Friday, October 21, 2011

TVS Apache RTR 180 Ownership Review by Pramod

My passion for biking was not triggered by a specific incident or born in an instant! I’ve been passionate about biking for as long as I can remember! Having grown up riding bicycles, it didn’t take long for me to be bitten by the ‘biking’ bug! For me riding a bike is like – poetry in motion! I currently own a Honda Activa & an Apache RTR 180. This review focuses on the Apache!

As every bike enthusiast does, I too tried out every possible bike before I settled for the Apache. The ones that passed the muster were the Yamaha R-15, Hero Honda Karizma ZMR & the TVS Apache RTR 180. All 3 good looking, great performing bikes! I’m not a huge Pulsar fan. The Yamaha R-15, I feel, is excellent for highways & the track but not off-road.

The Karizma ZMR, I feel, is good but not good enough when it came to handling/cornering & off-road. The Apache though – was highly stable on highways, well-balanced at corners & city roads & sustains a beating off-road. At the price of just Rs. 80,000/- on road with a mileage of 42 kmpl in the city & massive power delivery over a wide rpm range, I’ve really had no regrets in terms of performance.

The regret, if any, is the behavior of the bike below 4k rpm. The bike stalls and stutters as though it’s out of fuel! 5 services, countless tests, complete change in the TCI ignition kit & the TVS mechanics don’t seem to be able to fix it! Needless to say, it’s not a comfortable ride below 4k rpm.

Above 4K rpm?! Now, that’s a different story entirely! The bike springs to life once you cross the 4k mark on the tachometer. The issue seems specific to few bikes. I’ve ridden other 180’s with & without this problem. The other issue with the Apache series is the vibrations on the bike which has been drastically reduced in the newer models. I don’t find the vibrations to be that big a problem when compared to its older counterparts.

Performance

The bike is very well capable of handling Indian terrain. The over-square engine of the Apache pumps-out the best in class pick-up (beats a stock R-15 & Karizma ZMA) with a mileage of 42-43 kmpl in city riding and a top speed of 137 kmph. The engine produces maximum power of 17.3 PS at 8500 rpm and maximum torque of 15.5 nm at 6500 rpm with the displacement of 177.4cc. The engine is air cooled. This bike is a screamer!

Mileage

  • 42 kmpl in city riding.
  • < 90 kmph on highways – 46 kmpl (Tested on Mysore -Bangalore route).
  • 90 – 130 kmph on highways – 32 kmpl (Tested on Bangalore-Yercaud route, includes ghat section ridden at lower speeds).

Braking

When it comes to breaking the Apache’s roto-petal discs have been a huge hit since the time of its launch. What’s more?!The front and the back come with roto petal discs! Double-caliper in the front and Single-caliper at the rear. The 270mm front disc and 200 mm rear disc does a pretty impressive job of providing “Razor-sharp braking” just as TVS promises! The ABS version is noticeably better when it comes to wet roads & corners.

Comfort

The comfort of a “cruiser” is something which we can’t obviously expect. The bike has a sporty feel & it takes about a week to get adjusted to it if you aren’t already used to it. A certain level of fitness is required to comfortably use the bike and in case you’re not accustomed to it within 7-10 days then it’s not the bike that’s faulty, it’s your back that’s faulty! It’s your bike’s way of telling you.

“It’s time to hit the gym, buddy!” I got used to the bike within a week and then there was no stopping me! I’ve ridden up to 310 kms in half a day, along with fellow Apache riders, without experiencing body aches! The telescopic front shocks and the rear MIG (Monotube Inverted Gas) shock absorbers are pretty much capable of absorbing every bump on the road while being stable at corners. The seat is designed with the comfort of a single seat & the functionality of a split/step seat.

Handling

The Apache owing to its weight and aerodynamic design is very stable & cross winds on highways don’t seem to affect it! The seating position provides a great control over the bike. The bike is well-balanced while cornering and enables you to carry a great amount of speed into & out of the corner; the pick-up of the bike is definitely an advantage!

The TVS tires on the 180 have been improved to quite an extent and helps in the stability & cornering of the bike. The end of my right side foot peg is scraped out (No, I did not crash while doing that)! Do I need to say anything more about its handling?! Having said that please do not try it at home or anywhere else for that matter! Not the slightest loss of stability even while riding above 100 kmph.

Styling

The bike although not photogenic, as I couldn’t capture the looks of it the way I see it, appears great on the road! The parts of the bike have been designed to add style & functionality to the bike! The racing stripe on the bike is a distinct feature. The console features an analog tachometer (RPM gauge), a digital speedo & odometer.

It looks great especially at night with its blue lit backlight. It also incorporates a clock, fuel level indicator, 2 trip meters, lap-timer and also records the top speed! The bike sports an all black matt finish clip on handle bars! The air scoops on the side and the engine faring at the bottom, apart from adding to the aesthetic beauty of the bike also improves the aerodynamics of the bike.

The split grab rail at the back the petal discs have been designed with an optimum blend in styling & functionality! The bike sports an open O-ring chain which does require lubrication every 500kms. The tail end of the bike is lit up by LED’s.

Biking Trips

Some of the best rides I’ve done on the bike are the Bangalore – Ooty and Bangalore – Yercaud trips. I enjoyed the Bangalore – Ooty trip for the weather you encounter once you cross Mysore and enter Bandipur. The fresh cool breeze is rejuvenating and instantly takes away any stress! The twists on the ghat section are very enjoyable with this bike (but please ensure safe riding practices and proper riding gear).

The Bangalore – Yercaud ride on the other hand is great for the roads you encounter! You do encounter a ghat section on this ride as well. The clean wide roads en-route allow you to push, if not, exceed the limits of your bike. Come back from a long ride and take the Activa out for a spin and it feels like you’re floating on air (Apache users will know what I’m talking about)!

The tubeless tires on the Apache are a boon while touring! You’ll know what I mean when you look at the picture. I’m sure the picture speaks for itself! The 16 liter fuel tank is sufficient to get you to the destination & 2.5 liter reserve is more than sufficient to get you to the next bunk. The Phillips 35/35W Halogen HS1 does a good job of lighting up the road in front of you.

Tip

For those of you who feel the Apache is not smooth enough or if you feel the ride is not pleasurable due to the harsh vibrations, just slip-on a K&N air filter. There is no major reduction in vibes but the ride definitely feels more pleasurable!

Overall, it’s a great bike for the track, off-road as well as for touring! The bike literally hugs the road and adds a great feel of stability to the ride. The bike not only rides great but also sounds great! In the end no matter what bike you choose, please ensure you follow safe riding practices and always gear up before a ride!

TVS Apache RTR 180 Technical Specifications

Engine Capacity: 177.4cc
Engine type: Single cylinder, air cooled 4stroke
Chassis: Double Cradle Synchrostiff
Max Power: 17.3PS @ 8500rpm
Max Torque: 1.58kgm @ 6500rpm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Valve Train: 2 Valves SOHC
Starting: Electric & Kick Start
Gear box: 5 speed constant mesh
Fuel system: Carbureted
Carburetor: Mikuni BS – 29
Battery: 12 V, 9.0 AH
Front brake: 270mm petal disc brake
Rear brake: 200mm petal disc brake
Brake Fluid: Dot 3
Front suspension: Telescopic hydraulic fork. 105mm Stroke
Rear suspension: Monotube Inverted Gas-filled (MIG) shocks with Spring Aid
Front tyre: 90/90 x17
Rear tyre: 110/80 x 17
Height: 1100mm
Length: 2085mm
Width: 730mm
Saddle Height: 790mm
Ground clearance: 180mm
Kerb weight: 137kg
Max Payload: 130kg
Fuel tank capacity: 16 liters

Coming Up Next …

The 180cc devil or the 100cc angel?! A detailed review of the Honda Activa. Stay Tuned :)

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