For 16 years, we have been riding the world’s fastest motorcycles and driving the world’s fastest supercars. Alongside that, we have been sharing our experiences via the means of photos and videos. And after so many years, we think we have finally met the match for these quick machines- Canon EOS R3. After we got our hands on it, our quest for instances where speed, durability, sophistication, and ruggedness take priority over everything else began. Finally, we knew what, or rather who could put the fantastic EOS R3 through its paces. Harith Noah.
In God’s own country Kerala, we witnessed one of the fastest men on two wheels in India- Harith Noah, practising for one of the world’s toughest races- the Dakar Rally. Seeing someone like him in action is a spectacle but capturing that quick in an object and freezing it in time is something else entirely. That is where the Canon EOS R3 shone. More on that later since we have more important matters to tend to.
This opportunity came to us courtesy of TVS Racing. Those who know racing know that as much as it is meant for the public to enjoy, it is a covert affair too, especially when it comes to technology. So we are grateful to them for letting us in on the spectacle that Harith Noah is on TVS Racing’s homegrown rally racer- RTR 450 FX!
Harith Noah hails from Kerala and races for TVS Racing. Starting in 2009 with a local race, Harith fell in love with racing and from that point on, he has never looked back. From supercross, he started to focus on cross-country rallies. Backed by TVS racing, Harith finished the Dakar rally earlier this year in 20th position- the best ever by an Indian in what is widely considered as the world’s toughest race!
After seeing him in action and doing things we mere mortals consider unfathomable, we had the golden opportunity to pick his brain. The first thing we asked him, naturally, was what draws him towards rallies and off-roading over tarmac racing. He feels that tarmac riding is more relaxing without undermining the difficulties and nuances of it. What he loves about off-roading is the ever-changing terrain especially, when it comes to a rally like the Dakar. The only word he could come up with to describe the feeling? Incredible!
While it may all seem like the work of natural talent and opportunities- let us tell you that it is far from the truth. While those things do play a critical role, there is an immense amount of hard work that goes into shaping a racer. TVS Racing is the only manufacturer in India that has its roots dug deep in the Indian motorsport scene. From their years of experience to their broad portfolio including road-racing, rallying, Motocross and Supercross- they have an eye for talent and the means to fine-tune it.
Harith follows a strict training regimen to hone his skills. Endurance training on road bikes and mountain bikes, strength training and immense mental training are the part and parcel of his racing acumen. Then with the help of TVS Racing, he utilizes his time racing and riding as much as he can. He believes it is important to do that because ultimately that is what wires your brain and clicks your mentality in racing mode and sharpens your reflexes and responses.
Harith has worked hard to reach where he is today and become the pride of our nation. But in his own words, it would not have been possible or at least so easy, if it was not for TVS Racing. And we wholeheartedly second that opinion of his. Despite being one of the world’s most prominent automotive manufacturing hubs, India has always been missing from the world motorsports map. Despite that and the limited reach of the sport in our country, one brand has not lost faith in it and have worked relentlessly to better the situation. That one brand is TVS Motor Company.
Such is the impact they have made that the discussion of Indian motorsports is incomplete without mentioning TVS. This fierce competitiveness and unwavering determination to race led to the creation of TVS Racing in 1983 and ever since then, they have been setting tracks on fire both, on the tarmac and off it.
From racing 50cc mopeds that could reach 100 km/h to the latest Apache RR 310 which is a shining example of their racetrack exploits, TVS Racing has come a long way. And for nearly 4 decades now, they have kept at it whether the sport gave back anything in return or not. All of that… just to put Indian on the global motorsport map.
Quite a bit of TVS Racing’s experience is used to manufacture performance-oriented motorcycles but as an entity, TVS Racing is much more than that. In addition to product development, the main purpose of TVS Racing is to bring motorsport to the fore in the country and to that end, they have supported more than 100 riders in the open class and more than 500 in TVS One Make series since their inception.
From road racing to dirt tracks, to rallying and to motocross and supercross, TVS Racing has helped many budding racers emerge from the shadows and make a name for themselves. This has been a result of their consistent innovation to bring more and more youngsters into the sport.
TVS was the first manufacturer to introduce the concept of One-Make Championships in India and it was way back in 1994. From then on, it has become a stage for racers in the country to showcase their talent. And much like their ethos for continuous expansion and evolution, this championship has also evolved into a multi-faceted area for the racers of our country.
In addition to the One Make Series that features the race-tuned Apache RTR 200 4V, they also introduced RR Cup or TVS One Make Championship featuring the Race-Spec RR 310. Not only that, they have added more and more categories to the series in order to make it more accessible to a broader range of talents. A Novice Category, a Women’s Exclusive One Make Championship, and even a Young Media Racer Program are a few expansions that have helped TVS Racing to tap into an even more diverse talent pool.
The result? Motorsports is a ruthless game and rewards are scant and yet, here we are. TVS now not only has multiple National Championships under their belt, but their recent outings on the international stage have now become a matter of pride for our nation. Even with all that, one is bound to think about the immense investment of resources to keep something like that going? So where does TVS Racing find their motivation in all this?
TVS is a brand that quantifies rewards in terms of learning, technology and engineering capabilities. They believe that racing is a way to showcase to the world their R&D prowess. For them, it is about pushing the boundaries for continuous progress and growth in terms of both their racers and their machinery. And anyone can attest to their positive growth when one considers the achievements of riders like Harith Noah.
Now, what about the machinery? On the road, TVS has come a long way from their very first RTR to the RR 310. The same can be said about their racing machines comprising the Race-Spec Apache RR 310 and the Race-Spec Apache RTR 200 4V for the One Make Series and the Apache GP 165R that races in the INMRC. The machine that we are focussing on though, is the RTR 450 FX that Harith rode as we tried to capture him through our lens.
TVS Racing has been racing on the national level for a while but their big breakthrough came when they partnered with Sherco to enter the Dakar Rally in 2015 becoming the first Indian manufacturer to do so. In the past, TVS Racing gave us the opportunity to witness the RTR 300 FX in action during our 0-100 Motorcycles project. It was a thoroughbred dirt bike that was purpose-built for MX/SX and rallies. The RTR 450 FX is its big brother.
The RTR 450 FX is a competition motorcycle and is a derivative of RTR 450- TVS Racing’s rally contender. Harith Noah, being an official racer of TVS Racing, has the access to the RTR 450 FX to train and sharpen his riding skills. An extremely lightweight and extremely powerful machine, the RTR 450 FX is a motorcycle capable of coming out on top against the toughest of terrains on the planet.
One look at the motorcycle and you can tell that it has shed everything but the bare essentials. The RTR 450 FX is the result of years of TVS’ racing exploits and you can see the results for yourself in the pictures. Talking about the motorcycle, it is powered by a 449.40cc, 4-valve DOHC engine that makes… nope! Being a racing machine, no official power or torque numbers are available. Yet, if we were to make a wild guess, we’d say it may be something close to 70 horses. Again, a wild guess.
The fuel injection system goes by the name Synerject digital electronic fuel injection and for cooling, the engine relies on a liquid cooling system with forced circulation. There is an Akrapovic titanium header pipe, titanium muffler for keeping the weight in check. The power to the rear wheel is transmitted by a 6-speed sequential gearbox.
The chassis of the motorcycle is a half-perimeter frame made of chrome-Molybdenum to ensure less weight. Being a rally machine, the RTR 450 FX features a 32 L fuel tank so do not go by the lithe appearance. There’s a good chance that the fuel tank is spread from the conventional position to under the seat that aids in weight distribution on a full tank and helps in keeping the centre of gravity relatively lower.
Jumps, ruts, rocks, gravel, and everything that you can think of can be a part of a rally race. Because of that, the suspension is one of the most crucial components of a rally racer. The RTR 450 FX features rebound and compression adjustable 52mm WP telescopic forks at the front. On the rear, it gets WP progressive, multi-adjustable Trax rear shock which utilizes a linkage and rod system. On both ends, there’s 300mm of travel to play with. Brute braking force for this lightweight powerhouse is provided by hydraulically activated Brembos gripping a single 300mm disc at the front and a single 220mm disc at the rear.
In terms of hoops, the RTR 450 FX has a 21” aluminium rim with steel spokes on the front and a similar 18” wheel on the rear. Both of these are shod with Michelin Rally tubed tyres. The RTR 450 FX, to be able to deal with nearly everything one can throw at it, has a ground clearance of 355mm and, in turn, a seat height of 970mm. And all that goodness resides in a package that weighs 135 kilograms!
All of that makes it clear that only a brand like TVS with all its racing prowess can build a motorcycle like that and then, go further and find someone like Harith Noah who can put it all to good use. While a machine like that did tingle our riding senses, saner minds prevailed and we let Harith do his thing while we put our camera to good use to try to capture him.
Now, about the matter of capturing someone like Harith Noah who sees a path where we don’t see one and zooms along on it. We needed something equally capable and we found just what we were looking for in Canon’s latest and greatest- the EOS R3.
First, a look at some of its coolest features- 30 photos per second, 6K 60 FPS recording, 4K 120 FPS Super Slow Motion recording, Dual-Pixel CMOS AF II that enables vehicle priority autofocus along with 100% autofocus coverage area, 5-axis in-body stabilization, dust and drip-proof and finally, perhaps the coolest thing ever- Eye-control Autofocus.
In Kerala, the EOS R3 had two major challenges to overcome- dealing with the elements and keeping up with Harith Noah. We needed the EOS R3 to be quick and precise so that we could keep up with Harith Noah who was putting his RTR 450 FX to good use as he went around the tight track which he trains on.
Ruggedness was paramount as a substantial part of the shoot was done when the rain gods weren’t being kind. Then, shooting on a beach comes with a lot of dirt, mud and slush. But the Canon EOS R3’s body is sealed in a manner that makes it capable of dealing with the rough stuff and it can be as quick as Harith even in trying conditions.
Now, the speed. To be honest, this camera simply blew our minds. The vehicle priority autofocus is awesome but when Harith engaged beast mode and went jumping and sliding all around the track, we had to put to use the EOS R3’s coolest feature- Eye-tracking autofocus. It is so surreal that it feels like something out of a science fiction movie. It feels almost like a superpower when the camera focuses where you look. So all I had to do was look at Harith and the camera would focus on Harith as well. The technology is astounding and frankly, after using the EOS R3, you will not be able to go back to a normal camera.
All in all, the Canon EOS R3 is designed for capturing scintillating action and dealing with all the challenges that come with it. It is fast, it is precise, it is sensitive, it is reliable, and it is durable. Finally, there’s a camera that you blindly trust and depend on in the field be it for its performance or its reliability.