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xBhp was born more than 16 years ago and since then we've had a chance to ride or drive hundreds of machines running on two wheels or four wheels, and sometimes even three wheels. We are not done yet, and this list is still growing. In these pages, we take a deep dive in the treasure trove of our ride experiences and bring you all that we have ridden or driven.

TVS Apache RTR 200 4V Review: Conquistador Conqueror!

197.7CC 20.2BHP 18NM

So the much awaited TVS Apache RTR 200 4V is finally out in the open. It’s been launched at Rs 88990/- Ex-Showroom Delhi.  Was the wait and anticipation worth it? Is the bike right up there amongst the exclusives? Does it disappoint or delight the modern Indian motorcyclist? Time to get up and close with the new Apache. We were given the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with the bike at TVS’ Hosur test track and even though so short a time is not all that much to thoroughly get to know the bike. But the fact that the track allowed a pretty free hand at riding (or thrashing – whatever you prefer) the bike and the ready availability of TVS’ entire technical team ready with answers to curious queries meant we could get a fair idea of the bike on the whole.

That the Apache RTR 200 looks smashing was the general consensus between a gaggle of auto-journos who, by default, don’t agree with each other often. Of the four colours displayed with élan right outside the R&D Study Center, the gold yellow won hands down as the universal favourite. It was followed closely by the white and the red. The black was left in the wake not because it is not a good looker but in a mercilessly comparative world, it lost vital marks to the chutzpah, glitz and glamour of the other colours. The bike is visually right there in proportion and stance. And even though bikes with engines making 20+ bhp (cause it eventually is all about power – ain’t it?) are considered ordinary these days, this one steps right beyond the reach of ordinariness just on its looks alone. The matt paint finish is great (though we wonder how will they cover the decals with a coat or hardener while avoiding the gloss that accompanies it), the instrument console more than comprehensive, the switchgear right up there in touch, feel and quality, the seat and the bike comes with all practical bits (main stand, grab rail, acceptable pillion seat, half chain cover et al) in place. The aggressive street fighter stance and the sharp yet flowing contours of the bike make it look fetching.

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The TVS design team led by their quietly capable New Product Development Head Mr. Vinay Harne worked to a theme unabashedly biased towards user-friendliness of a performance bike rather than chasing outright performance alone. Makes sense as a wider market base would find a bike like this acceptable – the target customer would include both those aspiring for performance as well as those who are more inclined to usability than dramatic power. The engine specs as well as the entire setup of the bike reflects this design philosophy and so has resulted in a pretty well-rounded package in the new RTR 200. The 200cc 4-valve SOHC oil-cooled engine puts out some 20.5 bhp @ 8500 and wrings out a peak torque of 18.4Nm @ 7000 rpm. Nothing dramatic here but not incapable of exciting performance either. A lot of work on the engine has been done in the areas of reducing NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness), improving thermal efficiency through better thermal stability in the engine (the oil cooler for example), improving mechanical efficiency through reducing friction and part inertia, tuning the engine for a wider fatter torque curve through (unusual for 4-strokes) a tuned exhaust, meeting emission standards of the future via a 2-stage catalytic converter (there’s a TVS patent pending on this cat con design), attention to the exhaust note via a thorough acoustic study and then some more.

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The silent timing chain

Wet multi plate clutch,  the primary drive pinion and the oil filter

Wet multi plate clutch, the primary drive pinion and the oil filter

Engine cut away

Engine cut away

Final drive sprocket

Final drive sprocket

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The FI system

The Apache RTR 200 comes 4V in two different fuel feed versions – the CV carburettor equipped and the Fuel Injected, the latter of course provides better perceived performance mainly due to the excellent control fuel injection allows over combustion. The FI is a closed-loop system with a Lambda sensor that makes the system independent of weather, fuel quality (to a limited extent) and altitude variations. The CV carb version of course will cost less but is no slouch with a quick right wrist. The Apache even comes with a tuned exhaust pipe and a dual catalytic converter that allows it to meet emission standards that shall come into force some 2 years from now. The engine internals come with a Nano particle coating that reduces harsh wear and tear especially during the running in period of the engine.

Over to the ride experience. That the bike is ergonomically spot on for a variety of riders was obvious by the way other reviewers straddled it with ease and rode away in the first instance as if they’d been riding the bike for quite some time. The handlebar (sorry – clipons actually) seat – footpeg relationship makes this one a natural for most of us. And TVS has again got the seat right, both in terms of placement and comfort. Even the pillion seat is a seat and not a perch as is sadly becoming the norm these days. The very comprehensive fully digital instrument console comes to life as you switch on the ignition, goes through a complete self test and cheekily displays ‘Race On’ for you! The self start button fires the engine and it thrums to life with a growl. This one sounds good – better than almost every other 200cc offering, of course with the exception of the Benellis who seem to have mastered bike engine acoustics!

The wet multi-plate clutch is light and gear shifts slick. The bike pulls well right from low rpms and accelerates well through the gears. The three lower gears seem a trifle short in ratios while the top two (4th and 5th) felt tall enough for being usable over a wide rpm range. The strong torque right from close to idling rpm seems to be the bike’s forte and it shows an eagerness to get moving and gather speed. Acceleration is good for its power and the difference lies in the exceptional smoothness of the engine right till its 10000 rpm redline. Pull through the gears and the bike accelerates well till about 90 kph whereon the briskness fades away and inertia begins to gradually take over. The carburetted version tops out at an indicated 117-118 kph as was the general consensus at the track while the FI one could go up to some 123 kph or so. Nothing dramatic here too but within the 50 – 90 kph band where most of these bikes will live, this one will thrive.

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A stiff chassis with the engine as a stressed member, conventional geometry and excellent rubber (our track bikes came shod with excellent Pirellis which will be offered as an option with the bike) made for a sweet handling bike that did not hold any remotely nasty surprise up its sleeve. It handled in a very consistent and predictable manner irrespective of the speed the rider was doing. Flickability was great and it came without an iota of compromise on the stability front. Brakes too were great, the front disc giving good feedback and progressiveness in response. Of course the excellent tyres were also partly responsible for this.

The switchgear felt good and functioned with definite clicks, the overall fit and finish was right up there with the best, the lights are bright and the headlamp beam intensity and spread has been worked on quite a bit and is claimed to be the best in class – of course it being a bright sunny day we couldn’t verify the claim but we will in a more comprehensive road test sometime later. All said and done the new Apache RTR 200 4V is a pretty balanced offering into a market that of late appears more inclined to excitement than utility. We do hope this becomes a trend setter in that context and gets utility back into the ambit of performance motorcycling once more. Disappointment or delight – take your pick. To those who were looking for some 10 more bhps from this 200cc engine – disappointment. To those who see a motorcycle as a tool – there’s loads of delight.

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TVS Apache RTR200 4V Review Technical Specifications

Apache spec
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TVS Apache RTR200 4V Review and Spec Comparison with the competition!

Apache 200 Vs Apache rtr180
Apache 200 Vs Benelli TNT 25
Apache 200 Vs KTM Duke 200
Apache 200 Vs Pulsar AS200
Apache 200 Vs Pulsar RS200
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tags
Apache RTR 200 4V
Apache RTR 4V
TVS Apache
TVS Apache RTR 200 4V