First Drives

17 March 2018

First ride: TVS Apache RTR 160 4v

TVS has put everything they learnt from racing into the new RTR 160. But does it all work?

Ashok George
Car image

There’s a saying that goes around that goes something like, “motor racing started the moment the second automobile was created”. If you think about it, its no surprise. Get one any motorcycle and that urge to be faster than the person next to you kicks in. You might be able to fight it and suppress it, but the urge is there nonetheless. Then again, if it weren’t for this urge, we wouldn’t have most of the motorcycles we have today. Some of the most advanced motorcycles exist today because of the desire to be faster than the rest.

TVS is one manufacturer that has taken racing very seriously. Thirty-five years of continuous commitment to be exact. And a lot of what they learn at the racetrack can be seen in their motorcycles today. Take the new RTR 160 4v for example. The chassis of the new 160 is completely based on the championship winning RTR 160 GP. In fact, the only changes in the chassis have been to accommodate the bigger tank and for some more street-friendly ergos. And it works too. The new RTR is one of the quickest steering motorcycles in the market today. It pounces into corners with a ferocity that few others can match up to.
But the wonderful thing is that this motorcycle isn’t just about corner carving. It makes for nice, little package. But to get to the bottom of that, you need to know what has changed.

Visually, the new 160 looks very similar to the RTR 200 4v. The old 200 4v, actually. The new one gets a little fly screen and some interesting decal work. The 160, then, looks a lot like the old 200 4v. There are differences though. The seat is now a single piece unit, the decals are specific to the 160, the side panels are a new design and instead of clip-ons, the RTR 160 uses a conventional handlebar.There is also a difference in spec when compared to the 200. Where the 200 used KYB suspension, the 160 now uses Showa suspension. Instead of Pirelli tyres, the 160 only gets TVS’ Remoras. And of course the most obvious – instead of the 198cc single, the 160 uses a 160cc single. Duh!

The engine itself is quite a nice performer. The oil-cooled number uses a 4-valve head and produces 16.3 bhp (16.1bhp for the carb) and 14.8Nm of torque. It will be available with a carburettor or EFI, both of which feel a tiny bit different from each other. Both engines are excellent performers and are quite quick to accelerate. It delivers power in a linear fashion and there is immense tractability in both. In fact, there is a nice, even spread of power and torque through the rev range and the motorcycles pull cleanly and steadily right from go. The FI version has bit more grunt, though. It also has quicker throttle response. Both of them stay refined through most of the rev range but there is a little bit of harshness right at the top. But then, which motorcycle doesn’t? We managed to hit 125kph on the carb and 126kph on the EFI on TVS’ test track. Both solid numbers.

Like mentioned before, the suspension is now from Showa. The setup is set towards the stiffer side of the spectrum, but not to KTM levels of stiffness. It is a great balance of dynamics and comfort. And thanks to the handlebar-footpeg-seat equation that is spot on, cornering comes naturally to the RTR 160. Turn in is very aggressive and it takes a second to get used to how quick the steering is. But once turned in, the motorcycles holds its line very well and gives you enough confidence to push it to the very limits of the Remoras – which, by the way, have excellent grip for all kinds of shenanigans. There will be an option of drum and disc brakes at the rear depending on which variant you choose, but both stop quite well. The front disc isn’t the best in terms of feel, but it does have great bite. We did notice generous amounts of fade every six laps or so at race pace, but in real life conditions, this shouldn’t be a worry at all.

Overall, the new RTR 160 4v is a great little motorcycle. It is exciting, yet usable. And that is a combination that is difficult to achieve. It is a motorcycle that you can commute with and also have reasonable amounts of fun going fast with. And at a price that starts at Rs 81,490 (ex-showroom, Delhi) and goes up to Rs 89,990 (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the fuel injected motorcycle with a rear disc brake, the value equation is great too. If you’re in the market for a punchy 160, then this should be right at the top of your list.

159.7cc, air-cooled, single-cyl, 16bhp, 15Nm

Pros: Handling, looks, punchy motor
Cons: Not a lot, really
Verdict: The new RTR 160 4v ticks all the right boxes. It’s a motorcycle that you can almost not find fault with. A definite win.

Tags: 200, tvs, apache, rtr, 310, 160

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