Think TVS Apache and the memory that floods your head will be of boy racers carving corners up a mountain road or popping wheelies, stoppies and what have you. The Apache series of motorcycles and more so, the RTR 160 brought frantic (for its time) performance without the need for youngsters to beg dear dad for eye popping money. The new TVS Apache RTR 160, though? It’s assumed a completely different character.
Design and build
Much of the design is obviously borrowed from its elder sibling, the RTR 200 4v but don’t just skip ahead, because there are a few distinguishing bits that lend the RTR 160 an identity of its own.
Borrowing design cues from the TVS Draken concept that was showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo, the RTR 160 looks sleek, to put it in a word. The headlamp, digital instrument cluster (amber lit), tail lamp and fuel tank are identical to the RTR 200 but that’s where the similarities end.
The tail section has a sleeker profile than the 200’s, the alloy wheels are different and the seat is a single piece unit. TVS has also ditched the clip-ons on the previous RTR 160 for a single piece handlebar.
The fit and finish is great and the glossy paint certainly looks premium. That said, I feel TVS should have chosen a gloss black stripe on the tank instead of the pearl white, for better contrast. Also the Apache branding should have been left on the tank. For a brand this powerful, it gets hidden behind the rider’s leg. Also, the omission of a gear indicator, lap timer and fuel economy indicator is baffling, considering that it is available in the Fi variant’s instrument cluster.
Engine and performance
But, all of this is overlooked once you thumb the starter and fire up the 159.7cc motor (16.5PS @ 8,000rpm / 14.8 Nm @ 6,500rpm). The first thing that strikes you is how quiet the motor is at idle with hardly any vibrations. Begin riding and you soon begin to appreciate the stellar refinement of the motor. I’d go as far as saying that this motor is as smooth as a Japanese manufacturer’s engine. Kudos to the engineers at TVS. The motor remains refined throughout the rev range and its only at the top where a faint buzz creeps into the pegs, but that’s about it.
What elevates the experience is the linear power delivery, across the rev range and I was pretty impressed with the fuelling on our carburetted test bike. For newbies or those stepping up from the crop of humble commuter motorcycles, the friendly power delivery will make the RTR 160 quite easy to adapt to.
That said, the Apache changes its demeanor as soon as you whack the throttle open. 0-60kmph comes up in 5.09 seconds while the sprint to 100kmph is dispatched in 16.61 seconds. Those numbers are at par with the competition but what also impressed me was the tractable nature of the engine. You can potter around at 40kmph in fifth without even a sign of protest from the motor and all it takes is a gentle roll on the throttle to pull an overtake. The motor’s tractability also translates to good fuel economy with the bike returning 47.2kmpl in the city and 54.6kmpl on the highway
Since most of the torque is concentrated on the low and mid region of the rev range, the RTR 160 does lose out on some top end punch. But, given it’s intent of a sporty, urban machine, the bike has plenty of poke and it doesn’t feel out of breath on the highway.
Ride and handling
TVS has employed the same double cradle diamond frame that you see in the RTR 200, albeit with a different rear subframe to accommodate the single piece seat and tail section.
The chassis feels rigid and offers plenty of feedback. This coupled with the superb, Showa tuned suspension endows the RTR 160 with impeccable ride and handling. Riding over broken, pothole riddled surfaces, I was surprised by the ability of the suspension to gobble everything up with aplomb. And when you show the bike a set of corners, it shines.
The previous RTR 160 felt twitchy and a tad nervous but the new bike feels planted through a corner which, in turn, bumps up your confidence by several notches. This is also courtesy of the grippy TVS Remora tyres and the Showa suspensions ability to absorb mid corner bumps, keep the bike glued to an intended line.
While I am very impressed with the bike’s ride and handling I wish the brakes were better. The front brake is progressive but it lacks initial bite. This is evident when you need to slow down rapidly. That said, the feedback through the alloy brake lever is great which reduces the chances of a lock up, given the fact that the RTR 160 does not get ABS, even as an option.
The new RTR 160 is quite a departure from the previous bike which felt frantic and edgy. The new bike has assumed a much more mature temperament. It’s a motorcycle that’ll happily commute in the city but at the same time won’t mind the occasional highway ride. What helps in this regard is the outstanding engine refinement, so a 100 kmph + cruise with revs above 8,000rpm feels calm and unstressed. Then there’s the superb ride and handling which will appeal to newbies. It is a motorcycle that blends commuting and sporty riding with ease and at Rs 99,300 OTR Mumbai it makes an interesting proposition.