The entry-level RTR gets a big update which practically changes everything. Is it for good? If so, for whom?
The Apache series has always been the answer for enthusiasts looking for usable performance on a budget. And over the years, TVS has upped their game with the 180, 200 and now the RR310. But while the latter two, which came more recently, jumped into the slightly more premium Indian motorcycle segments, the 160 and 180 had been ignored for a little while now. Now though, TVS has sought to remedy that by turning their attention back to the baby RTR - the 160.
Not only does the 160 adopt the looks, features and dynamics of the RTR 200, it goes even further by getting a brand new engine derived from the 200, which is more powerful, refined, gets four valves (4V) and, in the top spec bike, fuel injection. Much of this for a price hike of just Rs 3000. Sounds tempting, right? We rode both the carburetor and the fuel injected bikes on TVS’ Hosur test track to find out how all this ‘new’ translates onto the tarmac.
Looks familiar? Yes, that is how the new RTR 4V series will look like from now onwards. The body, apart from the tail panel, is exactly the same as the 200 4V. So you get the same naked halogen headlamp with LED DRLs and the exposed console. The tri-colour sticker, like all other recent TVS products, makes an appearance here as well.
Move to the side and the visual difference becomes more apparent. For starters, you get a single seat here which also accounts for the revised tail panel. This makes the bike look less edgy and more subtle, suitable for a larger audience. It's more comfortable as well if you want to ride with a pillion. The chiseled out fuel tank is well shaped to tuck in your thighs and the tank extensions add a bit of forward aggression to the design. The best part is that the panel gaps remain in check and the plastic quality is also pretty good.
The graphics here are new, with a chequered flag aligned with the ribs. The tank panel does seem a bit plain as it just gets the TVS horse logo, that too on the top. The middle panel gets a silver paint scheme to break the black monotony of the engine and the exhaust.
The rear gets the 200’s LED tail lights, grab handles and a tyre hugger with an embedded ‘RTR’ tag which looks pretty neat. Overall, the bike looks handsome. And the fact that it looks almost like the bigger 200 makes it an advantage for people aspiring to get the bigger machine.
Get on, and the first thing you notice is that the 160 gets a one-piece handlebar, not the clip-ons from the 200. And to be honest, this makes the bike more usable in the city. The switchgear quality is par for the course, with clicks feeling tactile.
The all-digital console replacing the analog-digital setup has also been adopted from the 200, with the tachometer on top, a big speed indicator in the centre and other information scattered around. And though the console on the FI and the carb are the same units, there are differences between them. For starters, the carb gets an orange backlight whereas the FI gets a more premium-looking white. Also, apart from the odometer, fuel gauge, tripmeter, 0-60kmph timer, top speed indicator and clock, which are same in both, the FI additionally gets a lap timer and a digital readout below the fuel gauge for warnings and descriptions. Tell-tail lights, nice and visible, are placed towards the bottom of the cluster. The new setup goes a long way in making the bike look modern and that much more functional in daily use.
Engine And Performance
Though the bore and stroke here are identical to the older bike, this is indeed a new engine. The 159.7cc, 4-valve, oil-cooled motor is a big jump from the older one in terms of refinent. It feels smooth right from idle and only gets better as the revs climb. The new engine also runs a higher compression ratio, which translates to more punch when you open the throttle.
Both the bikes feel peppy as soon as you release the clutch, with the power feeling strongest in the mid range. Starting from 4,000rpm, the motor pulls swiftly till about the 8,000rpm mark. and if you shift the 5-speed box promptly, it keeps you perfectly in the powerband.
The carburetted bike feels more prompt lower down in the rpm range, which is further verified by the claimed performance figures. Zero to 60kmph for the carb is claimed to be 4.73 seconds whereas the FI is 0.07seconds slower. And though on paper this sounds a little difficult to digest, on the road, you can feel the difference between the two.
With a slightly higher power figure of 16.8PS at 8000rpm, the FI definitely feels a lot smoother in the way it delivers power. It is more eager to respond to throttle inputs and much calmer at higher revs. But with the same torque figure of 14.8Nm at 6500rpm, the carb’s slightly punchier power delivery is something that felt lacking in the former.
The bike feels most comfortable doing between 5500-6000 rpm. It runs almost free of vibrations and sounds sweet too. Even at 8,000rpm in 5th gear, the bike calmly runs at around 105kmph, suitable for highway cruising. It's only when you push it beyond the 9000rpm mark that it begins to show some stress, with the power delivery going almost flat in the last 1000rpm before the redline - between 10,500rpm and 11,500rpm.
Ride And Handling
This is where things get interesting. Though we did not get too much time with the bike, and whatever time we had was spent taking exactly one long right and one quick left turn over and over again (refer to the track map above), what we can tell you is that the bike is sharp to turn in and feels quite responsive to any inputs on the handlebars. And even when it’s leaned over into corners, it maintains its line quite neatly and inspires plenty of confidence.
Now to some real-world implications. The seat is relatively narrow and the 800mm seat height lets even riders of average height get comfortable. The single-piece handlebar sits higher up than the clip-ons on the 200 and lets you sit in an upright riding position, comfortable for long city rides.
The Showa-tuned suspension feels a little on the softer side, though we rode it on a smooth track and would reserve final judgement until we get it out in the wild. Stopping power is something we got to test thoroughly. The 270mm petal disc at the front was progressive but more bite could have gone a long way in inspiring more confidence. Use the 200mm rear disc in combination and the bike manages to shed speed happily. But the rear tyre had a knack of locking up, which could have been addressed by including ABS.
The Apache RTR 160 4V comes with TVS Remora tyres: 130/70-17 at the rear and 90/90-17 at the front. The tyres did hold quite well in the corners but tend to lose out under hard braking. A pair of Pirellis would have been much nicer, but would’ve have added a fair amount to the cost of the motorcycle. The good thing is that these rims are the same size as that on the 200, so you can upgrade to the same Pirelli tyres that the 200 comes fitted with, if you want more grip for sport riding.
If I have to sum it up in three words, they would be: handsome, refined and agile. Yes, our short stint with the Apache RTR 160 4V Fi and carb had us impressed. With possibly segment-best refinement, power, power-to-weight ratio, and aggressive pricing, the bike seems to be setting an altogether new benchmark in the segment. If you are an enthusiast, this bike holds a lot of promise. And if you are a commuter upgrading to a sporty bike, this bike packs even more of that promise. We now eagerly wait for the bike to come to us for a proper road test so we can validate all of the above in the real world.
|Bike Tested||Price (Ex-showroom Delhi)|
|TVS Apache RTR 160 4V FI||Rs 89,990|
|TVS Apache RTR 160 4V Carburetor (Dual Disc)||Rs 84,490|