Since '02 xBhp is different things to different people. From a close knit national community of bikers to India's only motorcycling lifestyle magazine and a place to make like-minded biker friends. Join us
There’s a secret to why I like my job and my workplace a lot. It is the chase of betterment in whatever it is that we do here. Sometimes it makes me hate it too but then, it does not take long for me to wake up. Why am I telling you this? Because that same reason is why I like the Apache series so much. I own an RTR 180 and I love it to death. And the only one that makes me want to cheat on her is another Apache- 2020 TVS Apache RTR 200 4V.
Text: Karan Singh Bansatta
Photos: Sunil Gupta
The name’s a mouthful but it is something that can be forgiven. I got to ride one at TVS’ test track in Hosur and I loved it. But then I thought that the time I spent with it was nowhere near enough to get to know it thoroughly. Recently, we got one here at xBhp for a few days and here’s what I feel about the new RTR 200 4V after spending a lot of time with it and also, why I want to cheat on my own little Menace.
Firstly, the looks. There are not a lot of motorcycles out there in this segment that convey their intent so eagerly. In the case of 200 4V, it is racing. From the aggressive front fascia, to the graphics, from the split seats to the faux intakes on the rear panels… even the colour scheme screams that TVS has been associated with racing for a while now and they are serious people.
I won’t talk about looks for too long as everyone has a certain point of view with which they look at a motorcycle. That said, I think we can all agree that the new RTR 200 4V is in the good books of most when it comes to design and execution. About execution, the fit and finish is top notch and there are no unruly wires or bolts that mess with the clean and sharp aesthetics of the bike.
There are a few gripes that I have though. I don’t like rear mud flaps but if you don’t have them on, the people behind may not like you on rainy days. So it is something that you live with or get rid of depending on how considerate you are as a person. Second is, and it is very personal, I do not like the end can on the RTR 200 4V. But many do and it sounds okay so it works. Lastly, the pilot lamps or positioning lamps or eyes, they feel flimsy when the lights are off because of the plastic. It is a different story when they are on though.
Moving on, it is the performance that counts and that is what TVS is always most keen to deliver on. And they do… always! I am not too finicky about the performance of a motorcycle, there are a few that I like more than others. And the Apache RTR 200 4V, I like a lot. The reason for that is that the performance is plentiful, the handling is a dream, and it has a dual character, laid back and exciting depending on how you want it.
Let’s start with the engine. Perhaps the best thing to happen to the Apache series was the arrival of the 4V motorcycles as they dealt with the biggest issue that plagued the OG RTRs- vibrations. I say that because my 180 is quite buzzy… and I say that despite my love for her. So the 4Vs brought with them more refinement, lasting performance, and the same fun-factor that is akin to the Apaches.
As soon as you saddle up on the 200 4V, it is instantly comfortable. The seat is spacious and comfy, the tank recesses are near perfect and the reach to the clip-ons is very natural. Turn the key and the screen comes alive with an important message- Gear up. You should always do that. Press the starter and the engine comes alive instantaneously. If you have done that, congratulations as you have experienced the Feather Touch Start of the new RTR 200 4V.
On a serious note, it is nifty. If the motorcycle is cold, the revs stay at around the 2,000-2,500 rpm mark for a bit before settling down. It starts without any hiccups and warms itself up as well. That’s a good way to start a good day’s ride. Anyway, you can test the smoothness of the engine by blipping the throttle before you get a move on. It is really… really smooth.
Pull in the clutch, engage the clutch and you are on the move without any drama. No grabby clutches or temper tantrums, pure and simple ease. The clutch action is very light and it is a boon in traffic. I used it for my daily commute as well and traffic in some areas of Delhi can really get on your nerves. It is just a little less pronounced on the RTR 200 4V.
In addition to the light clutch action, it is also because of GTT or Glide Through Technology that the RTR is such a treat in metro cities. What it entails is that you just engage the motorcycle in gear from a standstill, release the clutch slowly and it starts to move with zero throttle input. I tested it extensively and it never stalled… not even once.
That’s a nifty trick and one that you really appreciate if you deal with a lot of traffic on a daily basis. For those who are numerically inclined, it does 7 km/h in 1st gear, 12 km/h in second, and 17 km/h in 3rd, according to TVS. I did not feel inclined to test that and stuck with GTT’s real-world application- convenience.
As soon as the traffic fades and there is some space for the RTR 200 4V to stretch its legs, that’s when you realize that it is not a one-trick-pony. The acceleration is smooth, linear, and well, quick. It is a slick darn motorcycle for commutes sprinkled with some fun. Now, throughout the rev range and throughout the 5 gears of the motorcycle, I never felt the motorcycle holding anything back. No choppy throttle and no lag at all. Responsive all around.
While the engine is a gem, it is the fueling that makes the RTR 200 4V such a smooth operator. I don’t know if the Fi is Race-Tuned or not, but it is very well tuned. The on-off throttle transitions bear adequate response but without making the motorcycle feel jerky. And I have to mention this explicitly- it sounds awesome. You’ll find yourself revving the bike just to listen to the soundtrack. It is a tad quieter than my RTR 180, but even then, it is the best-in-class. Period.
About the gearbox, it is slick. Both upshifts and downshifts are positive and they are engaged with a responsive click. If you find an open road, sometimes you move up through the gearbox (because of spirited acceleration) and no matter how you test the RTR 200 4V’s gearbox, it’ll never fall short on your expectations. But there are two things that I’d like to have here, both my personal opinions.
First and the most important is a 6th gear. TVS… please do it. It is such a capable motorcycle and during my runs if I ever found myself wishing for something on the highways, it was a 6th gear. Don’t get me wrong. It cruises well in the 5th at around 70-80 km/h, but the engine is so eager and I found myself trying to engage the 6th countless times but guess what, it isn’t there.
The second thing is a boon for safety and a slight bane in terms of feeling. I use a lot of engine braking with the front brakes. I find it reassuring. On my RTR 180 the retardation is strong but with the 200 4V, it is a little sedate for my taste. But then, rapid downshifts can also lead to some close calls and the Slipper Clutch takes care of that. It’s a trade-off in which I feel inclined to more ‘feeling’ but I think compromising on safety because of that is not for the greater good.
Since I mentioned highway riding, let’s talk about that. Smoothness and refinement is something you look for when you want to cruise at highway speed. And to TVS’ credit, it is there and that too, all across the rev-range. What sorcery led to this in a single-cylinder engine meant to be revved, I do not know. I am just glad that the motorcycle is virtually vibe free unless you want to blatantly disrespect the shift light (at stock settings. It can be programmed as well).
All said and done, the RTR 200 4V has been blessed with a gem of an engine and with TVS’ track record, we feel like they’ll keep working to make it better. I mean the bike has already gotten multiple revisions and every time, it is better than the previous one. Onwards to handling then…
RTRs have always been known for their agility and handling prowess (all credits to TVS Racing). In the case of the 200 4V, the split-cradle chassis, KYB suspension, stellar brakes, and the new Eurogrip radial tyres ensure responsive and bankable handling (just some wordplay). Directional changes are quick as always, but what has improved is the straight line stability at speed. The ultra-short wheelbase of the older RTRs ensured very responsive handling but the stability at higher speeds left something to be desired.
It has all been remedied though and the RTR 200 4V is a complete package. This not only makes the 200 4V a great motorcycle for highways, but a pretty agile one for some tight maneuvering. Once you experience the motorcycle through turns and corners, the highways seem almost boring.
The suspension is a tad stiff (predictably) but is compliant enough to deal with most undulations. Bigger bumps do transmit some shock to the rider but they also transmit a lot of fun in the corners, don’t they… Then again, TVS’ racing inclination always leads to them being a little biased towards handling against comfort.
What goes quickly must stop quickly too and the braking system of the RTR 200 4V is more than equipped to do that. The bite is sharp and available on-demand. I cannot tell you how much confidence good brakes can inspire and the 200 4V’s are just what the doctor ordered. Dual-channel ABS with RLP (Rear Wheel Lift-off Protection) inspires even more confidence so all good here.
Tyres are pretty good as well this time around. There is adequate grip in the dry. I did get to test them in the wet too because it rained on the day I went to return the bike with a long face. And to be honest, wet roads do take a chunk away from the confidence the tyres inspire in the dry. Also, there is a patch of concrete road on my way to the office and that also kind of upsets the tyres just a smidge.
I will also point out that TVS has worked hard to strike a balance between steadiness and agility with the geometry. The adverse effects of a sharp-ish rake are almost neutered by the wheelbase and vice-versa. Ergonomics are spot on and again, the RTR 200 4V is a balance of a comfortable yet commanding riding stance. Taller riders may need to move around a little to find that perfect balance though. Streetfighters and open highways do not gel well together so there’s that.
We are approaching the end of this review but we still have to talk about the little things. RVMs need a little tinkering to get that elbow-less view of the rear but they are almost always buzz-free. TVS says the all-LED headlamp is warm white to simulate daylight conditions. I won’t say anything about that but the intensity and the resulting illumination is good but on streetlight-less patches, I could have used a slightly better spread.
The switchgear is nice and the buttons tactile so no qualms there. They are placed ergonomically as well so the reach is natural. Illumination would have just been a bonus. Fuel efficiency is also quite decent for the performance on offer. You can expect around 38-39 km/l in your average commuting with a mix of city and freeway riding. If you ride it hard, expect around 35-36 km/l. Good stuff.
Now the instrument cluster is very comprehensive and most importantly, very legible even in harsh, direct sunlight. The white backlight is pleasing to the eye. The gear position indication is a bit smallish though. I love the fact that it records your best 0-60 km/h and top speed numbers and is a subtle nod to the racing inclination of TVS.
The SmartXonnect system is instant love. Turn-by-turn navigation, Call/SMS alert, low-fuel warning and navigation to the nearest fuel station, crash alerts and even race telemetry, it is all there. You need to pair your smartphone (with the app) with the Bluetooth-enabled SmartXonnect system and have fun with all the features.
Watch the video of the SmartXonnect Technology in action here.
Doing that, you also gain access to maximum Gs experienced and maximum lean angle achieved, in addition to top speed and 0-60 numbers. Nifty little thing if you don’t mind the outrageous numbers the lean angle indicator shows sometimes. That happens because it uses the phone’s sensor to collect that data. Not always reliable, but a good thing to have nonetheless for some boasting sessions and general fun.
Is it a reliable motorcycle? Absolutely. Is it a fun motorcycle? Absolutely. Is it everything you need to quench your motorcycle thirst on a daily basis? 99%. Is it priced right? Yes, objectively speaking. Does it offer good value for your money? Maybe even more. Does it make me want to cheat on my RTR 180? Kind of. Will I? Probably not because I cannot afford to at the moment. Those who can? Cheat away!
Check out the full specs here.