R25 or R3: What is the most logical choice for Yamaha in India?

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Is Yamaha a little late with the R25? That’s what we were wondering when the Japanese manufacturer showcased the R25 concept at the 2014 Auto Expo in Delhi. The quarter-litre motorcycle market in India witnessed the entry of Kawasaki Ninja 250R which was followed by Honda CBR250R. Korean manufacturer Hyosung also tried its hand in the quarter-litre motorcycle segment but failed miserably due to lack of service network and unavailability of parts.

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Then came 2012 which witnessed a revolution in the entry level performance motorcycles in India with the launch of KTM 200 Duke. A year later, the Austrian manufacturer shook the market again with the introduction of its 390 Duke, a 375cc single-cylinder powered naked sports motorcycle, at a price tag of Rs 1.8 lakh ex-showroom Delhi.

Yet, Yamaha did not show any interest in the quarter-litre segment and was busy adding more colour options to its 150cc sports motorcycle R15 version 2.

Now, when Kawasaki Ninja and the Honda CBR have graduated to 300cc segment, Yamaha announced its quarter-litre sports motorcycle, R25. But we feel that it is a little late to the party. So late that it has almost come at a time when it would have to do dishes and take out the trash.

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Why do we say that?

Well, firstly, the likes of KTM 200 Duke, Pulsar 200NS and Pulsar 220 have taken over quite a chunk of the entry level motorcycle segment. Moreover, KTM is all set to launch the full faired version of its 200 and 390 Duke, the RC series which will be priced more competitively than any other motorcycle in those respective segments. So entering with a quarter-litre motorcycle at this point does not make sense.

What Yamaha should concentrate on now, is the 300cc segment via its rumoured R3, the expected 320cc motorcycle which the Japanese manufacturer allegedly registered in January this year. Now, another 300cc motorcycle would just add to the confusion of the buyers. But there is a slight catch here. Rumour has it that the R3 will don a 320cc 3-cylinder engine. Although Kawasaki is in plans to introduce an in-line four cylinder 250cc engine, we are pretty sure it is not headed to India anytime soon.

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A 3-cylinder engine could play in Yamaha’s favour or completely against it. It would work in the company’s favour as it will be the only motorcycle in the category with three cylinders. The extra cylinder would help the R3 churn out more power over its competitors. But what could go against it is the high cost of production which would eventually result in rise of price of the motorcycle.

The R3 might prove to be double-edged sword for Yamaha but that is a risk that the company will have to take to survive in this competitive market. We feel that the company should not delay this product from its stable and miss out on the 300cc motorcycle segment as well.

But all this is our opinion. What do you think should Yamaha do? Stick to the 250cc R25 or pull out the big gun, R3? Share your thoughts through comments below.