Hi friends, I have done 6000 kms on my R15, which I bought 4 months back, currently due for third service now. I am going to share my long ride experiences in the plains and hills.
Tirupur to Mudhumalai: One fine day, my friends and I, filled our tanks, and started our journey from Tirupur, which is our native place. I, on my R15, and my friends with Apache RTR 160 FI, Pulsar 180 (2001 model) and a Crux, our destination was Mudhumalai Sanctuary, approx 250 kms from our starting place.
In the hills: We started our journey early in the morning, with just one stop at Ooty, to have breakfast, and we reached Mudhumalai at 12 noon. The Ooty – Mudhumalai road is very steep, it could be inclined at 60 – 70 degrees, and the engine touches some 7000 rpm in the 1st gear. We can’t resist it and with a 65kg pillion, braking becomes hard, with the disks getting pretty much heated up. The Apache rear disk was worse than mine; the other two bikes have drum brakes, which are difficult to control. After having some fun out there with a jeep safari inside the forest, came the hard test for all the bikes, a real test for these two latest performance bikes (Pulsar was not considered because it was an outdated 2001 model). Here, on this steep road, difficult enough for any SUV, where cars strain to climb, the R15 with its power and max torque, with a pillion, pulls with ease. With the R15’s mass centralisation and cornering ability, there is no need to slow down at corners because of the confidence you have.
There is no need to shift down to the first gear, it easily pulls in third gear with the water cooled engine provides excellent cooling. Here the Apache is not in its element, with its air cooled engine overheating at times, it will not give you confidence at corners; one has to stop and go, adding strain to engine. My friend even slipped at a curve due to the TVS tyres (it sucks). For nearly 30 kilometers the R15 showed real guts in climbing the hill with ease, while the Apache, with its oversquare engine, throttle response is very good in plains at low rpm, but not in hills. The Crux commuter vehicle with a pillion was not even able to move in the 1st gear, the pillion pushing the vehicle at times in very steep areas.
Cruising on the R15: On this long ride test, my black chariot showed a lot of character. At low speeds, the engine seems to be stressed, but once you touch that sweet spot (70mark) the bike cruises like a skateboard. This bike feels like a larger displacement cruiser on highways, it has a very good power at mid and high range due to four valves, but feels a bit stressed at the lower end, revealing a dual characteristic bike. Even at high speeds, above 110kmph, the aerodynamic wind tunnel tested faring helps prevent air buffeting, giving a very stable and confident high speed ride that no other Indian bike can match. Pulsars cruise well at mid range but are not suitable for high speeds. The Apache vibrates a bit at cruising speeds, but at speeds above 100 kmph, it is much better than a Pulsar, while its braking ability is also very good.
Living with the R15: Considering its performance figures, R15 gives a pretty good mileage (avg of 45+). Till now, I have been putting the bike to very hard use at times, but the bike hasn’t given any mechanical trouble, showing great reliability and endurance. Proper lubrication for the chain should be provided otherwise, it produces some irritating sound.
Refinement: The bike is refined but not as much as the Unicorn. Radiator pump noise and fuel pump sound will just frustrate you at times, but by wearing a helmet, you only hear the refined engine sound.
Buying it: Being a 3rd year mechanical engineering student, I am passionate about automobiles. I used to search the web to collect every bit of information, I needed. I some how convinced my dad to buy this gem of the machine, taking nearly takes six months to get permission.
Looks: I almost forget to mention one thing that normally every R15 owner will say – the bike is an eye catcher. In my college everyone asks me about this awesome beast, kids are very attracted to this bike also. This bike is not good in city riding because of its bulky front portion, but its headlights provide good illumination. Definitely this bike is a true all-rounder.