Autocar track day: India's best riding bikes 2024

    We take the KTM 390 Duke, Hero Karizma XMR, TVS Apache RR 310 and more on a brand new track to find out which bike is fastest.

    Published On Apr 28, 2024 07:00:00 AM

    20,866 Views

    ktm rc 390, yamaha r15, Autocar track day bikes 2024.

    It’s been a three-year gap, but we’re back with the annual Autocar Track day for 2024! This time around, some things remain the same, but quite a few things are very different. For example, we still have motorcycle racing legend Rajini Krishnan setting the lap times, so you know these bikes are going to be pushed to the limit. On the other hand, we’re now at an exciting new race track, the super fast and flowing CoASTT High Performance Centre in Coimbatore.

    Air pressure for the track is a lot lower than stock.

    This brand new circuit is 3.8km long, which is almost identical to the MMRT in Chennai. However, the lap times will be much quicker here because this track has an extremely fast and flowing layout that favours high downforce race cars. With its very high corner speeds and multiple blind corner entries, CoASTT is a circuit that favours a brave and skilled rider so it’s a good thing we have Rajini on hand to set the lap times.

    In case you were wondering, he’s the most successful racer in Indian motorsports with an incredible 11 national championships to his name, the most recent one being one less than two years ago against a field of riders where some were nearly half his age. Rajini has also taken his skills overseas where he’s won the 600cc Losail Asian Road Racing championship as well as the 2015 Malaysia Superbike Championship.

    Mid-day track temperatures were brutal.

    Given that we are now at a brand new circuit with a blank leaderboard, we decided to start off this year with a selection of the latest sporty Indian machines as well as some all-time favourites.

    Yamaha R15     

    Time: 02m19.80s 
    Track rating: 7/10

    We start the proceedings with the smallest capacity bike here, but one that has earned its right of place on the race track, the Yamaha R15. This is not a new motorcycle, but the R15 is still the go-to entry level bike in India for track riding. That’s why we had to have it here and it was the ideal motorcycle to set the very first timed laps around CoASTT.

    Around this new circuit, Rajini found that the R15 still shows its traditional strong points of light weight and superb handling, but with just 18.4hp, the R15 does struggle on such a fast circuit, especially in the long sweeping sequence of uphill left handers.

    Ultimately, the lack of outright power reflected in the Yamaha’s lap time. Our bike was also brand new and Rajini suspected that the engine felt a little tight and restricted compared with what he’s used to from the R15.

    It’s a great beginner track bike, but the engine runs out of breath on such a fast circuit.

    Karizma XMR         

    Time: 02m16.75s 
    Track rating: 7/10

    Moving on, we come to the new Hero Karizma XMR. This bike is targeted squarely at the Yamaha R15 and while it does have a 20 kilo weight disadvantage, it also makes much more power. The Karizma’s 210cc engine was surprisingly peaky and revvy on the road, but that very nature works in the bike’s favour on the race track.

    With 25.5hp and 20.4Nm at its disposal, the XMR set a pretty good lap time, being three seconds faster than the Yamaha. That being said, while it has the power advantage over the Yamaha, the chassis definitely felt more tuned towards street riding. Rajini did find that the suspension felt quite soft when pushed to the limit, but the extra power ultimately went in Karizma’s favour. The difference in lap times may not be so big at race tracks that have less of a demand on outright power.

     

    The performance is good, but the suspension and ergos are more suited to the road. 

    KTM 250 Duke      

     

    Time: 02m13.21s 
    Track rating: 8/10

    From 210cc, we move up by just 40cc, but to the exciting new KTM 250 Duke. This bike has a brand new engine as well as an all-new chassis, and it really impressed us on the road. Where the old 250 Duke was the dullest member of the KTM family, the new 250 proved to be fun and exciting to ride out on the street, but without the manic side of its bigger brother.

    As it turns out, Rajini liked the new Duke’s performance on track as well. The exciting and quick-revving motor and sharp handling was something Rajini appreciated. He was also really pleased to see that the bike came with a bi-directional quickshifter, which is something he enjoys using on the track. The Duke’s tightly packed gear ratios were something Rajini appreciated too as they helped through the long uphill section of the circuit.

    The new chassis is really good and the motor has a smooth power delivery.

    Apache RR 310 BTO        

    Time: 02m12.87s 
    Track rating: 8/10

    After the new KTM, it’s time for another popular sporty Indian bike, the TVS Apache RR 310. Like the R15, this is not a new bike for 2024, but it’s such a staple of the Indian performance motorcycle scene that we had to have it at the new circuit.

    The bike we have here is the RR 310 BTO with the optional adjustable suspension as well as a few other things, including the racy graphics. As before, Rajini liked the performance and the general handling, but he echoes an existing issue he has with the RR 310 – its front end feels a little heavy.

    Unfortunately, our particular bike had an issue with spongy brakes and that reflected in its lap time which was only just a little higher than the KTM 250 Duke. There is undoubtedly more potential in this motorcycle, which is something indicated by the next bike in the list.

    Always been a good track bike, but the brakes on this unit weren't working well.

    Apache RTR 310

    Time: 02m09.83s 
    Track rating: 8/10

    The new naked Apache RTR 310 gives us a much better idea of what the RR 310’s lap time would have been if its brakes were at 100 percent. After all, this is a naked version of that bike with a little more power.

    The naked RTR we have here didn’t have the optional adjustable suspension but it still set a much quicker lap time in Rajini’s hands. The RTR’s shorter gearing also gave the bike an advantage on this track.

    Interestingly, Rajini found the traction control too intrusive and his fast lap was set with the system turned off. He also mentioned that the throttle response needed to be improved as the bike briefly continues to accelerate even after the throttle is closed.

    What he did appreciate was the bi-directional quickshifter, which isn’t available on the RR yet. All in, the RTR set a very respectable lap time.

    The shorter gearing and light handling work well, but the traction control is too restrictive.

    KTM RC 390           

    Time: 02m05.46s 
    Track rating: 9/10

    As Rajini mentioned, the heat was absolutely scorching in Coimbatore, but by this time, we were also onto the hotter bikes in the line-up. It was now time to see how the KTM RC 390 would fare against the all-new 390 Duke.

    On the one hand, the RC still uses the old 373cc motor which makes a little less power and torque, but on the other hand, this bike has the ergonomics and aerodynamics that could make all the difference when it comes to lap times. And a racer like Rajini always prefers more track-focused ergos which allow them to get a more connected feel to the motorcycle.

    Ultimately, the RC was a little slower than the Duke, but Rajini says that he did face some false neutrals while shifting from 4th to 5th gear. Without that, the RC would be just as fast or maybe even a little quicker around the track.

     

    Even with the older engine, it could be as quick around the track as the new 390 Duke.

    KTM 390 Duke      

    Time: 02m04.74s 
    Track rating  9/10

    Next up, we move to a bigger and faster naked bike, the formidable new KTM 390 Duke.

    The 390 Duke now has a 399cc motor that pushes out 46hp, which makes it the most powerful single cylinder bike in the country. The 390 also has a new chassis and significantly improved suspension that is now adjustable for damping.

    Rajini was really impressed with the Duke, particularly in terms of the power delivery with its stronger focus on the mid range. Despite the added torque, he felt like the motor picked up revs very quickly, which was great around the track.

    Rajini also rated the handling very highly and felt like he could pick the lines he wanted to take with ease. With a little more set up and lower ambient temperature (the Duke was out in the afternoon when the heat was particularly intense), Rajini feels like he could further shave the lap times.

    Superb power and very good handling. It’s noticeably better than the old 390 Duke!

    Aprilia RS 457       

    Time: 02m00.92s 
    Track rating  9/10

    And now we get to what is surely the most exciting bike in this year’s line-up – the all new Aprilia RS 457. Right away, we knew that Rajini really enjoyed this bike because the first word he said when he re-entered the pitlane was, ‘awesome!’.

    As it turns out, the Aprilia lives up to the hype by thoroughly smashing the lap times set by the KTMs. In fact, the RS 457 almost sneaked under the 2 minute mark and Rajini says it will easily go quicker if he has a bit more seat time and can setup the preload adjustable suspension.

    All in all, he was particularly impressed with the way the bike handles. The aluminium perimeter frame clearly gave him solid feedback and Rajini said that the RS 457 felt great in the way it was able to hold a line. He also really liked the growling twin cylinder engine and his only complaint was the lack of a standard quickshifter!

    This is the new benchmark for Indian motorcyles when it comes to track riding!

    Ducati Monster SP          

    Time: 01m57.17s 
    Track rating  - 9/10

    Our final bike for the day is the only one that is not made in India – the Ducati Monster SP. This is essentially a standard Monster, but with Ohlins suspension and Brembo Stylema brakes, which make for a super potent combination on the track.

    With its 111hp, 937cc L-twin motor, there was no doubt that this would be the fastest motorcycle this year, especially since it makes more than double the horsepower of the next most powerful machine. But the Monster SP has much more going for it than just brute force or the fancy equipment that we listed above. That’s because this is also the lightest bike in the class, weighing in at just 186kg, which is a huge change from the portly previous-gen Monster 821.

    Rajini found the SP to be a very pleasant surprise and he was especially impressed with how torquey and fast the bike felt. He said that the Monster comes across as a fancy bike you could buy for the road, but then you could also use it on the race track because it performs very well there too. 

    Physiotherapy and ice packs helped Rajini deal with the heat!

    Ultimately, Rajini says there is more potential in the Ducati, but with the heat and track conditions, this was the best time possible on the day, especially since it was the last bike he rode. With a fresh start, Rajini says he could easily shave a few seconds off this lap time.

    It’s a Ducati, so it is very quick! You can enjoy it on the road and on the racetrack.

    In fact, faster lap times will surely be possible across the board, but there were some constraints this time around – beyond the extreme heat. For example, the kerbs and the run-off areas at CoASTT still need to be finished and some corner apexes had a slightly loose and dusty surface. In the cars, this was less of an issue, but the bikes will have plenty to gain the next time we return to the circuit.

    Until then, this has been a fantastic return for the Autocar track day and we’re already dreaming up the next one!

    Also see: 

    Autocar Track Day 2024 video: Bikes

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