RR310 v RC 390 & 200

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The new TVS Apache RR 310 guns for the KTM twins

THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY to set­tle a de­bate be­tween bik­ers root­ing for dif­fer­ent ma­chines, pit the mo­tor­cy­cles against each other. With TVS’s brand new Apache RR 310 strad­dling the gap be­tween the pow­er­ful KTM RC 390 and the pop­u­lar RC 200, we de­cided to set­tle the de­bate once and for all.

TVS Apache RR 310

Bright, red and flashy, the Apache RR 310 is TVS Mo­tors’ cur­rent flag­ship. That fair­ing has been sculpted in a wind tun­nel, the only bike by an In­dian man­u­fac­turer to lay claim to this, and it shows. Even a six-footer like me can tuck com­pletely out of the wind­blast and er­gonomics are great for ev­ery­day use. Not ideal for rac­ing but you won't dis­like it on your way to work or on that road trip. What re­ally stands out though is the qual­ity and at­ten­tion to de­tail. We’re will­ing to stick our necks out and say that build qual­ity and fit and fin­ish on the Apache sets the bench­mark in this class of bikes.

Power comes from BMW’s 312cc liq­uid­cooled sin­gle in a BMW trel­lis. It revs ef­fort­lessly and feels smooth de­spite naysay­ers cry­ing foul about vi­bra­tions. But the real party trick is tractabil­ity. She picks up cleanly from an un­be­lie­ve­able 45kmph in sixth! In­stead of the KTMs’ manic ur­gency you get a re­lent­less arc of power. This makes life very cushy in the real world where you don’t find your­self work­ing that slick sixspeeder all the time. This will also lend the bike great cruis­ing abil­i­ties. And for those of you dy­ing for track­days, the tractabil­ity will will pre­vent her from stalling when you find your­self in a gear too high.

Like the en­gine, the chas­sis is great too. Thanks to the re­verse in­clined en­gine lay­out, the swingarm is long. Which is great for mid-cor­ner sta­bil­ity with the bike cranked over on its side. On straights too, there is hardly any head­shake as you would ex­pect

from a mo­tor­cy­cle with a sharp rake and a short wheel­base. What is sur­pris­ing is how well TVS has man­aged to make the ride qual­ity sup­ple with­out sac­ri­fic­ing handling prow­ess. It doesn’t be­come stiff and bouncy over torn tar­mac. The fact that the seat is well-cush­ioned, helps too. The pil­lion seat un­for­tu­nately is woe­fully in­ad­e­quate. And there are no hold­ers to mount lug­gage.

This one short­com­ing aside, the Apache RR 310 is a well-rounded prod­uct that you’ll be able to live with ev­ery day of the week and then get your grin back by thrash­ing it around a race track on a week­end.

KTM RC 390

Ask any ran­dom biker about an af­ford­able sports­bike you can buy in the coun­try and this is the name that you will hear 95 times out of 100. The KTM RC 390 is the bench­mark that the Apache will have to beat but it won’t be easy. Even though the up­dated KTM RC 390 has put on some weight com­pared to its pre­de­ces­sor and has also ma­tured a bit more with the ad­di­tion of ride-by-wire hav­ing smoothened out power de­liv­ery and the side slung ex­haust in place of the ear­lier

The KTM RC 390 wants its throt­tle pinned to the stop. At all times

un­der­belly unit hav­ing re­moved some of the rough­ness from the ex­haust note. Its rac­ing DNA be­comes all too ev­i­dent. High rearsets, tall sad­dle height (820mm) and low clip-ons. The rid­ing pos­ture is ag­gres­sive.

With 43.4bhp on twist from that 373.2cc liq­uid-cooled sin­gle, she shoots ahead. And that is the only way she’ll ever go. It’s vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to pot­ter around on the RC 390. You’re ei­ther on the verge of ex­plo­sion or to­tally dor­mant. There sim­ply isn’t any mid­dle ground. This is a bike that wants its throt­tle pinned to the stop. At all times.

The chas­sis and sus­pen­sion is set up only for handling, and boy does she feel in­stinc­tive. The turn in is so in­tu­itive that you’ll find your­self in the turn by the time you’ve fin­ished think­ing about it. The only thing is, what­ever the RC 390 does, it does with­out any thought to fi­nesse. It has a raw qual­ity to it that KTM fans are to­tally in love with. But this bike re­quires ex­pe­ri­ence for it isn’t par­tic­u­larly forgiving.

Nor is it par­tic­u­larly suited to the rigours of a daily com­mute or tour­ing, which is In­dia’s fore­most form of leisure rid­ing. The RC 390 wants to be rid­den hard or not at all. And that, per­haps is its big­gest lim­i­ta­tion.

KTM RC 200

Ex­cept for the en­gine, tyres, brakes, han­dle­bar and that un­der­belly ex­haust, the RC 200 shares ev­ery­thing with its big­ger sib­ling. It has the same frame and the same sus­pen­sion. Head on, you won’t be able to tell them apart.

Start the 199.5cc liq­uid-cooled sin­gle and your ears are greeted by the un­mis­tak­able stac­cato bark of a KTM en­gine but this one sounds raspier. The 25.6bhp is a world away from the Apache’s 33.5 and a gal­axy away from the RC 390’s 43.5 but as you ap­proach corners, the RC 200 shows the same in­stinc­tive­ness as the RC 390. Only, with less weight to lug and mi­nus the RC 390’s raw power, it feels more man­age­able on tight, nar­row roads. Which makes it a great step­ping stone for those climb­ing up the sports­bike lad­der. Back in the real world of pot­holes, traf­fic and bro­ken roads how­ever, it’s just as un­suit­able as the big­ger KTM.

Ver­dict

The KTM RC 390 then is still the bike to buy for track­day junkies. Its per­for­mance is match­less. If you want a bike to learn on then you’re way bet­ter off with the RC 200. Just re­mem­ber not to ask these to take you to of­fice or on your ride to Goa or Chandi­garh, un­less you have the or­tho’s num­ber on speed dial. The Apache how­ever is one bike for all sea­sons and rea­sons. Want to ride fast around a track? She’s up to it. Need to get to work? She’ll put up with the traf­ficky chaos. Tour­ing? Not a prob­lem. A gen­uine all rounder, the TVS Apache RR 310 there­fore is the win­ner of our de­bate. That’s set­tled then. ⌧

Cen­tre: Side slung ex­haust takes the edge out of the ex­haust note. Above: Larger 320mm disc feels much bet­ter than the one on the old RC 390

Top: Fins in the Apache’s fair­ing chan­nel hot air away from the rider’s legs. Above: Race spec chas­sis is ac­tu­ally from BMW Motorrad

Top: Dig­i­tal clocks are func­tional but not re­ally all that aes­thetic. Above: No bar end weights tell the RC 200 apart from the RC 390

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