TVS Apache RTR 310 road test review | How does the brand's flagship, tech-laden, naked perform in the real world?

We've spent some time with the TVS Apache RTR 310, to see how it handles daily shenanigans in the city and weekend excursions in the twisties
Apache RTR 310
Apache RTR 310Shot by Avdhoot A Kolhe for evo India

The TVS Apache RTR 310 boggled us, when the wraps first came off at its unveil in Thailand, because of its sharp design and the long list of features it bragged about. My colleague Karan came away fairly impressed with the way the RTR 310 performed on the smooth roads of Thailand. So much so that he was eager to spend some time with it and try it on our soil. But when came d-day, I called dibs as Mr.K was busy with a spanking new orange Austrian in his garage. So here's how the Apache RTR 310 performs in the real world.

What a looker!

Our jaws dropped to the floor as soon as the Apache was unveiled to the world, because it followed in the footsteps of its failed siblings, with a radical turn in the styling department — it looked like any other TVS naked of the past, borrowing cues from some heavy hitters of the industry. It's sharp, macho and futuristic-looking, all at the same time, and easily comes amongst the top of the ‘bikes which attract the most attention this side of ₹5 lakh’ list. The big, bumblebee-ish, headlight, chiseled fuel tank, 41mm golden USD front forks, sharp tail and an incredible looking radiator guard (similar to the one on a certain Italian) come together beautifully and give it good road presence. It grabs attention wherever it goes, and looks worth every dime that it demands. The only part on this bike which doesn't belong there, is its large exhaust. The large muffler doesn't go with its sleek theme. An underbelly unit really would've been the icing on the cake. I hope someone at TVS is taking note.

Fit and finish on the RTR 310 is top-notch and the switchgear feels tactile. And you know what? While I liked its dual-tone colour scheme, (the contrast black front and yellow rear rims being a personal favourite), the very many name tag stickers (seven!), splattered on its sides still seems overkill to me. But you know what, this is what the young folks desire and there's no denying the fact that it gives the bike a very youthful character. In fact I was approached by quite a few KTM 200 Duke and Yamaha R15 owners who were eager to know about the way the RTR rides. They also made sure to tell me that it looks ‘kadak’. So if attention is what you're seeking, when you're out riding, the TVS Apache RTR 310 has definitely got you covered.

Technological tour de force

The Apache is the world's first motorcycle to feature a heated, as well as a cooled seat. Take that Honda Goldwing! While my test unit didn't sport this feature, the one Karan rode in Thailand did, and he gave it a big thumbs up. He said it works exactly like advertised and said that it'll certainly be a good feature to have in our country. No gimmicks at all. Moreover, the Apache has so much kit that some bikes even 2x the price might feel shy if they glance at its features list just once. Okay, so here it goes. It has speed-dependent headlights, adjustable levers, ride-by-wire throttle, cornering dual-channel ABS, cornering traction control, dynamic cruise control, rear lift-off control, slope-dependent control, five riding modes, a configurable digital cluster with smartphone connectivity, a tyre pressure monitoring system, a slipper clutch and a bi-directional quickshifter. And if you opt for the ‘Dynamic’ kit as a part of the Built-To-Order (BTO) program, you get front forks which are fully adjustable for compression, rebound and preload and a monoshock at the rear that's adjustable for the latter two. And we're still not done yet. The higher ‘Dynamic Pro’ kit adds a six-axis IMU enabling wheelie control and the aforementioned heated/cooled seat. Phew.

Ergonomics, performance and ride quality

Moving to the way it performs and rides now. Starting with the ergos, the Apache is a very comfortable bike to sit on. Its wide handlebars and fairly forward set foot pegs give it a comfy rider’s triangle and the well-cushioned seat doesn't tire you after a long ride. But folks who are built taller and bigger, might find both the seats a tad bit tight.

Flip its key and the RTR’s five-inch TFT screen switches on and boots up in no time. It changes themes according to the ride mode and is legible even in bright sunlight. But, no matter what the mode, there's always a lot going on, making it feel cluttered. A simpler UI or a larger screen would be nice. Thumb the one-touch start button and the 312cc single-cylinder engine comes to life. The mill generates 35bhp and 28.7Nm of peak torque, which is 1.5bhp and 0.6Nm more than the RR 310. This is achieved by a tweaked air intake sending air to a larger airbox, a higher compression ratio, a forged piston to handle the extra compression and reworks to the exhaust which improves airflow on it. The engine is paired to a six-speed gearbox which hasn't seen any changes, but the RTR 310 gets a bigger 46-tooth rear sprocket which gives it better acceleration down low. And that's evident the moment you ride off the starter blocks. The RTR 310 feels very eager to get off the line and it's better suited to city riding than the RR 310. The gearbox itself is fairly slick but what I really like is the bi-directional quickshifter. It's smooth and feels seamless no matter how much of a hard time you're giving it. But even at slow speeds, it does a pretty good job. The bike also has a pretty good heat management system. Of the three days that I rode it in the city, I also used the RTR as a commuter and even in peak traffic the motor merely felt just toasty. At 169kg, the 310 is not a feather weight, but it doesn't feel heavy to maneuver around tight spots.

While I enjoyed commuting on the RTR, I certainly didn't enjoy riding it out on the highway because of its engine. At 80kmph, the mill is sitting slightly north of 5000rpm and that makes it feel stressed. This is where the vibrations from the motor are at their peak and things get worse if you creep up to 100 or even a 110kmph. But it does get a little better on the other end of the tacho. When you're in the mood for a spirited ride though, this powerplant doesn't disappoint at all. It revs hard till the redline and does offer quite a good dose of the #ThrillOfRiding, from behind the ‘bars. Another thing which I wasn't a fan of was the RTR’s throttle calibration at slow speeds, because of the slight delay to the way it responds. It feels choppy and not the easiest when it comes to modulation.

In the twisties, the RTR 310 is an absolute boon. TVS does know a thing or two about making motorcycles which handle well and the 310 is no anomaly. It feels nimble and changes directions very nicely. And that's backed by the excellent suspension, which even in a non-adjustable avatar feels just fine — with the right amount of firmness and plushness. In fact, the bike rides beautifully over broken roads and feels very stable above 120kmph.

The RTR gets a 300mm disc upfront and a 240mm disc at the rear and while the setup lacks initial bite, it does a good job of slowing down the bike under hard braking with little disturbance from the ABS. This, combined with the sticky Michelin Road 5 rubber, make the RTR 310 a very capable corner carver.

Verdict and price

Prices for the TVS Apache RTR 310 start at ₹2.43 lakh and at that price point, it makes for a compelling buy. But the matter of fact is at that price you hardly get any features at all. Fancy this ‘Fury Yellow’ shade and the quickshifter? That's another 20,000. And all the other goodies demand even more! The ‘Dynamic’ kit will set you back ₹18,000 and the ‘Dynamic Pro’ another ₹22,000. So a fully loaded RTR 310 comes close to the ₹3.1 lakh ex-showroom mark, which is 390 Duke territory. And at that price point you really have to like the way it looks, because who are we kidding, the 390 Duke, with more power and sharper handling, is a much better all rounder. The TVS Apache RTR 310 then is for those folks who want a motorcycle that's fun to ride in the city and occasionally out on in the hills and is filled with features up to the gills. Had it not been for its stressed highway characteristics, the RTR 310 would've made a much stronger case for itself over the KTM 390 Duke.

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