Since the start of 2018 and the launch of the TVS Motor Company’s top dog, the Apache RR 310, this was the 3rd time that we went to the Madras Motor Race Track to test it out. The first one was when it was launched, the second one when it got a Slipper Clutch and a new colour and then, this year. This year is about the BS VI compliant 2020 TVS Apache RR 310 which is not only greener but gets quite a few upgrades to make it better… and of course… more desirable!
The first thing that we’d like to get out of the way is our appreciation for TVS. The point here is not just making a good motorcycle. It is about perpetually trying to make it better. That’s exactly what TVS has been doing… trying to eke out every little bit of performance that they can from the Apache RR 310. The 2020 TVS Apache RR 310 gets ride-by-wire technology, 4 different riding modes, a 5” TFT screen with control cubes to manage all that, and last but not the least, stickier tyres. How do those factors materialize in the real world? That’s what we are about to find out.
Firstly, the looks. The RR 310 has always been a looker and in our opinion, it is a universally-appealing design that sweeps the onlookers off their feet. It looks big, sporty, purposeful, and drop-dead gorgeous. The new livery over the Titanium Black colour brings even more out of it, accentuating the wind-tunnel shaped bodywork. Of all the shades of black the RR 310 has seen, this one perhaps is the most appealing. For the faithful, TVS has retained the classic red colour option. And you won’t find any other significant visual change in the latest variant of this flagship from TVS.
Now, let’s talk performance because liveries don’t make a motorcycle faster and more fun. The 312.2cc reverse-inclined engine is here to stay but this time around, it is BS VI compliant. Despite complying with the stricter emission norms, the motorcycle still makes the same 34 Ps of power and 27.3 Nm of torque, which is commendable. And it feels a little more eager to build the revs as well in the Track and Sports riding modes. ‘The Great Differentiator’ though is how that power is delivered.
The 2020 TVS Apache RR 310 is now equipped with a ride-by-wire throttle, which has enabled TVS to make the RR310 follow the rider commands even more religiously as the input from the throttle passes onto the engine with the help of electronic sensors now and can be played with electronically to help augment the 4 different modes namely; Rain, Urban, Sport, and Track that TVS has implemented on the 2020 edition of the RR310. These riding modes do the work as described and the difference in riding quality is quite apparent when you try these modes.
We all know about the rich racing heritage of TVS and how their experience and tech trickles down to the Apache series of motorcycles. TVS Racing is not offering any quarters this time around as each mode features carefully crafted parameters to allow the rider to get the most out of the new RR 310 while still being safe.
In Sport and Track mode, the motorcycle delivers all of the 34 Ps at 9,700 rpm with a crisper and more immediate response… more so in Track mode than Sport mode. The torque available in these modes is also higher at 27.3 Nm (max torque) at 7,700 rpm. The Rain mode and the Urban mode allows the riders to access only 25.8 Ps of power at 7,600 rpm and the torque available in these modes is 25 Nm at 6,700 rpm. Talking about going all out… Top speed is also limited to 120 km/h in these modes.
We rode in Track mode for the most part and the experience is… different… in a good way, of course. The engine seems more responsive to throttle inputs and the motorcycle seems a bit more eager. Also, the slightly jerky feeling in lower revs of the previous iteration has also been taken care of and throttle transitions are smooth for the most part.
The motor feels more refined as well when compared to the previous iterations but the motorcycle needs a little more of that. Although the vibes are less, they are still there but we believe that they’ll settle down a little more once the motorcycle has seen a few hundred kilometres on the odometer.
Another nifty addition is the GTT (Glide-Through-technology) which facilitates smoother riding in stop-and-go traffic as the motorcycle does not stall and can move simply with clutch modulation with minimal to no throttle input. The 6-speed gearbox was predictably slick, and the addition of assist and slipper clutch in the last update had made it an even more value-for-money product. It keeps the clutch action light to make sure that riding in the traffic does not induce wrist-ache. All in all, the performance of the motorcycle was always appreciable and on the new iteration, everything is just better.
Handling and Ergonomics
Coming to the handling and the ergonomics part, the motorcycle remains almost the same. The short wheelbase-long swingarm works wonders in providing the motorcycle with a steady straight line demeanour without robbing the motorcycle of agility. The sorted chassis along with the slightly revised suspension setup makes this motorcycle a fantastic handler whether you are flying in a straight line or attacking corners like an adrenaline-crazed corner master.
In fact, last year we had taken two RR 310s for a short spin of around 4000 km from Delhi to Chennai, visiting all the race tracks that are there in India open for public. And that included a flag off from Buddh International Circuit, visiting Kari Speedway and MMRT, and then the culmination of the ride at the Sholavaram Race Track near Chennai, which can be called the birthplace of motorsports in India. And we not only visited these racetracks, but we also made sure that we got plenty of track time at all these tracks on the RR 310s, in effect, testing not only the touring but also the racing pedigree of this bike. And it felt as comfortable on the race track as it felt on the boring long highways.
Coming back to the 2020 RR 310. It is shod with Michelin Road 5 dual-compound tyres which, in our opinion, are a much better fit for the RR 310 compared to the ones doing duty on the previous iteration. The motorcycle feels much more confident in the corners and under braking. These tyres let the rider go even further, exploring the limits of the RR 310’s fantastic handling package. TVS people claim that these tyres have been developed to give good grip especially in the corners and on wet roads.
The brakes are also pretty good and coupled with the ABS, make for a commendable braking setup. The intrusion of ABS is governed by the rider mode selected, with Rain and Urban calling for quicker intervention than Sport and Track mode. So the handling package, which was very good, to begin with, has become even better with the new rubber. And that is, despite the added 4.5 kg of kerb weight (from 169.5 to 174 kg).
And now, the star of the show – the 5” TFT screen also dubbed as Race Computer by the folks at TVS. This one takes the cake as far as the changes in the 2020 RR 310 go. This not only looks so attractive with crisp colours but also does the talking when it comes to functioning. It can be controlled with the switchgear on the left-hand side and has automatically switchable day/night mode to adjust the brightness. All 4 riding modes also get their own theme that can further be customized with the custom widgets that a rider can choose. It can also pair with your smartphone with the help of Bluetooth and give you turn by turn navigation, call and SMS alerts, besides capturing ride stats, vehicle health data. You can also capture the race telemetry and download it on your phone to analyse your performance.
Despite not so encouraging numbers, the Apache RR310 has been a worthy motorcycle to be the TVS flagship. TVS has never shied away from loading this motorcycle with the latest tech and have given it all they had from their 30+ years of racing experience. It has always been a great all-rounder but a little underappreciated as well. It can be used as a daily motorcycle to take you to your workplace, albeit with a touch of style and attitude and it can be used as a proper track tool, without making a lot of changes to the stock motorcycle. And in its 2020 Avatar, it has become an even more VFM product. It has seen a hike of approximately 12,000 rupees over the outgoing model, but the hike seems justified considering the upgrades it has received.