It was back in 2005 when TVS first came out with the Apache moniker. The TVC showcased a 150cc Apache doing stunts, eager to please the then growing young customer base that wanted performance along with a convenient commuter bike. That was then though. It is 2016 and the Apache brand is one of the prime players in the 150-180cc motorcycle segment effortlessly selling around 20,000 units every month. But the competition has gone global and that's where TVS needs to be. The current Apaches clearly did not make the cut and that's when the Hosur-based automaker decided to go back to the drawing board and develop what we know today as the all-new Apache RTR 200 4V.
A mouthful of a name, the new Apache is built on the genes of TVS Racing and has always justified the Race Throttle Response (RTR) tag that the company chooses to flaunt lavishly. The newest model also holds TVS' technical prowess (with the exception of BMW) in the highest order as the bike maker takes the fight to the likes of Bajaj Auto and KTM in the segment. While we already sampled the Apache RTR 200 4V at the TVS test track earlier this year, we now take it to open roads to see what it is truly capable of.
Design and Features
The new TVS Apache RTR 200 4V looks distinguished but not dramatically different from the previous generation models. The bike maker has chosen to stay close to the Draken X-21 concept showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo, which is a good thing and this has helped push the aggressive quotient to a maximum lending a true street-fighter styling. The trademark bikini fairing has been given a miss on the RTR 200 and is now replaced by a leaner and meaner single headlamp cluster that is equipped with daytime running LEDs.
The single piece fuel tank looks sharp and accommodates the extended fenders with ease, whereas the differently positioned fuel tank lid looks rather good. Adding a sporty touch is the black stripe in the middle of the fuel tank that also manages to break the mono colour scheme on the bike. You get split seats that are comfortable and accommodating for both the rider and pillion, whereas the rear gets an LED tail lamp and clear lens turn indicators. What also work for us are the W-shaped grab handle and the wavy alloy wheels that complete the aesthetic elements on the flagship Apache.
The Apache RTR 200 4V holds many firsts for TVS and one of them is its all-digital instrument console. We were impressed when the KTM Duke 200 first came with a heavily loaded console setting the benchmark in the segment and TVS has a done a splendid job matching up to it. You get a speedometer, odometer, two trip meters, gear indicator gear shift light and service reminder. But here's the fun part, the console also comes with a lap timer, high speed recorder, shortest distance recorder and a humble message that says 'Race On' every time you turn the ignition on.
While the styling is one aspect of grabbing attention, TVS has managed to tune the exhaust rather well on the Apache RTR 200 4V. Dubbed as the 'double barrel' exhaust, the RTR 200 gets a stronger bass exhaust note, which makes it an attention seeking motorcycle, should you choose to rev past the onlookers. Our test bike was finished in matte white and the calm colour certainly looks brilliant and matches the superior fit and finish that TVS has to offer. That said, the other shades inclusive of matte yellow, grey and red are something to watch out for.
The Apache brand has been around for a little over ten years now, but the updates to it haven't been as quick as one would've hoped. It started with the 150 IE Surge engine, moving on to the 160, 160 RTR and 180cc motor with fuel injection. TVS also took its own sweet time to develop its biggest motor ever and the Apache RTR 200 4V certainly makes the wait worth it. Power comes from a 198cc, four-stroke, single-cylinder, oil-cooled engine that comes with Ram air Assist, a segment first. Available in carburetted and fuel injected (EFI) versions; we were riding the EFI version that makes for a slightly better performer between the two. The EFI system has been developed by Bosch, the motor makes 20.7bhp of power at 8500rpm and 18.1Nm of torque at 7000rpm. Those aren't the post powerful figures in the segment, but they aren't the most disappointing either.
Power delivery feels smooth throughout the rev range and there is ample grunt even at lower rpms to get you going. The throttle response is crisp thanks to the EFI unit and the counter balancer shaft has helped keep engine vibrations to a minimum. In fact, vibes are negligible even on top of the power band and the motor is extremely refined in every sense. The engine feels the happiest in the mid-range at just above 6000rpm and power is always available at the twist of your wrist. While riding in the city will hardly be an issue on the Apache RTR 200, the top-end is lacking and that's when an extra 2-3bhp would've helped.
TVS claims a top speed of 129 kmph on the Apache with 0-110 kmph coming up easily. The remainder though needs the rider to crouch a bit to get the numbers going. The bike maker has also restrained itself to a 5-speed gearbox, while the competition has moved to a 6-speed unit. Nevertheless, gear shifts are smooth and changes sans any hassle, but that extra could've helped in achieving a slightly higher top speed. In the next update maybe?
Handling, Suspension and Braking
One of the stronger points that the Apache series always boasted off was a strong handling character and with the RTR 200 4V, TVS has spiced things up further. While the frame is completely new, it remains extremely responsive and quick turns are hardly ever an issue. In fact, one could compare it to a point and shoot camera, so to say. It feels that effortless at times when changing directions. That said, it isn't flawless and the trait can be blamed on the slightly softer suspension setup.
The Apache RTR 200 4V uses 37mm Kayaba front forks and a pre-load adjustable monoshock suspension at the rear. The setup works well in terms of everyday performance and is intended to offer a balance between good ride quality and handling. TVS scores brownie points in this regard and has certainly done a good job. Hence, it is only when you turn the throttle a bit too hard, the softer setup becomes apparent. Nevertheless, it isn't something that spoils the riding experience and clearly does not affect the dynamics of the motorcycle in everyday riding conditions. What stays true to the Apache name is the effortless performance that the bike has managed to offer for over a decade now.
Braking does not come naturally to TVS and the automaker has certainly worked its way with the latest Apache to offer incredible stopping power. The 270mm front and 240mm rear petal disc brakes offer impressive pedal bite and progression. In fact, the brakes are one of the top three features that you will like on the RTR 200. The bike stops with utmost confidence retaining its line even under harshest braking conditions and the Pirelli (optional) tyres play an important role in offering that phenomenal traction.
A combination of Sport Demon at the front and the Angel GT at the rear, the tyres work well and allow you to push a tad harder. However, there is a bit of inconsistency between the tyres, which is something that is only at the top-end of the power band, but given the nature of the bike, it is seldom you will be riding continuously at the red line. Our test bike missed out on the dual-channel ABS unit, which will arrive on the bike later this year; a safety feature we highly appreciate.
The Apache RTR 200 4V also holds credit for being the first real sports performer from TVS without the commuting element and without a doubt, the company has done a fine job. The street-fighter has certainly evolved in every way possible. It looks fantastic, feels build to last and is loaded with goodies to the brink. The motorcycle feels refined in every aspect and there is very little one can complain about. Yes, it isn't the most powerful of the lot, but one must not forget that its current power band happens to be enjoyable. In fact, it is one of the few motorcycles out there that will let you experience every ounce of power on offer allowing you to push to the maximum.
Then there are the optional Pirelli tyres and the fact that dual-channel ABS will soon be an option, which makes it an interesting proposition. But, how much would you end up paying this? Well, TVS has always known its customers look for value as much as performance and at ₹ 1.07 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Apache RTR 200 4V feels well priced if not the most competitive.
Photography: Pawan Dagia
Watch the First Look video of TVS Apache RTR 200 4V, after the jump: