Realistically, you’ve got to understand the limitations of a bike like the Yamaha R3. Similar to the Kawasaki Ninja 300, Honda CBR300RR, or Suzuki GSX-250R – which are all great bikes – the best way of getting better performance or increasing your road presence is by upgrading to a bigger motorcycle. But that’s not exactly constructive, and some people don’t want to have to deal with a bigger bike, the higher insurance, and all the baggage that goes along with it. So what do you do? You make the most of what you’ve got. While insane performance boosts aren’t going to happen, there are some cool tweaks that you can do to enhance the performance of your Yamaha R3, and there are some nice little add-ons you can invest in to give your R3 an aesthetic upgrade too.
Before we get started though, you might want to consider what your end goal is. If you need your Yamaha R3 to be a reliable, rock steady commuter bike then you may not want to modify anything about it all, since it’s such a great motorcycle in stock form. On the other hand, if you’re looking at turning your R3 into an unstoppable track day weapon then you might want to skip some of these suggestions altogether and invest serious amounts of money into expensive upgrades that only provide minimal gains, but make the difference only in a race environment.
Spend some time riding around, really getting to know your bike before committing to any significant upgrades or mods, because swapping out stock parts for more expensive items doesn’t instantly make you a better rider, isn’t necessarily the best way to enhance an already good motorcycle, and in some cases will devalue the package as a whole. But if you’re still curious as to what you can do, here are out top 10 Yamaha R3 mods…but we’ll just start with one controversial point before starting the list properly…
“So I Need A New Exhaust System, Right?”
Probably not. A full exhaust system is expensive, looks great, and sounds even better – but after you’ve bought it, you need to have your engine re-tuned and a Power Commander involved to enjoy any benefit, which is more expense for little benefit. Well, there will be an improvement but the vast majority of riders won’t be able to notice it, or make use of it. Of course, an aftermarket exhaust will help drop some weight, and that’s a good thing, but unless you’re a serious track day menace we recommend giving the exhaust a miss. Or, if you’re in need of a new sound, a new look, and want to drop some weight at the same time, just get a slip-on exhaust. Does it increase horsepower? Of course it doesn’t but if it sheds some pounds, it counts as a performance boost…sort of. Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at some serious Yamaha R3 mods worth doing.
10 Yamaha R3 Mods That Will Transform Your Ride Experience
#10. Upgrade Those Tires
First things first, you’re going to want new rubber on those wheels. The Michelin Pilot Street tires that come as standard on the Yamaha R3 aren’t terrible – in fact, they were specifically designed for the R3 – but they’re not as good as what you could have. Your tires are what connect you to the road, and poor tires make a huge difference to your ride experience. Good rubber allows for better traction and superior cornering. With the right set of tires you can have better confidence riding your motorcycle, and you’ll corner better, brake better, and ride to the best of your ability.
The bottom line? Better tires will help boost your confidence, and that makes for an immediate performance boost. Most Yamaha R3 enthusiasts opt for Pirelli Diablo III tires for the best results. You can pick up a front and rear combo for around $275.00 but prices to vary. While the ideal tire choice is a matter of personal preference, it pays to spend more on quality tires than buying the cheapest things on the market. Honestly.
#09. Add Tank Pad Grips
Confidence is key when you’re trying to get the most out of your motorcycle, and one of the easiest upgrades you can add to help you build your confidence often gets overlooked: tank pads. They might look like nothing more than an aesthetic mod or something to keep your tank from getting scuffed up, but having a nice grippy surface for your knees to hold on to makes the world of difference.
Why? Well, the more grip that you can give to your lower body, the better. If your knees can hold onto the tank easily, without slipping, the less stress you’ll be putting on your upper body – all this allows you to keep your whole body stable under heavy braking, maintain a good body position when cornering, and helps prevent upper body fatigue and arm pump. If you can alleviate some stress on the body, the better and more enjoyable your ride experience will be. There are plenty of tank pad grip products available, but we quite like Stomp Grip. For $45.00, you can transform your Yamaha R3 into a far more comfortable track weapon.
#08. Consider Frame Sliders
Do they help your performance? No. But there’s a good case to add some sliders to your ride regardless. Obviously, adding some frame sliders require a little bit of fairing butchery but most riders consider it to be worth it in the long run. In the event of an accident, your beloved Yamaha R3 is likely to take a slide down the road, and those wonderful plastics will take a beating. By adding some sliders, the sliders will take the brunt of the punishment which will hopefully spare your R3 from getting too beaten up. New fairings can be expensive, and new paintjobs even more so – and by adding a set of frame sliders, you can save yourself money in the event of an accident.
So you can save yourself some bucks, but does that improve your ride experience? Yeah, kind of. If you’re able to ride without worrying about the cost of replacing parts, then it will improve your metal game, and probably make you ride a little better. Imagine if MotoGP riders had to pay for every bike they crashed out of their own pocket? Racing would probably never exceed 30 mph…! Shogun make frame sliders specifically for the Yamaha R3, and they retail for around $50.00 – which is far superior to paying for new fairings after a spill.
#07. Tidy Up With A Fender Eliminator
Many a wise track day guru has preached about the benefits of cutting everything that isn’t strictly necessary off, and to some extent that’s wise advice – and one of the first things that you should get the chop is that unsightly rear fender sticking out like an eyesore on the back of your Yamaha R3. Installing a fender eliminator isn’t rocket science, and it really transforms the overall look of your R3 for the better.
To call it a performance upgrade would probably be a little ambitious, but if you manage to shed some weight by getting rid of it, and maybe reduce a bit of drag by throwing that awful thing in the trash, then we guess it counts. In real life terms though, it’s not going to make you a better rider and it’s not going to make you the fastest rider on the road, but it will make your motorcycle a little easier on the eyes. Not all mods have to be geared towards performance – some are purely aesthetic. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Do yourself a favor and treat your Yamaha R3 with a fender eliminator. An R&G Racing fender eliminator kit will set you back around $95.00, and it will make your R3 look supreme.
#06. Try An Integrated Tail Light
On a similar aesthetic note, while you’re removing that unsightly rear fender, you might want to invest in a cool integrated tail light arrangement and install it to really make that rear end look special. Again, it’s not going to make your bike perform any better, but it will make it look more like a svelte, track focused sports machine.
Integrated tail lights come in a variety of flavors but you should check out TST Industries, because they offer a very nice product that is specifically designed for the Yamaha R3 (and the FZ-07) which comes with a no less than 108 bright LEDs, a perimeter running light, integrated signals turn signals, a cool programmable light pattern function, and a choice of smoked or clear lens finishes. According to die-hard Yamaha R3 enthusiasts, the TST Industries tail light is the best one on the market, and it’s easy to install too. Get yours for $99.99.
#05. Invest In Shorty Levers
Specifically, we recommend getting a set of shorty, articulating levers with full adjust-ability. But what does that mean? Essentially, shorter levers are a must-have for dedicated racers and those who like to ride fast – they require less force to pull and can usually be operated by a finger or two, and they generally come with finer adjustment settings, allowing you to really tailor your brake and clutch to suit your riding style and needs. Ideally, if you can afford the extra, it’s worth investing in cool, articulated levers. Articulated levers are basically shorty levers with a separate hinge that allow them to fold away in the event of a crash.
Even a minor drop can result in broken levers, and since shorty levers are shorter than the handlebars, they generally avoid getting damaged. Fold away, articulated-style levers go one better and fold away in the event of more significant crash. So there you have it. They make for easier riding, have better ergonomics and cost…well, a lot really, about $100.00 per lever for a decent brand.
#04. Fit Some Proper Clip-Ons
The problem with most of the small capacity sports bikes on the market, like the Yamaha R3, Kawasaki Ninja 300, and Honda CBR300RR, is the fact that though they’re marketed as sports-oriented motorcycles, they don’t come with the same sport-influenced hardware as their larger capacity siblings. The Yamaha R3 looks like an aggressive sports bike, but when you sit on it you’ll immediately realize that the riding position could be a little sportier. The best way to inject a bit of aggression into your R3 is to ditch the stock handlebars and replace them with a set of decent racing clip-ons.
Though there are plenty of good clip-on brands, R3 aficionados swear by the 7-Degree units from Vortex. If you want to change up your riding style, feel like you’re more in control, or just want a more aggressive profile, a set of these won’t hurt. Easy to install, and very reliable. Vortex clip-ons generally retail for about $160.00. Other brands to consider are R3-specific units from Woodcraft or the R3–spec Halo bars from Driven. Vortex are the most popular choice though, so keep that in mind.
#03. The R6 Throttle Tube Upgrade
For many Yamaha R3 owners, this should be the absolute priority when it comes to upgrades. Essentially, you simply order yourself a throttle tube from a Yamaha YZF-R6 and install it on your R3 instead. And what does this do? The two tubes might look similar, and the do share the same diameter, but the secret is that the R6 has a far superior flange on it, allowing you to open the throttle all the way without any unnecessary play. You twist less, and get up to speed faster.
It will certainly liven up your acceleration, and it’s a wonder why these bikes don’t come with this kind of throttle tube as standard – it’s probably because the quicker-action acceleration could catch newbies by surprise. This simple swap can turn a sluggish machine into a whole new beast. But that’s not the best part! The best part is the price. You can buy a Yamaha R6 throttle tube for about $25, so it’s hardly an expensive mod. It’s cheap and very effective. Even if you do nothing else on this list…do this one.
#02. Adjust Your Suspension
If you actually want to improve your handling without spending a dime, one of the most important things that you can do is properly adjust your suspension preload. Adjusting your preload doesn’t have to be a difficult job and there are plenty of videos out there on YouTube that will walk you through the process better than any text could explain – and we recommend you do it!
The Yamaha R3 essentially has seven levels of preload available, and the factory setting is on the third setting out of the seven available, which is probably ideal for riders who weigh around 160 lbs…and if you’re heavier or lighter, you’re going to want to adjust to compensate. The guess of 160 lbs is just a guess too, so even if that’s your weight, you should play with the settings until you find what suits you best. It’s also worth experimenting with different settings too – because different preload settings can really affect your motorcycle, almost turning them into completely different behaving machines. Adjusting your preload is a free upgrade basically, so take advantage of it.
#01. Train The Rider
It might sound like an obvious eye-roll inducing choice for the number one slot, but it’s absolutely true. No amount of modifications or performance upgrades will compensate for rider education. Rather than throwing money away on an unnecessary exhaust system, we recommend getting some track time booked under the watchful eyes of either a professional trainer, or alongside other riders who can point out your weaknesses so that you can improve on them. You could have the world’s fastest bike on paper, but in the wrong hands it’s useless.
But rider training doesn’t have to only be about improving your riding skills – working on your physical fitness is another way to boost your performance. With small capacity motorcycles like the Yamaha R3, any type of weight saving will help maximize your overall performance…so if you’re carrying a little excess timber, then losing it will do you more of a favor than any fancy bolt-on accessory. Like horse racing jockeys, the fastest motorcycle racers aren’t exactly the biggest kids on the block, are they?
Bonus: Try The Yamaha MyGarage App!
Yamaha has launched a new bike customization app that lets you decide how you want your next bike to look and feel. Motorcycle customization has never been so easy… It’s called “My Garage” and with it you can search through a range of models, decide what important upgrades and add-ons you want, and send the info directly to your nearest dealership. The days of the humble catalog are numbered.
The latest iteration of “My Garage” is geared towards Yamaha’s Sports Touring range, but the company also has apps that cater for the Supersport models, Sports Heritage, MT (FZ) series, and a few select sports scooters. There’s a lot more to the app than simply selecting parts that you’d like, you can also compare and contrast different models, different add-ons, examine your dream bike from every angle and take photos of it too.
The bike customization app works a lot like the standard vehicle customization interface that you’ll find on any type of motor racing video game. You select the model, pick your favorite color combination, and add on your desired parts from the Yamaha catalog. The customization includes different luggage options, a wide range of exhaust systems, a selection of rims, wind screens, fenders and a wide range of other comfort options. The interface is simple, easy to understand, and virtually idiot proof.
As soon as you’re finished with your newly customized machine, the bike customization app lets you take photos of your creation from almost every possible angle, with full 3D graphics and a 360 degree view. Then, you can share it with your friends for some much needed feedback. The app also calculates the price of your upgrades too…which is pretty handy.
Once you’ve selected the parts and styling combination of your choosing, the app will also ask you if you want to send the details through to your local Yamaha dealership. From there, you can order the parts you want, for the model you want, and pick them up when the time comes. Simple as. It saves a lot of sales assistant hassle too…
If you’re looking to make your R3 the best it can be, have a go on this app and see what official Yamaha parts you could install to make your ride experience even better! This bike customization app app is available for both iOS and Android. It’s a must have accessory for all Yamaha YZF-R3 fans out there.
2020 Yamaha R3 Stock Specs
|Engine Type||321cc liquid-cooled, DOHC parallel twin cylinder; 8 valves|
|Bore x Stroke||68.0mm x 44.1mm|
|Fuel Delivery||Fuel injection|
|Transmission||6-speed; multiplate wet clutch|
|Front Suspension||Inverted telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel|
|Rear Suspension||Monocross single shock, adjustable preload; 4.9- in travel|
|Front Brakes||298mm hydraulic disc; ABS model available|
|Rear Brakes||220mm hydraulic disc; ABS model available|
|Front Tires||110/70-17 Dunlop® Sportmax GPR-300®|
|Rear Tires||140/70-17 Dunlop® Sportmax GPR-300®|
|L x W x H||82.3 in x 28.7 in x 44.9 in|
|Seat Height||30.7 in|
|Rake (Caster Angle)||25.0°|
|Maximum Ground Clearance||6.3 in|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||3.7 gal|
|Fuel Economy||56 mpg|
|Wet Weight||368 lb / 375 lb (ABS model)|
|Warranty||1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)|
|2020 Yamaha YZF-R3 Price||Prices start from $4,999|