Bike-scooters/ Road-test/ TVS Apache RTR 310 Road Test Review

TVS Apache RTR 310 Road Test Review

Passion Project

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Overview

Things work a little differently when a manufacturer is driven by passion, not sheer numbers. Their love towards what they do trickles down to the vehicles. Sometimes, it is so evident that despite their shortcomings, they still manage to seduce us in the most mechanically and emotional way possible. This breed of automotive euphoria is what they call passion projects. The 500 kilometers spent rioting around with the TVS Apache RTR 310 convinced me of something. It isn’t just a flagship, it is a passion project where TVS just wanted to flex. And the Apache does flex, hard!

Not just muscles and brawn, but brain too. We will get into that later because the elephant in the room is actually a wasp. An angry one at that because just look at that bug-eyed face! The Fury Yellow paint shade also added to this creature’s persona. The front headlamp unit not only gives the Apache a very imposing and radical front end, it also has practical benefits. Even the stock LED headlamp setup would suffice for nightcrawlers sinning around when the sun sets. The rest of the bodywork stays as radical as it can get, with the chopped off rear end adding to its freestyler appeal. Sure, the overall design might not be to everyone’s taste but there’s one thing for sure - it is indeed a mean looking streetfighter that is also pretty well built. While its faired sibling would slay at beauty pageants, the RTR would be organizing a riot right in front of the venue, calling for a boycott for such practices.

Naked streetfighters will always stay close to my heart. They invoke a sense of carelessness in me which is not instilled by other genres of motorcycling. The RTR 310, turned out to be no different. Even its ergonomics scream ‘streetfighter’ on top of their lungs. A wide, straight handlebar is accompanied by rearset footpegs, granting the rider with a commanding riding position and uncluttered cockpit view. The seat height stands at just 800mm, making it an easy motorcycle even for the people who aren’t blessed with towering heights. 

The RTR 310 isn’t just a RR 310 in a stripped off form, it is much more than that. Mechanically speaking, it is powered by the same 312cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled motor that has spawned four TVS and BMW motorcycles so far, apart from the RTR. In the RTR though, TVS has tweaked the fuel map, intake, and exhaust. The said changes have transformed the RTR into an animal. The thing is, it now puts down 35.6hp and 28.7Nm, which is 1.6hp and 0.7Nm higher than its stablemates. Shorter gearing has also contributed to its wild demeanours. Let’s get into it?

Before I start jotting down a love letter, it would be wise to list down the negatives first. The RTR 310 is bestowed with so many electronics, it would impart existential crisis on some of the much more expensive, multi-cylinder powered motorcycles. Five ride modes, cornering traction control and ABS, wheelie control, cruise control… (word limit, Anant!)! And, a lot more. After riding the RTR 310 in each and every mode, I believe they could have been calibrated a lot better. For some reason, despite getting a lower state of tune the low and mid range in the Urban mode is explosive! However, the engine juiced out at 138kmph. The other performance-oriented modes include Sport and Track but I found myself mostly in the Urban mode because it turned out to be not only the smoothest but most consistent and not to forget… explosive! Also, in Sport and Track mode, the sense of the motorcycle getting slowed down because of engine braking was so subdued that I instantly shifted back to Urban mode. 

That being said, I believe that the 312cc engine that was jointly developed by TVS and BMW has run its course because this is the best tune that it has received according to me. It should die as a hero, rather than finding itself in another iteration with flaws. The low-end and mid-range might have been the star of the show but that doesn’t mean that the RTR runs out of breath in higher revs. It keeps pulling hard till it smooches the rev ceiling. Despite trying with all their might, TVS hasn’t been able to shield this engine from vibrations. They are even more pronounced in the RTR but the ride experience is so engaging that they go unnoticed, sneakily passing off as ‘character’. This makes it a hoot to ride in the city and around canyons but given the frisky and vibey nature of the engine, I wouldn’t suggest grand touring on it. However, riding the RTR the way it’s supposed to be ridden makes one feel like taming a wild animal. Once you start doing that, it is a rewarding experience to fight with it and then make wild wild love. What supports the carnage is the bi-directional quickshifter which works flawlessly.

The 310 platform might have been riddled with powertrain flaws but there’s one thing for sure, the chassis is sublime. Even in the RTR 310, it strikes a natural balance between comfort and agility. One can even spec their RTR 310 with adjustable suspension at both ends, enhancing its capabilities to a new horizon. The RTR 310 rides over undulations with composure and in attack mode, it bestows the learnings of TVS’ racing department onto the rider. The brakes are sharp and provide good feedback too. The only area where it felt lacking was the initial braking bite. Apart from that, finding more flaws would be a tough nut to crack. Especially when you factor in other premium components like the Michelin Road 5 tyres which provide you with the much-needed confidence to put a leash on this beast. 

The tech on offer is what makes this pony, a special and futuristic one. Not just guns, but TVS went all weapons blazing while loading up the RTR 310. Apart from a whole hoard of electric nannies keeping a keen eye on you, the RTR 310 is also equipped with cooled seats and cruise control. The cooled seat option makes the seat a lot harder than it should be and leaves wanting for more in terms of function as well. Cruise control, however, worked without any issues, imparting some touring cred as well. 

After a spirited weekend ride, I could formulate why the RTR 310 is a special motorcycle. It has flaws, no doubt about it but the boundless stickers splattered over it, including ‘Hyperspec’ (what does it mean, TVS?) pronounce out loud that it was made with passion. Made with love for engineering and in a more evolved state, motorcycling. It stands as a living, moving testament to TVS’ hunger for advancement and their love for racing. As a journalist, I cannot say it is the perfect motorcycle which would fulfill your one bike garage dream but as a motorcyclist who loves fast sprints across town and blurry weekend runs, the RTR turned out to be an absolute hoot.



TopGear Magazine May 2024