Hayaz 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.

I am Hayaz, 21, Thrissur, Kerala, doing my third year of B.Tech. Owning a bike had been my dream since childhood. My father promised me to get me my first bike if I passed my exams with an A-grade. I kept my promise but time was the major constraint, because back then, I was just 14 years old and I had to wait till I get my driving licence. 18, and I got my licence but it took another two years to achieve my dream.

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Those 5 years, was the time of hope and desperation. Months passed by, several bikes launched, roamed and ruled the streets, some discontinued. Reviews, shootouts, opinions, forums, ownership threads, showroom visits, test rides, envy.. Those were a major part of my life for the past 5 years. Made a long list of bikes which I liked, test rode each one of them and here are my opinions which might be useful for you guys too.

Pulsar 135LS:
Pros:

  • + Best in class performance
  • + Excellent power-to-weight ratio
  • + Best handling pulsar
  • + Good mileage

Cons:

  • – Doesn’t look/feel like a pulsar
  • – Frequent issues like rear suspension sound, chain noise etc.

I definitely recommend the P135LS to those who are looking for a performance oriented bike under 150cc. I liked the LS even more than the pulsar 150. I was almost ready to buy it. But the new dual tone colour scheme was a total disaster for me.

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Yamaha Gladiator RS/SS125:
Pros:

  • + Good looks, great build quality
  • + Smooth engine
  • + Comfortable seats

Cons:

  • – Poor mileage
  • – Poor initial pick-up
  • – Skinny tyres
  • – Poor after sales

Yamaha SZ-R:
Pros:

  • + Torquey engine
  • + Smooth power delivery

Cons:

  • – Lack of features (even a trip meter?!)
  • – Poor mileage compared to its rivals
  • – Poor quality plastic

Honda CB Unicorn:
Pros:

  • + Smoothness
  • + Mileage
  • + Quality and reliability
  • + Comfortable for long commutes

Cons:

  • – Conservative looks
  • – Long waiting period
  • – Low on power delivery

The unicorn is recommended for all those who want a smooth and comfy ride.

Hero Hunk:
Pros:

  • + After sales
  • + Adequately powerful
  • + Feature rich

Cons:

  • – Mileage
  • – Too big for my size
  • – The name (what the?!)

Yamaha FZ:
Pros:

  • + Mouth watering looks
  • + Nice low-mid range torque
  • + Best in class handling

Cons:

  • – Poor mileage
  • – Poor top end power

TVS Apache RTR160:
Pros/Cons:
More on that later..

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After all the comparisons and test rides, I finally decided to take the Apache RTR, which I found best suited for me (and one of the best decisions made in my life).

I was quite disappointed by the looks of the 2012 Apache beast version. So I was in a hurry to get the older version before it goes out of stock. Then I was so happy to know that there was a new batch of older RTR160’s available, that too complete with all black clip-ons like the ones present on the 180 🙂

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That sealed my buying decision to get a black one. I loved that stealth look.

First sight:

I visited the TVS showroom near my home. The sales rep showed me ten RTR’s in the garage standing in a row and asked me to select one of them. I was actually a bit tensed. I watched each one for any scratches or something else and finally selected my ride. It was a love at first sight even though she was covered in dust. I went near to her, stared at her for a while and whispered, “You’re mine”.

My father kept his promise, paying Rs.74500 for the rear drum brake version (I am so thankful to him).

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First ride:

On May 16, 2012, I was phoned from the showroom for the delivery. I was quite excited and rushed to the showroom, stopping whatever I was doing (Frankly, I still don’t remember what I was doing, then).
As I reached the showroom I saw her parked near the main door, shining in black, waiting for me, giving me that big killer smile.

After completing all the formalities, the sales manager handed the keys to me. I sat astride my ride, inserted the key and the slightest touch on the self starter woke her up to life.

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The RTR’s exhaust note is one of its most significant features. It’s so deep and throaty with a clean thundery bass to it. I rode her to my home not crossing the 50Kmph mark.

Now let’s get into the detailed review:

Looks and Build quality:

Compact yet muscular, RTR is one of the best looking bikes below the 200cc segment.
What I like the most about its looks is the attention to details. Every single bit of the bike is designed in a racy touch.
For exclusivity, I have done some decals on my bike (matching the orange racing stripes running on the top).

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Build quality is among the best available, as there are no shaky panels or such annoyances whatsoever.

Ergonomics/riding position:

This is where we all might have mixed opinions. Frankly speaking, the RTR is not for everyone solely due to its sporty riding posture.
The rearset footpegs and low handlebars translates to a very sporty riding position, which serves best for those who always love to be sporty. On long rides, say for one lasting for an hour, some might feel aching backs due to this posture (taller riders especially).
Those who are looking for a comfortable ride might better choose another bike (unicorn/hunk perhaps). For me (I’m 5’6″), the RTR is perfect.

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Pillion comfort is average with well cushioned seat though a bit narrow. The split rear grab rails provides excellent grip.

Initial impressions:

The first 500Kms of my ride was the time to test my patience. I held her within 4000rpm as advised by many of our beloved forum members as well as the showroom guys. Hard times really. My bike was so eager to burst out and so am I.

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After the first service, I took her to cross the 4000rpm barrier. But this time, I was disappointed by what she delivered. Vibrations start to creep in past 4000rpm, which gets more and more irritating till 4500rpm. I was like what the hell is going on?! I knew that there are prominent vibes in RTR’s but this was more than I expected. The one which I test rode (almost 2 years old, then) had a relatively lesser vibes. Frustrated, I lost it for a second and ringed the throttle hard. My bike reached 75Kph@5500rpm in no time. To my surprise, the vibes has been disappeared.

I eventually got used to the vibes in the mid range, to the point where I’m enjoying it. For example, my friend’s unicorn felt for me like dead without the vibes.

Performance:

Racing Throttle Response.
The RTR stays true to its name in terms of performance. As the most powerful bike in its class, the RTR has won many awards since its launch way back in 2007.

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Every time I start my bike, a devilish grin appears on my face. My bike loves to be ridden hard. The short gearing makes me shift up quickly or I can see the tachometer needle rising up to the readline. With a class leading 15.4Ps of raw power, she can do a 60Kmph-from-standstill in just about four seconds. That’s definitely out of this segment, really! The sheer adrenaline pumping performance has to be felt to be believed.

The bike pulls cleanly upto the indicated 12000rpm deadline as there is no rev limiter. Top speed I achieved was a decent 117Kmph. But what really matters is the way she gets there. Acceleration is what the RTR is made of. The bike picks up speeds like crazy anywhere in its powerband. I love the sound that changes to a thunderstorm like growl when pushed to higher speeds.

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Performance-wise, the RTR is a scorcher and puts its every single competitor behind.

Handling/dynamics and braking:

I tested my bike in different scenarios and came out very impressed by the way she handles.
In tight traffic conditions, the RTR is a brilliant handler thanks to its compact size, light weight and short wheelbase. She zips through the traffic like a pro. An excellent traffic weapon.
On the highways, the bike handles decently but the short wheelbase and light weight causes a little instability.
On the twisties, the RTR pulls effortlessly which makes me hunting for corners. Cornering is a cake walk on the Apache.

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On wet roads, it’s a whole different story. The stock TVS tyres are so pathetic that I had many near to death experiences while riding in the rains. I suggest all the fellow RTR owners to change the rubber as soon as possible to make your bike the best handler.

Suspension is a bit on the stiffer side in order to focus on handling. It can be easily changed to a softer setup if you want a plush ride. But don’t expect pulsar/hunk like softness while encountering potholes.

Braking is excellent with the 270mm front petal disc. The bike comes to a halt from 70Kmph in no time. I won’t recommend hard braking at speeds beyond that due to it’s poor tyres.

The gearbox was a bit hard in the beginning, but smoothened up as kilometres passed. All in all, an excellent handler put down only by the poor rubber.

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An unforgettable experience:

Riding in the rain is one of the best ever feelings for me. I love to hear the remix of my bike’s exhaust note along with the sound of the rain. I usually ride at around 30-40Kmph on low-traffic roads, enjoying the rain.

One rainy day I was taking my sister to school. I had to pass between two buses parked parallel to each other on either side of the road. When I reached the mid half of the buses, one of them suddenly started to move. There was just the handlebars’ gap between them through which I had to go.

 

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I hit the brakes to slow down and the stupid tyres almost killed us! My bike fishtailed and was virtually sliding on the tyres, not rolling. I saw death in front of my eyes. The only thing I could hear was my sister’s scream. Before sliding into the bus, I gained control and some courage and I immediately released the brakes and the bike rushed through the gap towards the end of the buses and got away. That was the first incident that made me aware of the tyres. I will change them at least before the next monsoon.

My Apache Mileage:

While ripping through the city streets with frequent gear shifts at high rpms or while highway blasting at above 110Kmph, my bike returns 38-42Kmpl.

On sane riding at around 55-60Kmph on straight roads, it gives an impressive 48-52Kmpl. Cruising at around 80kmph returns around 45kmpl.

Maintenance:

  • ODO: 15231Km
  • Oil change: 4 times
  • Chain cleaning/lube: 4 times
  • Chain tightening: once
  • Punctures: 2

Making it short:

Apache Pros:

  • + Performance benchmark in its class (still!)
  • + Throaty exhaust note
  • + Great dynamics and handling
  • + Decent mileage for the performance
  • + Excellent power-to-weight ratio
  • + Excellent braking
  • + Looks great (subjective)
  • + Loaded with goodies and features
  • + Powerful headlamps (and awesome reflectors)
  • + Low on maintenance

Apache Cons:

  • – Vibrations, loads of them in the mid-range
  • – The stock TVS tyres are terrible
  • – Tall riders might feel cramped
  • – Riding position not for everyone’s taste
  • – Not suitable for relaxed touring
  • – pick up gets reduced while riding with a heavy pillion
  • – Hard gearbox initially
  • – Short gearing might take some time to get used to

Apache RTR is a hooligan’s delight, a tourer’s nightmare.

A suggestion from my side:

There are many bikes even in the same price range delivering different types of experiences. All you have to do is to be well aware of your requirements and select the one that suits your attitude. For me, the RTR it is.

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Never ignore what your brain says to you. But always listen to your heart. Take care of your bike and it will take care of you.

I would like to thank BikeAdvice for the years of innumerable reviews, news and support for the riders across the globe including me. Thanks for reading. My apologies for mistakes, if any. Your comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Wear helmet, make it a habit.
Ride more, ride safe.
Hayaz

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