Hi All, this is Aswin from TechieDrone. This will be my very first post in Automobile category. There are more articles that are yet to come in the future.
So for the very first article related to automobile in our website, I wanted it to be something special. This will be a long term (A very long term to be precise) review about my first and current bike, the TVS Apache RTR 180.
It has almost been 5 years since I have owned this bike. I just wanted to share about how well the bike has stood the test of time.
I just cannot start this ownership experience without mentioning about the design of the bike . When you enter a TVS showroom, among all the other bikes, the Apache RTR series stands out. It’s just an eye catcher for sure. The RTR series was given a design refresh in 2012 and I own that model. To be more specific, I own the RTR 180 pearl white model. Yes, the white colour requires some maintenance, but it does stand out from the rest of the bikes. Also remember, this was one of the first bike in India to come up with white colour scheme. There is just an aura of uniqueness around this bike.
The 2012 model came with LED DRL’s integrated with the headlight. Its shaped like the eye of a beast. This gives the bike a very aggressive stance. This design received mixed reactions from the fans. But they say that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I like this design far better than the old one. Also the LED tail light is also uniquely designed. The pillion grab rails resemble the horns of a raging bull.
Overall, the bike is designed like a proper racing machine with lots of unique touches to it.
This bike is filled with lots of features. It comes with a Pass switch, an Engine Kill switch (look and learn Honda!!), part analogue and part Digital Instrument Console, premium quality switches, clip-on handlebars and many others. The digital instrument console is backlit in Blue colour. It looks awesome at night.
It also has a massive 16-litre fuel tank which is larger than any other bike in this segment. The leg crash guard is very rigid and looks quite good. TVS was the pioneer of the Roto petal disc brakes in India. This helps in faster heat dissipation of the brakes.
Engine and Performance
Now let’s get to the heart of the matter (No pun intended!). The Apache RTR 180 is powered by a 177.4cc air-cooled engine that puts out a maximum power of 17.03 bhp at 8500 rpm and 15.5 Nm of torque at just 6500 rpm. This engine is mated to a 5-speed gearbox. The numbers may not seem much but don’t let it fool you. After all, RTR moniker is there for a reason. It stands for ‘Racing Throttle Response’. What it means is that the throttle response is almost immediate without any delay or hesitation. The powerful engine combined with the relatively light weight of 139 Kgs, results in brutal acceleration. The engine is a short stroke type which means that there is a priority on immediate power.
The Apache has one of the best pick-up of any bike. It surges forward when you release the clutch and shows the raw power of the engine. When the signal turns green, you can leave the traffic behind like a dust in your rear view mirror. To this date, I have not experienced any lack of power. It stands toe to toe with the rivals of this segment.
The exhaust sound deserves a special mention. It has a deep and throaty note at low speeds. When you increase the speed, the deep note almost turns into a howl that showcases the immense power of the engine. Almost everyone turns their head in curiosity.
I need to mention a notable incident. All of you might remember the 2015 Chennai floods. Well, I had to travel in those flood filled roads a couple of times with no other options. You all would definitely remember the condition of the roads during that time. When I was traveling, I could find knee deep water at most roads. But on the Apache, due to the relatively upswept exhaust, I could tackle the flood filled roads with ease. A large part of credit again goes to the engine. The unrelenting power pulled the bike ahead when many others failed.
Handling and Braking
The Apache RTR 180 is one of the best handling bikes in this segment. The light weight of the bike combined with a short wheelbase makes this an extremely flickable bike. The bike doesn’t feel heavy in traffic and you can filter through the traffic with ease. While the suspension is somewhat stiff, it provides adequate comfort for day to day commutes. One issue is that due to its sporty intention, the seating ergonomics suffer a bit. The footpegs are slightly rearset. Due to this, in bumper to bumper traffic, it puts a little bit of strain on the rider’s wrists and back. Otherwise, the bike is a bliss to ride in the city. The overtaking power provided by this bike is unmatched by any of its rivals in this segment. This has saved me a lot of times in the highway when some moron just comes to sandwich you between his car or truck and the barricade. The acceleration just lets me slip through the gap.
The flickabilty of this bike is also praiseworthy. It lets you change between lanes at a moment’s notice without any hesitation. The strong and dynamic nature of the engine along with the nimble and razor sharp handling makes the bike exude lots of character that other bikes can only dream of.
Coming to braking performance, the bike is fitted with disc brakes on both end. It provides a good intial bite and then lets you modulate the pressure progressively. One major issue I had with my bike was the tyres. The factory fitted TVS Srichakra tyres are absolute junk. It easily skids during panic braking on dry roads. On wet roads, you would be lucky if you don’t fall when you apply the brakes even at very low speeds. They say that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and guess what, these stupid tyres were definitely the weakest link of the machine. The problem is that the tyre compound is hard rubber. It definitely provides a long tyre life with minimal wear and tear. But I highly doubt that whether we would be alive till the point of time when the normal replacement of the tyres are necessary. India is a country where panic braking during riding is part and parcel of life. The Indian roads are filled with idiots who stop suddenly without any reason, fools who run across the road as if they are competing in some sprint race, Public transport drivers who literally try to kill you at every chance and so on. It was such a nuisance that after just 8000 Kms, I swapped the TVS tyres for a pair of Michelins. The dry grip was superior and the wet grip, even though not great by any means, was almost 100 times better than that of the TVS tyres. After almost 25,000 Kms, I swapped it for a pair of MRF Zappers which continue to provide phenomenal levels of grip.
Eventhough I own the regular RTR 180, there is another variant that provides ABS (Anti-lock Braking System). Till this date, I regret not getting this model since it only costs Rs.10,000 extra. ABS can really be a life saver. Also, this is a proper Dual-channel ABS which works on both wheels. TVS was one of the first Indian company to provide this feature to the masses. We definitely need to appreciate this decision. The dual horns on the front are very audible.
Reliability and Maintenance
The bike has been extremely reliable since day one. The engine is built to last unlike the Bajaj Pulsar’s engine, which rattles after just 2 years. But I should also mention that, I give it for service with a strict schedule of once every three months. If you take care of maintenance in a periodic manner, there is nothing to worry about.
The mileage I get varies from 38 to 43 Kmpl. This is a pretty decent mileage for a bike of this class.
The one undeniable downside of the bike is that, it has vibrations, lots of vibrations. It start from a speed of 50 to 65 Kmph and again shows from 85 to 100 Kmph. But I am used to it by now.
I hereby conclude that my RTR 180 has continued to serve me well. The technological specification and other aspects of the bike may look primitive when compared to modern bikes. But at the same price of a premium 150cc machine from other brands, RTR 180 provides a lot more power. Its dynamic character makes the other bikes look soulless. Whenever you twist the throttle, it is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. So the conclusion is that, even to this date, the RTR 180 is a very relevant and competent machine. It not only manages to stay relevant, but it also holds its own against the competition.