BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03 – New Naked Learner Comparison

Later this year the learner market will be joined by two important new models. One will be a naked version of what is in our opinion the best learner sportsbike on the market (the Yamaha R3) to be known as the Yamaha MT-03. The other is the first in a new partnership for BMW by way of the G 310 R which will see the German manufacturer target the entry level market for the first time. Let’s take a look at what each offers and who is likely to reign supreme in learner naked category.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

For this comparison, the MT-03 is somewhat of a known quantity already. Firstly, other than some ergonomic changes it is the same bike as the Yamaha R3 but with different looks. Secondly, the MT-25, which is a smaller capacity version of what western markets will get has already been ridden and reviewed in Indonesia where it went on sale late last year and reports are that it is a very solid machine.

The brand new BMW R 310 G on the other hand is a clean sheet motorcycle in more ways than one. The engine is brand new, it’s a totally new platform and it’s the first motorcycle to come out of the BMW/TVS partnership which sees BMW design the bike while it is manufactured by TVS factories in India.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

Looks wise, the BMW comes across as uninspiring and very generic. With the white, blue and red livery it’s sometimes hard to distinguish it from the Honda CB300F – and Honda are hardly known for their design flair. Comparing the G 310 R to the likes of the Kawasaki Z300, 390 Duke and MT-03 makes it seem even more boring and benign. BMW has played it disappointingly safe with the G 310 R and given that the S 1000 R looks so aggressive and modern, we feel it’s a missed opportunity by the Bavarian brand to make this bike stand out.

The MT-03 takes most of its styling cues from its bigger brother MT-07 and MT-09 bikes which is a good thing. We’ve always found the new MT range of bikes to be quite handsome and they manage to stand out without looking overly aggressive and brash like Kawasaki’s Z range can sometimes be.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

Fit and finish wise we wouldn’t expect there to be too much difference between the two. While BMW would usually go the extra mile with quality of finish, the fact that these bikes are being produced in India will no doubt mean that typical German attention to detail will be lost. Add to that the fact that this bike will have to compete on price – despite its badge – and there’s little doubt that the Yamaha will sit alongside the BMW without any embarrassment.

BMW obviously sees this as a potential issue to customers and were at pains to point out that quality control would be of the highest order in their press release, a snippet of which is below:

TVS Motor Company’s quality management system has been based on Japanese role models for many years. For the G 310 R, this system was extended to include the requirements and standards specific to BMW Motorrad, and within the area of quality management there are interdisciplinary teams from both companies working in close collaboration.

Furthermore, staff were specially selected and trained by TVS for production and assembly. Additional training programs were held for assembly workers together with colleagues from the BMW Motorrad plant in Berlin-Spandau over a period of more than a year prior to the start of serial production. From the very first motorcycle to come off the production line in India, they have also contributed to the high assembly standards and heightened quality awareness. All in all, production of the new BMW G 310 R is subject to the same quality criteria that apply to production at the BMW Motorrad plant in Berlin-Spandau.

This goes on for two whole pages of the press release. Time will tell how the finished product stacks up. The best comparison that can be made is with the KTM 390 Duke and RC 390 – both made in India and probably do suffer slightly in terms of quality compared to the rest of the KTM range produced in Australia. Again however, we’re comparing budget entry level bikes to higher end machines that sometimes cost more than family cars.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

Our major area of concern with the G 310 R is the engine. BMW chose to go with a single cylinder engine while the majority of the competition has moved towards twins, the exception being KTM and Honda (although the latter is expected to shift to two cylinder units in the near future). And while the 390 Duke and RC 390 are great bikes, one of their weaknesses is something many single cylinder powerplants suffer from – vibrations.

Like the KTM’s, the G 310 R will feature a single counterbalancer to help combat these vibrations but generally speaking, they will still be present at higher revs. These become more noticeable at higher rpm which means that on long highway stints, they can become annoying and fatigue inducing. BMW’s track record with vibrations hasn’t been wonderful lately either, with the otherwise brilliant S 1000 XR suffering from sometimes severe vibrations at certain engine speeds.

Power and torque wise, the Yamaha has a fairly large advantage over the German, whereas torque figures are more closely matched.. The MT-03 will put out 30.9 kW (42 hp) @ 10,750 rpm and 29.6 Nm (21.8 lb-ft) @ 9,000 rpm. The G 310 R produces 25 kW (34 hp) at 9,500 rpm and torque of 28 Nm (20.65 lb-ft) @ 7,500, meaning that the BMW will probably be slightly more responsive down low as one would expect from a thumper.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

But does the BMW have a weight advantage to counteract this power deficit? Yes, it does. The MT-03 with a full tank of fuel tips the scales at 168 kg (370 lbs) – and that is including ABS brakes. The G 310 R will come in at 158.5 kilos (350 pounds) – a not insignificant weight saving of almost 10 kilograms considering the small power figures here which therefore amplifies power to weight ratios. That said, some of that difference is due to fuel tank capacity with the MT-03’s 14 litre tank able to take in 3 more litres than the BMW, reducing the weight difference by about 2.5 kilograms.

With braking, the both the G 310 R and MT-03 make do with single 300 mm discs up front, but the G 310 R takes it up a notch with a radially bolted 4-piston caliper compared to with a two-pot caliper on the Yamaha. The BMW also gets steel-braided lines – a rarity at this end of the market.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

Suspension is similarly comparable between the two machines as well, albeit the MT-03 will potentially be marginally more sharp. Both feature 41 mm forks, with the G 310 R’s being inverted. Travel for the BMW is 140 mm up front and 131 mm at the rear, while the Yamaha is slightly shorter at 130 mm front and 125 mm behind. Handling should be fairly comparable with a nearly identical wheelbase (only 6 mm separates the two), although the BMW does get a slightly wider tire of 150/60 compared to the Japanese bike’s 140/70.

Other dimensions are also near identical. Seat height for the G 310 R is 785 mm and 780 mm for the MT-03. Overall length for the Yamaha is 2,090 mm and the BMW comes in slightly shorter at 1988 mm. However, trail on the BMW is marginally more at 102.3 mm as opposed to the MT-03’s 95 mm meaning that on paper at least, the Yamaha will corner slightly more aggressively and that will be assisted by the skinnier rear tire, too.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

On paper, the G 310 R will have a big fight on its hands. It’s down on power, slightly on torque although it does have a weight advantage. It also looks to have better quality anchors up front. The key will be to its handling and comfort. Will it suffer from engine vibrations like the 390 Duke? And what will the quality of its suspension components be like?

There’s also the price. There’s little doubt BMW will price their bike above most of the competition by way of its badge, but that’s a very difficult ask to make of new riders who generally seek value for money as a main determination of their purchase. The G 310 R also doesn’t really appear to try to win on looks either, although beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We’ll find out later this year.

BMW G 310 R v Yamaha MT-03

BMW G 310 RYamaha MT-03
Engine Type313 cc 4 strong, single cylinder321cc 4 stroke inline twin
Bore And Stroke80 mm x 62 mm68 mm × 44.1 mm
InductionBMS-E2 42mm throttle valven/a
Compression Ratio10.6:111.2 :1
Valve TrainDOHC; four valves per cylinderDOHC; four valves per cylinder
Horsepower25kw (34hp) @ 9,500 rpm30.9 kW (42.0hp) @ 10,750 rpm
Torque28 Nm @ 7,500 rpm29.6 Nm @ 9,000 rpm
Drive Train
Chassis / Suspension / Brakes
Front Suspension41 mm fork, 140 mm travel41 mm fork, 130 mm travel
Rear Suspension131 mm travel125 mm travel
Front BrakeSingle-disc brake Ø 300 mm, 4 piston caliperSingle-disc brake Ø 298 mm, 2 piston caliper
Rear BrakeSingle-disc brake Ø 240 mm, twin piston caliperSingle-disc brake Ø 220 mm, twin piston caliper
Front Tire110/70 R 17110/70-17M/C
Rear Tire150/60 R 17140/70-17M/C
Trail102.3 mm95 mm
Wheelbase1,374 mm1,380 mm
Seat Height785 mm780 mm
Wet Weight158.5 kg168 kg
Fuel Capacity11 litres14 litres

Yamaha Australia Look to Introduce R3 Race Series

The Yamaha R3 came late to the entry level sportsbike party, but upon its arrival placed itself at the head of the pack. And now in Australia at least, Yamaha are trying to reinforce its credentials with a new one make race series featuring the R3. It looks set to follow a similar formula that KTM uses in the UK and USA where it sells race ready bikes at discounted prices.

The race ready bike is set to be sold for around $7,500 AUD. That will include race glass, rearsets, full race exhaust system, lowered clip-ons and upgraded forks and rear shock. Given that the Yamaha R3 retails for $6,999 in standard form, that’s incredible value – around $3,600 of freebies according to Yamaha.

The series is aimed at younger riders and those looking to get into racing that are hoping to do so in a cost effective manner. And while the $7,500 price tag is extremely tempting, riders will need to commit to race at most of the rounds for the season.

One make race series aren’t anything new, but they’ve had a bit of a resurgence lately with the competition in the learner market. While the KTM RC390 is the go to bike in the US and UK, the Ninja 300 has had a one model series in Australia and Canada – however in those series, riders provide their own bike and modify it to be race ready.

Given that Yamaha seems quite serious about becoming the premier Japanese motorcycle brand, we may see a similar series take off in other western markets, too. For those interested in competing in the proposed Australian series, contact Yamaha directly at [email protected].

Race kitted R3

Yamaha MT-03 Could Be Released As Early As This Year

Two bits of news have surfaced in the last few days regarding the upcoming Yamaha MT-03. The as yet ‘unconfirmed’ naked version of the entry level Yamaha R3 that is all but guaranteed to be released in western markets instead of the MT-25 which is for developing countries. Until now, it had been assumed that the MT-03 would debut sometime late next year, but it could be a lot earlier than that.

Indian magazine Topgear India stated in an article regarding the Indian release of the R3 that the MT-03 (which they refer to as the MT-320) will be released in March of next year. Given that western markets almost always get new releases before India (the exception being smaller KTM bikes like the 390 Duke which are made in India), this would likely mean a release of late this year or very early next year in North America, Europe and Australia. It almost guarantees that the MT-03 will be officially unveiled later this year at EICMA, the worlds biggest annual motorcycle trade show.

The other bit of news is that the first official renders of the MT-03 have been discovered from trade mark and design applications filed with the European Union. Obviously, the MT-03 looks virtually identical to the already released MT-25 with the exception being the inclusion of ABS on these renderings.


Final Production Version of Yamaha MT-25 Revealed

Indonesian site TMCBlog has gotten the big scoops all along on the Yamaha MT-25 and today got to not only see it in full for the first time but to go for a ride it as well. The MT-25 will start hitting dealerships in South East Asia over the next few months and will hopefully transform into the MT-03 (or FZ-03, depending on where you live) and live alongside the faired Yamaha R3 sportsbike sometime late next year.

Final Production Version of Yamaha MT-25 Revealed

The pictures of the MT-25 are basically what will become the MT-03 in western markets, save of course for the larger engine and the deletion of the number plate holder on the front screen. You can also clearly see the similarities between the little naked bike and the new Yamaha R3, such as the dash, exhaust and rear fender. Major changes are the usage of handlebars instead of clipons and from our eye, slightly changed positioning of the rider footpegs.

Given the early success (and high praise from most) of the new Yamaha R3, it will be great to see another addition to the entry level market, this time as a naked to compete with the likes of the Z300, Benelli BN 302 and 390 Duke. To see the full gallery, head on over to TMCBlog.

2015 Yamaha R3 Review

The brand new Yamaha R3 is the latest learner friendly sportsbike to hit the market. Given that Yamaha has had longer to work on their entry into the now ultra competitive beginner bike segment of the market, does that mean that the R3 is the best choice for new riders? Can the Yamaha R3 better the Honda CBR300R’s comfort and practicality or the Kawasaki Ninja 300’s outright performance?

If it seems like we’ve been reviewing a lot of smaller entry level machines of late it’s because that so many have been released in the past six months. Consider that only four years ago, the Ninja 250 was all on its own but now is joined by faired and naked bikes from Honda, Suzuki, KTM and Benelli, with BMW joining the party later this year. Alongside the popular adventure bike segment, learner bikes are the biggest gig in town for motorcycle manufacturers.

Not only are they cheap, but they offer the consumer a gateway to the brand. Yamaha no doubt hopes that first time riders who buy an R3 will over time upgrade to an R6 or even an R1. And they may well be very tempted to do so, because Yamaha has made a nearly perfect little motorcycle.

The Yamaha R3 is powered by an all-new 321cc inline twin cylinder engine. According to Yamaha, the development concept behind this new engine was to create a ‘supersport machine you can ride every day’, and the architecture of the new powerplant is designed to ensure good rideability in the low to mid-speed range, together with a strong and responsive character at higher rpm. Thankfully, they’ve nailed it.

While the Yamaha has a small horsepower advantage over Kawaski’s Ninja 300, it’s not really noticeable in a straight line drag. What is noticeable is that you don’t have to continually keep the engine at high revs to access that power – power delivery is available across the rev range and makes for a very rideable machine. That means there’s a good amount of roll on acceleration and you don’t necessarily have to bang down one or two gears to overtake – an impressive thing for a low capacity bike.

The two-into-one exhaust also elicits a nice note and the aftermarket pipes from Akropovic that are already available sound absolutely brilliant. The engine has been mated to an excellent gearbox – shifts were smooth and the gearbox didn’t hesitate once. The fueling of the bike is excellent too – none of the jerky throttle response that earlier CBR250R’s suffered from. In fact if anything, the throttle response is slightly too soft – when throttle blipping on downshifts I really had to twist the right grip to get the engine to rev. This is a very minor criticism of what is an otherwise near perfect setup.

The brakes on the Yamaha R3 are another highlight. Both initial bite and progression were excellent and there’s a good amount of feedback provided for such an entry level machine. Depending on where you live will dictate whether you can get ABS or not. In Australia it sensibly comes standard and in the UK it’s available as an option. For some extremely strange reason, Yamaha USA decided that they wouldn’t even offer ABS – a frankly baffling decision for a motorcycle aimed at new riders.

Up front there’s a 298 mm disc attached to a 2 piston caliper, with 220 mm disc at the back. Our bike launch was hosted on a track with over 20 corners and the brakes felt great throughout – no fade was noticeable. And it was also noticeable how well the front end performed under heavy deceleration with minimal front end dive.

In fact, the bike felt composed all day. While the suspension is hardly groundbreaking it did a good job in providing feedback as to what was happening where the rubber met the road. Perhaps this is Yamaha’s greatest achievement with the R3 – it feels like a small racebike when on the track but on the road manages to be a comfortable commuter. They’ve somehow managed to combine the best of the CBR300R and the Ninja 300 into one package and have done it successfully.

That perhaps is partly due to the fact that our test bike was fitted with Dunlop Sport Maxx tires and not the Pilot Road rubber that comes standard. Unfortunately, those Pilot Road tires aren’t what you’d expect – they’re apparently specifically designed for the Yamaha R3 and use ancient bias ply technology. While we didn’t ride with them, the general consensus is they’re pretty poor. Yamaha’s not alone in taking the cheap option on tires – both Honda and Kawasaki fit bias ply tires to their beginner bikes too and it’s a practice we’d love to see cease.

That is probably our only real criticism of the Yamaha R3. Looks wise, it’s a beauty. The fit and finish is top notch and Yamaha have produced a bike that looks more expensive than what it actual. They also haven’t tried to mimic the appearance of either the R6 or R1 – it has a style and character of its own. Even the stock exhaust doesn’t look too bad, a rarity of late.

Overall, the Yamaha R3 ticks all the boxes. It’s lighter than the Ninja 300 and more powerful than both it and the CBR300R. Its suspension is better sorted than the KTM RC390 and it seems to offer a better riding experience both on the track and on the road than the competition. Yamaha may have been late to the party, but they made their appearance count.


Photos and Videos of New Yamaha MT-25

Indonesian website TMCblog has gotten hold of both the first clear photo and even a video of the final production version of the Yamaha MT-25. The MT-25 is effectively the naked version of the Yamaha R25 available in South-East Asia which was increased in displacement to 321cc and called the R3 for the west.

Mechanically, the MT-25 carries over the suspension, exhaust and frame and of course the engine of the R25. Riding position looks to be more upright and the clip-ons have been replaced with a handlebar. Visually, it has clearly taken inspiration from the MT-09 and MT-07 (known as the FZ-09 and FZ-07 in the USA) naked bikes which have proved to be a huge success for Yamaha.

The bike will be launched in Indonesia and Malaysia later this year. There’s no official word from Yamaha yet as to the timing or release of the bike (which we’d expect to receive the displacement bump as the R3 did) but from what we’ve heard, Yamaha intends to bring it to western markets by late late next year.


Yamaha R3 vs KTM RC390 vs Kawasaki Ninja 300 – Road Test Preview

In the past few years, riders wanting an entry level sportsbike had to choose between the Honda CBR250R and the Ninja 250. Now, in addition to those two bikes (which are still sold in some markets), newbies can get their bigger brothers, the CBR300R and Ninja 300 and very soon they’ll be able to swing a leg over what will potentially be the best of the lot – the all new Yamaha R3 and KTM RC390.

The Ninja 300, R3 and RC390 offer the biggest capacity and power for riders in countries that have licensing restrictions for learners. Therefore, these three bikes will most likely attract the most buyers who want as much performance as they’re legally allowed to have while on bike restrictions.

Of the three bikes, we’ve only ridden the baby Ninja (in a test against the CBR300R in which we favored the Kawasaki). The RC390 hasn’t made it to the United States yet and the Yamaha R3 isn’t available anywhere until around March next year.

But with prices and specifications available we can already begin to see how the market is going to be pan out. Yamaha is clearly looking to dominate Honda and Kawasaki after coming so late to the party. The R3 has more horsepower than the Ninja and weighs less. In worse news for Kawasaki, the Yamaha R3 does all this while costing slightly less than the Ninja 300 ($4,990 for the R3 and $4,999 for the Ninja or $5,299 with ABS)

There’s one critical flaw the R3, though. For some reason that to us defies all reasoning and common sense, Yamaha Motorcycles USA has decided not to offer the R3 with ABS – even as an option. A motorcycle aimed squarely at new riders and you can’t even pay extra for ABS? In our view, ABS should be standard on learner bikes, but to not even offer it as an option borders on negligent in our view. We’ve contacted Yamaha to inquire why this is the case and will update accordingly.

We’ve banged on about the importance of ABS before and the science clearly shows its beneficial. Thankfully, KTM have done the sensible thing and are releasing the RC390 with ABS as standard. Costing $5,499, it’s obviously the most expensive of all the learner sportsbikes, but for that extra money you’re getting a lot. Firstly, the KTM pumps out 43 hp from it’s 373cc single cylinder engine. The Ninja and R3, both two cylinders output 39 and 42 hp respectively. Not much in it really, but the RC390 weighs 340 lb wet – a massive 43 lb less than the NInja 300 and a still impressive 28 lb less than the R3. That will make a big difference to performance. The KTM RC390 also provides slightly more powerful brakes and on paper at least, better suspension.

Of the three bikes, the RC390 is definitely the more aggressive, with the R3 offering the most relaxed riding position. In fact, the Yamaha R3 is probably more similar to the CBR300R in dimension and style, just with more grunt. Both the R3 and RC390 will be available early in the new year and we’ll bring you a full review of them soon thereafter. In the interim, have a look over the full specifications below.


KTM RC390Kawasaki Ninja 300 ABSYamaha R3
Engine Type373.2 cc single296cc 4 stroke, parallel twin321cc 4 stroke, parallel twin
Bore And Stroke89 mm × 60 mm62 mm x 49 mm68 mm x 44 mm
InductionBosch EFI (throttle body 46 mm)32 mm x 2 keihin with dual throttle valveTCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Compression Ratio1:12.510.6:111.2:1
Valve TrainDOHC, 4 ValvesDOHC, 8 valvesDOHC, 8 Valves
Horsepower44 hp @ 9,500 rpm38.89 hp @ 11,000 rpm42 hp @ 10,750 rpm
Torque25.81 lb ft @ 7,250 rpm19.91 lb ft @ 10,000 rpm21.18 lb ft @ 9,000
Drive Train
Chassis / Suspension / Brakes
Front SuspensionWP-USD Ø 43 mm37 mm telescopic fork41mm KYB telescopic fork
Rear SuspensionWP-MonoshockUni Trak with gas charged shock and 5-way preloadKYB single shock
Front BrakeSingle 300 mmSingle 290 mmSingle 298 mm
Rear BrakeSingle 230 mmType Single 220 mm petal discSingle 220 mm
Front Tire110/70Z R17110/70-17 M/C 54S110/70-17M/C 54H
Rear Tire150/60ZR17140/70-17 M/C 66S140/70-17M/C 66H
Rake23.5 degrees27 degrees25 degrees
Trail98mm (3.9 inches)93mm (3.66 inches)94mm (3.7 inches)
Wheelbase53 inches55.31 inches54.3 inches
Seat Height32 inches30.9 inches30.7 inches
Wet Weight340 lb383 lb368 lb
Fuel Capacity3.4 gallons4.5 gallons3.7 gallons