Will the RTR 160 4V finally have to give up its mantle to the new kid on the block, the Xtreme 160R?
We’ve absolutely adored the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V for its smashing motor, balanced suspension setup, extensive features and unparalleled build quality. These are the reasons that make it the bike to beat in the 150-160cc segment ever since its launch back in 2018. Despite new competitors, its unrelenting nature kept it on the top of the food chain. Having said that, the recent BS6 transition has taken a toll on the bike’s performance wherein it had to let go of a few ponies.
Could the newest kid on the block, the Hero Xtreme 160R, take advantage of the situation and rule as monarch?
Not much has changed for the RTR 160 4V. It retains its sharp design language borrowed from the Apache RTR 200 but still looks the part in this fiery red paint scheme. The BS6 update has brought with it a couple of neat little touches including a dual-tone textured seat and faux carbon finished rearview mirrors. But the most prominent update of them all -- and this one literally screams out to you -- is the all-LED headlight. Sure, looks can be subjective, but I’m really not sold on the design. The unit is almost reminiscent of the Bajaj LS 135, albeit it sports a split design with sharper surfaces and some rather strange eyebrow-type DRLs. Nonetheless, it works, and how!
The headlight on the RTR 160 4V is possibly one of the best in the segment. It offers good throw and spread but lacks depth, as is the case with almost all-LED headlights. The high beam manages to light up far reaches of a dimly lit road which is especially useful on highways. Then there’s the overall build quality which I must say is the best in the segment. The use of rich materials and the tactile feels of the switchgear offers a sense of a quality product well worth its price.
Moving onto the Xtreme 160R, it finally looks like a young and sporty design. Something Hero has been failing to accomplish over the past decade or so. The bike’s based on the Xtreme 1.R Concept that was showcased at EICMA 2019 and remains pretty much unchanged. The entire package feels muscular and compact with an X-shaped design language that flows throughout the bike -- hints of which are seen on the beefy tank and the full-LED headlight. You even have pillion grab rails neatly integrated into the tail section which flows into an H-shaped smoked LED tail light.
The idea was to keep the bike’s overall weight low and there are some smart solutions around this. For example, the kick lever has been shaved off from one side which we believe accounts to a fraction of the weight loss. It doesn't scrub against your legs either. Then there’s a starter-cum-engine kill switch which negates the use of two different switches. The alloy wheels too, according to Hero, are light in weight. As a whole, the bike uses fewer body panels, thus reducing the overall bulk. Smart, ain’t it?
But it isn’t all hale and hearty. The high beams focus, for instance, could have been lower so as to light up the road ahead of you. The low beam, thankfully, illuminates the road decently well with an even spread.
As for the full-digital console, it's a new negative LCD display which reads out a decent amount of information. While it isn’t as feature-rich as the RTR’s console, it’s legible in pretty much all lighting conditions. A gear position indicator would have been a welcome addition but has been skipped by both Hero and TVS.
We weren’t particularly fond of the Xtreme’s seat locking mechanism either, which in our eyes is overly complicated. The system requires it to be secured into two recesses given in the tank panel aside from the lower bracket that seats usually slide into.
Not to mention, the fit and finish of the bike is questionable. Though panel gaps are consistent, the quality of materials used feel rather cheap. The grade of plastic on the switchgear feels mediocre and not near as premium as the RTR 160 4V.
Both bikes are pretty easy to get onto even though the Xtreme 160R has a lower seat height advantage of 790mm compared to the RTR’s 800mm saddle. However, the former’s sharply curved seat leaves little room for the rider and even tends to impede into the tail bone which could get uncomfortable on long rides.
Pillion riders will find the Xtreme’s raked seat a little harder to get onto compared to the RTR’s flatter single-piece unit. It’s also shorter which ends up feeling a bit cramped. Moreover, reaching out to the bike’s grab handles, which are positioned under the rear quarter panel, feels a bit unnatural and takes some time getting used to.
That said, Hero’s all-new streetfighter feels more comfortable to ride compared to the RTR thanks to its footpeg positioning which is rear set but positioned lower. Pair this with a taller handlebar and you have a rider triangle that'll suit people of all heights. To add to this, the Xtreme is almost 10kg lighter than the RTR 160 4V which makes it an absolute breeze to move around the parking lot.
The RTR’s seat is long enough to easily accommodate the rider and pillion without throwing a fit. It isn’t as sharply inclined as the Xtreme either which makes it a lot more comfortable. The grab handles are positioned more conventionally and have more surface area for better grip.
Having said that, the rear-set footpegs are positioned higher up with lower, slightly sportier handlebars. The riding posture takes some getting used to compared to the Xtreme 160R and feels a bit cramped if you're on the taller side.
Technology & Features:
The Xtreme 160R gets a couple of segment-first features which gives it an edge over its rivals. For starters, it gets the segment-first all-LED lighting system and a fully digital instrument cluster. A noteworthy addition is the hazard switch which proved to be quite useful in terms of safety while ascending roads covered in a blanket of fog. On the safety front, you have the side stand cut-off switch which cuts off the engine if the side stand is engaged, and single-channel ABS which works quite well.
The BS6 Apache RTR 160 4V, on the other hand, gets a split full-LED headlight and LED tail light. The console is an all-digital one and the most feature-packed unit in its segment. You even have the Feather Touch Start system which cracks up the engine quickly with a touch of the starter button. For added convenience, the bike comes with GTT (Glide Through Traffic), which is essentially a low-speed assist. It helps the RTR crawl at low speeds in city traffic by just modulating the clutch. The Apache too gets single-channel ABS as per government safety guidelines, however, the system feels a bit wooden compared to the Xtreme and lacks feel through the levers.
Engine & Performance:
The carbureted Apache RTR 160 4V was the bike to beat for a couple of reasons, and one of them was its engine. It felt ultra-refined, had a powerful mid-range, and a top whack that would take you by surprise. That said, the BS6 transition has robbed the RTR of its oomph factor.
For starters, it makes 0.78PS power and 0.68Nm less than the previous-gen model. While that’s still more than the Xtreme, the loss of power is pretty evident in the performance figures. It’s 0.80 seconds slower to get to 60kmph and takes a leisurely 21.37 seconds to get to 100kmph -- that’s 6 seconds off the older model’s figure! In fact, the motor now only makes its power higher up the rev range and feels rather sluggish in the bottom and mid range.
So much so, that the 2-valve Xtreme 160R feels faster than the RTR. The Xtreme may have fewer ponies to tap, but it’s 10kg lighter than the RTR which makes a world of a difference. In our test runs, the Xtreme stood neck and neck with the RTR in the 0-60kmph run with just half a second splitting the two during the 0-80kmph dash. Its meaty mid-range which kicks in between 3,000 and 6,000rpm has a huge role to play here which also makes the engine extremely tractable.
All this performance though can only be extracted from an engine that isn't overheating. Luckily, Hero manages to keep the motor running cool by using an air duct which pulls in cool air and channels it onto the engine. In fact, TVS pioneered this feature in the 150-160cc segment with the Apache RTR 160 4V.
There isn’t much that differentiates the two in roll-on accelerations either. However, we must say, quick overtakes on the Xtreme 160R in city traffic is a piece of cake compared to the RTR which requires you to work the engine in order to get it going. On the contrary, the latter’s top-end performance allows it to cruise between 90 and 100kmph and still has some ponies set aside just in case you want to go beyond. As for the Xtreme 160R, it starts to lose steam post 100kmph with little to offer for highway overtakes. Simply put, you would have to drop down a gear to hit the sweet spot in the powerband.
As you’d expect, having to work the Xtreme’s engine takes a toll on its highway fuel efficiency. But it manages to claw its way back by offering more kilometres to a litre within city limits. The RTR is the polar opposite, working better on the highway and losing out within city limits. Goes without saying then that the Xtreme 160R is a better city bike compared to the RTR which comes into its own on the highway.
Also worth mentioning is the RTR’s otherworldly refinement which trumps every other bike in its segment. Vibes, if any, can only be felt through the footpegs over 9,000rpm. The Xtreme isn’t all that bad either. In fact, if it wasn’t for the RTR 160 4V, it would set the benchmark in the segment as the most refined engine. One can only feel the vibes creeping through the handlebars and footpegs once you push the bike over 8,000rpm.
As for the gearbox, the one on the Xtreme feels a bit clunky in contrast to the slick transmission on the RTR.
Ride & Handling:
These bikes are pegged as performance-oriented commuters and a strong engine alone won’t cut it for us enthusiasts, they need to handle just as well. Luckily, neither of them disappoint.
The newest member of the 150-160cc segment, the Xtreme 160R is actually specced higher than its competition. It features a fatter front fork, bigger brakes, and chunkier tyres too (radial at the rear), which plays out quite well for the bike. As a matter of fact, it has the shortest wheelbase in its segment which makes it extremely flickable. Add a sharper rake, shorter trail and a weight of just 139.5kg, and you have a bike that feels light, nimble and ready to attack corners. Its potent chassis allows you to push harder and carry more corner speeds without feeling jittery. The entire package is just easy to get used to and could be the perfect tool for novice or beginner riders.
The suspension is perfectly balanced and settles down quickly in mid-corners bumps, while its chunky rear tyres offer ample grip. Rough roads and potholes aren’t an issue either, as the bike manages to glide over them without any trouble. Overall, it’s set up to tackle both city and highway duties.
The Apache RTR 160 4V, on the other hand, requires some expertise to get the most out of it. Its longer rake and trail means the bike takes some effort to turn into corners and isn’t as easy to ride as the Xtreme. The RTR basically leads the charge rather than you leading it, so you would need to get used to the bike before trying to push it too hard. But once you get the hang of it, it’s a dream to ride. The chassis feels responsive and remains planted in corners. The suspension setup does exactly what it needs to -- soak in undulations and settle quickly when needed. If you were to ask us, the tune of the suspension feels better than the Xtreme 160R and would work wonders if your daily commutes consist mainly of rough roads. The tyres on the RTR offer a decent amount of grip but don’t feel as stable as the Xtreme at high speeds or on wet roads.
Talk about getting it right. Hero has managed to tune the brakes on the Xtreme to near perfection. It offers adequate brake bite and feedback through its levers and allows you to slam on the brakes and bring the bike to a dead stop a couple of meters before the RTR 160 4V. The difference in braking distances could be attributed to the RTR’s extra heft. Moreover, its brakes are known to lack progression and feel spongy which doesn’t inspire confidence. Even the ABS calibration on the Xtreme works better than the RTR.
Price & Verdict:
The TVS Apache RTR 4V still remains a potent machine and a fun bike overall. It's feature-rich, h?as a frugal engine, leads the class in terms of refinement, and has the best build quality in its segment. However, the BS6 transition has robbed the bike of its performance which is pretty apparent. If you are fine with the drop in performance, the RTR 160 4V makes a lot of sense for those searching for a good-looking, reliable product that has the capability to tour as and when needed.
As for the Xtreme 160R, it feels like an enthusiast-oriented offering. Extremely easy to get used to and a lot more fun to ride. Not to mention, it handles well and has a motor that'll put a smile on your face every time you whack it open. If we had to pick between the two, we would go for the Hero Xtreme 160R. Having said that, the only aspect that holds us back from cementing the Xtreme as the segment benchmark is its questionable build quality. For this reason, the safer bet would still be the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V.