2020 TVS Apache RTR 200 4V BS6: Road Test Review
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The Apache RTR 200 BS6 makes less torque and weighs more than its predecessor. Does this on-paper deficit make it less enjoyable in the real world?
Photography by Vikrant Date
The switch to BS6 emission norms had many automakers scrambling to find ways of offering greener engines without significantly impacting the price tag. Some manufacturers threw in new features to justify the large jump in prices. TVS, on the other hand, took this opportunity to give most of its motorcycles a generational update. The Apache RTR 200 4V BS6, for example, gets a new face, some new features and substantial revisions to its heart. Sadly, the updates have taken a toll on its performance and weight and on paper, the BS6 version makes less torque and weighs more. Does this on-paper deficit make a substantial difference to the Apache’s reputation as an all-round performer? Also, the Apache RTR 200 4V BS6 is now priced at Rs 1.25 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), a price hike of around Rs 11,000 over the BS4 Apache. With the sizeable premium it now commands, does the new Apache RTR 200 retain the value for money tag? Let’s find out.
- New headlamp looks premium.
- Informative instrument console is easy to read.
- Refined and responsive motor.
- Lack of a sixth-gear is glaring.
- Softly cushioned seat makes riding uncomfortable on longer journeys.
- Lacks top-end performance.
- Strong mid-range grunt and crisp throttle response make overtaking a breeze.
- Glide Through Traffic tech is a real benefit in crawling bumper-to-bumper traffic.
- Improved brake bite offers increased confidence when shedding speed.
Apart from the new headlamp, there isn't much to differentiate the BS6 bike from the BS4 motorcycle. The Apache RTR 200 4V uses the same body panels and seat as before. Even the new graphics are quite similar to the ‘Race Edition’ of its predecessor. We feel that with the new headlamp, the BS6 motorcycle looks more premium. Besides form, the all-LED headlamp unit impresses with its intensity and spread. It’s far superior to LED headlights on many of its competitors. The rearview mirrors get a new shape and a faux carbon fibre finish. While they offer adequate rear view visibility, we feel they could have offered better adjustability. Another cosmetic update is the bronze plated chain which contrasts well with the black motorcycle, but you would have to keep them spotless to notice the difference.
Also read: 2020 KTM 200 Duke BS6: First Ride Review
Interestingly, despite the bodywork being identical, the new BS6 Apache RTR 200 is 32mm longer and 55mm shorter than its BS4 predecessor. Since the wheelbase remains unchanged, we suspect the extra length could be due to the revised number plate holder. The 55mm height deficit could be due to the missing windscreen that the BS4 Race Edition bike came with. Due to the addition of fuel injection and a catalytic convertor, the BS6 motorcycle weighs 2kg more than the BS4 version. The rest of the dimensions remain unchanged and that includes the generous ground clearance and fuel tank.
The riding position is the same as the BS4 Apache RTR 200 4V. You are greeted with the same raised clip-on handlebars and 800mm seat height. For a rider of average height, the handlebar is easy to reach and the foot pegs are set low and slightly rear set so your feet do not get cramped up during longer rides. While the riding position is well suited for longer rides, the seat cushioning is on the softer side, leading to the edges digging into the sides over extended riding. Otherwise, the seat has a comfy profile and the cushioning works fine for shorter city jaunts. The 800mm tall seat is easily accessible for 5ft 8inch riders.
Technology & Features:
It is not just the LED headlamp that’s new on the Apache RTR 200 BS6. It gets ‘Glide Through Traffic’, a torque-assist feature which prevents the motorcycle from stalling at low speeds. It works well provided you ease off the clutch in a progressive manner and do not dump it. Without throttle application and the clutch released, the bike will reach 7kmph in 1st gear, 12kmph in second gear and 17kmph in third gear. It's a boon in stop and go traffic where the chances of you stalling the bike while modulating the clutch and throttle are more.
Its digital instrument console comes with Bluetooth connectivity and can be connected to TVS’ SmartXonnect app. While the app shows details such as lean angle and G-forces, the instrument console displays direction for navigation and caller ID. Know more details about SmartXonnect connectivity feature here. The compact instrument console gets a new layout that’s easy to read. While most of the data like acceleration, lap timer and top speed will not be useful in daily use, the gear position indicator is a welcome addition. In terms of navigation, there are two buttons on the instrument console and a dedicated button on the left switchgear just to start and stop the lap timer. We feel that the ‘i’ button could have been used to toggle through other console functions apart just a stopwatch for the lap timer, making it easier for the rider to access more information on the move.
Engine & Performance:
For BS6 compliance, TVS has gone beyond sticking fuel injection and a catalytic converter in the motor. The Apache RTR 200 still retains the 197.75cc oil-cooled single cylinder layout but now gets a new asymmetrical piston with new piston rings and revised valve timings for the 4-valve head. The intake gets a new layout and air filter while the exhaust system has been reworked on the inside. Power output remains identical though torque is down by a substantial 1.3Nm and now peaks 500rpm higher in the rev range.
Besides the drop in torque, the Apache RTR 200 BS6 is now 2kg heavier. Both these factors take a toll on the acceleration runs. While the fuel-injected BS6 Apache is marginally quicker in the run up to 60kmph, its lack of top end grunt makes it more than half a second slower to 100kmph than the carburetted BS4 Apache. Most of the power begins building up after the 3500rpm mark and keeps getting stronger. It feels strongest between 5000rpm and 6000rpm. Post 7000rpm, the performance starts to taper off. The new motor can rev all the way to 11,000rpm but it is best to upshift around 8000rpm to extract maximum performance. Where the new motor shines is in the low to mid-range performance in the city. Throttle response is crisp and immediate and with the added assistance of GTT, there is not much to complain about low speed performance. You can easily cruise around in third and fourth gear at city speeds in a relaxed manner. This tractability also helps the 200cc motorcycle offer phenomenal fuel efficiency in the city. The reworked fuel-injection tuning as well as significantly reduced friction inside the cylinder and gearbox, too, play a part in improving efficiency.
Also read: Honda Activa 6G BS6: First Ride
The motor also impresses in terms of refinement. There are no major vibrations all the way to the top reaches of the rev range, but you do get a slight buzz through the fuel tank and handlebars post 8000rpm. We also felt that the fuel-injected motor sounds a little louder than the carburetted motor at high speeds (but not as good), which can be mildly annoying during long distance touring.
At city speeds, the RTR builds speed quickly, but at highway speeds, you will have to work a bit for quick overtakes as it loses steam at higher revs. The engine feels at ease at 100kmph in fifth gear, sitting at an easy 7000rpm. However, the motor starts to feel strained beyond this. Thankfully, the highway fuel efficiency figure is still better than the BS4 motorcycle. The Apache RTR 200 continues to use a 5-speed gearbox with a slipper clutch. The gearshifts do not feel as precise as some small capacity Japanese gearboxes we have seen but they have a positive shift action.
Ride & Handling:
With no changes to the frame, telescopic fork and monoshock suspension or 270mm front/240mm rear brakes with dual-channel ABS, the BS6 Apache RTR 200 continues to offer the same dynamic capability of its predecessor. It, however, gets new Eurogrip Protorq SR tyres with a radial tyre at the rear. These tyres offer lots of grip and an immediate difference can be seen in the braking department. Despite running the same braking hardware, TVS has retuned this setup and because of that, braking times have significantly decreased and the motorcycle feels extremely stable under hard braking. The grip on damp road conditions too is commendable with no drama whatsoever.
Large bumps and sharp edges of potholes can be felt as the suspension is set on the firmer side. But, you won’t wince either as it blunts these shocks. And when it comes to handling, it still has that eagerness to turn into corners rapidly. These new tyres improve stability when leaned into turns and you feel a lot more confident making quick direction changes.
Overall, the Apache’s handling prowess has received a boost thanks to the new tyres and improved bite from the brakes.
The TVS Apache RTR 200 4V BS6 is available in only one variant.
With the latest hike in prices, the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V BS6 now costs Rs 1.25 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), which makes it Rs 11,000 dearer than its BS4 predecessor. For that price, you get an updated motor as well as new features in the form of an LED headlamp and GTT.
So to answer the burning question: the drop in performance does not make much of a difference in the real world and the only time you would notice it is during highway runs. What you get in return is more refinement, better fuel efficiency and better tractability at low speeds.
It still retails the Apache’s dynamic capabilities and continues to be an enjoyable motorcycle to ride. As for the value for money (VFM) tag, we feel that despite the price hike, the RTR 200 still offers a lot more than other motorcycles in the 200cc segment and that too at a competitive price. The VFM tag stays.