Apache RTR v X-Blade v gixxer
The best of the 160-cc class battle it out
here was a time when the 150-cc segment had a couple of bikes and no convoluted sub-genres that all sort of encroached on each other’s territory and twisted around the corridors of your confused cranium. those were simpler times. today, you have entry-level, mid-range, premium, super premium (now, with added aBs goodness), naked, half-faired, fully-faired... almost too many to keep track of! this intense division is testament to how our country’s populace has taken to these versatile pocket-rockets that are also easy on the pocket and elevated this segment to one of the most popular in the two-wheeler market.
this division also means that you can’t toss all the 150-160-cc bikes in the market into one pot and then stir it up. instead, you have to pick and choose and pit like for like. which is why, out of the many, many bikes that occupy this general area, we’re only focusing on these three 160s. the X Blade and rtr are new entrants to the market and the Gixxer has been a front-runner in this space. apart from bringing similar attributes to the table, these three are also priced quite close to each other. although you wouldn’t know it just by looking at them.
these bikes are so distinct in the aesthetic department that you can tell them apart with nary a glance. Let me start with the newest kid on the block, the apache rtr 160 4V. while its rtr lineage definitely shows in the design, it has been given a makeover in its latest avatar and is now much more in line with its older rtr 200 sibling. i like the sharp headlamp unit, sharp tank shrouds, and sharp belly-pan, all of which lend the rtr a look that is... er .... sharp. seriously, though, it looks aggressive and ready to slice through the air, and that retro red shade with a nice white stripe, infused with flakes, running across the tank, and even the off-set fuel filler cap add a touch of personality to the rtr. however, i’m not a big fan of the chequered flag decals on the tank; i think they’re a bit much, and neither am i too keen on that exhaust, which looks at odds with the rest of the bike’s design.
Next, the X Blade, and this one is another
good-looker. a good mix of sleek and sinewy, the attention to detail on this one is so commendable. there are many bits and pieces that on any other bike would have been a visual overload, but here, they fit very well together and give the bike a distinct appearance. even the sari-guard, so derided in automotive circles, is a pretty piece of craftsmanship. the headlamp unit is a little bit of a downer for me, though. it kinda looks like the Fallen, the lead baddie from the film
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and i don’t like my bike looking like ancient Decepticons, but, hey, maybe, that’s just me.
the Gixxer sP is the latest iteration of the suzuki Gixxer that was launched back in 2014. while nothing has changed physically, it has got the full sticker treatment. the muscular, sculpted tank is now adorned with this techno-style two-colour decal job and even the shroud gets a complicated “sP” logo. to me, this takes away from what is otherwise a really good-looking bike. the most minimal in terms of design of the three, i was quite a fan of the Gixxer’s simplicity, which has now been marred a little by the excessive stickering. the red pinstripes on the wheels are another new addition and those do look quite attractive.
turn the ignition on any of the three bikes and you’ll be greeted by an all-digital instrument cluster as has pretty much become the norm today. while they all have their own individual flavours, in terms of pure ease of visibility, the rtr stands out. all three bikes come with the usual odometer, fuel indicator, large digital speedo, and horizontal tachometer placed at the top of the display. however, the rtr gets a few fun “race” features over and above the standard ones like a top speed readout and a 0-60 km/h timing feature as well (although it isn’t accurate). it even has a gear-shift light to tell you optimal shift times when attempting a sprint. On the flip side, while both the X Blade and the Gixxer come with a gear indicator, the rtr does not. also, the button to switch between
Our performance figures indicated that the TVS’ superior power did bear fruit, as it hit both the 60 km/h and 80 km/h mark quicker than its rivals
The Honda’s seat is the most comfortable of the three, both for the rider and the pillion
displays doesn’t work when the rtr is in motion, even though it works on both the other bikes.
Other differences among the three bikes include the lack of a kill switch on the honda, which is quite annoying, and only the Gixxer comes with the convenience of the choke being mounted on the handlebar.
Climb aboard these bikes and the X Blade has the most upright riding position, while the rtr, with its race lineage, has the most committed one. the Gixxer is somewhere between the two, although all three bikes are fairly comfortable to ride, even on longer stints. the honda’s seat is the most comfortable of the three, though, both for the rider and the pillion. engine-wise, they’re all air-cooled, four-stroke singles mated to five-speed gearboxes.
the X Blade has a 162.71-cc engine producing 14.13 Ps at 8,500 rpm and 13.92 Nm of torque at
6,000 rpm. the tVs’ plant displaces 159.7 cc and produces 16.5 Ps at 8,000 rpm and 14.8 Nm at 6,500 rpm, and the Gixxer’s 154.9-cc mill churns out 14.8 horses at 8,000 rpm and 14 Nm of twist at 6,000 rpm. Our performance figures indicated that the tVs’ superior power did bear fruit, as it hit both the 60 km/h and 80 km/h mark quicker than its rivals. the Gixxer was slowest to 60, but made up ground by the time it hit 80 km/h. when it comes to tripledigit figures, though, the tVs is in a league of its own, over five seconds faster than the honda and nearly seven seconds quicker than the Gixxer. the rtr had the most enjoyable acceleration, too, and you could comfortably cruise at 80 km/h+ on both the rtr and the X Blade without either bike feeling out of breath. the honda’s gearbox is the best of the lot, though, with smooth action and assured shifts.
when it comes to manoeuvring through traffic, the Gixxer stands out. as the lightest of the three and the one with the shortest wheelbase, it is great for quick direction changes. it takes U-turns on a dime and was even the standout when we cornered the bikes hard. the rtr, too, was exciting around corners, but what the honda lacked in the out-and-out handling stakes, it more than made up for in ride quality, absorbing all the harshness from bad roads and speed-breakers with aplomb and offering a more comfortable ride overall than both its rivals. and even though it was the slowest to a standstill in our performance tests, the X Blade also felt the most composed under hard braking and offered great progression and bite from the front brakes. it is, however, the only bike of the three here that doesn’t sport a disc brake at the rear as well; you have to settle for a drum instead. On the other hand, while the
As the lightest of the three and the one with the shortest wheelbase, the Gixxer is great for quick direction changes
Gixxer produced the best figures of the three, there was a lot of play in the lever, so if you use two fingers to brake, the lever will press into your fingers that are still gripping the handle.
moving on to fuel efficiency, the X Blade offers 54.5 kilometres to a litre overall, while the rtr 160 comes with 49 km/l, and the Gixxer 47.75 km/l, and considering that all three hold 12 litres in their fuel tanks, the X Blade is easily the most efficient of the lot. it is also the cheapest of the lot, as it carries a sticker of rs 79,000, followed by the Gixxer that is priced at rs 82,000, and the most expensive of the three is the rtr 160 4V with a price of rs 84,500 (all prices exshowroom, Delhi).
it’s clear that the honda X Blade is the best value-for-money bike of the lot and if it was me doing the buying, it would be my pick too. it looks great, has the best ride quality, is the most comfortable, and is no slouch in the performance department either. that, coupled with its widely superior efficiency and cheaper price means that i can’t find myself looking past it.
the rtr 160 will appeal to those who want performance above everything else. as for the Gixxer sP, the fact that it is essentially a generation older shows, but it has lightness and agility going for it and it has the lowest seat too, so smaller-sized riders will be most comfortable astride it.
The X-Blade and RTR are new entrants to the market and the Gixxer has been a front-runner in this space