Despite India being a country that relies on motorcycles as utility vehicles and cheaper means of transport, the demand for leisure motorcycling has been on the rise for over 2 decades now. And one of the major catalysts in this transformation has been the presence of motorcycles that can serve this purpose. And one of the few stalwarts of the rise of performance motorcycling in India has been the TVS Apache series from TVS Motor Company.
The first Apache that came out from the stable of TVS was the 150 ESurge. It was a fantastic motorcycle and it built the foundation for the oncoming onslaught that the Apache series was going to be. The ESurge was just the beginning. The RTR series that followed defined for Indians what a performance motorcycle feels like. Responsive throttle, razor-sharp handling and performance-centric suspension tuning, all came from the direct involvement of TVS Racing.
There was not much that needed to be fixed in the Apache RTR series but being a racing-centric company, TVS saw a lot they could improve. The efforts from TVS Motor Company intensified, the involvement of TVS Racing in the development of the motorcycle increased, and the result? The Apache RTR 160 4V, 200 4V and the Apache RR 310, the three pillars which define all that the Apache stands for today. So without further ado, let’s unleash the racing DNA!
Let’s start the proceedings with the youngest and the smallest… the Apache RTR 160 4V. The one minor niggle that people had with the Apache RTR 2Vs was the refinement. The motorcycles were slightly buzzier than the usual single-cylinders.
But TVS Motor Company does not like to waste their time sitting on their accolades. In the meantime, TVS Racing was also sweeping national championships like no one’s business. The motorcycle responsible for 8 National Championships was the Apache RTR 165 GP. And so, TVS decided to base the new RTR 160 4V on that very motorcycle.
The Apache RTR 160 4V was launched to a warm welcome as it ironed out the minor issues present in the 2V counterparts while retaining the DNA. The motorcycle was astronomically more refined, handled just as well if not more, and induced the same feeling that the Apaches have been known for. We reviewed it on TVS Racing’s test track, we reviewed it in a road test and we were thoroughly impressed with the capabilities of this pint-sized Menace.
The Apache RTR 160 4V also got a facelift. The motive behind it was to make it look more aggressive and more in line with TVS Racing’s race machine. And it worked as well since the design of the new 4V Apaches was very well received. And about the characteristics… we do not have to explicitly state the obvious. A race-derived chassis and suspension settings that struck a masterful balance between aggressive riding and those leisurely long jaunts.
With the BS-VI norms coming in, TVS decided to refresh the RTR 4Vs again. A slight facelift with a changed front fascia and refreshed racing graphics, the 2020 TVS Apache RTR 160 4V arrived on the scene… Cleaner, yet meaner was the motto perhaps.
The changes on the mechanical front were minimal and limited to BS-VI compliance and a few ‘additions’. The 2020 Apache RTR 160 4V makes 15.8 bhp of power at 8,250 rpm as compared to 16.56 bhp at 8,000 rpm of the previous model. The torque is also down from the 14.8 Nm at 6,500 rpm of the previous model to 14.12 Nm at 7,250 rpm on the current model.
In the real world, the performance feels no different when compared to the previous iteration despite the slight reduction in power and torque. In fact, compared to the carbureted variant of the previous model, the 2020 Apache RTR 160 4V feels peppy because of the crisp throttle response courtesy, the RT-Fi (Race Tuned Fuel Injection… ah well).
The refinement is stellar and there are very less to zero vibrations all throughout the rev-range. Overall, not a lot has changed in the performance department of the Apache RTR 160 4V and that’s actually a good thing. Now, the prominent new features; Feather-touch start which starts the motorcycle with the slightest touch of the starter and GTT or Glide Through Technology which keeps the motorcycle moving without the need to meddle with the throttle. A nifty trick to take care of the woes of the daily commute.
While we discussed the younger sibling, the Apache RTR 160 4V first, the Apache RTR 200 4V was actually the first entrant in the 4V series of Apache. It was a much-awaited motorcycle and when it arrived in 2016, it was loved for what all it brought to the table being the then biggest Apache.
TVS Motor Company and TVS Racing were hard at work since the launch of the refreshed RTR 2Vs. Most of the work went into designing an engine that was smoother without losing out on the crisp throttle response that the Apache RTRs were known for. And the result was just that and then some. The motorcycle was a mechanical gem and on top of all the performance that it had in store, the soundtrack was engineered (literally) to perfection. In our opinion, it is, by far, the best sounding single-cylinder engine.
But TVS never wanted the Apache to be a one-trick pony i.e. a motorcycle that relied on performance alone, or handling alone, or even the sound alone (which is very much a possibility with a soundtrack like that). The development of the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V followed a holistic approach aiming to make the motorcycle a complete package.
The hard work paid off as when we went to review the RTR 200 4V we found it to be a motorcycle that struck a perfect balance between user-friendliness and performance. It was agile without losing straight-line stability and it revved freely and accelerated briskly without the harshness and vibrations. All in all, it was all that we, and TVS, hoped it to be.
But time never stops and the same can be said about development and improvement. The RTR 200 4V got many updates since then including an A-RT (Anti Reverse Torque) slipper clutch. Fast forward to an RTR 200 4V pushed to meet the BS-VI norms, and we have the best version of it to date. The 2020 TVS Apache RTR 200 4V.
It retained all the basic ingredients of what made it a great bike and built on it. The revised front fascia, redesigned graphics and generous use of carbon-fibre decals and red streaks made it an even meaner looking motorcycle.
On the mechanical front, the slight change on paper amounts to intangible changes in real-world performance. The real-world performance, as we stated, remains just as good. The RT Slipper Clutch makes rapid downshifts fun, without the risk of losing traction and prevents wheel hops. Like the RTR 160 4V, it also gets the feather-touch-start and GTT or Glide Through Technology.
But the most prominent addition to the 2020 Apache 200 4V continues to be the SmartXonnect technology. As a result of this tech, the motorcycle gets turn-by-turn navigation, Call/SMS alert, low-fuel warning and navigation to the nearest fuel station, crash alert and probably the one thing that might interest a lot of people, race telemetry (including 0-60 km/h timing, top speed, lean angle, and braking g-force) One can use the app to connect their cellphone to the motorcycle’s console and make use of all the above features.
After discussing the 4V Apaches that were built upon the streetfighter Apache motorcycle lineage, let’s talk about something new that TVS built that took the Indian motorcycling scene by storm. It all started with the drop-dead gorgeous Akula concept that TVS displayed at the Auto Expo. Following that, people waited for TVS Motor Company to bring it into production.
But TVS had to be very careful with the execution as the hopes were high and prying eyes had been left waiting for a bit too long. In came the Apache RR 310 and everyone was floored. The chants of it being the most beautiful indigenous motorcycle were unanimous. The Bi-LED twin headlamps, the wind-tunnel crafted body and razor-sharp styling provided the Apache RR 310 with a universal appeal that appeased everyone. So looks do not always have to be subjective after all…
The performance and the technology were not too far behind either. The reverse-inclined engine helped TVS to work on a unique geometry that helped them elongate the swingarm without increasing the wheelbase. The result was a motorcycle that felt rock solid at speed (serious speed) and so agile that the weight was rendered inconsequential. The console was one of the most comprehensive in the history of Indian motorcycles and yet… it was not enough for TVS.
Since the launch of the Apache RR 310 in December 2017, it has already received two significant updates. The first one was 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!
We are very appreciative of TVS Motor Company for this kind of an approach to a product. 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. In terms of the looks, it has always been a looker. The new livery over the Titanium Black colour brings even more out of it, accentuating the wind-tunnel shaped bodywork. For the faithful, TVS has retained the classic red colour option.
The 312.2cc reverse-inclined engine is BS-VI compliant for the 2020 variant. 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. But more crucially, the 2020 TVS Apache RR 310 is now equipped with a ride-by-wire throttle, which has enabled TVS to help augment the 4 different modes namely; Rain, Urban, Sport, and Track. These riding modes do the work as described and the difference in riding quality is quite apparent when you try these modes.
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.
Another nifty addition is the GTT+ (Glide Through Technology+). The 6-speed gearbox is predictably slick, and the addition of assist and slipper clutch in the last update has 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.
The handling and the ergonomics remain the same and the 2020 Apache RR 310 remains a fantastic handler. A major change comes in the form of tyres which are now 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.
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.
The headline change in the 2020 variant though is the inclusion of a 5” TFT screen also dubbed as Race Computer by the folks at TVS. The screen is a brilliant one with crisp colours and is bright enough to be legible in direct sunlight as well. The automatic day/night mode adjusts the brightness according to the ambient light. The functions are controlled via the Control Cubes on the left-hand side.
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. And we thought the info-screen on the previous iterations was comprehensive…