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It is the year 2021 and Indian motorcycling is still at a very young age compared to what the rest of the world has already seen. Although the last decade and a half saw us from crawling on all fours to gradually getting up and walking on our own, there is still a long way to go before we truly start running and catch up with everyone else. The credit for all that progress must go to our homegrown companies like TVS who responded to the demands of the market and invested heavily in their R&D setup and brought out products that customers not only bought but also aspired and felt proud to own. The made-in-India motorcycles are consistently getting better and better and closing the gap between them and what the other big manufacturers have to offer, especially keeping in mind the price-sensitive nature of the Indian market.
Text: Sunil Gupta
Let’s take the example of TVS here. They launched their flagship, the TVS RR 310 about 4 years ago. It was the culmination of their partnership with the BMW Motorrad and has proved itself to be a fantastic all-rounder machine, be it cruising on the highways or racing on the race tracks. We experienced it first-hand ourselves in 2019 when we took 2 RR310s on a 4000 kms ride from Delhi to Chennai via Coimbatore during #tRacingTheRoots and also visiting and racing on all the race tracks that are open to the public in India, be it the BIC or the Kari Speedway or MMRT in Chennai. It felt equally home on the highway as well as on the race tracks.
And ever since its launch, the RR 310 has been subjected to constant upgrades at regular intervals by TVS and these upgrades have been really meaningful upgrades; be it the introduction of a slipper clutch in 2019 or the BS6 engine with multiple riding modes and throttle-by-wire and the connected TFT screen in 2020. So, when TVS sent us an invite to witness their new offering related to the Apache RR310, we were really curious as to what upgrades they would offer this time. And like always, they surprised us this time as well with their offering – the launch of the TVS Built-to-Order platform with their flagship Apache RR 310 at the centre stage. The BTO platform gives you an option to customize and personalise your Apache RR 310 while you are purchasing it. You can use the TVS ARIVE app or their web configurator to choose from a number of customization options and your bike will be customized at the TVS assembly line itself before being delivered to you.
The TVS BTO (Built to Order) is an all-new vertical within the organization, which currently has only the Apache RR 310; but soon, it will have other products as well from the TVS portfolio. So for now, let’s see what you can get now with the RR 310 BTO.
First of all, the new Apache RR 310 is INR 5k more expensive than the outgoing model.
Under the BTO platform, there are two performance kits available for the RR 310 – the Dynamic kit and the Race kit. You get a fully adjustable front and rear suspension with multi-level preload adjustment and rebound and compression damping with the dynamic kit, while the Race kit offers more aggressive ergonomics with a ‘more aggressive and tucked in’ clip-on handlebar, rearset raised footrest, and knurled footpegs, allowing the riders a racier riding stance and higher lean angles on the corners. This kit also has an anti-rust brass coated drive chain.
The new Apache RR 310 also has a re-tuned and re-designed exhaust that has changed the exhaust note a little bit. It feels gruntier and crispier in the high revs and the metallic noise has been reduced considerably. You also get the wave-bite key with the new Apache to enhance the security of the bike.
The overall design of the 2021 Apache RR310 remains unchanged, although now you have the option to go for the TVS ‘Race Replica’ graphics inspired by the TVS One Make Championship race bikes. This graphic set uses a copious mix of red and white along with a bit of the racing purple from TVS OMC race bikes. And that alone gives the bike a new identity as this colour scheme looks sporty and very hard to miss on the road. Then you have the option to put your own race number on the windshield of the bike along with an option to choose the colour of the alloy wheels. So, now you can go for standard red colour Apache RR 310 along with your race number on the windshield or buy a dual-tone (black-grey) one with optional red alloy wheels and an optional race number. The Race Replica graphic set comes mandatorily with red alloy wheels.
The 2021 Apache RR 310 also retains its 5.0 inch TFT Bluetooth enabled display that now comes with a new ‘Digidocs’ feature that lets you save and display your important documents like your bike RC, DL, etc. on your bike’s display screen. Additionally, you now get a dynamic engine rev limit indicator, day trip meter, and over-speed alert along with a host of other features.
You have the option of selecting all or some of these enhancements as per your pocket or taste while buying the bike. Notably, most of these enhancements are available for the existing Apache RR 310 customers as well for retrofitting. TVS says that it will take anywhere from 30-60 days for them to deliver the BTO bike from the day of your order, and initially, they will restrict it to only 100 units a month.
If you want to give the new TVS Apache RR 310 BTO a try, you can download the TVS ARIVE app on your smartphone or visit tvsmotor.com/builttoorder on your web browser.
Now, let’s talk about how it really feels to ride the TVS Apache RR 310 BTO. If we’ve not mentioned it earlier, there are no changes on the performance side in the new Apache RR 310 and it uses the same 312.2 cc engine that gives you 34 Ps of power and 27.3 Nm of torque. However, the biggest difference that you now have is the ability to tweak the bike’s behaviour with the help of a fully adjustable suspension setup. A few rotations with the screwdriver on the screws located on top of the suspension is all you need to go from a mama’s boy to a complete baddy on this bike. The stock setup of the bike is finely balanced between sporty and comfort; however, if you wish to hit the track, you can adjust the suspension to give you more control over how the bike behaves to your inputs. Whenever we’ve had a chance to ride the RR310 on the track, we’ve come back with a big smile on our face and the 2021 RR 310 carries on that legacy. However, with the suspension adjusted by the TVS technicians for sportier performance, it became much more amenable to our inputs and that turned our smile into an ear-to-ear grin!
To conclude, let us say that the TVS Apache has always been a great all-rounder and worthy of being the flagship. And with the new upgrades, the entire package has become even more potent especially for bikers who do not want to settle with whatever is available in the market today and they want to go out and explore the limits and push the envelope. Of course, you always had the option of getting after-market kits to enhance the performance, but the reliability factor will be much higher if you get these ‘metal steroids’ from the factory itself. And that is a big confidence booster.
However, having the option to tweak the settings is one thing and knowing how to tweak it to your advantage is another. It would not be wrong to say that a majority of the riders in our country do not understand the technicalities of the motorcycle suspension system and how changing the preload, damping, or compression would result in the performance of the motorcycle. So some literature on educating the customers on the new platform would enhance the overall appeal of this idea. Not to mention, some sort of ‘safety lock’ would also be needed so that no one else can mess up with your setup while the bike is parked unattended. And hopefully, the mechanics at their service centres are also trained thoroughly on how to identify the behaviour of the bike based on the adjustments done by someone (knowingly or unknowingly) and ‘correct’ it as needed.
Finally, a big thanks to TVS for always being so innovative and for their relentless pursuit of performance with their racing teams, the exploits of which ultimately trickle down to their production models as well.