2015 Entry-Level Sportbike Shootout Conclusion

May 22, 2015
Byron Wilson
Byron Wilson
Associate Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

Byron's sure to be hunched over a laptop after the checkers are flown, caught in his own little version of heaven. Whether on dirt, street or a combination of both, MotoUSA's newest addition knows the only thing better than actually riding is telling the story of how things went down.

Adam Waheed, 36, Road Test Editor – 6’0″, 181 pounds – Yamaha R3
For maximum fun and sport performance I’d have to go with the RC390 by KTM. But there are a couple of things that would keep me from putting one in my garage, including its so-so build quality and shock that has zero damping. Both of those things need to be improved. The Honda really surprised me too, and is far superior to its 250cc predecessor, but at the end of the day it’s only a Single-cylinder, so it’s lacking a bit of ‘oomph. The Kawasaki is nice, as always, but the engine and chassis are definitely antiquated. It’s time for a full overhaul. For the money, the SYM is an exceptional value, but again, I need a little more performance. And that’s where the YZF-R3 slots in. It’s the least expensive of the big box brands yet still has a degree of exciting R6-like character which makes it fun to ride. Fit and finish is the best of the lot, too. If I was just getting into riding, or just seeking a smaller sportbike, the R3 is the one I would buy.

Jennifer Ross Dunstan, 30, Graphic Designer – 5’4″, 120 pounds – Yamaha R3
My top choice bike is for sure the Yamaha R3. It really does feel like an R6 just miniature sized! It has one of the strongest motors in the class, really responsive handling and suspension, confidence inspiring braking capabilities, and really great looks. There once was a day when the only bike in this field was the Kawasaki Ninja with really dated body work, styling, and performance. That day is long gone now and the Yamaha R3 is the bike that is propelling the entire class into the future….and that future is looking bright!

Jason Abbott, 36, Cycle News Test Rider – 5’11”, 195 pounds – Yamaha R3
When the dust settled I picked the new Yamaha R3 as the winner of the Entry-Level Sportbike title fight. The next closest competitor was the trick KTM RC390, its engine has more get up and go, but the Yamaha R3 offers a more impressive overall package. The R3 engine strong and drivetrain is solid, suspension and handling is predictable, brakes are the most responsive and it takes the cake in the comfort department. If it wasn’t for the RC390’s engine having more horsepower and torque along with it’s “race” look the Yamaha would’ve swept the competition.

Byron Wilson, 31, Associate Editor – 6’0″ 175 pounds – Yamaha R3
For me, it was a choice between the Ninja and R3. I liked the feel of the Kawasaki in the corners and really appreciated the rider aids, but there’s no escaping the fact that the R3 is a more refined, complete package. Where the Kawasaki allows you to make some mistakes, the Yamaha rewards you for doing things right. It looks great and has fantastic power for the class from bottom to top. It’s the bike that will be exhilarating for the newer rider and still pay off as riding skills increase.