Technology & innovation
TVS Apache RTR 200
When TVS launched the first Apache RTR in 2007 it was a humble 160-cc motorcycle. The game then moved to a higher segment and TVS answered with an Apache RTR 180. Subsequently, there came a version of the Apache RTR 160 equipped with fuel-injection and ABS, showcasing the Indian bikemaker’s technical prowess and thought leadership. Since then, however, TVS has been contented to remain silent on the Apache front... until now. In the latest evolution of the Apache RTR saga, TVS has given their popular performance machine a bigger heart, a brandnew look and a chassis that has been tweaked to make it even more capable than before. Intrigued? Read on to find out how the new TVS Apache RTR 200 4V feels when you get astride one. Visually, the design language of the new Apache RTR 200 4V is far edgier than before with more cuts and slashes creating bold lines. The petrol-tank (actually the plastic shroud on the tank, which is a small 12-litre unit hiding under the shroud) is a meaty affair and way to a set of rather well-designed split seats. The seats themselves have been created from special foam and contoured to provide maximum comfort. The tail-piece, too, is a well-sculpted affair and looks contemporary, as is the belly- pan. There is no doubt that the new Apache RTR looks modern and sporty. Dimensionally, too, the bike has changed considerably over the previous iteration of the Apache RTR. The overall length of the motorcycle is now shorter by 35 millimetres at 2,050 mm but the bike is wider by 60 mm at 790 mm. Wheelbase, at 1,353 mm, is longer than the old bike’s (1,326 mm). Even the ground clearance on the new bike is 15 mm more than before at 180 mm. Only the overall height has remained unchanged at 1,105 mm. As a result of these alterations, the Apache RTR 200 4V now feels like a bigger machine as you get astride. Interestingly, though it feels larger, it doesn’t feel any bulkier, which I quite liked. Replacing the digital-analogue combination instrumentation of the old Apache is an all-new alldigital instrument panel, which incorporates a rev counter, speedo, fuel-gauge, odometer, two trip meters, lap timer, and top speed recorder, among other information. There are also a set of tell-tale lamps that tell you when to shift up, remind you about service and indicate low battery level. One of the more gimmicky features which I thought was a nice addition to the motorcycle was an alphanumeric message that pops up on the screen when you start the bike and reminds riders to wear
helmets. As its name suggests, the Apache RTR 200 4V is powered by an all-new 197.75-cc aircooled single-cylinder fourvalve SOHC engine with an oil-cooler, the last-named being a first in the Apache RTR series. The engine also gets the benefit of a much-needed counter balancer. If you’re familiar with the old Apache RTR bikes, then you’ll know that one of the major drawbacks of those machines was vibrations from the engine. The benefits of the counter balancer become evident as soon as you start the engine, which, despite its larger size, feels a lot more refined. Confirmation of this positive change came after nearly two hours of whizzing around the TVS test-track for there was none of the familiar tingling in the palms that Apache riders are so used to. At least, nothing significant enough to mention. TVS offerers customers a choice of fuelling so you can have a carburetted version that puts out 20.5 PS or one with electronic fuel-injection that puts out 21 PS, both peak power outputs being achieved at an identical 8,500 RPM. Maximum torque in both cases is 18.1 Nm, which is available at 7,000 RPM. Although on paper this puts the Apache RTR at a disadvantage against its more powerful competitors, TVS claim that they have intentionally worked on the engine to provide a wider spread of power than just providing high output. Rational as it sounds, whether potential customers will buy this explanation is something that only time will tell. You will also note that the double-barrel exhaust looks a little unconventional. That is because TVS has fitted the Apache RTR 200 4V with an exhaust that houses twin catalytic converters in order to meet future emission norms as well as those in force now. Accelerating from standstill on the long straight of the TVS testtrack the bike felt grunty and picked up speed easily. In fact, we could get up to an indicated 123 km/h on the fuel-injected bike and about 120 km/h on the carburettor version before we ran out of track. There’s plenty of mid-range grunt, too, which should make short work of overtaking or riding through the city. Transmission is via a very slick five-speed gearbox, which again puts the Apache at a disadvantage because its rivals get six-speed ones. To its credit, though, the transmission itself is quite well-sorted and more than capable for the kind of riding that most Apache owners will put it to. TVS has retained the doublecradle frame of the old Apache but it’s now a split cradle. TVS has also worked on the already capable chassis to make it stiffer still. Telescopic front forks are 37 mm in diameter and TVS has ditched the twin shock-absorbers at the rear in favour of a KYB monoshock. Around the lone long bumpy right-hander at the end of the straight on the test-track, the bike felt composed and at ease. There was no nervous chattering from the suspension or any hint of instability. Tip it in, and the bike just tracks your chosen line through the turn. Flick it on to its left for the exit back on to the long straight, and again there’s no sensation of being
unsettled. Clearly, the new Apache RTR 200 4V retains the old motorcycles’ sweet handling nature. The suspension set-up, too, is rewarding as it is soft enough to cushion the bumps and yet stiff enough to prevent the bike from wallowing all over the place. The Apache gets two choices for tyres as well. You can, of course, get a pair of Pirellis (90/90 R17 Speed Demon up front and 130/709 R17 Angel GT at the rear) or you can opt for the specially developed TVS Remora tyres. In terms of outright grip there is, of course, a difference between the Pirellis and the Remoras but the difference isn’t too stark. In fact, truth be told, all of us who had the opportunity to experience both sets of tyres on the bike came back fairly impressed with the TVS tyres; while all of us expected a certain amount of grip from the Italian tyres, the Indian rubber exceeded expectations. The Apache RTR 200 4V gets a 270-mm dia petal disc up front and a 240-mm dia petal disc at the rear. The brakes have good bite and feel progressive, quite unlike what one got on the old bike. TVS said that ABS with RLP (Rear Lift Protection) is also on the way and should be available as an option over the next few months. TVS launched the Apache RTR 200 4V starting at Rs 88,990 (ex-showroom, Mumbai) for the carburetted version shod with Remora tyres. Add fuel injection and Pirelli rubber and you’re looking at something that’s Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 more expensive. Another Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 and you’ll also be able to buy any of these versions with ABS and RLP. At that price the bike certainly looks like good value. It does have a good engine, handles well and offers reasonable ride comfort along with a host of features. Question is, will this package be enough to woo customers or will they continue to flock to the frenetic Duke or the more sober Pulsar? We will, of course, try and answer that with a comparison test of our own but the real answer to that question, only time will tell.