TVS Apache RTR 310 first ride review | King of the features game
A six-axis IMU, cornering ABS, cornering traction control, dynamic cruise control, dynamic lighting and a temperature controlled seat. Before your mind starts wandering, no, I’m not talking about the latest from Borgo Panigale. The machine that gets all these features and many more actually comes from our very own Hosur in Karnataka. TVS has finally launched the Apache RTR 310, the naked bike based on the RR 310. The launch of this bike also means that it is now the company’s flagship naked. Apart from all the features I mentioned, the Apache RTR 310 also gets a bump in power, a higher compression ratio and an entire suite of electronics, most of which are a first for this segment of motorcycle. Does all this mean that the RTR 310 is the sub-500cc name bike to reckon with? Only one way to find out.
TVS Apache RTR 310 design
The TVS Apache RTR 310 looks striking. It’s sharp, aggressive, the kind that looks fast even when standing still. It looks derivative of many really likeable Streetfighter style motorcycles and even the Streetfighter itself. That is a good thing and I’m not complaining. But at the same time it also still does have a TVS identity to it. Elements like the shrouds on the tank and the exposed frame, lend it a visual connection to its horse badge wearing brethren. The headlight has distinct DRLs with busy headlight design. Above that you have a five-inch colour TFT screen which unlike the RR is set hormonally rather than vertically. You then have nice wide streetfighter style flat handlebars that sit atop a chiselled fuel tank. The front end flows nicely into a split seat setup with a not too high rear end. The tail light design also adds to the look well and reminds me of a certain Japanese naked. The design on the whole looks stunning with the only thing holding it back in my opinion being the chunky exhaust. But with emission norms coming down on manufacturers like inmates on death row, I’m not complaining too much. In terms of colours you have a few to choose from — the base black and grey with red accents, the yellow one that I rode and then one that’s called Sepang blue and costs an extra Rs 10,000. Fit and finish levels are top notch and all plastics and panels feel well built.
TVS Apache RTR 310 engine and performance
The RTR 310 uses the same engine as the RR 310 but TVS has not just planned the mill in as is. They have made some changes to the engine, some minor, some comprehensive that have actually translated to an engine that does feel quite different to the RR 310 or even the BMW 310 twins for that matter. Firstly, TVS has tweaked the air intake which now sends air to a larger airbox. Then TVS has increased the compression ratio of the cylinder which now uses a forged piston to be able to cope with the higher compression. After this TVS has reworked the internals of the exhaust that allows them to make better use of the improved airflow. These changes have resulted in a marginal bump in power. The 312.12cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, single now puts out 35bhp at 9700rpm and 28.7Nm of torque at 6650rpm, up from the previous 33.5bhp and 27.3Nm. One thing to note is that the torque is delivered nearly 1050rpm earlier. While the gearbox continues to be the same, to make the engine more suited for a naked hooligan package as TVS is trying to make it, the bike gets a different final drive by way of a larger 46-tooth rear sprocket, up from 42.
What all this means is that the bike now feels pepper and more lively in the low and mid-range of the rev band. It feels quicker off the line and now courtesy of the shorter gearing, accelerates to a 15kmph lower than the RR 310 150kmph top-speed. Out on the open roads of Thailand, I managed to clock a speedo indicated 157kmph with not too much difficulty. While the initial peppiness is appreciated it comes at the cost of refinement. This engine doesn’t feel nearly as refined as the current iteration of the RR 310 which if you remember has come a long way since its inception. The bike feels riddled with vibes bang in the middle of the rev range right from 5000-7000rpm and as you get closer to the red line the vibes do reduce a fair bit but by then you’re doing speeds that you wouldn’t want to maintain for long durations. The problem with the vibrations being concentrated in the mid range means that cruising at a 100kmph feels like one long notification from your phone. The throttle response is sharp for the most part and adds to the sense of being a bike with more low-end and mid-range power but like the original RR 310 it does feel a little snatchy.
TVS Apache RTR 310 chassis, ride and handling
On the chassis front, TVS has made a lot of changes to lend the RTR 310 a character of its own. The main frame of the RTR is the same as on the RR, but the naked gets an all-new aluminium rear subframe. Courtesy of the new upright handlebars, the steering geometry is also slightly different. The footpegs are the same height as on the RR but have been taken a little forwards to make for a more upright riding stance. The frame hangs off of familiar KYB USD forks and a KYB monoshock at the rear. What TVS has done with the RTR is give it the option of adjustable suspension right from launch as a part of the Built To Order (BTO) platform. That means forks that are fully adjustable for compression, preload and rebound and a monoshock that is adjustable for preload and rebound. This lends the bike a really surefooted feel and one that possesses the quintessential TVS handling traits. The front end is agile and darts through traffic with ease. We also got a go at the Thailand Circuit for a few laps. Here the bike felt pretty comfortable and the suspension took most things in its stride. The track is notoriously bumpy and has many surface changes, so it is not particularly kind on the suspension or tyres. The RTR because of the forward set pegs doesn’t have as much cornering clearance as the RR. Meaning that the footpegs do scrape pretty easily. The Michelin Road 5 tyres on the other hand are brilliant, offering tons of grip and inspiring a whole lot of confidence.
I can’t comment too much about the ride quality of the RTR 310 because we rode it only on the good roads of Bangkok and then the track. While it felt perfectly pliant in those conditions, how it will fare in India remains to be seen. That being said, if the RR 310 is anything to go by and if TVS’ history is any indication, It should be a good mix of plush and sporty. The braking setup is also the same as the RR 310 meaning its a radially mounted four piston Bybre calliper mounted on a 300mm disc and a single piston calliper on a 240mm disc at the rear. Braking performance is solid and ABS is well calibrated. The RTR 310 also gets adjustable levers, something that was sorely missing on the RR 310.
TVS Apache RTR 310 features and electronics
The Apache RTR 310 has what is probably the fattest spec sheet in a bike of this segment. Cornering ABS, cornering traction control, cornering cruise control, a bi-directional quickshifter, speed dependent headlights, cooled and heated seats that actually work as advertised and so much more. Ever imagined that you’ll get features like this on a sub-500cc motorcycle? In our short ride experience I didn’t really get to put each and everything to the test so I will tell you more about that when I comprehensively road test the bike. But what I did like are the ride modes which actually have a noticeable step change in power delivery and also the addition of supermoto mode that allows you to lock the rear wheel and do all sorts of things that would attract a fine. Oh and did I mention, the six-axis IMU that enables lean sensitive rider aids also gives the RTR 310 wheelie control? Apart from that, you get all the regular connectivity features that you would expect from a bike of this class.
TVS Apache RTR 310 verdict
In typical TVS fashion the RTR 310 is a great handling motorcycle packed to the brim with features and one that is pretty fast as well. The engine is the only real weak link in the chain. What that means is that the fact that you can't tour comfortably and that it is not as potent a track machine as the RR 310 gives it a sort of one dimensional city hooligan character and if that is what you’re looking for then the RTR 310 is the bike for you. But, the RR 310 is the more versatile bike of the two for sure. Prices for the TVS Apache RTR 310 start at Rs 2.43 lakh and with all the BTO kits which includes adjustable suspension, lean-sensitive IMU electronics and the top-end Sepang blue colour, you’d end up paying Rs 3.14 lakh odd, ex-showroom. That makes it an expensive proposition compared to rivals like the Triumph Speed 400, the Bajaj Dominar 400 and the KTM Duke 390. But it also has more features than all of them combined. More importantly, it offers a very different riding experience. So whether or not it is the default choice amongst these bikes is really up to you. But what I can say is that it is a great overall package, albeit with a few shortcomings.