2021 TVS Apache RTR 200 4V road test review
"Automobiles are soon turning into gadgets" is a line that you may have heard often from me. I usually say that when I'm talking about some futuristic automotive concepts brimming with artificial intelligence. But today I'm drawing a parallel between gadgets and this motorcycle, because, like the smartphones, TVs and laptops which get new updates every year, TVS too has been tinkering with and upgrading the Apache every now and then. This here is the 2021 Apache 200 (or should I say "2021 Apache 200 4V BSVI with riding modes" to keep my SEO team and the Google crawlers happy?).
In a passing glance, it looks like a the Apace 200 BSVI we met last year - meaning its continues to wear the aggressive styling comprising of the sharp lines, angular bodywork, off-set fuel tank and the angry-looking headlights assembly with split-LED-headlamps. These light up the road with far better spread and throw than the BSIV model and their stacked design also makes them better at illuminating corners if you riding in mountain roads at night.
The shade of blue you see here is derived from the Apaches that compete at the National Racing Championships, but since this is a TVS motorcycle, there is more race equipment than just a paint job.
For starters, the engine puts out tiny bit more power and torque than last years model - 20.8PS and 17.25Nm compared to the outgoing motorcycle's 20.5PS and 16.8Nm output. But more than this unnoticeable change in the output, it is the riding modes that could catch your fancy. The new apache lets you cycle between Rain, Urban and Sport modes, selectable on the fly (albeit with a closed throttle) via a mode-selector switch on the handlebar.
While fuel-injection is now the only option on the Apache 200, there is no ride-by-wire to go with it. Therefore, these riding modes alter the throttle maps and the fuelling and restrict the maximum available power and torque. Rain and Urban modes will dial down the output to 17.3PS/16.5Nm so the power doesn't overwhelm newbies while riding in the wet or in the city environs. These modes will also hit the rev-limiter around the 8,000rpm mark. In fact, you will seldom have to rev that high in the cityscapes as the Apache makes brisk progress at commuting speeds and you will often find your self short-shifting. It is only on the highway that you will want the engine to rev higher and dialling in the Sport mode will let it go all the way to 9,000rpm and you will have all of the 21 ponies at your disposal.
The difference in the maps is only evident when you are squeezing out maximum performance though and not so much at lower speeds. It advantages in the fuel economy too, although, very minor to take notice of. Accelerating hard through the gears, the rev-limiter often kicks in before the power tapers off but make your shifts around the 9,000rpm mark and the acceleration will feel rewarding. The Urban mode was about a second and a half slower than the Sport mode in the 0-100kmph runs, and with the latter, we saw a speedometer indicated top speed of 136kmph, which translated to a true-speed of 122kmph on the Vbox.
The Sport mode is my ideal choice for highways and the twisties, but a sixth gear is sorely missed. At speeds beyond 120kmph, the engine gets buzzy very buzzy and a sixth gear to calm it down and provide a smooth cruising speed would be a welcome addition. Around the winding roads, you will often find yourself happy in the 3rd and 4th gears. It is only around hairpins that you wish the second gear had a bit more meat.
Speaking of twisties, the 2021 Apache grins widely - because this is where it truly shines. It gets adjustable suspension front and rear. Okay, not fully adjustable - you can't play with the rebound and compression on the forks unless you are ready to open them up and try different internals. But what you can set is the preload as per your weight. If I have counted right, there are five clicks of preload adjustment for the fork and you can simply use a coin to set it up. When you do, ensure that both forks are in the same setting, otherwise, you are going to have uneven tyre wear. Pre-load adjustment at the rear is not so easy to access, though, and will need you to take off the seat and the side panels.
Though it is not a fully adjustable suspension, it is commendable that TVS has managed to add this range of adjustability at this price point and it does help in setting the bike up for blanched riding dynamics. TVS assures that it's dealerships are trained to help you set up the suspension preload, but even they can't, look upon the web and you will find plenty of guides to set the sag and change the bias for road or track use. That's not all, the riding modes we spoke of earlier not only alter throttle maps, they also alter the behaviour of the anti-lock braking system. The ABS is extremely alert in the wet mode, strict for city use and pretty lenient for track use. I still find the rear ABS to be a bit too eager to kick in, but on the track, you will hardly touch the rear brakes and on the street, all the safety is welcome. You can also adjust the brake (and clutch) lever by up to three clicks for a soft or bitey feel.
Speaking of safety, you can also connect the motorcycle to the SmartXConnect app, which on a track day records all the telemetry data for you to analyse, and on a bad day, it will alert your emergency contacts if you have a crash. It will also allow you to get service alerts, log your rides, and push navigation info to the screen. I could enable the app for my test motorcycle though, so I can't comment on how well it works. But it should be nifty for city commutes as well as highway touring. On that note, the ergonomics of the Apache are pretty relaxed for power-commuting, but long-distance comfort isn't the best. The seats are large but pretty stiff in favour of sport riding and by the end of a 300km journey, I was feeling fatigued. It isn't a tourer after all, so I won't hold it against the Apache. The comfort is comparable to most other street bikes in the class and the only thing I would like to change is to get a longer side-stand on the motorcycle.
The Apache 200 was always one of the best motorcycles in the 200cc segment and all the updates it has received for 2021 come together quite nicely to make it even better. The bike feels planted at highway speeds and is extremely sharp around the twisties. While its power isn't overwhelming, the sharp handling and the light front end can get intimidating for new riders. But once you get used to it, you will find the Apache 200 4V to easily be the most rewarding sport-naked in the segment. And if I was buying, I would certainly get the blue!
Starts Rs 1,27,500