Text & Pics: Manan Chaturvedi
TVS Racing has always been known for their revolutionary steps towards biking. Being the first Indian bike manufacturer focused towards racing, they have always tried to delight their customers with bikes representing their racing DNA. In a country like India where you live in the world of uncertainties of who might come from where, it is very important to have a bike that gives you confidence that “Yes! You can stop”. It has been observed that TVS has lately been focusing on removing the pain areas for the daily riders, first they launched Jive which tried to relieve the customers of the painful exercise of fighting with the clutch lever in the traffic. And now, they have come up with a machine that adds to your confidence of being safe in the panic situations too.
TVS recently launched the ABS (Anti Lock Braking System) version of the Apache RTR 180. Visually, this new avatar looks similar to its non-ABS version, with just some decal modifications along with the masterpiece of ABS into it. I was fortunate to get my hands on this new innovation by TVS, all thanks to xBhp. This is the first bike in the world in this segment which comes fitted with ABS, kudos to TVS for this much appreciated initiative. RTR has always been criticized for its vibes and non feasibility for long touring. However, I have always found it very comfortable riding this machine for any kind of rides. This time when I got this machine, I decided to go for a long ride which would give me the opportunity to ride on almost all kind of terrains. So chose a place called Palampur in Himachal as my destination.
Just for those who don’t know about ABS, Anti-lock Braking System technology is an integration of a HECU (Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit) and Independent Wheel Speed Sensors which helps determine when a wheel is likely to get locked. When the brakes are applied hard, the wheel tends to lock. At this point, the HECU takes over instantaneously and modulates the brake pressure continuously to keep the Apache RTR 180 ABS in the most effective braking zone. The Apache RTR ABS is also equipped with Rear Wheel Lift-off Protection (RLP) system which regulates deceleration when the bike is likely to lift off during emergency braking situations and takes over control, with no loss of stopping distance.
Till the very last moment, I was confused in deciding my destination. First, I thought I must continue with my saga of “Auli on Holi.” However, I was bit concerned of 2 things, first high possibilities of landslide as one of my friend came from Uttaranchal just 2 days back where he got stuck in landslide, second was the Holi as in Uttaranchal Holi is celebrated for 6 days and people have this tendency of stopping you forcefully and play Holi with you. Then, I had a word with my friend in Himachal who owns a tea estate in Palampur and he told me that in Himachal Holi is celebrated a day earlier than planes, and that’s the time I decided that I am heading to Palampur.
I started early in the morning at 5 a.m. and chose to take the route of
Delhi – Chandigarh – Ropar – Una – Chintpurni – Kangra – Palampur
It has always been a pleasure riding during the morning hours on the Chandigarh Highway. I first thought that I would stop at Chandigarh for my breakfast and then continue; however, it was so much fun riding this machine that I actually forgot to take the break at Chandigarh and realized only when I stopped for re-fuelling the bike. It was such a pleasure riding it that I kept riding and found myself in the hills after crossing Una and heading to Chintpurni. With its 17.3 BHP @ 8500 RPM and 15.5NM @6500 RPM torque from the 177.4 cc mill, it was a treat to ride that machine. With the given power, it can easily cruise at 100-110 kmph.
The bike performs really well in the hills as you rarely feel any power loss with the raise in altitude and when you have a machine that itself helps you ride, the pleasure increases even more. Throughout the ride till Palampur, covering the distance of 650 kms, the bike consumed the fuel of Rs. 1600; it could be that it was only with this particular bike that it gave such mileage because company claims to give easy 40-45 kmpl on the highway. On this route, the bike showed tremendous agility and proof of being a real track tool. However, the only issue that I faced was some quality issue with the rear brake paddle, as it used to get loose at some points, leading to the improper functioning of the braking system. Again it could be just the bike that I was using or is it the actual quality issue, I leave it on the company to check, inspect and act upon. But one thing that has really amazed me is the braking ability on different terrains; the ABS really works amazingly well and leaves you with increased confidence to ride. If we leave this one issue of quality aside, the bike has got rock solid suspension and body built.
Yes, I agree that for a while the vibes did trouble me as well as I rode this machine after a good break, but soon I got used to it and really enjoyed my ride. And yes, I must admit that this is one of the loudest machines in its class and I believe many would enjoy it as they don’t have to go for any aftermarket exhaust on it.
I enjoyed my Holi staying inside the house of my friend and left in the afternoon to explore some unexplored areas of Palampur where we did some photography and tested its ABS switch ability. You switch on the ABS and you feel the difference, but make sure that when you ride you are aware of which mode you riding the bike because if you have been riding the bike with ABS ‘on’ and later unknowingly you start riding the bike with ABS ‘off’ (if someone switched it off or you forgot after doing so) then you might end up hurting yourself with unintentional stoppies or flipover.
Next day to Holi, when it was actual Holi for any other state in India, I decided to move back towards Delhi with the strategy in mind that by the time I hit plains, the Holi fever will be over and everybody will be back to their homes. So, I decided to take the other route this time.
Palampur – Mandi – Shimla – Zirakpur – Karnal – Delhi
This time, I had a lot of hills to cover, so I decided to move in the dark itself, not realizing that doing so will take me to plains early in the morning, putting myself in the same Hooligan atmosphere of Holi. I started at 5 in the morning and reached Mandi at 6:00. When I left from Palampur, I thought I will stop in Mandi and will do my breakfast, but it was too early in the morning so I kept moving. Soon I realized that something is wrong, none of the hotels or dhabas were open by 9 a.m. I thought I’ll go to Shimla and will do some breakfast there, but to my disappointment nothing was available even there. As it was too early in the morning, I thought lets go to Narkanda and if possible, come back the same day or stay there. Half way, I realized that none of the hotels were open till then and it was already 10:30. I feared what if reaching Narkanda I don’t find any of the hotels/guest houses open there. So for the first time, I decided to back off and go back to Shimla in search of some hotel as Shimla is a big town. I searched the entire Shimla and found nothing. I was left with no choice but to head towards CCD of Dharampur. Alas! Even it was closed and the same thing happened at Parwanoo too. Till then, I was hungry like wolf and wanted to eat something. But before I could have died of starving, I found a Punjabi Dhaba opened after some kilometers from Parwanoo, I went their asking what is available and he gave me the menu card. I was happy and thought God has sent him for me. I started ordering and to my shock, I heard “Not Available” for everything. Finally, I asked if I can get a Maggie and tea. I felt relieved to here “Yes” for it. Finally I had a Maggie and a tea and moved again. After having something to revive my energy, I asked what is the problem and why all of the Himachal is looking as if there is a curfew, I was told that it being the next day of Holi, everybody was on holiday.
It was already 12:00 by now and I was sure that plains would also be over with the Holi hangover and moved on. And yes, I was right! Up till Delhi or I must say till my door step, I felt that I am the king and I am riding on my private road, having no one to interrupt. There was no unnecessary stress of looking around. OK! The last one was just joke, you must look around every time, at least in India you never know who will come from where and when. I reached home safely at around 4:00pm.
Overall, the bike had been a dream to ride in the hills and in plains as well, yes those who have already ridden high revving bikes might not enjoy this as this has got short gearing ratio and would reach its peak very soon and ask for the gear shift.
I know that sharing any ride experience is very difficult to express in words. But, I hope you all enjoyed the ride and the bike with me.