TVS Apache RR310 with slipper clutch – ridden!
In December 2017, TVS had invited us to MMRT to test ride their latest offering, the TVS Apache RR310 based on the 310 cc, reverse inclined single-cylinder engine coming out of their partnership with BMW. The new motorcycle showed great potential as an all-rounder. As a racetrack machine and as a mile muncher on the highways, which we found out during our #tRacingTheRoots campaign where we rode 4000 kms from Delhi to Chennai and also racing on all three race tracks in India, BIC, MMRT, and Kari, on two RR310s. The sales didn’t go exactly as planned by TVS though, due to some issues with the first few batches. But the good folks at TVS didn’t let this setback discourage them and they kept improving the bike.
Some time ago, the Apache RR 310 received free upgrades like fatter bar end weights and a rubber lining under the windshield, both aimed at reducing the vibrations, a new roller for the chain to improve chain life, and an ECU update to smoothen out the engine and also to prevent stalling in the lower revs. And now, a couple of days ago, we were invited by TVS to test ride the 2019 model of the Apache RR310 which has received a major upgrade in the form of an assist and slipper clutch. Here’s what we could make out of our outing at the MMRT.
Text: Sunil Gupta
Photos: TVS Motors & Sunil Gupta
Mr. Meghashyam Dighole, Head of Marketing – Premium Segment, TVS Motors, talking about the new Apache RR310
Explaining the functioning of the slipper clutch before the media ride!
So what has changed?
First things first, what remains the same is the overall design derived from their Akula concept. The looks of the bike remain the same and the bike still appears to be bigger than it actually is with the front biased design. The engine still makes 34 PS of peak power at 9700 rpm and 27.3 Nm of peak torque at 7700 rpm. And it handles just as well as it used to, before the latest slip-assist clutch upgrade. You can read our full review of the TVS Apache RR310 here when we rode it for the first time.
The most prominent visual change you will notice in the 2019 model is the introduction of a new color called Phantom Black, which is essentially a metallic black with a strip of silver running through its center. The subtle use of red adds to the overall charm of this new color scheme. Apart from this, the bike will also be available in the good old Racing Red. The matte black version has been discontinued.
Slipper clutch: What exactly it is?
Now, the most significant upgrade that the 2019 TVS Apache RR310 brings to the table is the slip and assist clutch. What a slipper clutch does is that it primarily mitigates the effect of engine braking on the rear wheel. In simpler words, if you suddenly downshift 2-3 gears while riding at high speed, you will notice that the rear wheel locks up and loses the grip due to the sudden difference of speed between the rotation of the wheel and the engine speed, which may result in destabilization of the bike and maybe, a crash. A slipper clutch is designed to prevent that from happening. The functioning of the slipper clutch mimics the effects of partially engaging the clutch in case of an over-rev and tries to match the engine speed with the wheel speed so that they remain in sync.
The assist function works in a similar fashion but in the opposite direction. It puts pressure on the pressure plates during acceleration to transfer the power from the engine to the wheel. As a result, you need less clutch plates in the assembly, which results in a lighter/smoother clutch. TVS claims that, on the new RR 310, you need to apply 20% less force on the lever to engage the clutch. TVS also claims that they have tested this new system for about 200 hours at race tracks to reach the correct composition, besides using their own experience in racing motorcycles for 36+ years. Hence, the slipper clutch badge that the bike gets on the bodywork has the prefix ‘RT’, which means Race Tuned’.
The effect of this new clutch system was quite evident while riding the motorcycle on the race track at MMRT. We downshifted rather violently on a couple of occasions on one of the straights, shifting down to as low as the 3rd gear while riding at 100+ kmph. That is something which could have catastrophic effects on a motorcycle with no slipper clutch. But on the new RR 310, it didn’t bother us, or the motorcycle much. The rear never seemed to give away and remained in line without any noticeable chatter or hopping.
This technology is immensely helpful in race conditions where quite often you are required to downshift rapidly while riding at high revs, and the slipper clutch would help the riders do just that without destabilizing the bike, even if you downshift mid corner to get that extra drive while accelerating out of it. However, it would be an equally useful feature in real-world conditions, especially in cities where the traffic requires you to upshift and downshift quite frequently. The lighter clutch due to the assist system would make you apply less pressure on the clutch, which would make your ride more comfortable even in peak traffic conditions.
Should you buy it?
The 2019 TVS Apache RR310 with slipper clutch is available at a price tag of INR 2.27 Lakh (Ex-showroom Delhi), which is about INR 4000 dearer than the previous model. So overall, this critical new upgrade has made this already potent package even more desirable. And the best thing is that the existing owners of the Apache RR 310 can get their bike retrofitted with the new slipper clutch system as well by paying around 4K. So in case you are looking to buy an entry level premium sports bike within a budget of 2-3 lakhs, we would suggest that you visit your nearest TVS showroom to take a test ride of the new Apache RR310 before making a decision.
2019 TVS Apache RR310 Technical specifications
Indian FTR 1200 Review: The beauty of being an outlier
Motorcycle reviews are like stories. Stories of a motorcyclist’s interaction with a motorcycle. And stories have to have something to revolve around i.e. the title. So, the title of this one, while a bit misleading, is what this story or review revolves around. The outlier is the Indian FTR 1200 and the story… it will unfold as you read on.
The first clue to the title of this review comes when one takes a look at the Indian FTR 1200. The reason being, Indian Motorcycle has always been associated with cruisers and classic touring motorcycle. Big, imposing, classy, comfortable and with engines that displace… a lot, that is the image associated with Indian Motorcycle. One look at the FTR 1200 and it does not feel Indian. Even though the large script logo that says Indian on the tank should be a dead giveaway, it is still a bit hard to believe.
So, the FTR 1200 is inspired by the Indian Scout FTR 750 dirt track racer. Indian Motorcycle began working on the FTR 750 in 2016 and the reception that it got was probably the biggest reason behind the birth of the FTR 1200. But usually, when you have a great concept motorcycle or a racer, it is easy to mess things up with the production version but fortunately, Indian Motorcycle didn’t. There is one question that comes to one’s mind though. Why not the FTR 750 for the streets and why not the FTR 1200 for the track? The answer probably is emissions and the fact that the 750 might not have sufficed for the roads. And then there must be regulations that need to be followed in flat track racing but more than that, 1200 would have been a bit too hefty for the track.
Indian Motorcycle has a rich history in motorcycle racing, be it the early days of motorcycling, from 1903 to the 1940s and 1950s when the original Indian Motorcycle Wrecking Crew dominated the flat tracks. And in 2016, Indian Motorcycle returned to the flat track ring with the insane Scout FTR750 and showed that they are here to dominate… again. The current Indian Motorcycle Wrecking Crew includes Briar Bauman, Branson Baumen and Jared “Jammer” Mees who is a five-time winner of the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National title with the last two coming in 2017 and 2018.
Coming back to the point, the tightly packed engine and other components, lithe and minimal body, exposed frame and the slightly raised tail, the FTR 1200 is as close to its track racing cousin as it could be while still being street legal. The 19” front wheel, 18” rear wheel, tyres from Dunlop that were specially designed for the FTR 1200 and the wide handlebar make the FTR look like it means business. Everything about this motorcycle is a departure from others in the stable of Indian Motorcycle.
So, the motorcycle, especially in this livery, looks fantastic and it is beyond a shred of a doubt that it is going to attract a lot of eyeballs on the road. The only gripe we have in the looks department is the rear-view mirrors. No matter how many times we looked at them, they always looked a bit out of place. But all that and looks are subjective aside, this is one motorcycle that we believe is going to garner universal acclaim in the looks department. The fit and finish of the motorcycle is also top-notch and complements the beautiful aesthetics of the FTR 1200.
Saddle up and there’s your second clue to the title. The seating position of this motorcycle from Indian is… sporty! But we say that because we did not see that coming from Indian. It is not overly sporty but then, it is no cruiser either. Perfectly balanced, just the way we like it. The footpegs fall naturally under the feet and the wide handlebar promises a lot of leverage over the motorcycle while changing direction. The FTR 1200 that we got to ride was the S variant and it had a 4.3” Ride Command LCD touchscreen display. The brightness of the screen is commendable because even under the harsh sun, one does not have to bother because the screen and the information on it would still be legible and that is not even the best part. The screen can be operated via buttons and it is touch-enabled too. One can even operate the touch screen with gloves on! Now that… is nifty.
Thumb the starter, let the bike warm up, blip the throttle, take a listen and there is your third cue. The soundtrack is different from other motorcycles from Indian in the sense that it has a visceral identity to it. While a lot of speculations before stated that Indian Motorcycle has used the engine from the Scout for the FTR, we have ridden the scout and these two engines are worlds apart and not just visually either. It is a 60-degree V-twin that displaces 1203cc. The high compression and a plethora of changes in the scout engine provide the FTR 1200 with 120 Ps of power and around 117 Nm of torque.
Slot into the first gear, let the clutch go and the FTR 1200 immediately clears its intentions. The engine is eager to get going and the motorcycle gathers revs quickly. And there’s another clue. Now, the FTR may be a peaky one compared to its family members, but the torque is available right from the lower revs which is enough to propel this rather hefty motorcycle to very respectable speeds… and a few wheelies too.
This motorcycle is a torque monster and it felt like it was born to keep the front wheel up as we witnessed the journalists who came to review the motorcycle was wheelie-ing into and out of the corners with relative ease! The engine is also quite refined and the motorcycle can do highway speed all day long without being stressed. The clutch, slipper kind, is also very light and the gearbox, positive. What we’d have liked to have though, is a windscreen would have helped a lot in tackling the windblast on the highway.
While the engine of the FTR 1200 was a revelation, the handling was something else. When one invites journalists from all over the world to test a motorcycle like the FTR 1200 in the twisties and mountainous roads of Santa Monica, they cannot expect them to take it easy. In short, we went all out, and since no one had any unexpected moments, we can safely say that the FTR 1200 handles like a dream.
Considering the type of motorcycle it is and the heft it carries, it just goes around bends like it was nothing. It is no supersport of course, but then it isn’t meant to be that and this turned out to be the next clue for the title of this review. The tyres from Dunlop, which seem like they’d do better off the tarmac than on it, provide a fantastic grip on the roads.
The FTR 1200 features considerable suspension travel and the setup is very compliant. But show the FTR 1200 some corners and it deals with them with elan. That is how well balanced the suspension setup is on the FTR 1200. The dual Brembo Monoblock 4.32 four-piston calipers are fantastic and bring the motorcycle to a halt in a jiffy with no drama. Only if they had just a tad bit more feel on the lever. The ABS system on the S variant is switchable and it can be toggled on or off using the touchscreen.
When does one switch off the ABS? When they plan to leave the comforts of tarmac and look for something more… rugged. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to ride the FTR 1200 off-road. But we do believe that with the almost dual-purpose tyres, relatively long suspension travel and the dynamics it possesses, it would be pretty good. But one should not try to go MX or SX on it! The safety and technological advancements are not limited to that. Indian FTR 1200 gets a 6-point IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) and Traction Control in addition to a Wheelie Mitigation system that prevents the front wheel from lifting up uncontrollably and at the same time, ensuring maximum acceleration. The 3 riding modes, Sport, Standard and Rain ensure safe riding in all types of road conditions.
That brings us to the conclusion of this story/review which is going to rest our case of calling it an outlier. So, the FTR 1200 is a fantastic handler but it is not a sportbike. But then, it is not going to have you aching after a short duration like sportbikes do. It can go off-the-road too and hold its own, but it’s nowhere close to being a dirtbike. But then, it does not scare the bejesus out of you at highway speeds. And lastly, it can munch miles on highways day in and day out, but it is no cruiser. But then, it is not going to feel like you need Mjolnir to actually have it go around a bend.
Mr Pankaj Dubey, Country Head & Managing Director, Polaris India
“I am excited about the forthcoming launch of FTR 1200, most likely in the 2nd half of July. We are taking a step ahead from the luxury cruiser motorcycle segment to the luxury street bike segment. FTR 1200 – the first non-cruiser motorcycle from Indian Motorcycle, is engineered with the latest technology for reliable performance. Unlike the cruiser bikes, the FTR series combines race-inspired design and nimble handling with an upright riding position to create a commanding riding experience. These bikes have gone through a rigorous, multi-year design and testing process to ensure that they perform as well as they look. With its modern-day design and a new engine, the FTR 1200 is an apt motorcycle for all the bike lovers in the country who command control on the road. We also introduced an accessory line up with four curated collections and endless style combinations to make the FTR 1200 truly their own. With this first street fighter offering, we are looking to set a base for the young enthusiasts of India who not only seek cruisers but an adventure tourer who they can take up to any terrain. Our ambition is to build on the success of the FTR series and further connect with new riders beyond our current core customers. We are hopeful that the riders will show their love to the FTR series which will further expand our customer base in the country. With the introduction of this series and others by competition, we are also expecting double-digit growth in the industry. Since we import our products from the US, the liberalisation of import norms and reduction in customs duties will help increase the reach of these bikes with a more affordable price due to the tax cut. It will also help us introduce more models with advanced technologies from our global portfolio into the Indian market.“
So, the FTR 1200 is an outlier in a sense that it can do little of all the things that we mentioned above and won’t feel too out of place. There isn’t a direct competitor for the Indian FTR 1200 in India, the Triumph Scrambler 1200 (its price will be revealed tomorrow) and the Ducati Scrambler 1100 can be considered spiritual competitors for it. But it does not fit the bill of any of the categories mentioned above and yet, it can become any of them with the 4 collections recently introduced by Indian Motorcycle Recently; Tracker, Rally, Sport and Tour. But even then, the Indian FTR 1200 is a motorcycle in a league of its own and a class of its own, quite literally. But most importantly, it is pure joy to ride the FTR 1200 and it has been quite some time since we felt that way about a motorcycle, an outstanding outlier.
A backpack is a necessity for a motorcycle rider and when you are to ride a stunning motorcycle like the FTR 1200, the backpack must keep up with the panache. We found our companion in the form of the Carbonado GT. With features like all-weather, water, dust and stain resistant exterior, waterproof zippers for additional protection and even a charging dock amongst many, the Carbonado GT is a nifty companion for rides like these.