A 160cc motorcycle against a 200cc motorcycle! What kind of an irrational comparison is this? I am guessing that’s your first reaction to this article. On face value and on paper, this comparison looks inappropriate – our initial plan was to compare the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V against the Hero Xtreme 200R. However, two significant numbers – pricing and power output – swung this comparison in a different direction. And over the course of this test, many other aspects emerged that reaffirmed our decision to pit these two bikes against each other, but more on that later.
Let’s get to the bikes for now. Both these motorcycles echo their brands sentiments and DNA. The Apache is sporty and is the most powerful bike in its segment, one which benefits from the brand’s learnings from years of racing. On the other end of this comparison, the Xtreme 200R takes a more conservative approach in terms of design, features and performance. So how do these two very different, yet similarly priced motorcycles stack up against each other? Let’s find out.
Looks that matter
Park both the motorcycles next to one another and difference in the styling approach is clearly visible. The TVS is sleeker and chiselled, in comparison, the Xtreme 200R is more muscular and conventional. While the RTR 160 4V carries forward most of its styling elements from the more premium RTR 200, in a completely opposite approach, the Xtreme 200R adopts cues from the smaller and cheaper Xtreme Sports. Despite the similarities to its 150cc sibling, the Xtreme 200R does manage to generate interest on the street, with many onlookers giving the bold graphics a thumbs up. What we didn’t like in terms of aesthetics are the rather long exhaust muffler and the poorly finished chrome brake pedal that look very commuterish. The handlebar-mounted choke also looks like an afterthought. Both the bikes feature LED DRLs and tail-lights, but the main headlamps are halogen powered. Overall, in terms of styling, it’s the Apache that's more attractive and in sync with the demands of a younger audience. The Xtreme 200R is likely to appeal to a more mature audience.
The Xtreme 200R features a semi-digital console with a large analogue tachometer taking centre stage, and the digital display features a speedometer, trip meter, odometer, service due indicator, fuel gauge and clock. However, the tell-tale lights are difficult to view under direct light and could have been brighter. The TVS offering employs an all-digital instrument console and gets more comprehensive details such as a lap timer, top speed recorder and a 0-60kph timer in addition to the standard speedometer, tachometer, two trip meters, fuel gauge and clock. Our test bike being the carburettor variant misses out on the gear position indicator as seen on the fuel injected variant. It also gets a side stand indicator, which is a useful addition.
Talking about switchgear, it’s the Apache that impresses with better quality and feel. The choke knob on the Xtreme 200R looks like an afterthought and the two bolts next to it look crude. Also, wires are better hidden on the TVS offering and I prefer the conventional positioning of the pass-light switch on the RTR 160, instead of the cumbersome thumb- operated unit on the Xtreme. Overall quality also looks better on the Apache with tighter panel gaps; it looks and feels better put together in comparison. The Xtreme 200R is the one of the few bikes in this segment to feature a metal fuel tank, something that will appeal to buyers upgrading from commuter bikes and also useful for mounting magnetic tank bags. The tank shrouds are in plastic, and the red shade on the tank and shrouds on our test bike didn’t exactly match, and the panel gaps were slightly uneven, something that one doesn’t expect from Hero.
Both the motorcycles have been designed for making urban commutes a bit more entertaining and take a different approach for their powerplants. The Xtreme 200R is more basic with air-cooling and a two-valve head, while the Apache gets the benefit of four valves and oil-cooling. Talking about numbers, the Hero’s larger 199.6cc engine produces 18.4hp and 17.1Nm of torque, while the Apache’s motor churns out 16.5hp (carburettor variant) and 14.8Nm. Interestingly, peak power and torque are delivered at the exact same revs at 8,000rpm and 6,500rpm, respectively.
On the move, the Xtreme 200R feels slightly peppier at lower revs and on city roads and this is down to its better bottom end as well as the rather short gearing Hero has chosen to run. It also has better throttle response. In terms of flat-out acceleration, there was hardly anything separating the two machines as the Xtreme 200R managed a 0-60kph time of 4.62sec, while the Apache managed the same in 4.66sec. And speaking of 0-100kph sprint, the Hero recorded a timing of 14.34sec, while the TVS was close on its heels at 14.50sec.
However, the TVS motor feels noticeably more refined, especially closer to its redline. The Xtreme gets quite vibey above 7,000rpm and it’s not as relaxed as the TVS at higher speeds. 100kph on the Xtreme is just under 8,000rpm, which is only about 1,000rpm away from the redline. Factor in the short gearing, and the TVS will undoubtedly hit a higher top speed – it crests 120kph without too much effort, while the Hero struggles to cross 115kph.
Heat management on both the engines is good and we didn’t face any issues while riding the duo in bumper-to-bumper Mumbai traffic. Transmission duties are handled by a 5-speed unit on the duo and it’s the Hero’s unit we prefer thanks to its slick and crisp shifts. It isn’t that the Apache’s gearbox is bad; it's just that it feels soft and you’re unsure whether the gear is engaged or not – it almost always is and false shifts are not an issue.
Agility is one of the most important factors while riding in city for filtering through traffic. Both the motorcycles are quite flickable and a joy to ride on congested roads. The Xtreme 200R is heavier by 3kg at 148kg, however, the shorter wheelbase of 1,338mm helps it counter the weight disadvantage. Also, the Apache RTR 160 4V has a considerably wider turning radius while taking U-turns and this makes the Hero feel nimbler on its feet. Surprisingly, the footpegs on the Xtreme 200R aren’t spring-loaded, which means every time you pull the side-stand back, the pegs have to be repositioned and this gets irritating while crawling in traffic.
Given the traffic sense (or the lack of it), panic braking scenarios while commuting is sadly a norm. With respect to braking, the Xtreme 200R came to a standstill from 60kph in 17.88m, while the Apache took 19.45m. This difference is not surprising, because in terms of feel, bite and progression, the Hero’s front brake fared much better than the Apache’s spongy unit which we wish was sharper. The TVS runs rubber brake hoses, while the Xtreme gets a steel- braided hose for the front brake. More importantly, though, the Xtreme 200R gets a single-channel ABS as standard, something that TVS doesn’t even offer as an option. Both the motorcycles employ a telescopic fork and a monoshock unit to handle suspension duties. Ride quality on the duo is impressive, with the RTR 160 feeling slightly better at riding over bumps and potholes at city speeds. The Xtreme is firmer at low speeds, but it does a better job of bump absorption as the speeds go up.
Stretching its legs
After the city run, we rode both the motorcycles on the highway. In terms of riding position, the Xtreme 200R is more upright and comfy, while the Apache is slightly canted and sportier. The high-set footpegs can make tall riders feel slightly cramped on the RTR 160 4V. However, the single seat on the Xtreme 200R is surprisingly hard, and after riding the bike for a fair bit, my derrière started protesting. Initially, I thought this was owing to my rather generous kerb weight, but even Rishaad, who’s much lighter than me also, felt the same. Since the bike hasn’t been positioned as an outright hardcore performance motorcycle, a better padded and comfortable saddle should have been provided.
Once on the ghats, it was time to test the handling dynamics of the duo. The RTR 160 4V is a sweet-handling bike and among the best in its segment, however, it was the Xtreme 200R that impressed us more. Hero engineers have got the chassis setup spot on and the bike flows through corners smoothly. The Xtreme offers great confidence which is nice after the Apache’s eager, almost over eager responses. Of course, the Apache is a sharp and happy handler too, but it does have the tendency to get slightly unsettled over mid-corner bumps. The Hero also offers a wider front tyre and a radial tyre at the back (both by MRF), which gives it the edge in the grip department over the TVS Remoras on the RTR.
Matter of efficiency
Both these motorcycles promise to offer a dose of performance, while being generous on your wallet. In our city fuel efficiency test, the Apache RTR 160 4V emerged victorious as expected, as it returned 44.9kpl, and the Xtreme 200R delivered 39.8kpl. On the highway, the efficiency numbers saw a noticeable jump with the Apache managing to clock 53.7kpl and the Hero delivered a respectable 50.3kpl. With a tank capacity of 12 litres and 12.5 litres, respectively, the Apache will have a real-world range of close to 570km, while the Hero will be heavier on your pocket with a range of around 530km.
The Xtreme 200R offers a great value proposition as at Rs 89,900 (all prices mentioned are ex-showroom, Delhi), it’s significantly cheaper than other 200cc motorcycles on sale in our market. The fact that it gets ABS as standard with the above pricing makes the deal even sweeter. It’s a good bike overall and feels like a sporty commuter. And it will appeal to a more mature crowd who have been Hero loyalists and are looking for an upgrade, without breaking the bank. While it might not look sporty, the Xtreme 200R is great fun around corners and will make commuting a more delightful affair.
However, it just can’t match the sportiness and the overall appeal of the Apache RTR 160 4V, which is our pick in this comparison. As our tests showcased, despite the displacement disadvantage, the TVS offering is about as quick as the Hero bike. It looks better, feels more premium, is more fuel efficient and more comfortable as well. Yes, the lack of ABS is disappointing, but with the ABS norms coming into effect in the next few months, this aspect will get covered soon. Currently, the Apache RTR 160 4V retails for Rs 85,810 (rear disc brake variant), but, with the addition of ABS, it might match or exceed the Xtreme 200R’s pricing. However, the additional premium is worth the extra safety and despite the inevitable increase in price, we’d still recommend the TVS – if you can wait.
|Hero Xtreme 200R||TVS Apache RTR 160 4V|
|Engine||199.6cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled||159.7cc, single-cylinder, oil-cooled|
|Power||18.4hp at 8000rpm||16.5hp at 8000rpm|
|Torque||17.1Nm at 6500rpm||14.8Nm at 65000rpm|
|Valves per cylinder||2||4|
|0-60kph||4.62 sec||4.66 sec|
|0-100kph||14.34 sec||14.50 sec|
|50-80kph in 4th gear||5.75 sec||6.30 sec|
|Fuel tank capacity||12.5 litres||12 litres|
|Tyres(f/r)||100/80-17 / 130/70-17||90/90-17 / 130/70-17|
|Brakes(f/r)||276mm / 220mm||270mm / 200mm|
|Fuel efficiency - City||39.8kpl||44.9kpl|
|Fuel efficiency - Highway||50.3kpl||53.7kpl|