TVS Apache RR 310: Road Test Review
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TVS’ Racing genes are all over, but it a street-friendly faired motorcycle?
The Indian two-wheeler enthusiast’s market has moved on from the humble 150cc segment to the more exciting 300+cc category. Other than Royal Enfield, a lot of Indian manufacturers did not have much expertise in this segment that has witnessed this new-found limelight. Consequently, local brands resorted to partnerships with companies which have a strong international presence. That’s how TVS Motor Company’s alliance with BMW Motorrad was born. Simply put, the Apache RR 310 is the culmination of TVS’ 35 years of racing expertise coupled with BMW Motorrad’s technical know-how. For us customers though, there’s just one question that commands an answer: How good of a street bike is it?
Long story short, the TVS Apache RR 310 looks absolutely smashing. The brand has nailed the dimensions - people can easily mistake it for a 600cc sports bike! There is plenty of attention to detail, such as the little Indian tricolour on the windscreen, 3D RR 310 logo on top of the fuel tank, red coloured trellis frame, TVS Racing logo on the seat and the pincer-shaped LED tail lamp. Oh, and not to mention the sweet, sweet racing stripe running across the length of the motorcycle, which simply makes it look ever so sportier!
Even the bolts holding the fairing feels properly premium. Our only grouse is that the ‘Apache’ stickering on the fairing feels a bit too brash for such an elegantly designed motorcycle. The red colour variant, in particular, attracts a lot of attention as it does have a little bit of that ‘Ducati’ feel to it. Overall, the build quality, including the switchgear is spot-on for a premium sports bike.
The Apache RR 310 comes with bi-LED projector headlamps and the tail lamp, as well as the indicators, are all-LED. The throw from the headlamps are adequately long and wide, and the visibility is great on dark roads. Switch to high beam, and it illuminates the area directly ahead of your line of sight. TVS claims the headlamps can last for over 5,000 hours.
Coming to the instrument cluster, it’s a vertically-stacked full LCD unit. It does take some time to get used to as the amount of information the console has is simply mind-blowing. Apart from the regular trove of information like speed, revs, fuel level, coolant temperature, odometer and tripmeter readings, it features a lot more, really practical bits. For starters, the console can show the range, fuel efficiency (both average and instantaneous) and even the total amount of fuel consumed, which can be reset as well. There’s also a Tripmeter A which measures the distance travelled in a day. It resets automatically the next day, thus removing the need to reset the ‘regular’ tripmeters. Additionally, it packs a top speed recorder, acceleration timer, lap timer with a 9-lap recorder, and hell, even date which can take into account leap years!
However, the console isn’t exactly intuitive to navigate through all these features. First off, the button quality isn’t up to the mark and it’s a little difficult to press with the gloves on. Once you’ve mistakenly scrolled past the info you want, you’ll have to go through all the readouts again since there’s no ‘back’ button. Legibility is pretty neat and the console also has a photosensor to adjust the brightness accordingly. I did find the tacho readouts to be a little small, and it’s particularly challenging to see when you’re doing high speeds. Thankfully, the shift light is bright enough to show up in your peripheral vision while riding hard. About the fuel gauge - it’s a nine-bar unit with the low-fuel light turning on when the level reaches below 2.2 litres. Another neat addition is that the pillion seat gets a little compartment underneath which can accommodate the first-aid kit and toolkit.
The RR310’s 312.2cc single-cylinder reverse-inclined liquid-cooled DOHC engine is quite responsive and this helps in piling up the revs pretty quickly, letting you move around faster in the city and on the highway. The fuelling, though, feels a little inconsistent at low speeds but that shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. Mashing through the gear and gathering pace is quite delightful as the shifts feel positive and there weren’t any instances of false neutrals either. The fourth and fifth gears offer plenty of pull for your city runs. Out on the highway, the tachometer hovers around 6000rpm while cruising in 6th gear at 100kmph. We’re not going to bore you with power and torque figures as they’re all listed in our model page. More importantly, here’s how it performs in the real world, with a little perspective from its streetfighter twin, the BMW G 310 R:
The numbers simply point the fact that RR 310 offers better performance than the G 310 R. What’s interesting is that this is achieved despite weighing 11kg more than the G 310 R, at 169.5kg kerb! But both the bikes have similar gearing and can cruise at 80kmph with the tacho hovering around a relatively relaxed 5000rpm.
Focussing back to the RR 310, the only thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the vibration. It starts creeping in right from 5500rpm with the buzz coming in from the footpegs. As the revs pile on, you could feel it on the seat and on the sides of the fuel tank as well. These can leave your hands and feet feeling tingly at the end of a long highway ride. That said, the bike that we got for this review felt a lot more refined than the one I tested almost a year ago.
The motor is surprisingly efficient. With my riding style, I got a combined efficiency figure of 33kmpl. My riding style is mostly laid back but with occasional bursts of the throttle. In our tests, the RR 310 returned 31kmpl in the city (by staying around 45-50kmph) and 35.9kmpl on the highway (with an average speed of 100kmph). Also, thermal management is really well-controlled. The engine heat is routed downwards using a duct so that your feet and calves remain unscathed. During my commutes, the radiator fan turned on only when stuck in crawling traffic. Even the coolant temperature gauge stayed only a little above the mid-level mark in one of the hottest afternoons. All in all, engine heat isn’t something you need to worry about in this motorcycle.
Ride & Handling:
The RR 310’s cartridge type inverted forks and the rear monoshock offer really smooth damping on bad roads, which is quite surprising for a performance bike. The RR 310 simply glides over bumps and potholes. Even in the corners, it doesn’t lose its composure despite the suspension being on the slightly softer side. The chassis offers great feedback too, and it just allows you to tip in effortlessly. However, the Michelin Pilot Sport tyres simply play spoilsport to otherwise great dynamics. They offer decent grip on dry roads but the rear, in particular, loses grip quite easily on wet roads. I went over a wet patch while downshifting from the third to the first gear and the rear tyre slipped in an instant. And I wasn’t even going that fast!
Braking power is courtesy a 300mm petal disc with a radial caliper up front and a 240mm petal disc at the rear, with dual-channel ABS as standard. In our motorcycle, the front brake pad felt like it has faded a bit, so it left me craving for a bit more outright bite from the calipers. The bite and progression from the rear brake is nothing to complain about, but the ABS kicks in rather quickly. Braking from 80kmph to zero takes 3.77 seconds and 37.49 metres. Compared to the BMW G 310 R, it’s 0.43 seconds slower and stops at 1.91 metres further. The G 310 R’s low kerb weight is probably why it has superior braking power considering both of them have similarly-sized discs on both ends.
For a faired motorcycle, the riding position is quite comfortable. The rider’s seat is large enough to let you move about freely while cornering. Even the clip-ons aren’t as aggressively low as, say, the KTM RC 390. So, the ergonomics feel really comfy out on the highway, especially with the tall windshield cutting through the air effortlessly. But on the flip side, riding at low speeds will put a little load on your wrists. But that’s just a trait all sport bikes have. It just takes some time getting used to the riding position, especially if you’re graduating from commuters or cruisers or pretty much any motorcycle that’s not a sporty one. Once you learn to support yourself by using your lower back and gripping the tank with your thighs, it’s smooth sailing thereon.
The TVS Apache RR 310 has the kind of looks which makes you turn back and take a short glance every time you park it. But while it might not be your poster bike, it is comfy and practical, goes like stink and is honestly very enjoyable to ride, notwithstanding the vibes.
At Rs 2.23 lakh, the pricing is slightly on the premium side, but you do get a good quality motorcycle for that. The only thing you need to be aware of is the spare part prices for the RR 310, which is a bit on the higher side compared to KTMs. In a nutshell, the RR 310 shows how honest, passionate efforts in making a motorcycle can turn out. It is not flawless, but neither are us humans, right?