Can't Decide: R3 or Honda CBR300R or Ninja 400 - Yamaha R3 Forum
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post #1 of 63 Old 01-07-2020, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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Can't Decide: R3 or Honda CBR300R or Ninja 400

Hey Guys,
Just took the YCRS course and didn't get on the R3, despite multiple opportunities. I'm a novice, and finding that I'm not using the power of the 600's yet, so I need to drop down to a smaller displacement bike. I'm looking at the Ninja 400, but primarily at the R3, both a 2018 (cheaper), a 2019, as well as a Honda CBR300R (2018).
After all I have read, I really can't decide with what to go with. I have always been a Honda guy at heart, so I am leaning toward it. At this stage, horsepower is not something that I need. Rather, I need to focus on cornering and trailbraking, and scanning ahead.
There are great deals on 2018's right now, and my best deal is on a 2018 Yamaha R3, followed by a CBR300R at $400 more. The 2019 R3 is another $1000.
1) Is the 2019 R3 that much better than the previous generation? And would it make that much difference to me as a novice? I know the front forks are stiffer, and the rear is stiffer too, with more damping adjustment. If it is that much better, perhaps it is worth the extra $1400, if it means not adding a fork cartridge, changing brakes and tires. I am 6 foot, 200lbs, if that helps.
2) I would be looking at swapping out the bias ply tires on the 2018 R3 for track duty. Would I be doing the same with the stock tires on the 2019 anyway?
3) Ari Henning and others have said that the stock brakes and suspension work extremely well on the Honda, making it a great handling bike. If so, does this mean I could go with the Honda and forget about upgrades, other than tires?
4) Does the Ninja handle as well as the R3? I do not need Ninja horsepower. I sat on it and it felt fine, but not noticeably bigger than the R3 or CBR to me, anyway.
I know there will be Yamaha bias here, but somehow, good advice will emerge!
Thanks,
J
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post #2 of 63 Old 01-08-2020, 12:26 AM
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1. Novices won't be able to notice any difference. But something to note is there isn't as much aftermarket support yet for the 2019+ bikes as the 2015-2018.

2. The stock tires for the R3 are not great but it's more than enough to start off. Spend time learning the bike and fixing your body position first before swapping them out. No point burning through a set of sport tires if your lap times won't be any faster.

3. Depends on how seriously you're going to take track riding. If you're going to join a racing league you'll need to swap out the suspension to be competitive. I track my r3 with stock suspension and it does just fine.

4. The handling differences are subtle without experience. All three are good bikes to start off on but I'd prefer the R3 or the Ninja 400. I'm not a fan of the CBR's dash and the 280cc engine doesn't have enough pep in my opinion but they can still be a monster in the right hands.

As exciting as it is to get a new bike be mindful if you decide to modify it. Chances are you'll be selling it off and all those mods will be lost. Also motorcycles have little room for error so saving money with parts off ebay could cost you your life. Stick with reputable manufacturers for any mission critical parts.
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post #3 of 63 Old 01-08-2020, 12:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Milc,

I won't be doing any racing, so I would like to keep stock suspension if it's up for it. This will be a track-only bike. I am going to use track days for stress relief and focus, just like I did with the YCRS course.

If I won't notice any difference between the 2018 R3 and the 2019, it makes sense for me to go to the 2018 and modify once I have enough laps under my belt.

I'm wondering if the lower horsepower of the Honda and slightly better midrange will actually be better for learning? Or will it make a difference?

I have read that the CBR300R and the Ninja 300 use a three-point rear suspension setup, which improves damping and corner stability, while the R3 and the KTM RC390 attach the spring directly to the rear swingarm, which can lead to more rebound. Is there any truth to this? When I looked underneath all of the bikes, the three point setup is something that's real. I just can't imagine that it's something that has gone un-engineered by Yamaha or KTM.
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post #4 of 63 Old 01-08-2020, 12:57 AM
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Not sure about the RC390 but a lot of people say the rear shock on the r3 is squishy when you're really pushing it. A cheap solution is to get a Ninja 650 rear shock and an adapter kit or get a R3 specific rear shock.

As for if the bikes are under engineered, I don't think so. The only advantage I've found for the 3 link setup is it's easier to lower for shorter riders.

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post #5 of 63 Old 01-08-2020, 01:06 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks. As for sizing, I really didn't notice a whole lot of difference between the Ninja, CBR, and R3, but I thought the foot controls seemed too far forward for the track on the Ninja. On top of that, my heel instantly sits on the exhaust shield, the minute I get on the bike, so I figure I would have to be replacing it right away, as well as getting rearsets.
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post #6 of 63 Old 01-08-2020, 01:25 AM
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What is your ultimate use going to be for the bike? Track use only, street/track mix, canyons, commuter? That may help give a little more input.


1) Is the 2019 R3 that much better than the previous generation? And would it make that much difference to me as a novice? I know the front forks are stiffer, and the rear is stiffer too, with more damping adjustment. If it is that much better, perhaps it is worth the extra $1400, if it means not adding a fork cartridge, changing brakes and tires. I am 6 foot, 200lbs, if that helps.

The 2019 suspension is better than previous years being stiffer, but for a little over $1,400, you could get an older model and put fully adjustable forks and maybe shock that will be even better still. The suspension, body work and ergonomics are the changes for 2019, so frame and engine are the same.


2) I would be looking at swapping out the bias ply tires on the 2018 R3 for track duty. Would I be doing the same with the stock tires on the 2019 anyway?

Being a novice, you'll be fine for a little bit with the Dunlop's. I used a set on my 15 off of a 19 for a track day day and they were much better than the bias plies, but once I started improving, I wasn't digging them very much as they don't have as steep of a profile as more super sport/track tires do. Mine are just sitting in the garage now.

3) Ari Henning and others have said that the stock brakes and suspension work extremely well on the Honda, making it a great handling bike. If so, does this mean I could go with the Honda and forget about upgrades, other than tires?

You'll still need upgrades once you start getting a lot faster, but in your case, you may want them even sooner based on your weight. Japanese manufacturers design great bikes, but the suspension tends to be designed for people on the lighter side. My R3 stock suspension was fine, but I was bottoming out the rear shock in the canyons and I'm 5'10" 200ish lbs with full gear.

Brake upgrades will just be pads really. Pads alone will provide better than stock braking and they're cheap too. (Also, stainless brake lines are a good idea).

Personally, brakes are not as big of a focus until you get fast with small cc bikes because they have pretty aggressive engine braking and when starting out, you won't be likely to be going deep into a corner at full throttle and then immediately to brakes right off the bat. This also depends on the track, but more technical tracks will probably have you focusing more on turn in and throttle control.

4) Does the Ninja handle as well as the R3? I do not need Ninja horsepower. I sat on it and it felt fine, but not noticeably bigger than the R3 or CBR to me, anyway.

I personally feel the main edge the 400 has is more power. R3 edges it in handling and I feel the R3 is a better quality bike, currently. For track riding, another thing to consider is the 400 has clutch/shifting issues that will need to be sorted before you get serious or you'll have finicky shifting and premature clutch wear.

But for an R3 to keep up with a 400 with an equal rider, it will need power upgrades, which fortunately for the R3, there are a lot of out there.

In the end, it depends what you'll be using the bike for most and take weight into account for suspension and speed. Speed may not be a major factor for you now, but as you get better, every bit of power and skill starts to count in areas like corner entry/exit where you can't just turn the throttle and instantly go faster.

Good luck!

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post #7 of 63 Old 01-08-2020, 01:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks MetalSlug,
As for the purpose of the new bike, I intend to use it for track days only on various tracks in Ontario and the midwest US.
1) Forks and Rear Suspension
What would you consider to be a good fork and rear shock upgrade if I go with the 2018? Would you go to the Ohlins cartridge in the front, and Ohlins in the rear? That's looking like $1500 US plus install, but I don't mind if it's an improvement over the 2019 stock setup.
2) Tires - sounds like a good option is to run with the OEM bias ply, then swap them out when they wear out for something with a steep profile like a Dunlop Q3+
3) Brakes -Visrah or EBC pads and Gaffer lines?

I know that I might end up pining for more horsepower as I start winding up my corner exits, but right now, I need to work on getting into the corner faster, trailbraking, loading the front tire, turning, leaning, getting the head over, etc....
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post #8 of 63 Old 01-08-2020, 02:58 AM
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1) Forks and Rear Suspension

What would you consider to be a good fork and rear shock upgrade if I go with the 2018? Would you go to the Ohlins cartridge in the front, and Ohlins in the rear? That's looking like $1500 US plus install, but I don't mind if it's an improvement over the 2019 stock setup.

I know the feeling of wanting the best available, but there's not really any varieties that you can go wrong with. There are differences when assembling, but adjustability is all the same. Rear shocks seem to have endless options, so you should really do your research and maybe talk to suspension pros on that end.

Honestly though, for a little while, really get a feel for the stock suspension and see if you feel it lacking. Stick forks are surprisingly good; maybe just install some preload adjusters if your sag usn't right. Rear shock, you could go the ninja 650 route if you find the stock to be too soft or bouncy, but you won't notice it right away unless the tracks you go to have a lot of asphalt repairs or aggressive dips.

2) Tires - sounds like a good option is to run with the OEM bias ply, then swap them out when they wear out for something with a steep profile like a Dunlop Q3+

This is one area I strongly recommend just going ahead and upgrading for the track. I thought about keeping my bias ply until I wore them out, but the compound on them just isn't good for aggressive riding and the carcass is too stiff, they feel like they want to give way with more lean angles. I put on some used pirelli's and it made such a massive difference in confidence to lean the bike over more while feeling planted.

3) Brakes -Visrah or EBC pads and Gaffer lines?

Like suspension, I would hold off on pads until you get a lot faster and you feel the braking isn't keeping up (I am still using stock pads at the track, but may be upgrading soon as my bike will have much less engine braking effect soon with the work getting done to it). But if you must, either of those pads will be fine.

I will suggest the stainless lines though, as the stock rubber will expand more over time and reduce braking efficiency, whereas stainless will have more consistency from lack of expansion. Stainless, however, will have slightly less brake feel when it comes to trail braking.

Brand doesn't matter for lines. They're all the same thing. No need to go expensive here.

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post #9 of 63 Old 01-08-2020, 03:35 AM Thread Starter
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This has been useful. It's so easy to get oversold with the "new and improved" on everything. The first generation looks as high quality as the second generation, and, for my novice abilities on the track, I figured there wouldn't be much need to upgrade to the 2019.
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post #10 of 63 Old 01-08-2020, 09:25 AM
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Jayzonk..Good luck on your decision. All three manufacturers make reliable, quality, and reasonably priced bikes. Couple of things you've not mentioned that may or not be important to you. Fuel cost/MPG.. All are good, but the less engine cc/power the better the MPG. Everything I've read proves as much. With the CBR getting the most..R3..Then Ninja 4. Cost of insurance and routine maintenance should be close on all three bikes. But the costs of replacement OEM parts.. from body panels, to throttle grips, radiator fans.. just pick at part and plug it in... As a general rule, the Kawasaki appears to be more costly.. Sometimes much more than the R3 or CBR. A quick search of any vendor's OEM parts schematics with part numbers and cost will prove me out. But you really can't go wrong here with any of these bike. What COLOR bike would rather ride??.. R3 Blue, N4 green, or CBR red?? . Sometime it's just that simple!!

To ride or not to ride? What a stupid question! ... Anon

Last edited by airhead83; 01-08-2020 at 09:28 AM.
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