite opposite with my hands and the middle of my body feeling well sheltered and my upper body and legs feeling more pressure. On last year’s epic all day ride back from Austria on the R3 I found my speed regularly dropping towards the end of the day due to the fatigue on my upper body, something that didn’t happen on a long trip on the CBR.
Before I leave long trips behind I have to mention comfort. The CBR felt like it could have been tailor made for me to ride all day on and only at town speed did I sometimes wish for slightly higher bars. The bars on the R3 do seem to be slightly higher but the seat was horrible. The standard one slopes up at the back and on a long ride had me feeling like parts of me that really should stay at the front were being pulled back between my legs. Not nice. I’ve had the seat re-profiled but it still doesn’t match the one on the CBR.

To the motors. I’ve already mentioned the increased performance and low rev smoothness of the R3 but compared to the CBR it’s very slow to respond from idle. Just a slight twitch of the throttle on a CBR is enough to get the revs soaring. The R3 requires a much bigger handful. Yamaha have fitted a decreasing radius pulley on the throttle body so the initial turn of the throttle only opens the butterflies slowly, presumably to make the bike more novice friendly. I found it made rev matching on downshifts a lot harder to get right than it ever was on my CBR. I’ve modified the throttle tube to speed the action up but am still looking for a constant radius pulley to fit.
Fuel consumption is a little greater on the R3, the 75mpg average I’m getting is about 8-10 down on what I was seeing on my CBR but as I’m often accelerating harder that’s quite reasonable.

When comparing the handling of the two the CBR definitely had the lighter more flickable feel despite the manufacturer’s claimed weight being only a few kilos less than the R3. Perhaps another area in which Yamaha have dumbed down their bike to suit their idea of what is best for a less experienced rider.

To summarise. If I was always the only person on the road I’d probably still own a CBR250R. But I’m not, I live in densely populated area and going with the four wheeled flow most of the time is a rather dull way to ride. I like my R3 but unlike my CBR250R which needed no more than heated grips and luggage, I have had to spend a fair bit more time, effort and money making it suit me better, and I don’t feel I’m finished yet.

My ideal bike? Something with the agility and ergonomics of a CBR250R, the smoothness and power (or just a little more) of the R3 and a fairing a few centimetres wider all round than both.
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