Detailed User Review Apache RTR 180 ABS: Nikhil Explains His Beauty Bit by Bit

Nikhil has submitted this review in our Ownership Review Contest No 13, ensuring himself an assured prize. The contest also offers a chance to win Riding Jacket, Helmet and more…Here are all the details.

Hi friends, my name is Nikhil Badhe and I am a last year computer engineering student from Mumbai. Writing this review is to accomplish my four year dream to write a review for BikeAdvice.in. I have been following BikeAdvice since 2009. I had purchased bike to commute to my college which was in Thane.

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I am writing this review for my bike TVS Apache RTR 180ABS 2011 model which has completed 13,000 kms. It was among the very first batch which arrived in Mumbai as Apache went through facelift in 2012.

It took about me 2 years to convince my father to buy me a bike. He wanted to settle me with a HONDA ACTIVA but I had other ideas. This was supposed to be my first bike so I wanted it to be special, combination of power and performance .It should be a rare breed.

Back then before 2.5 years I was short and average built. I was a new rider. I used to learn riding every time I visited my native place. My uncle taught me how to perform Engine braking, De-clutching , when to use a Half clutch etc. It is very important to have a good instructor while learning. I wanted a bike which was easy to handle, had decent torque , light weight and established product.

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My requirements-

  1. 1. Aggressive styling
  2. 2. Good Handling
  3. 3. Light weight
  4. 4. Adequate power
  5. 5. Descent mileage – My College was about 22 km from my home. Total roundtrip = 44km. so my mileage criteria was 40-50 km per litre
  6. 6. Buget was never an issue

Options considered

Pulsar 135 LS – I didn’t like the headlights of Pulsar 150 & 180 but Pulsar 135 with its new headlight and slim design appealed to me. This bike was my biggest crush. Good power to weight ratio and positive reviews made me gaga over this product. It also satisfied my mileage criteria. A price for 62,000 on road was value for money but the rear design always made me feel disappointed. The Small exhaust and rear tyre hugger made me think about other options.

Pulsar 220 – I will say that this is the one of the best product by Bajaj. Best styling with power But again it didn’t fulfilled my criteria of mileage and it is a heavy bike. A mileage of 35 km/litre in mixed riding condition. I never wanted my first bike to be so powerful. I was a new rider and I always believe that one must always take decision based on Reality. I never had the confidence that I could tame this powerful product. So even after loving this machine I had to let it go.

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Yamaha FZ-S – This product was my father’s recommendation. He tested it through traffic and potholes to see how mono-suspension behaves. He was quite impressed. He has back and spine problems. He loved the bike but personally I was not quite impressed. I felt the design was very unconventional, specially the tank didn’t appeal to me. Fat tyre, low mileage were the question which made me visit the next showroom.

TVS Apache RTR 180– I was blown away when I saw the video of TVS Apache RTR ABS on YOUTUBE. Riding safe was also one of my Priority. TVS Siddhivinayak was the next showroom which I visited. At this time I was very confused and didn’t know whether this bike will satisfy my requirements. So in this confused state I was offered a test ride of RTR 180 as RTR 180 ABS had not arrived at showroom. I quickly hopped on to a black RTR 180 . Those 60 seconds made all my doubts clear.

When I returned, I was like “this is it”. The power was adequate and exhaust note was like a small royal enfield. I found handling comfortable and the weight of bike was also manageable. I always loved RTR 180 in Advertisements since 2009 but this bike was never in my list. This bike fulfilled my each criteria. It looked complete from each angle. Blue backlight was cool. Also it was rarely seen on roads as Mumbai was spawned by Pulsars.

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Many people advised me against it. My father didn’t like the racing position but he did feel that the product was robust. I felt that ABS is needed as my road to college GHODBUNDER ROAD is very prone to accidents so I didn’t mind spending more 12 thousand on the abs model. So after a lot of research I booked my Apache RTR 180 ABS on 6th May 2011 for 90,900rs in Pearl white as it was the only color available for the ABS model.

The WAITING PERIOD

I didn’t tell any of my friends as I was never sure that my bike would arrive as my father has habit of doing stop payment of Checks. He could cancel the check given to TVS at anytime as he was not impressed by my decision. He wanted me to buy a HONDA ACTIVA as it was his first priority. Also I didn’t come over my crush of Pulsar 135. A difference of 30,000rs between pulsar 135 and Apache made me restless. Next day, Check was cleared and finally gave a sigh of relief .On 17 June 2011, I got the keys to my new bike.

BIKE REVIEW STYLING-

Talking about the RTR180 everything looks perfect and proportionate. Some people find RTR’s headlight to be bubbly while some think its aggressive. Twin pilot with headlights look cool .RTR are one of the few bikes which look good in white color. Mine uses a pearl white which is little creamish as compared to white. This color looks average in daylight but it really sparks during night in Streetlight.

It has the best looking cowl in the market as well as it is tedious to always keep it clean. This cowl never scratches speedbreaker as it has enough ground clearance. RTR Stickers on both the sides of tank are Orange and red in color . Orange and grey strips i.e stickers look a bit odd. Paint is of top notch quality besides what is used on handlebars, silencer and rear handle clips.

Design of tank is made aerodynamic with adding air scoops it does make bike look more muscular. Golden color suspensions look rich. Rear view mirror are sharp in design and often scratches fellow bikers as they are wider. Rear part of bike is as appealing as the front part. TVS was the first Indian manufacturer to introduce LED tail lights in Indian bikes. Tail light along with rear fender blends well with design. LED Tail light illuminates instantly on applying brakes. Rear fender can be removed simply by removing 3 screws to give a new look.

Clip-on handlebars, black matte finished alloy wheels, half chain cover increase overall appeal. RTR comes with factory fitted Leguards and Saree guard with footrest .It is very important from safety point of view.

ENGINE-

RTR which stand for “Racing Throttle Response” can be described as having a “Restless engine”. By “Restless” I mean to say always ready to race. TVS Apache RTR 180 is powered by a single-cylinder, 2-valve, 177cc engine producing 17.03 PS of power at 8500 RPM and 15.5 Nm of torque at 6500 RPM. Don’t expect a smooth or vibe free power delivery.

Even after 2.5 years my bike easily clocks over 110 kmph. Vibration creeps in about 55-60 kmph at handlebars and footpegs. Long rides often leave your hands numb. The engine feels little underpowered when you are riding with a pillion. Gear shifts are hard sometime and you may also find difficult finding a neutral. I have achieved a top speed of 119kmph though this bike is capable of going above 124kmph.

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HANDLING

TVS Apache was born on a Racetrack and its handling does reflect this statement. Handling is good due to use of clip-on handlebars and forward stance riding position. Riding in traffic is exciting as you can easily shoot into gaps and brake late. Going into corners is fun and you can easily transfer weight while going into turns. ABS helps a lot in improving your handling by keeping your bike stable.

Handling is good if pillion is light weight (say about 60kg max) but if you have pillion rider who does not know how to sit on a bike or a very healthy guy then handling and comfort both are compromised.

COMFORT

RTR is most comfortable when you are riding alone. You can ride in racing position or you can just arch your back and ride in straight position. Seat is made up of Resin material. Neither too hard nor too soft. It is just perfect for rider but its tad too less on par for a pillion. A little cushioning at pillions end is required.

Racing position affects right wrist and neck after long rides. Riding with a healthy pillion compromises your comfort.

MILEAGE-

The best mileage figure which I got was 46 kmpl and the worst was 36 kmpl. Riding mostly in traffic condition or at high rpms gave me a mileage of 40 kmpl. In mixed riding condition mileage was close to 42 kmpl. This mileage was calculated on full tank to reserve filling basis on a period of 2 yrs.

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ABS (ANTILOCK BRAKING SYSTEM)

This is the most important part of review. With the introduction of ABS on this particular bike TVS became the first Indian manufacturer to introduce ABS in bikes. Importantly, it comes at a price that does not make it out of reach of common people. ABS can be switched on or off as required.

Technical working of ABS in APACHE- This system was made in collaboration with CONTINENTAL. Around 120 different test combinations were devised to develop the ABS system for the Apache RTR 180 ABS. The ABS HECU has been very thoughtfully packaged, very close to the center of gravity of the bike, to enhance its excellent dynamic road-holding capabilities. It is light weight (1.2kg). The Continental ABS is a two-channel system that requires hydraulic brakes, both front and rear.

Anti-lock Braking System technology is an integration of a HECU (Hydraulic Electronic Control Unit) and Independent Wheel Speed Sensors which helps determine when a wheel is likely to get locked. When the brakes are applied hard, the wheel tends to lock. At this point, the HECU (located below the fuel tank) takes over instantaneously and modulates the brake pressure continuously to keep the Apache RTR 180 ABS in the most effective braking zone.

Independent Wheel Speed on both front and rear tires provides HECU with wheel speed information about 10 times each second. The Apache RTR ABS is also equipped with Rear Wheel Lift-off Protection (RLP) system which regulates deceleration when the bike is likely to lift off during emergency braking situations and takes over control, with no loss of stopping distance. This brakes will never lock even if you are standing on them.

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That means the system responds accurately to slow speed riding. It handles wear and tear of the tyre, changing loads on the bike and recalibrates its response. The system also works on dirt just as well as it does on dry or wet tarmac. As with all such systems, fail safes are built in. The system can check itself for problems and if it detects them, it warns you by illuminating the ABS light on the dash (two flashes a second means the system is running checks. Once the light is on, ABS has failed and needs a check) and reverts to normal, non-ABS operation. TVS has added an on-off switch to the top of the instrument console so you retain control.

Performance with ABS – Now this ABS does not kick in early to spoil your party. It is just perfect for Indian condition. There were many times when I did panic braking and did not loose control. Once due to unanticipated U-turn by a truck I made a panic braking with a pillion stopping bike from 90 kmph to 0 in about 6-7 seconds. These are times which make me realize that I made wise decision to buy an ABS bike.

How ABS helps in traffic condition? With good pickup you can shoot into gap and brake late. These brakes are very precise and have perfect bite. Your Judgement of brakes can never go wrong. Also you can ride on kutcha part of road without much fuss about mud, sand and gravels which is done mostly in Mumbai traffic.

This ABS somehow makes up for quality of TVS tyres. TVS tyres are perfect for normal commuting but make you a bit nervous on corners.

Overall PROS

  • Anti-lock braking system with RLP (REAR WHEEL LIFT OFF PROTECTION)
  • Dc lightning system- In DC lighting, the lights are connected to the battery which gets the benefit of a constant intensity beam of light from the headlamps regardless of whether engine is at idle, at full throttle or off. This comes in handy while visiting rural areas.
  • Comes with factory fitted saree guards with footrest and knee guards. Few bikes in the market today don’t provide this option.
  • Rear fender can be removed during summers and attached during rainy seasons.
  • Tachometer comes with 2 trip meters, 0-60 timers, Top speed indicator.
  • Good handling and corner carver.
  • Large fuel tank -16 LITER FUEL TANK (INCLUDING 3 LITRE RESERVE).
  • Can cruise easily above 100km/hr with pillion.
  • Loud horn and kick option.

Overall CONS

  1. TVS service centre- Service provided is poor in quality. Number of service centres are also less. Sometimes vehicles are delivered without even washing them. They are more happy in servicing moped’s and scooters.
  2. Vibrations in engine – Vibrations leaves your hand numb.
  3. TVS SHRICHAKRA TYRES – These tyres have decent grip in dry condition but are equally bad in wet condition.
  4. No side stand “ON” light and automatic cancellation side indicators.
  5. Front side indicators vibrates a lot.
  6. If u are a tall person you may feel the riding position awkward and cramped.

Reliability of the product & Issues-

I did not face any issues where I was stranded by the road. There were some minor issues which I encountered.

  • At about 7,000 kms my ABS light started showing errors. Front speed sensor was changed by TVS under warranty.
  • 1,000 kms later i.e at 8,000 kms my ABS started showing errors again. Full HECU unit was replaced by TVS under warranty.
  • Again after 1,000 kms my rear disc break failed due to battery acid leaking on to the brake hose pipe which was connected to rear brake oil master cylinder. This was due my part of spray washing bike frequently. This was the time when I used only front brakes for many days. I used it for for 300 kms. I realized the original potential of RLP (application of front brake in panic situation will not cause rear tyre to come up)
  • In rainy season water seeps easily into the switches and makes Horn, pass light, engine kill switch ineffective. TVS Service centre took almost 10-15 days each time to rectify these problems which was very disappointing.

These were some problems which I faced in my ownership. In my case my bike was from very first batch of ABS so I think these problems were faced by me. I hope this must have been improved in new models.

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TRIPS UNDERTAKEN-

  1. MUMBAI – PALGHAR- KELVA BEACH-MUMBAI- 230 KMS. Cross winds meddles with RTR composure on highways. Riding RTR through curvy roads is lot of fun.
  2. MUMBAI- LONAVLA-MUMBAI- 300KMS. This travel was undertaken in rainy days and we did encounter a lot of rainfall. Tiger hills was the best spot for testing corners and feedback of ABS. Return journey was undertaken in dense rainfall at higher speeds.
  3. MUMBAI- MALSHEJGHAT –ALEPHATA-MUMBAI- 450 KMS. This journey was undertaken by my father which was to be his last bike trip as he suffered back problems and recently undergone a spine operation. He travelled two days on bike. Vibrations and riding position was the only thing that made him dissatisfied.

Who Should Buy RTR 180?

One should buy RTR if-

  1. He wants a performance motorcycle below 200cc category.
  2. Daily commuting is upto 40 kms.
  3. mostly travels alone.
  4. lives close to TVS service centre.
  5. Your family members who will ride bike are comfortable with riding position.

CONCLUSION

TVS APACHE is not as smooth as Honda or Yamaha but it does gives the raw power that every youngster searches along with safety with ABS. The dynamics are excellent. BRAND APACHE describes the tribe which is distinct. This bike has a soul with roaring exhaust. If you ride this bike for decent time you will hate the braking performance provided by other bikes. The only thing I can say about the bike is that if you show true love n care it does give the same back to you.

Thanks,
Nikhil Badhe

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