TVS Apache RR 310
The new TVS flagship can be both: the calm, and the storm
The versatile new TVS flagship shines through the Bike India test
It was two years ago at Auto Expo 2016 that we got our first glimpse of the Akula 310, a full-blown sport bike draped in carbon-fibre with that racy red trellis frame peeking through, built to showcase what TVS have learnt from 35 years at the racetrack. The company recently unveiled the production version of that bike, officially christened the TVS Apache RR 310, and our Editor got to spend a day with the new motorcycle at the racetrack (you may read his first impression in the January 2018 issue of Bike India). Now, for this in-depth road test review, I spent a couple of days riding the RR 310 in and around Pune, on the highway, and in the hills to find out what it’s like in the real world.
The sharply styled red motorcycle had been parked in the Bike India garage for a couple of weeks before I could get down to riding it and, apart from a few casual glances, I hadn’t really taken a good look at her in the interim. When the time finally came to spend some time with and evaluate this motorcycle, I rolled her out into the sunlight for the first time and was immediately impressed by what TVS’s inhouse design team have created.
That wide fairing is carefully shaped and looks purposeful when viewed from the front, with those bright BI-LED headlights, eyebrow-esque position lights and the pair of air vents on either side of a white racing stripe that continues on to the tank and the tail section. The beautifully sculpted tank is flat and broad on top and then tapers towards the seat to make room for the rider’s knees. An asymmetrical groove runs up from the seat, forward and around the left side of the fuel filler lid, adding a subtle dose of character, continuing towards the smart black and gold ‘RR 310’ logo at the front of the tank, right below the machined top yoke of the triple clamp, which in itself is a work of art. The cockpit comprises a narrow LCD display, featuring a large speed display at the top and a gear indicator at the bottom. Several other parameters, including fuel level, coolant temperature, odo, two trip meters, average speed, clock, range to empty, ambient temperature, a lap timer, and fuel efficiency can be displayed stacked between the speed and gear indicators, and along the right side of the tall display is a vertical bar-type tachometer. The tell-tale and warning lights find space above and below the display, and I loved the large shift light, placed just right of the speed readout. The dash does seem somewhat tightly packed and takes some getting used to before you can read it at a glance.
The aggressive and edgy design, full of careful creases and folds, fits in perfectly with the racy image of this bike. It is the result of extensive wind-tunnel testing by TVS to reduce drag at high speed, creating what is probably the most streamlined motorcycle in its class. The rear subframe is shrouded in a wide tail section that, when viewed from the side, splits vertically into two sharp ends towards the rear, vaguely mimicking a shark’s tail fin, and is emblazoned with a sticker reminding us of TVS’s 35-year racing heritage. Closer to the ground, the striking, lighweight alloys are shod with Michelin Pilot Street tyres that have been developed specially for the RR 310. This is a stunning motorcycle from just about any angle, and TVS need to be applauded for the fantastic
When you switch from relaxed to aggressive riding, the Apache RR 310 makes the switch with you
build quality and attention to detail that has been bestowed on this bike The overall fit, finish and quality of paint and plastics are impressive, and complement the modern design.
I got to spend a few days with the RR 310 through Pune’s unrelenting traffic, riding to work and also taking the bike out for a couple of late night cruises around the city. What struck me was the motor’s relaxed and flexible nature and its capability to putter along smoothly in sixth gear without knocking even at 40 km/h. Barring a bit of clatter from the valvetrain, the engine remained smooth at cruising speeds, with torque in reserve to make a quick overtaking manoeuvre without the need to downshift. When making my way through traffic at a relaxed pace I usually found myself in one of the top three gears at anywhere from 20 to 50 km/h and, with strategicallyplaced vents within the fairing to direct the engine’s heat down and away from the rider, my legs were never subjected to an unpleasant warm draft. The rider triangle is typical of a sport tourer, with the clip-ons positioned forward but not low enough to be overlycommitted and the foot-pegs low enough to keep the rider’s knees relaxed over long distances. The 810-mm high rider’s seat is flat, long and wide, leaving the rider enough room to move around and find his, or her, ideal riding position.
The bike feels light once on the move and comfortably darts through traffic, while sudden changes in direction are executed without the slightest fuss. The suspension feels firm yet forgiving and keeps the bike planted over bumps and rough bits, without the twitchiness and drama I was expecting. The excellent ergos, combined with that wide torque spread and well-tuned suspension, make this an extremely easy bike to live with on a daily basis, without sacrificing comfort in an attempt to be more focused.
Having spent a couple of days using this bike as a daily commuter, and rather impressed by its agility and eagerness to change direction at city speeds, I couldn’t wait to take it into the hills and show it a set of corners; so I headed out to my favourite twisty road to see how much fun I could have. When you switch from relaxed to aggressive riding, the Apache RR 310 makes the switch with you. The oversquare engine, smooth and relaxed at low revs, becomes louder and somewhat rorty as revs swiftly rise, with a linear pull all the way to the limiter, just beyond 10,000 rpm. The liquidcooled single is placed as far forward as possible, with the cylinder tilting backwards to achieve the desired weight distribution and mass centralization and, in a first for this segment, the RR 310 gets a reverse facing cylinder-head with the intake and throttle body facing forward, and the exhaust coming out of the rear of the engine. This layout allows air directly into the engine via ram air induction, allowing in a greater volume of air when at speed and also simplifies the exhaust routing to the canister.
The 312-cc powerplant, developed by TVS in conjunction with BMW, makes a healthy 34 PS at 9,700 rpm and spins up surprisingly quick thanks to the low inertia offered by the
light crankshaft and flywheel. Peak torque is 27.3 Nm at 7,700 rpm, although, by this point in the rev range, a slight buzziness starts to creep in at the foot-pegs; albeit not intrusive enough to take away from the enjoyment of this motorcycle. Some vibes are expected from a single-cylinder bike and the RR 310 is ultimately a lot more refined than the competition. TVS have got the fuelling spot on and on-off throttle transitions are smooth and predictable, with no jerkiness at any point in the rev-range. The engine is mated to a sixspeed gearbox that works flawlessly in all conditions, with positive shifts whether going easy in the city or slamming up through the cogs hastily on open stretches of highway.
With the city now far behind me and the road snaking up into the hills, the Apache RR 310 started showing me its mischievous side. TVS Racing play an active role in the development of the company’s road bikes and the RR 310 is a shining example of this development at the racetrack. The flat surface of the fuel tank allows you to properly tuck in behind the wide screen, and the spacious seat allows easy movement forwards, backwards or when hanging off the side of the bike into a corner. The lightweight-yet-stiff steel trellis frame and bolted-on aluminium swingarm work extremely well with the inverted KYB cartridge-type fork up front and KYB monoshock unit at the rear to ensure scalpellike precision when hunting apexes. Sudden changes of direction are dispatched with hardly any effort and the motorcycle always feels composed, planted and sure-footed. The suspension, though pliant enough to soak up road irregularities, never feels imbalanced or wallow-prone, while mid-corner bumps do little to unsettle the motorcycle, even when leaned all the way over. Braking performance is excellent and fade-free, thanks to the 300-mm petal disc up front gripped by a radially mounted ByBre four-piston caliper and supplemented by steel-braided brake lines. The rear wheel gets a 240-mm petal disc and a single-piston ByBre caliper.
I was soon diving from apex to apex, with the feelers under the low-set pegs being steadily ground down, but the excellent chassis never once felt even close to the limit and the Michelins inspired confidence while exiting corners with the gas wide open. I would seriously consider a switch to higher, rear-set foot-pegs if I were to ride this bike at a racetrack, to unlock greater lean angles and really exploit the capabilities of this sublime chassis.
The TVS Apache RR 310 proves that a sharp-handling, capable, sporty motorcycle does not need to be unrideable around town. This is a versatile motorcycle that will appeal to a wide range of bikers, from the sport touring crowd looking to cover long distances on the highway tucked behind the fairing to weekend warriors looking for their next weapon to tame the twisties, and even the image-conscious crowd who just want an attractive, fully faired motorcycle in the garage to fulfil their boy racer dreams. TVS definitely have a winner on their hands, and the tricolour in the corner of the windscreen is a reminder that this awesome motorcycle is built in India by an Indian company; something our biking community can be truly proud of.
Euro 4 exhaust isn’t too bulky, and sounds nice at high revs