The morning before the test ride, I found myself pondering. What does TVS have in store? Is it going to be the new Jupiter 125 or the Fiero 125? If online rumours were to be believed, it was the latter. However, this chain of thought continued at the back of my mind throughout my journey to the overnight hotel stay in Bengaluru. I have to admit, there was a certain bit of excitement when one doesn’t know. It’s almost like embarking on an adventure no one has previously experienced – that’s a thrill like no other. Nevertheless, the morning of the ride, I was pretty damn sure it’s going to be a motorcycle. Once I got the TVS’ massive Hosur plant, my doubts were cleared immediately. There sat under a black piece of cloth a whole new motorcycle. The surprise TVS had in store for us was the Raider. Honestly, from the moment it was revealed, there was something special about it.
To me, at first glance, it looked like an angry little bee or something Bumblebee would transform into when he needed to pop around the corner for a pint of fresh coolant. Jokes apart, the Raider looks quite unique. That distinctive LED headlamp, sculpted tank and engine guard come together to put across the sporty intention this motorcycle very clearly has. There’s also the split seat, which gets storage under the pillion seat and the five-step adjustable rear monoshock that further adds credibility to the fact that this is a fun to ride motorcycle – on a budget. In fact, TVS has announced the prices today and they start from Rs 77,500 (ex-showroom, Delhi), and there is a drum and disc variant to choose from. However, given that it plans to lure customers with its fun-to-ride image, a dual-disc variant would’ve been pretty special, too. Coming back to the design; I personally feel TVS has done a good job with the Raider. It’s just about unique but not too in your face. By the way, It comes in four colours – Striking Red, Blazing Blue, Wicked Black and Fiery Yellow.
After the briefing, it was time to head out to the test track. A small but curvy stretch of tarmac that is quite a bit of fun. I had previously gotten a chance to test the iQube electric scooter there, and now it was time for the Raider. Right off the bat, the first sensation was nimbleness. The 123-kilogram kerb weight makes the Raider a delight to chuck around, not that we were doing that too much at the test track. The 124.8cc engine from the NTorq is air & oil-cooled and comes with a three-valve set-up. It churns out 12 bhp of peak power and 11.2 Nm of torque. It’s mated to a five-speed transmission, which slots in well and is slick-shifting. The response from the engine is one of instant energy and that ties in really well with the single-downtube chassis. There’s a good amount of pep right from the get-go and carries on to quite high in the rev range. Lest I forget, the throaty exhaust note is a thing of beauty, too. I’m serious, I was enjoying it while I wasn’t on the bike and was watching journos take their turn!
I found myself constantly trying to go past the 99 km/hr claimed top speed and, I’m happy to report, succeeded. The grip from the 17-inch tyres (alloys) is also quite decent. The two riding modes – Power & Eco – also make a significant impact on the nature of the power delivery, and again, only add to that sporty appeal. TVS say in ‘Power’ mode, the Raider is 0.4 seconds quicker to 60 km/hr from a standstill. The ‘Eco’ mode, on the other hand, results in a 3 percent bump in fuel economy. It goes without saying that the telescopic front forks are more tuned towards keeping costs in check. Even the 240mm disc and 130mm drum at the back feel the same way but are adequately equipped at bringing the bike to a halt. I don’t remember the last time I had this much fun on a 125cc motorcycle barring the RC 125, which has a pretty steep asking price. It seems like TVS has another addition to their sporty yet affordable stable, one that sits perfectly between the Ntorq and Apache series.
But that’s not all there is to the Raider. Don’t forget, it has a commuter angle too. The handlebar position is slightly forward set, compared to regular commuters, which helps in the handling department. Speaking of which, the handlebar and switchgear itself feel well built and there’s a durability to the Raider. The optional USB charger, crisp LCD display with a whole load of information make for a well-rounded package, overall. Oh, and TVS has even added a start/stop system that automatically engages in ‘Eco’ mode and saves on some precious fuel. It works seamlessly and the best part is the fact that the bike comes back to life with just a twist of the throttle – neat! Although I didn’t get to ride the Raider as much as I would have liked, it was easy to see the amount of effort TVS has put in to make this bike come to life.
Sure, it may not be for the seasoned rider, but for someone looking to step into the world of fun riding, this is certainly a brilliant stepping stone. There are no two ways about it, if you’re out looking for an engaging riding experience in the 125cc segment, but don’t necessarily have the budget – pick the TVS Raider. The blend of commuter and sport has never been quite this good and we only hope that TVS continues on this path of affordable performance. In retrospect, I’m rather glad it was the Raider and not anything else because I sincerely believe that fun riding is for everyone, not just for people with a huge sum of money. Power to the people!
Engine – 124.8cc, single-cylinder, air & oil cooled
Power – 12 bhp@ 7,500 rpm
Torque – 11.2 Nm @ 6,000 rpm
Gearbox – 5-speed
Price – Rs 77,500 onwards (ex-showroom)
Kerb Weight – 123 kilograms
Fuel tank – 10 litres
Fuel economy – 67 kmpl (claimed)
For – Sporty character, peppy & refined engine, nimble handling, feature rich
Against – Lack of a dual-disc variant and ABS