I have a slight problem with my spine – it’s got a sort of fracture that makes me sensitive to jerks and bumps. Place that side by side with my desire to ride a motorcycle, and you’ll see that it’s a bit of a catch-22 situation. Especially when you factor in my city of residence: Mumbai, home to the world’s greatest collection of non-roads.
Roads here – and this is one of my favourite rants – are rubbish. Where there is tarmac, it’s either carelessly spewed or monstrously potholed and elsewhere, there are paver blocks. A smooth ride, no matter what the vehicle, is close to impossible, and a good ride is a tall order.
The TVS Apache RTR 200, however, is one motorcycle that meets it. When I first got this bike, I had my reservations. Its tagline ‘Ready to Race’ did not indicate much in the direction of a pliant ride. These reservations, it turns out, were unfounded. Over many days, I rode the bike over every imaginable road flaw – potholes, ditches, gravel, lumps, bumps, crests, speed breakers, rumblers, paver block, missing paver blocks – and the RTR 200’s suspension just took it all in its stride. The ride, obviously, was not smooth – that would require something on the lines of the latest BMW-Lego hoverbike – but it was so absorbent. Never once did I feel the jarring edge of a crust or the spine-rattling thump of a ditch.
The softness of the suspension at low speeds does not compromise stability at higher speeds or around corners either. Pushing beyond 100kph doesn’t lead to instability and nor does taking a sweeping corner with your knee an open-fist short of the ground.
And there is more. Refinement levels are superb, with the vibrations adequately dissipated by the dual-cradle chassis, the exhaust is most pleasingly raspy, the engine is fairly responsive, low-range response is good and seating position is comfortable. Oh, and our long-termer is the fuel-injection variant with sticky Pirellis.
There are some niggles, though. The power delivery is a bit too linear, the pillion seat (I was told) is not the last word in comfort, and the headlamp does a poor job of illuminating the road when the ambient light fades away.
These quibbles, however, barely dent the experience of riding the RTR 200. I particularly like how a balance between two extremes has been attained in every manner – the engine is powerful but refined, the bike’s comfortable but sporty, and the ride’s pliant but stable.