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2016 TVS Apache RTR 200 review, test ride

20th Jan 2016 2:44 pm

We got behind the handlebars of TVS' flagship Apache RTR 200 to bring you an early assessment, straight from the manufacturer's test track at Hosur.

  • Make : TVS
  • Model : Apache RTR

The Apache RTR series features TVS’s top-of-the-line bikes, with sporty styling, quick performance and able handling all on the menu. On paper, it’s clear TVS has gone the whole hog with the new Apache RTR 200, providing several options to meet varying customer requirements; be it in terms of carburettion or fuel-injection, ABS assist for the brakes or the premium Pirelli or TVS soft compound Remora tyres.

All in the family

Visually, the RTR 200 retains its Apache family identity, yet has improved on the earlier RTR. The first thing you notice is the compact dimensions. The 200 is more butch than earlier RTRs, the 160 and 180, that makes for a more hunkered down, meaner attitude. The front bears resemblance to the Ducati Streetfighter, and the 200's headlight is crested by a smartly turned out, fully digital instrument cluster. The console packs in plenty of features, including a cascading tachometer at the top, easily read speedometer, shift-light beacon, 0-60kph timer and fastest lap-time timer.

The Apache RTR 200 is a well-built motorcycle, and gives the impression TVS is already drawing on learning to improve its bikes, from famous German technology partner, BMW Motorrad. The RTR 200 holds a high-quality feel and attention-to-detail is apparent; in little things such as a neatly bisected fuel tank, carefully crafted filler-lid and a dust cover to protect the rear disc brake from road grime.

The control levers are smart on the new TVS, buffed alloy and with a nice solid feel, although we felt the absence of a clutch play adjustment nut when riding the bike, being unable to take up some cable slack without asking for a set of spanners. The Apache RTR 200 comes with clip-on bars, soft and comfy palm grips, and switches that work well. The mirrors are broad, familiar as TVS units, that offer good rear view.

Edgy tank extensions lean forward to the Apache RTR 200’s dinky oil-cooling radiator. The tank leads back into a split seat. A smartly designed belly cowl sits below the engine bay, and much of the motorcycle is black, including its flank panels, alluminium alloy-encased engine and elegant 10-spoke alloy wheels; the front telescopic forks are golden. Another visual high point is the purposeful, double barrel, under over format exhaust. Much of the exhaust is stainless steel, starting from the cylinder as the bent-pipe snakes downwards.

The RTR 200 will be sold in matte finish yellow, red, white, grey or black, with a glossy black shade option. There’s generous use of light alloy on the motorcycle, seen in the footrest and steering head region.
 

User-friendly

The Apache RTR 200 comes with a 197.8cc four-stroke, air and oil-cooled, single-cylinder unit. This is capped by a four-valve head, driven by a single overhead camshaft. A balancer shaft is in place to iron out all vibes. Fuel injection is an optional extra, or you can buy the RTR 200 with a Japanese supply, Keihin CV carburettor. Peak power made is 20.2bhp at 8,500rpm, and there’s 1.85kgm of maximum torque available at 7,000rpm. TVS has worked hard to ensure the torque curve stays as robust as possible throughout its wide powerband.

The RTR series has from day one offered a gruff exhaust note, and the 200 takes this a step further, with a louder, throatier note audible the moment you fire up the engine. The bike we tested was fuel-injected. Its engine displayed sporty, rev-happy character that encourages you to ride hard. There’s good low-end grunt and a strong mid-range. You don’t need to pull the Apache RTR 200 all the way to the top of its powerband to derive the best from its 20 pony strong herd. Although the 200 revs freely to about 10,000rpm, shifting at around 9,000rpm is good enough to gain quick performance. Down the TVS test track straight, we saw the Apache RTR 200 achieve an indicated 114kph in 4th gear, going on to achieve close to an indicated 120kph in 5th, before running out of road.

Although TVS assured us this would be immediately fixed, and involved only minor ECU adjustment, we faced a bugbear on the fuel-injection equipped bike, with fuelling not as sorted out as expected. When braking hard and banging down through the gearbox for engine retardation, the RTR 200 engine felt as though you were still riding with throttle slightly open (when in reality it was completely closed), as revs refused to chop-off as completely as we wanted. This made hard braking harder work, and not as confident an experience as expected.

The five-speed gearbox is toe-lever operated to provide smooth shifts in a 1-down, 4-up pattern. Power transfers to the rear wheel via an exposed drive chain, its plastic shroud smartly integrated with the rear wheel hugger. TVS claims the RTR 200 can achieve 0-60kph in 3.9 seconds, which we can confirm after a more detailed test.
 

Lightfoot

True to its sporty genes, the Apache RTR 200 tips the scales at a low 148kg. The riding position is sporty, some weight transferred to your wrists as weight bias stays forward, still sitting you upright enough for the new TVS to be called a commuting companion.

A dual-cradle frame is deployed, with TVS R&D having focussed on improving torsional and lateral stiffness. The Apache RTR 200 comes with telescopic front suspension, while at rear there’s a KYB-developed monoshock, the first seen on a TVS bike sold in India. The rear swingarm is a box section, steel unit. Dual-channel ABS will be optional in future, taking the RTR 200 price to Rs 1,15,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi) when launched a few months from now. There are petal type, single rotor disc brakes offered front and rear. In addition, the RTR 200 comes with rear lift-off protection (RLP) that intervenes and releases front brake pressure the moment the system detects the dangerous rear wheel lift.

The Apache RTR 200 is a quick handling bike, with its 17-inch wheels, well-tuned chassis and suspension package coming together well on track, to allow nimble, easy directional changes and a welcome quick steering feel. Cornering manners are good, the front responding eagerly with light feel. Likewise, the brakes offer good stopping power, and have the right progression and feedback at their control levers.

Riders can select from a choice of tyres – TVS-made soft compound tubeless Remora rubber, or Pirelli as tested here, and offering a clearly impressive performance. With the Pirelli, the Apache RTR 200 stayed planted, offering excellent traction even when banked over at silly lean angles, or braking hard into corners at the bumpy test facility.

Game on

There’s no doubt about it, TVS has a strong package in the Apache RTR 200, with fresh attractive styling, fast performance and able handling. 

As expected, the Apache RTR 200 is certain to take the series to the next level, while also giving the company a presence in the fast-expanding 200cc space, where big rival Bajaj already has a solid presence with their Pulsars, the RS 200 and AS 200. The big question is where the Apache RTR 200 slots in compared to these able rivals. That’s going to come down to a more detailed on-road test!
 

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Price Range Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 88,990-107,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi) - - -
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 20.2bhp at 8500rpm - - -
Max Torque (nm @ rpm) 1.85kgm at 7000rpm - - -
Power to Weight Ratio (hp/tonne) 136.5bhp per tonne - - -
Type 197.8cc, Single-cylinder, air and oil-cooled, four-stroke - - -
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
No of Gears 5-speed, 1-down, 4-up - - -
Dimensions & Chassis Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Length (mm) 2050mm - - -
Width (mm) 790mm - - -
Height (mm) 1105mm - - -
Wheel base (mm) 1353mm - - -
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Front Brake Type 270mm petal disc (ABS) - - -
Rear Brake Type 240mm petal disc (ABS) - - -
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Front Suspension Telescopic forks - - -
Rear Suspension Monoshock, box section swingarm - - -
BODY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Weight 148kg - - -
Wheels 10-spoke alloy - - -
Tyres Tubeless 90/90 x 17- 130/70 x 17 inches - - -
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Tank size 12 litres - - -
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