TVS Ronin first ride review | Should the retro classics be worried?
You might remember the TVS Zeppelin concept from a few years back. The TVS Ronin is what we can assume is the first of a few models along those lines to make it into final production. Despite being based on the Zeppelin it looks almost nothing like it. That’s because the concept was a cruiser and with the Ronin, TVS wanted to make a bike that doesn’t fit in any one category of motorcycle but one that should be able to do a bit of everything. Now, this bike has been built from the ground up. It gets a new engine, new chassis setup and most distinctly, it looks unlike anything TVS has made to date. Now, in terms of rivals, the Ronin rivals the likes of the Honda H’ness CB350 / CB350RS and the Royal Enfield Classic 350. What is this all-new package like to ride? We headed to a soaking Goa to find out.
TVS Ronin Design
The TVS Ronin features a completely new design which is unlike anything TVS has created in the past. It is really hard to peg what category of bike the Ronin falls under and that is what TVS wanted from the get-go. But if I were to try, it looks like a mix of a scrambler, a cruiser and a retro classic naked motorcycle, with distinct design cues from each of these categories. The front end of the Ronin is made up of a circular headlamp unit with a distinct T-shaped DRL around which the LED units are placed. There’s more than a hint of Triumph design language here. Next to this, you have USD Showa forks which are golden finished on the mid and top-spec variants. Behind the headlamp, you have a fairly wide handlebar and on the 'bar sits a circular and offset monopod instrument cluster. This gives you all the information you need on the go but the housing is too large. Behind the handlebar, you have a muscular 14.5-litre fuel tank which sits above a rather compact retro-style ribbed seat. Even the side panels of the bike have a retro vibe. In fact from certain angles, I see elements of the BMW R nineT or the Moto Guzzi V7 Stone in the Ronin. The rear end of the Ronin looks bare-bones with not much going for it apart from a cyclops-like light bar. Build quality on this TVS is top-notch. Now, looks are extremely subjective and some people absolutely loved the Ronin on that front. Although I must say, most may not be as convinced because after seeing what TVS is capable of with bikes like the Apache, I know we can expect better. Also, the design doesn’t seem very cohesive and could be better proportioned.
TVS Ronin engine
The TVS Ronin gets an all-new 225.9cc single-cylinder mill and temperatures are kept in check courtesy of a centrally mounted oil-cooler. TVS wanted to make the Ronin easy-going and effortless to ride. The engine is designed to have an extremely flat torque curve spread richly across the low-end and mid-range of the power band. And this has been achieved. A quick look at the spec-sheet reveals it makes 20.1bhp at 7750rpm and 19.93Nm of torque as low as 3750rpm. These numbers do actually translate into great rideability in the real world as well. You have oodles of low-end and mid-range grunt, which fizzles out by around 7000rpm. Meaning, there’s no point really revving out this engine. Power delivery is also extremely tractable and you can ride the Ronin as slow as 30kmph in fifth gear from where it pulls steadily and cleanly to build faster speeds. Although, if you want to make a quick overtake, you do need to downshift. Speaking of gears, the engine is mated to a smooth shifting five-speed gearbox and light feeling slip assisted clutch. The gearbox is slick and shifts with nice tactile feel but I did experience the occasional false-neutral. In terms of cruising, while the engineers at TVS claimed the Ronin should be able to comfortably cruise at 110kmph, 85-90kmph is a more realistic number, for stress-free cruising. Anything beyond that and I could feel unpleasant vibes starting to creep through the handlebar and footpegs. The Ronin gets a trademark TVS exhaust note, that’s deep and burbly and could have belonged to a bigger motorcycle. Overall, the TVS Ronin engine is likeable, having said which however, it didn't really bowl me over as I’ve come to expect from TVS bikes these days.
TVS Ronin ride and handling
The TVS Ronin gets a new chassis. There’s a double-cradle frame, that hangs off Showa- 41mm USD forks up front and a gas-charged rear monoshock. The new TVS gets 17-inch wheels and newly-developed TVS Remora dual-purpose tyres, called Rumbler. Now this along with the relaxed ergonomic setup makes for a relaxed ride. This is not an apex hunter as you know its Apache sibling is, and neither is it a dedicated off-roader or outright cruiser. The Ronin is set up such that it can do a fair bit of everything, in some capacity. This can’t be my final verdict however, considering I rode the Ronin in Goa’s torrential downpour, exclusively. So I've got to reserve the final verdict for when we test the Ronin in better conditions. The tyres offered reasonable grip in the wet, however, when you really push that the front, they start to give and confidence is hampered. Ride quality is plush with the forks and monoshock set slightly on the soft side. The Ronin soaks up small bumps and potholes quite well and I found myself voluntarily jumping some larger speed breakers as well. So you can have some fun on this TVS. Braking duties are handled by a 300mm disc up front and a 240mm rear disc. You get dual-channel ABS on the top-end variant that we tested. The ABS has been calibrated with two modes ‘Rain’ and ‘Urban’ that work rather well. Even under hard braking in the wet I never felt the ABS on my brake levers and I could come to a controlled stop rather well. The brakes seemed to work well in the rains with linear bite and progression, although how they hold up in the streets, remains to be seen.
TVS Ronin variants and features
The TVS Ronin will be available in three variants. A single-tone, single-channel ABS variant, prices for which start at Rs 1.49 lakh. Then there is the dual-tone, single-channel ABS variant which costs Rs 1.56 lakh and then there’s the top-end three-tone, dual-channel ABS variant that we rode which will set you back Rs 1.69 lakh ex-showroom. The top-end variant also benefits from adjustable levers and a connectivity suite. In terms of connectivity, there is the TVS Arive app and SmartConnect. With these apps, you can connect your phone to the instrument cluster, control music, end and receive calls, get turn-by-turn navigation onscreen, and get a host of information about the bike on your phone screen. Apart from this TVS is also creating an entire ecosystem around the Ronin with bespoke accessories like different coloured levers, engine guards, bar-end weights, touring accessories (racks, luggage solutions) and also a range of merchandise and riding gear which include jackets, pants, t-shirts, shoes, wallets, keychains and more.
TVS Ronin verdict
The TVS Ronin is an interesting bike, one that doesn’t have any direct rivals, on paper at least. But after spending some time with it, you can see that it can be an alternative to something like a Honda CB350RS or the Royal Enfield Classic 350. This is a solid package that does a bit of everything, to some extent, but doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well. For the price, you get a reasonable amount of kit but I would have been happier had TVS provided dual-channel ABS standard and if the top-end variant was closer to the 1.4-1.5 lakh price bracket. But if you are in the market for a relaxed bike that handles a daily commute well, on our bad roads with the occasional highway jaunt or ride through the twisties and you like the bike’s distrinctive styling, this is an option. That said, do look out for our full review of the new Ronin, for these are just our initial impressions.