When you have three million reasons to celebrate, you ought to do it in a befitting manner. And that is what TVS Motors decided to do in order to celebrate the milestone of selling three million Apache motorcycles since 2005!
The Hosur-based manufacturer invited us to ride the entire Apache range across the beautiful landscape of Nepal and in the process, we experienced the progression of the brand and its success in Indian and foreign markets. Just what the idea was. And what an idea it proved to be!
Day one: Kathmandu to Pokhara
It was a rather tepid start to a promising ride. I was handed the keys to the oldest Apache, the RTR 160 2V. It’s a successor to the first-gen Apache 150, on which I discovered (and may I add, loved) the sweeping corners of Lavasa back in 2006. And I quickly back-tracked onto the nostalgia and instantly connected with this bike as we rode out of Kathmandu onto the country roads leading to Pokhara. Though, the RTR 160 V2 felt peppy and brisk for its age and size, like an eager teenager on the first day of college. Boasting a solid mid-range grunt and razor-sharp handling, the motorcycle is equipped to give any of its competitors a run for their money.
The most noticeable improvement though was the lack of vibrations, something that plagued the first generation Apache. Overall, the 160 2V, in its newest form felt well put together and refined. The handling was sharp like the original machine that was bred on the racetrack and brought to the road.
Here on, things got interesting. My next ride was the Apache 200 4V. It impressed me right from the day I rode it on the track for the Times Auto Awards in association with Fast Bikes India’s jury round. What a hoot! It won my heart. But this time, when I rode it on the bumpy and twisty roads to Pokhara, it showed great potential for some off-roading fun too! The rev-hungry engine is certainly the most refined motor in the Apache series. With the 200 4V, TVS boffins have managed to hit a sweet spot that’s even missing on the RR310 due to its high strung performance tuning. And with a healthy engine output of 20.2bhp and 18.1Nm of torque, the 200 4V can keep its own without breaking a sweat. The Apache RTR 200 4V is an extremely capable motorcycle in its class and after having spent a sizable amount of time with it on varying terrain, I would certainly recommend it over its immediate competition.
The road to Pokhara, wasn’t perfect, but the 200 4V’s suspension setup and chassis worked wonderfully to keep things under control at all times. Also, the ergonomics on the 200 4V are spot on. Despite dealing with some really tough and bumpy road sections enroute Pokhara from Kathmandu, I wasn’t fatigued at the end of the day, thanks to its pliant ride. It was a great day astride the Apache 200 4V.
Day two: Pokhara to Chitwan
I wasn’t willing to give up the 200 4V. But protocol had to be followed and the TVS team was diligent in making sure we rode the entire Apache line up. So, out went the 200 4V, and soon I found myself on the Apache RTR 160 4V. The peculiar 4-valve high-revving nature of the motor was an instantly evident step-up on the Apache 160 4v from its 2-valve-headed cousin. Lesser vibes coming onto the tank and pegs and a slick shifting gearbox delivered a consistent mid-range. Soon I found myself having a good time on the 160 4V. I found it significantly similar to the bigger 200 in its performance and handling dynamics. While the underpinnings on the 160 4V are similar to the 2V sibling, the smoother power delivery and improved refinement lends the 160 4V a composed and calmer nature.
“On bumpy roads,the RTRs showed great off-road potential”
It’s something that goes a long way in keeping your cool when dealing with erratic truckers and arrogant car drivers on the Pokhara to Chitwan route. The stretch from Pokhara to Chitwan was partly bumpy for the initial 100 odd kilometres and then halfway from the town of Mugling, it turned into a pristine race-quality tarmac with long sweeping corners navigating through the endless valley. It was complimented by the scenic Trishuli river flowing alongside. And it got better when I was handed the keys to the Apache RR310.
And once astride the most powerful motorcycle from TVS, I remember meeting our entourage directly at the hotel in the evening. Well, I had the ultimate machine from TVS’ portfolio, great roads ahead of me and mediocre skills to use those 35 horses. And so I did, yet not very wisely. Of course there were unintentional wheelies and triple digit speeds were clocked on a few occasions, but then who apart from a policeman could stop a bloke from keeping the throttle wide open on a motorcycle that is built to enthral and excite like the Apache RR310?
Luckily there wasn’t any patrolling on this road and I made the most of it belting the RR310 and enjoying every bit of its well setup suspension and confidence inspiring manners. This was the first time I was riding the RR310 on the road and its composed form and forgiving nature further boosted my confidence. Being familiar to TVS’ success and aggression in racing, I always expected the RR310 to be an all-out focused race machine. But TVS has managed to deliver a motorcycle that is quick and agile but doesn’t require one to be on the edge of his limits to truly enjoy it. And that is where the RR310 truly outshines its competition. It’s a motorcycle that can don many hats without compromising on the thrills that it promises. It is just as comfortable and well-mannered around the corners as it is on the open highways or in the crowded cities.
Day three: Chitwan to Kathmandu
Once again I found myself on the most powerful Apache enjoying the 68km of superb roads back towards Kathmandu. The terrain was a little tough when we neared the capital city and the broken section of the road stretched for almost 80km. We had to slow down. But despite the trying conditions, the Apache RR310 seemed enthusiastic and ready to roll. The sporty yet neutral riding position meant no stress even on bad roads. And despite the hot climate, the engine didn’t seem to heat up in the crawling traffic. A welcome change over the high-performance two-wheeled furnaces we end up riding so often.
“The RR 310 is just as comfortable around the corners as it is on the open highways or in crowded cities”
We were back at the hotel in Kathmandu, reminiscing over the past three days. One thing I have noticed is that the BMW-TVS partnership has reaped great benefits for the Hosur folks. The overall quality of parts, fit and finish as well as the engineering finesse is seen vastly on all the models. TVS has gathered crucial learning from its German associate and successfully incorporated it into making well-engineered motorcycles. And if this Indian manufacturer keeps progressing at this rate, the ‘5 million Apaches on Road’ mark will arrive a lot sooner than it took for them to reach three million worldwide. Of course, you cannot just credit the Germans for TVS’ success. It’s the ensemble of products that is making things work for them, be it the Radeon, or the NTorq or even the RTR 200 4V. Keep at it you fellas!
Words by Varad More