Sunny 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.. You can submit your review to us as well. Here are all the details.
I unlocked my phone for the fifth time to fill the room with a faint light and this time the the phone showed 2:15am & still there was no sight of sleep in my mind, this is what motorcycling does to you. I have done this ‘n’ number of time but every time its the same excitement, the excitement before long tours on motorcycles. I have tried going to bed at 9:00pm all set to sleep but then the thought process starts “I will let the bike warm up for 5 minutes”, “will not touch triple digit speeds”, “the cornering at the hills would be fun”……This excitement doubles up when you have a motorcycle like TVS Apache RTR 180.
Hello guys this is Sunny Banerjee (hope you guys have read my earlier review on Honda Aviator). This time I have tried something different with my review of Apache RTR 180. This will be a travel cum ownership review where I will try to cover all the necessary information needed for a motorcycle review. Hope you guys will like it. This is a collage of few trips so haven’t mention the exact locations & destination (same for the photographs).
Finally the birds started to chirp with my morning alarm of 4:30am. The distance from my bed to wash basin is hardly 5 meters but in the morning I usually take 10 minutes to reach there. This makes wonder how the RTR 180 manages to do 0 to 60 Kmph under 4 second. Before I headed to bath I took a look at the beast from the window only to find her covered up after yesterdays wash. Got ready & geared up, took the saddle bag & headed toward the beast to give it a good morning ‘kick start’ as it has been getting from day one from last two years. The raspy exhaust note has always been there with first kick even in the coldest winter.
The air cooled engine of Apache needs some time in the morning to heat up to its favourable temperature to deliver the 17 horses unlike my friend’s Pulsar 220 or a R15 which warms up within a minute. While it was still dark out, I utilized the warming time to saddle up. Lights on, acceleration & I was rolling.
Talking about darkness reminds me about Apache’s headlamps even being AC type (35w) has better brightness & spread of the light compared to most of the bikes in its class (Pulsar 220 is still the benchmark). The digital fuel meter showed full bars of fuel as a day before the tank was filled close to the brim of 16 liter tank capacity. I always liked the look of Apache’s instrument console with blue back-light, its a fusion of analog tacho/rpm meter & digital speedometer which also consist of a fuel gauge, clock, two trip meter, 0 to 60 timer, highest speed recorder.
The analog side hosts 3 warning lamps one for low fuel, another for low battery & the other is a service light which blinks after every 3000km to remind the rider to service the bike or at least change the engine oil. If you have fuel less than a half tank then the fuel gauge comes up with its own mind, when the bike is parked on the side stand it shows a tank full of fuel even if you are at half tank, I have seen this problem with most of the bikes with digital fuel meter.
So after appreciating the speedo when I looked up in the sky I could see light diffracting & announcing the arrival of Sun, I just love this energizing feeling of riding & witnessing the day coming up. By this time I left the city limits & joined the highway I was effortlessly cruising at 60 Kmph which reminded me of the time when I bought my bike less than two years back when the vibrations were distinctly present around 4500 to 5000rpm but after 3rd service there was a noticeable reduction in vibrations. Now at around 20,000kms the vibrations are at minimum level but strangely the TVS Suzuki Fiero 150, the bike from which Apache was derived is vibe-free to ride.
After overtaking few goods carrier I was calmly cruising at 80-85kmph this speed range is a sweet spot for RTR 180 where the engine shows least stress & can continue at this pace all day long. I don’t encourage listening to music while riding, but the exhaust note of the Apache is a good company specially while accelerating & post 5000 rpm. Recently I rode the new pulsar 200ns & loved its grunty exhaust note post 5000rpm.
In all this thoughts the highways brought me to a new city premises. With the Apache I am never scared of city traffic, It has all the eligible features of a traffic cutter ie small size, instant acceleration, powerful braking, easy handling, loud horn. All this makes heavy city commute a breeze. Talking about city commuting/traffic cutting without mentioning the KTM Duke 200 would be a sin of which even god won’t forgive me. For the Duke 200, leave the 1st gear aside even the 2nd & 3rd gears have enough acceleration to bring your front wheel up & at the turn of green light at signals you won’t see any tail lights in front of you.
At the noon time approaching I decided to give my body a much need break with the lunch break. I pulled the brakes at a road side dhaba so that I can keep a check on my bike with the saddle bag parked closed to me while I can enjoy the lunch. While turning off the bike I noticed the trip meter showing around 270km & the time was 11:30ish, so quickly made a calculation for my rest of the the trip. Entered the dhaba & saw the two serving boys smiling at me while I was engaged in removing my riding gear.
The open & airy feel of Punjabi dhaba with the charpai to rest on, I just love it. Stretched myself & took the seat while the same two guys arrived to take my lunch order. Seeing my attire one of them was interested to know whether I come on T.V? Later I came to know he meant racing (motogp!)…LOL. Had some nice chat with them while I multi-tasked between Google maps & Nokia maps to check out the next route.
All this time my Apache took rest in the shady parking; geared up & was rolling again. Next 30-40km were less wide state highways with average traffic so I was sanely cruising at 50-55kmph one thing about Apache that needs a special mention are its rear view mirrors, they give one of the best views of the roads & traffic behind you. At any speeds the views is super clear with zero vibrations & they don’t even obstruct your way in congested places. The bike felt so balanced even with the saddle bag that I cleanly passed the slow moving vehicles.
The next moment came my biggest nightmare in daylight ‘a water tanker’ spilling out gallons of water on the road, I always wonder why doesn’t this happens with the petrol & diesel tankers! Water is the biggest nightmare with these TVS tires, at dry tarmac the grip levels are so good that you can scrap your knees with this hard compound tires but once in contact with wet roads it acts like a hydrophobic & your cruising speeds reduces to half of your regular speeds.
Anyways somehow took the next turn which took me through a small town where a self crowned helmetless Rossi (or should I say Marquez!) closely overtook me on bridge leaving no space to go ahead as there was a SUV in front of me so I had to hit the brakes hard & thanks to the super bite of disc brakes the bike came to stop with no fuss. I feel sad to say that on Indian roads we bikers have greater threat from other people on motorcycles (no I won’t call them biker or motorcyclist) than other drivers.
Taking this incident on count I would say the brakes on Apache gives you an awesome control in emergency situations. The front 270mm petal disc has a quick bite & shaves off speeds instantly while the rear is a 200mm petal disc with its single piston caliper gives progressive braking without locking up the rear. The end of the town began with a super smooth highway & I was happy that I can now munch miles faster. I was again back to the comfort zone of 80-85kmph, the bike can easily touch 110-120kmph within no time but for long distance riding I don’t feel the bike is comfortable post 110kmph.
I badly miss a 6th gear here which could have made 100+kmph cruising more smoother. I am not a speed freak but extra power and higher speed capability are always appreciated. It was around 2:30-3:00pm when I stopped for a water break & saw the hills ahead which brought a devil smile my face, hill=corners & Corners + RTR = Adrenalin rush.
With all the Adrenalin waiting to unleash, I rushed toward the elevations & found some smooth corner while some ended with an hairpin bend. The RTR really makes you feel like a ‘snake charmer’ around the corners. Its handles corners so effortlessly & it is under your control even if you miss the apex & do mid corner adjustments. You can really feel the racing DNA of TVS Racing out there, the bike is ever ready to red line, the steering geometry, gearing & the fuelling is just right for outright acceleration & cornering.
When it comes to cornering we can’t complete the conversation without speaking of the Yamaha R15, way this bike handles corners I was just blown away & I haven’t spoken even a single word about its R-series looks. After a quick tea break at the Chai stall on the hill I left for my final destination of the day. Just before reaching the destination I decided to fill the tank up as next day I might not get fuel before the dawn. After tank up a quick calculation showed the fuel efficiency around 42kmpl which is almost consistent from the time I have brought the bike.
I always try to keep a check on fuel efficiency as it tells a lot about the engine health. With the sun about to set I followed the birds to my destination. Reached my destination the trip meter showed around 580km, so gave the RTR a pat for an another successful journey & switched the ignition off. I remember starting this review with the talk about sleep & would like to tell you guys that the best sleep that I get is the one after a long ride, nothing can match it. I don’t work for TVS I am just a owner who has some experience with this machine, so here are some pros and cons I found out..
- Out right acceleration from the low R.P.M. Range, lives upto to the name of RTR (Racing Throttle Response).
- Light weight (just 136kg) & has good Cornering capability.
- Excellent brakes, ABS is available as an option.
- Engine & gearbox are no less than gem can take a lot of torture without complaining.
- Fuel efficiency is quite good for its performance. My bikes gives around 40 to 45kmpl under different riding conditions.
- Built quality rock solid, in all this 20000kms I have never faced a single failure even from small parts.
- Easy on pocket to maintain as spare parts are cheap & the bike isn’t maintenance seeking.
- Spares are very easily available, I never had to run around the city for spares like I had to for my previous ride.
- Tank is a good 16 liter one, which leads to lesser fuel stops on long distance riding.
- Good seating posture for both rider & pillion, suspension set up gives a comfortable ride. I do hours of riding & my back never complains.
CONS & MY WISH LIST-
- TVS could have done with better tires.
- The vibrations (4500 to 5000 R.P.M) at the initial stage can offend some riders, but it isn’t a deal breaker for the rest it offers.
- I would love to have a sixth gear & a 4 valve head.
- Built quality is good but the finishing isn’t that good, I do see rust formation & uneven coat of black on alloys.
- More service stations needed, when I travel I usually don’t see many TVS service stations, I would say Bajaj has done a good job there.
SERVICE, MAINTENANCE & TIPS:
- TVS recommends 10w30 grade for the engine oil (1L), The semi synthetic TVS engine is more than enough for regular use. If you want something better then Shell Advance AX7 does the job perfectly (different grade). I usually change the oil around every 2000-2500km.
- For every oil change I change the oil filter (Rs 35) it helps the oil to retain its life for long duration.
- Apache has an open O-ring chain, so the chain is lubricated around every 500-600km & is cleaned thoroughly every 1000-1200km. TVS chain spray does the job of lubrication efficiently & is cost effective. I have used Motul chain spray, it is definitely good & does hold for long durations but for its price you can buy two TVS sprays.
- Air filter is cleaned every 3000-4000km & is replaced around every 10000km (Rs 170)
- Front brake pads lasted for about 9000km while the rear brake pads were replaced around 11500. Brake pad (approx Rs 300) wear highly depend on your braking style & your riding location. I have the habit of applying both the brakes (more pressure on the front) & my riding includes a mix of city & highway.
- Every week the tires are checked for recommended air pressure.
- I am a sane rider, so even at post 20000km the engine, gearbox & clutch are still performing as strong as new, so I haven’t spent a single Rupee on them.
- The battery is great, still cranks the engine at one go. It is checked for voltage & water level every 2-3 months.
- The hard compound tubeless TVS tires still have a lot of life left in them. Touch wood! No punctures till date.
- Some other small services like chain adjusting, carb cleaning, clutch play adjustments were done on when required.
- For tourers, you can easily bungy chord off with small bag on the pillion seat. When I need to carry more I used the Viaterra Claw (photos attached), I would says it has an excellent fit on the RTR with huge storage space..
I would like to complete the review by saying that I am very happy & contented with the Apache 180 but this doesn’t means that this is the best bike in the world & everyone would be happy & contented after buying one. When going for a bike I would always say listen to your heart & rest all will follow soon or latter.
This review won’t be complete without thanking BikeAdvice for starting & continuing this contest on regular basis, the prizes always promote safety awareness. I don’t have a Facebook account so I won’t be able to share & spread the word for my review (same happened with my last review) but I will thank you all who made it till here & hope you guys will liked it. I would be more than happy to read your comments below & answer your queries.
GEAR UP & RIDE SAFE!