2018 TVS Apache RTR160 review: Suzuki Gixxer 155 & Honda X Blade challenger ridden

2018 TVS Apache RTR160 review: Suzuki Gixxer 155 & Honda X Blade challenger ridden

The RTR series remain every school pass-outs wet dream. The bikes look the part, the adverts on the idiot box are oh so cool and with so much tech on offer, an 18 year old adrenaline junkie, who has just cleared his driving license test can simply not ignore the line-up. So while the older 160 remains, and will cater to the masses, this new RTR 160 4v that you see here has its eyes set on the above mentioned user base. And while I am no young gun anymore, I still have fond memories of riding the first generation Apache 150 way back in 2006 – a grin was plastered across my face within minutes and that inspite of the awkwardly set forward pegs. The bigger RTR 200 impressed me again two years back and here I was at the TVS test track outside Bangalore on the all-new RTR 160 4V.

New clothes

The RTR160 is really is an all-new motorcycle. Park the earlier version next to it and you will agree. Infact, the new bike is a toned down version of the RTR 200, sharing the same design language. A lot has been said about it all across the Internet and so I will keep this section crisp and simple. I love the headlamp cowl and those sharp looking DRLs along with the tiny Indian flag on the right side. The tank extensions look sharp and the engine cowl does not look out of place. The grab rail remains as classy as always and the RTR 160 4v gets the 200’s exhaust design too.

The LCD console is a carry-over from the 200 and shares a wealth of information – shall throw some light on it later on. The changes in the design as compared to the 200 include a single long seat, single piece handle bar instead of clip-ons, different alloy wheel design and size of the tyres. Talking of which, while both the carb and Fi versions get a 90/90-17 up front, there are differences as per versions in terms of the rear tyre. The Fi and carb with rear disc models get a wider 130/70-17 tyre while the carb-rear drum gets a slimmer 110/80-17 unit.

The 160 4v is also lower in height and shorter in length but is higher with a longer wheelbase. It also gets 15mm higher ground clearance and a saddle height of 800mm, up by 10mm – these figures are in comparison with the older 160. In terms of color options, you can pick from red, black or blue.

Added features

The new RTR 160 4v does not offer ABS, not even as an option. But apart from this, the bike gets a long list of features. First up is the new LCD display picked up from the 200. It shows actual speed, engine rpm, odometer and also has a top speed recorder as well as an acceleration recorder to be precise. Talking of which, with my weight, I saw about 119 on the speedometer on the short back straight. Lighter riders will easily see 125, given the right (and safe) road conditions. Also, while the fuel injected version gets a lap timer, gear indicator and white back lighting, the cheaper carb version does the timer and indicator and gets amber lights.

The RTR continues to get petal discs at both the ends – 270mm up front and 200 at the back, no changes here. The drum version gets a 130mm dia drum at the back. You also get a 7 step adjustable rear shock absorber and wider front forks, the benefit of which has been described below as a first person account. In comes an oil-cooler for the engine, optional Pirelli tyres for the Fi version and a double barrel exhaust.

Heart of the matter

No model update is complete without extra oomph from the engine. And the good news is that the updated RTR 4v packs in a punch. I will start with the numbers first. The engine develops 9% and 11% more power for the carb and Fi versions and the figures now stand at 16.3 and 16.8 PS respectively. Most importantly, torque has gone up by 13.5% to 14.8 Nm. And although the bike has gained weight, TVS claims the 160 4v still has the best power to weight ratio in the segment.

As the name suggests, the engine now gets four valves. TVS has utilized all the experience it has learnt from racing at the track. The patented O3C (Oil- Cooled Combustion Chamber) tech finds it way here and gets ram-air assist. This reduces the engine heat map by upto 10℃ and this delivers better performance, specially during demanding conditions like start-stop traffic. It also gets light weight nano friKS coated piston, very essential for a high-revving engine.

I had flown to Bangalore for the RTR 160 4v after the new Yamaha R15 V3.0 ride and trust me, within the first lap at the short TVS track, I was not disappointed by the ‘less’ powered 160 4v. The smoothness of the engine had me impressed and ditto for low speed tractability. The engine picks up effortlessly from 28-30 kph in 5th gear with no stress or knocking whatsoever. And it sounds pleasant while doing so. For those who love numbers, 1st gear is good enough for 45, 2nd for 72 and 3rd for 95 kph. Tourers will appreciate the fact that at an indicated 90 kph, the engine is spinning away at 7000 rpm, with enough in reserve to overtake fast moving vehicles.

Although I rode both the carb and fuel injected versions, its too early to comment on the way they feel in real world scenarios. No doubt, the injected version will offer slightly better fuel economy and better cold morning starts but surprisingly, the carb version is quicker to 60 kph from a standstill. We rode the bikes for a good 15-20 minutes and all this while, the engine was made to rev above 6000-7000rpm. No unwanted harshness though certain vibes did start setting in through the bars, pegs and plastic tank cover. Minor ones and for a typical city commute, these should not bother you at all.

The 5-speed gearbox works well and is smooth in operation. No false shifts or false neutrals were encountered inspite of my ‘big’ riding boots. Infact I loved clutch-less shifting on the RTR 4v, something that turned out to be very easy.

The ride

The TVS test track has two high speed straights and one long flowing right curve. This right curve ends into the second (back) straight with a tricky left that can test the best of riders. I usually enter the high speed right curve in fourth at about 85-90 and exit the same onto the long back straight at 95-100kph : it takes about 3-4 seconds and this is where a meaty power band is required between 5000-8000 rpm. You should not go wrong here, leaned in with the right peg millimeters from the tarmac – no scope for errors. And thankfully, the 4v cocoons you so well, you feel confident to go faster and faster. No rider aids like ABS or slipper clutch, pure performance tuned geometry and suspension that invites newbies and amateurs to test and polish their skills.

The 160 now gets rear mono-shock suspension and a wider swing-arm from the bigger 200. It can be adjusted in seven steps – factory setting did feel a bit soft for my weight (100+ kg) but making it stiffer to setting number 6 did help a lot. It finally had the underlying firmness and the rear did not twitch or wobble at all. Likewise, there are improvements up front. The Showa forks are wider and the flex is a lot less now. The riding position remains sporty without putting undue pressure on your wrists or the back and worthy of a mention is the large seat that allowed me to push my rear end back, making space for me to tuck-in during the high speed run. This new entry level performance bike seemed to do it all. Impressive.

I was however not too happy with the front brake and the bite it offered. It could be due to brand new brake pads but I had rely a lot on engine braking during a few hard stops while shedding speeds from my top whack runs. Or this could be a one off issue on my motorcycle – will definitely look forward to an extended riding experience in Delhi NCR on a different bike.

Verdict

At a premium of Rs 2,775 in terms of ex-showroom price, the new 160 4v is just 3% more expensive than the regular 160. This is peanuts! In terms of competition, while the RTR 160 4v starts from Rs 80,900 onwards, the Suzuki Gixxer 155 and Honda XBlade are slightly cheaper but do not offer the same performance levels.

TVS has once again upped the game in this segment. The 4v comes across as a better looking motorcycle, loaded with tech and features while offering thrilling performance. Icing on the cake? Never did it feel like a low cost motorcycle with best in class quality levels and fit-n-finish. It is a well packaged motorcycle with no cost-cutting measures visible and this will go down well with owners. The leaping horse logo on the fuel tank truly signifies what the 160 4v will do – it will have an unstoppable run in the segment. ‘nuf said!

Riding suit via RedLine Racing Store. Here’s our video review of the bike.

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