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Feature: TVS Apache RR 310
It’s been a while since I’ve been this eager about a motorcycle reveal. But, it looks good and has captured everyone’s imagination. Is it any good to ride though?
I need to dial back time by about half a dozen years, when I was scraping together my savings for a big holiday, to get to a point when I was this excited about a motorcycle. It was around this period that I realised there was finally a motorcycle that could compel me to make my then better half very cross or make myself feel very liberated, momentarily. We were finally being handed motorcycles that were more than just regular commuters slapped with a ‘sport’ prefix. These were middleweights which promised maximum bang-for-buck along with a reasonable figure in the horsepower column too. Back then, it was a one-two punch delivered by Honda and KTM, with vastly different styles of motorcycles. Kawasaki had, of course, delivered a feeble knock on the chin before that, but we shall let that be. Of the two in question here, one delivered a little more than what we had hoped for, while the other, a little less. We all know how that story panned out too. This time around though, there is just one motorcycle and it has brought the same sort of enthusiasm to people like me. Mostly because it gives me a chance to make the other person cross. Again. For TVS though, this marks their step up to the plate and swing at the big league.
Enter the RR 310. Yes, to get the curious bits out of the way, the basic frame and engine is the same as that on the BMW G310R, as is the running gear. However, the design and state of tune of the RR 310 is completely different and tailored for sport bike leanings, without giving you a bad back. This one has been completely crafted in the TVS design studios with a strong focus on aerodynamics. And, in this particular shade of red, the RR 310 looks very striking and Ducati-like. Not a bad place to be at all. There are a couple of squiggly lines around the headlamp that aren’t flattering, but the way the form flows from here on is delightful. Especially with details like the tank and the many slits that appear like gills on the fairing.
All the shark inspired bits from the Akula (Russian for, err, shark) fit in nicely including the little fin sticking out of the tail section. Move around the rear though and it appears that the faux tail may have been asking for a bit much. But then, the designers hold the co-efficient of drag hostage to all styling cues. A quick consultation with the spec sheet re-confirms the gain; despite weighing 10 kilos more than the BMW, the RR registers a 15kph higher top speed. And, for this, we should be willing to overlook certain bits. After all, they not only managed to get a slippery shape from the hundreds of hours spent in the wind tunnel but also the most aerodynamic shape in its class – in the world.
Good thing then that the gates to a wide-open racetrack has been unlocked for use. This one counts as TVS’ second home – MMRT – or the Madras Motor Race Track. Having managed to zip up my leathers without hurting much more than my waistline, it’s time to get the RR 310 on the track. I start off slow and easy for the first lap, to figure which corner leans what way. Soon enough, I realise that the RR, unlike me, is already at ease. Quick to respond to the twist of the throttle, easy to lean-in to a corner and indeed, switch sides as well, sure-footed on the brakes too. In a couple of laps, I have learnt enough to take some amount of liberty with the RR. Staying on the throttle longer, getting on the brakes harder and later, and swinging into corners with more assertion. Surprisingly, the RR keeps up without the slightest flinch.
Moving up through the gears, even on a brand new motorcycle, is smooth and easy and there is a fat chunk of power to be explored through the middle revs. Hold a gear and the RR delivers its 34 horses in absolute linear progression. No drama, but wonderfully predictable. With the 312cc, liquid-cooled, single cylinder motor, engineers at TVS may have employed innovative tricks like a reverse inclined position and efficient cooling for packaging gains, but it certainly translates to handling performance as well. In fact, this is a motorcycle that has been extensively worked on by the motorsport division – TVS Racing – as well and it shows.
Flat-out performance is impressive, for a motor this size, with the vertical console pointing at speeds hovering around the 140kph mark in certain sections of the track. I can tell there is a fair amount to go, making that 160kph mark very reachable. But it’s in the mid-range that the RR feels best. Enough grunt on offer for me to hold a higher gear through almost every corner and still achieve similar sort of acceleration. While new engines understandably run rougher than ones that have been through their prescribed run-in drills, it is only toward the absolute edge of the rev band that a noticeable buzz creeps in. Given the fact that the RR underwent massive amounts of development at this track, it is hardly surprising to note how well the ratios, on the six-speed ’box, are suited for a manic run at this track. While the front responds superbly to turn-ins and even mid-corner corrections, because obviously I overcooked a few corners, the rear is a tad soft in its standard setting (halfway up the six possible notches of adjustment). Even the Michelin rubber that was developed for the RR provides enough grip in almost all situations. It was only when the bike was leaned over at its maximum that they seemed to be found wanting.
Handing over the RR back to TVS was difficult. Despite being an absolute hoot around the racetrack, it is easy to see how comfortable it would be on the road, through a regular commute or even a longer dash between cities. Get off the throttle for a slow down lap, sit upright and shepherd it through the final few corners, while the engine chugs along in fifth gear and you get a peek into the RR’s friendly manner. TVS may harp on the race craft that its latest motorcycle is capable of, largely because it is cool to do so, but make no mistake about the fact that this one can do much more. For starters, it isn’t going to crush your gentleman’s area every time you hit a bump or give you sore arms after a commute.
TVS has calculated this to perfection and made a motorcycle that is the most relevant to us. All of those who thought the CBR could’ve done so much more half a dozen years back, and those who have regretted living with the RC, there is a new Apache to look out for. And with TVS cleverly splitting the difference between the two RCs on offer at 2.05 lakh (ex-showroom), they have given every prospective buyer something to think about and indeed lean toward. A compelling option to make someone cross with you.