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)
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 RC390||Kawasaki Ninja 300 ABS||Yamaha R3|
|Engine Type||373.2 cc single||296cc 4 stroke, parallel twin||321cc 4 stroke, parallel twin|
|Bore And Stroke||89 mm × 60 mm||62 mm x 49 mm||68 mm x 44 mm|
|Induction||Bosch EFI (throttle body 46 mm)||32 mm x 2 keihin with dual throttle valve||TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition|
|Valve Train||DOHC, 4 Valves||DOHC, 8 valves||DOHC, 8 Valves|
|Horsepower||44 hp @ 9,500 rpm||38.89 hp @ 11,000 rpm||42 hp @ 10,750 rpm|
|Torque||25.81 lb ft @ 7,250 rpm||19.91 lb ft @ 10,000 rpm||21.18 lb ft @ 9,000|
|Chassis / Suspension / Brakes|
|Front Suspension||WP-USD Ø 43 mm||37 mm telescopic fork||41mm KYB telescopic fork|
|Rear Suspension||WP-Monoshock||Uni Trak with gas charged shock and 5-way preload||KYB single shock|
|Front Brake||Single 300 mm||Single 290 mm||Single 298 mm|
|Rear Brake||Single 230 mm||Type Single 220 mm petal disc||Single 220 mm|
|Front Tire||110/70Z R17||110/70-17 M/C 54S||110/70-17M/C 54H|
|Rear Tire||150/60ZR17||140/70-17 M/C 66S||140/70-17M/C 66H|
|Rake||23.5 degrees||27 degrees||25 degrees|
|Trail||98mm (3.9 inches)||93mm (3.66 inches)||94mm (3.7 inches)|
|Wheelbase||53 inches||55.31 inches||54.3 inches|
|Seat Height||32 inches||30.9 inches||30.7 inches|
|Wet Weight||340 lb||383 lb||368 lb|
|Fuel Capacity||3.4 gallons||4.5 gallons||3.7 gallons|