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Some things are inevitable. They are bound to happen. The launch of the TVS Apache RTR 310 is one of those things. And so was the process of Apache becoming a brand in and of itself. From the Beetle to the MINI, from the Scrambler to the GS, there are many instances where products have a brand recall so strong that it supersedes that of the brand itself. They end up becoming not only the main breadwinner but also the face of the company.
Apache is just that for TVS. Things like these are a conundrum. They cannot be planned and yet, can only be achieved by careful planning, years of work and actions mixed with some happenstance. Apache has been a part of the Indian two-wheeler landscape since 2005. It is astonishing that between 2002 and 2005, three such iconic sub-brands were born; the Pulsar, the Karizma, and the Apache.
Back to the present, I am just back from Thailand after riding the new TVS Apache RTR 310 on the road and on a circuit. Yes, Thailand. A few years ago, TVS launching a motorcycle abroad seemed difficult to envisage. But it has happened. This is not only a testimony of the values, ethos, engineering and quality of the product from the TVS stable, but also an emphatic show of strength and confidence on the international stage that the company has in its products.
TVS Motor Company is ready to take on the world in the fastest-growing segment in the motorcycling world- street nakeds targeted at riders in their early twenties and beyond. A special mention must also be made about Ronin and NTORQ, both of which are already very strong brands unto themselves and loved by many in and out of India. And not to forget, TVS X. All these are amazing products in their segment.
So, the हम किसी से कम नहीं mindset is clearly displayed and it is being manifested by the galloping horse proudly portrayed in various places along with the tricolour. That is why, this is more than just a review of the new Apache RTR 310. It is a homage to TVS for making us Indian motorcyclists proud on the world stage.
Also, as a backstory, I went to Thailand right after riding the TVS Apache RR 310 for around 2,500 km in Georgia and Armenia. In addition to various terrains, I covered almost 100 km on some of the most treacherous roads you can imagine. The RR 310 did not miss a beat even with all the luggage I had. Even with the additional weight, it was still super fun in the corners and terrific in a straight line. It almost made me forget that it was a 310.
Now take that performance and reliability, add a lot more electronics, shave 8 kg, and you have the Apache RTR 310- a motorcycle that is even peppier and even more fun to ride. To that end, TVS went to great lengths to create a street scene at the launch event, subliminally sowing the seeds of the #Freestyler life that the new RTR 310 represents.
Skateboarding, graffiti artists and more represented the spirit of the new RTR. I appreciate the minds behind the setup and the thought process leading up to the global launch where the bike was finally unveiled by Vimal Sumbly and others. It seemed more like a closely knit family than a corporate and that’s part of the appeal.
Here are some more photos from the launch:
The First Look
I strongly believe that the looks of a machine make it or break it when it’s launched, especially when you consider the target audience. I am especially inclined towards radical designs and philosophies myself. Therefore, for me, the Apache RTR 310 was already a winner when I first saw it roll on the stage. There is always room for improvement but more on that later.
The bike looks best in Yellow-Gray and the Sepang Blue TVS Racing colours. The black colourway tends to hide a few of the beautiful lines that the motorcycle possesses. I can already feel the excitement of customizing this in my style and placing it at the MotoVilla, because this is worthy of being inside your living room too.
The design is original and builds upon the Apache RTR 200. From the dual-LED headlights and the unmistakable DRLs to the step-up seat and the white trellis frame with the first-in-class aluminium subframe; they all reek of the intended style and have been implemented well with quality being the focal point. Even the front and rear alloys are different colours, adding to the freestyler charm and spirit.
My three main changes to further elevate the Apache RTR 310’s design and presence would be changing the exhaust to a shorter one (easy via the aftermarket route), the taillights can be a bit longer and sharper, and slightly upsized tyres. Asking for a single-sided swingarm would be a bit much… if only wishes were horses, literally in this case with one on the tank.
The floating high-quality 5” TFT further accentuates the modern street naked look. Overall, the Apache RTR 310 has a lot of the big-bike feel.
Now, after the launch party frenzy, it was time to ride the TVS Apache RTR 310 on the road in Bangkok and to the track 60 km away.
The Feel, Ergonomics, and More
A motorcycle that looks good but is extremely uncomfortable to ride becomes a bane rather quickly. The Apache RTR 310 is not one of those. It is just about perfect. A riding stance that looks sporty without the aches and pains of a sports bike. Thanks to the step-up pillion seat and the well-sculpted tank, you sit in the bike rather than perch on top of it which gives you that extra ‘in the cockpit’ feel. Though I wish the fuel tank was a little bigger in terms of capacity.
The crisp 5” TFT console is placed well and at the right angle for unhindered visibility. It is also bright enough to be legible on the brightest of days. Ride modes and other functions are easily accessible and you also get a dedicated button for cruise control, a boon on long boring highways. The hand levers are also adjustable in four levels. Also, another factor that makes the motorcycle look fuller is the lack of empty spaces when you look down while riding.
TVS was the first to introduce ABS in the segment and that very good habit of introducing class-redefining features continues here as well. The electronic wizardry on motorcycles is a show of both, the strength of manufacturers and the demand of new-generation riders. It also provides a solid base for further research to develop systems to make motorcycling better. There is a plethora of electronics and features on the Apache RTR 310 that are missing on even some litre-class nakeds! Here’s a list:
The Apache RTR 310 also features first-in-segment smart lighting features- The motorcycle features first in segment smart lighting features – Class D Dynamic LED Headlamp with 3 levels of light intensity that changes based on the speed, thus providing optimum lighting and the Dynamic Brake Lamp which triggers rapid flashing of the brake lamp during hard braking.
Then there’s the SmartXonnect Bluetooth connectivity that links the TVS Apache RTR 310 with your smartphone offering a series of features including telephony, music control, GoPro control, smart helmet connectivity, voice assist, race telemetry, precise turn-by-turn navigation with what3words, DigiDocs and crash alert.
The Engine and Performance
Now the looks and the electronics can be raved about but they are nothing without the right heart and the right dynamics. In terms of engine, the Apache RTR 310 gets the tried and tested, 312cc mill with a few improvements. The engine is reverse-inclined for better mass centralisation and reducing the wheelbase without shortening the swingarm, something the RR 310 uses to great effect.
On the Apache RTR 310 though, the engine gets forged-aluminium pistons purported to be 5% lighter. The peak power now sits at 35.6 PS and the peak torque at 28.7 Nm compared to the RR 310’s 34 PS and 27.3 Nm. The engine has also been tuned for better street performance, something that is corroborated by a claimed 0-60 km/h time of 2.81s.
The motorcycle also gets ‘Engine Coolant Jacket Optimization’ with 23 rows of radiator tubes and is designed to have best-in-class heat management by reducing the engine temperature, allowing for superior performance and higher revving. This came in handy when I rode the RTR 310 in Bangkok traffic and should prove to be a plus in the hotter climates of southeast Asia.
If you have ridden the RR 310 the engine will feel very familiar. For me, it was almost like being transported from Georgia to Thailand because of the similar engine and sound characteristics. With how mega the RR 310 feels, it is a good thing. The ride-by-wire throttle is smooth and precise. The more you rev the engine, the more you enjoy it.
I started off in almost peak Bangkok traffic and had to negotiate around 20 km of urban roads with a lot of stop-and-go. The GTT (Glide-Through Technology) is built into the Apache RTR 310 for such situations. It adjusts the fuel and ignition timing to prevent stalling at lower speeds and moves the bike forward when you release the clutch a little bit without using the throttle.
Getting on the highway and out of the city gave me a chance to open the taps and go flat out. Having a police motorcycle as lead meant that I knew that I had to just try and match its speed without risking a fine. I managed to take it to 160 km/h on the speedo and that is with a backpack and without a full tuck. Taking into account the speedo error, I think that the Apache RTR 310 can easily hit 150 km/h true speed and maybe a little more as well.
I was in two-piece leathers so I couldn’t really feel the cooling effect of the climate-controlled seats on the highway, but reports from other riders who were in much thinner clothing were positive. However, I am not sure how good it is to just have a part of your body subjected to a different temperature than the rest. But I guess it shouldn’t be too much of a problem considering the upper body also has cooling from the wind blast, something the lower doesn’t.
The highway ride gave way to the Thailand Circuit Motorsport Complex which is a 2.5 km long circuit that was not in the best of its shape. With extremely wavy tarmac on some turns and a lot of bumps meant that it simulated a lot of real-life riding conditions. Not that one should ride like a racetrack in the mountains.
I am pretty sure the cornering ABS and traction control were working overtime to keep the bike stable over the bumpy corners because here I was actually pushing, unlike on the public roads. In hindsight, I should have switched off the TC to enjoy the bike more on the track since it was being too intrusive thanks to the bumps, but then, it only proved that the system worked. The bi-directional quickshifter worked without a hitch and I had a lot of fun on the track without worrying about the clutch.
The dual-compound Michelin Road 5 tyres also played their part in keeping the motorcycle upright. In the dry, the grip was fantastic and if the tread pattern is anything to go by, the tyres should hold their own in wet conditions as well. The bike felt well-planted under hard braking with downshifts a breeze, thanks again to the quikcshifter. Propelling out of the corners was just as fun thanks to the tyres and the confidence inspired by the traction control.
The motorcycle that I was riding had adjustable suspension on both ends. Though I did not tune it, it is surely a plus as one can fine-tune the setup based on the payload and the kind of terrain one plans to negotiate.
I see the TVS Apache RTR 310 as a capable tourer once it sheds a few more pounds with an aftermarket exhaust and after one adds a windscreen to it. The exhaust will also accentuate the looks of the motorcycle. I can easily give a 10 on 10 for the looks and in terms of features and electronics, it can even put my Ducati Streetfghter V4S in an existential crisis.
In terms of rivals, the Apache RTR 310 has a few; BMW G 310 R, KTM 390 Duke, and maybe even the Bajaj Dominar 400. But at the asking price of the Apache RTR 310 and the feature package that it comes with, it is very hard to beat. In terms of looks, only the KTM is more radical but that too is not to everyone’s taste.
The RTR 310 gives an unbeatable value package with world-class electronics and components. Truth be told, TVS has really upped the ante with this one and it is going to be a tough one to beat for any other manufacturer. I am looking forward to having it in my garage and riding it along with my Ducati Streetfighter. And yes, that’s a compliment!