According to Asphalt and Rubber and everyone else on the interwebz, Yamaha has applied to trademark the names “R3” and “YZF-R3” for an upcoming motorcycle.
What does that mean? Most likely, it means Yamaha’s ready to address the last big hole in their lineup. While Kawasaki, Honda and Suzuki all have entry-level street bikes in the 250-300 cc range, Yamaha has … zip. Sure, they’ve got the TW200. the XT250 and the WR250, but those are all dual sport machines, and they don’t appeal to the same market as machines like the Ninja 300, the GW250 or the CBR250 (or is that the CBR300? We know it’s coming to the global market, but Honda still won’t say if it’s coming to Canada).
At the Tokyo show last fall, Yamaha unveiled an R25 concept bike – a sportbike built around a 250 cc motor, which would theoretically give them a machine on par with their competition. But with Kawasaki and Honda both moving to 300 cc machines, it would have been a hard sell bringing a quarter-litre to market. It would make much more sense if Yamaha refined their design, added a few extra cubes, and entered the market with a machine that competes with Big Red and Team Green on equal footing.
It’s also possible Yamaha is going to sell both an R25 and R30, similar to Kawasaki’s move with the Ninja 300 – the 250 version is still sold in foreign markets. That would possibly Yamaha to have the best of both worlds – high sales numbers in developing markets for a slightly lower-spec bike, and decent sales in North America and Europe for a bike that competes easily with other Japanese beginner bikes.
It’s also possible Yamaha is working on a three-cylinder sportbike. They’ve got the FZ-09 triple, but that’s a naked bike. Maybe Yamaha is planning on a version with bodywork?