2021 TVS Apache RTR 200 4V BS6: Road Test Review
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Just a fancy mechanical update, or a whole different animal?
We had the liberty of spending some quality time with the 2021 TVS Apache RTR 200 4V BS6. At this point, you’re probably wondering why it would be a big deal! After all, it’s the same BS6 model with an adjustable front suspension, ride modes, adjustable brake and clutch levers, and a swanky new colour scheme. Most of which don’t make sense for an everyday commuter. Besides, it only makes a bit more power and torque than before, so I’d rather put my money on the Bajaj Pulsar 200NS.
To that, I’d say, wait! Don’t jump the gun just yet. The 2021 RTR 200 4V isn’t just an update for the sake of it; it’s a whole new animal now. A LOT has gone into the bike to make it more engaging to ride in the city and out of it. So what’s it like? And have the upgrades really made much of a difference?
- Segment-first adjustable front suspension offers an added layer of sophistication and works flawlessly.
- The engine is a lot more usable now with power throughout the rev range.
- Brakes have been improved significantly -- one of our biggest grouses with the older RTR 200s.
- The footpeg position is still set higher up, which can make for an uncomfortable riding posture over long distances.
- The lack of a sixth gear is evident out on the highway.
- Having ride modes on a small 200cc bike may sound absurd, but they actually make a difference.
- Adjustable brake and clutch levers better the overall riding experience by bringing in more flexibility for riders of all sizes.
There’s not much to talk about in terms of design, considering the bike looks identical to the previously launched BS6 model. It’s still a sharp, well-built streetfighter with high quality standards and a feature list that simply cannot be contested in this segment.
Of course, there’s a new matte blue paint scheme that looks striking, in our opinion, and will get you just the right amount of attention on the road. Also, the paint quality and finish is phenomenal to say the least. We’ve already covered the bike’s overall design in detail in our previous review, which you can read about here.
Again, nothing has changed. You're greeted with the same raised clip-on handlebars, 800mm seat height, and awkwardly positioned footpegs. In all honesty, they're positioned too high really. Don't get me wrong, I understand that the RTR 200 is a sportier machine, and hence, the rather aggressive riding posture. But think about this, you'll be spending most of your time on the bike within city limits. Would you really want such a cramped riding posture? In our opinion, TVS could improve on this by just pushing the footpegs further back and lowering them ever so slightly. That way, there’ll be a bit more room for taller riders -- in this case, for a 5’10'' frame like mine.
The seat has comfortable cushioning and is easily accessible, even for average-sized riders. More importantly, at no point did I find it to be uncomfortable, even after spending over 100km on the saddle at a stretch.
TECHNOLOGY & FEATURES
The 2021 Apache RTR 200 is packed to the teeth with features. And the table above should paint a clear picture of just how ahead the RTR is of its competition. Majority of the features have been carried over from the previous iteration (read about it here). But what will impress you is the addition of adjustable brake and clutch levers, which elevate the overall riding experience by offering more flexibility to riders of all sizes.
You also have three different ride modes (Rain, Urban, and Sport) that change the tune of the engine and the ABS intrusion. More on that later.
ENGINE & PERFORMANCE
The RTR may still retain the same 197.75cc single-cylinder engine with an oil-cooler, but what impressed us is just how much the motor has changed over the last three iterations. It’s currently the only bike in the 200cc space offering ride modes -- a feature that’s usually only available in the higher segments.
The engine retune on the 2021 RTR also helps it extract 0.32PS and 0.45Nm more than the 2020 model. Gear ratios have been revised too, which means there’s more power available lower down the rev range. This not only makes the engine more tractable in the city but also a lot quicker throughout the rev range.
Our performance test should shed some light on how much the RTR has improved. The initial gap is rather small with just 0.15 seconds separating the 2021 model from the current-gen RTR. But it’s a whole different story as you climb up the rev range. The new bike manages to shave a whole 1.7 second off the older model while gunning it from 0-100kmph. Good heavens, it’s even quicker than the Race Edition (carb), which was already quite fast to begin with.
A meatier mid-range results in quicker roll-on acceleration, which improves quick overtakes within city limits. Out on the highway though, you would have to drop down a gear to stay within the powerband.
Switching to ‘Urban’ makes the throttle response more laid-back and limits the power and torque to 17.32PS and 16.51Nm respectively -- available slightly lower down the rev range.
Having ride modes on a small 200cc streetfighter may sound like overkill, but it works. Let me explain. Not everyone wants 20.82PS at their disposal all the time. Some may prefer a leisurely ride with better fuel-efficiency. The ABS intrusion is also bumped up at the point that could be more useful to newer riders.
You’d probably expect fuel-efficiency to take a hit, given the 2021 RTR’s improved performance figures. But that’s far from the reality.
The engine satisfies with a more linear power delivery. In layman's terms, you don’t have to work the engine as much to get the most out of it. It can sit between 80-90kmph without breaking a sweat, which certainly helps its highway efficiency. Better bottom-end and a meatier mid-range mean the engine is at ease in city traffic as well. All in all, you could expect well over 500km on a full tank, but only if you’re gentle with the throttle.
RIDE & HANDLING
The biggest change on the 2021 RTR is the front suspension setup. It’s still a telescopic fork but features preload adjustments which add a layer of flexibility that no other 200cc bike has on offer.
With four preload settings available for the fork, TVS says that the bike’s front-end can be tailored for riders of varying weights (although TVS specifies this weight range between 65 and 80kg). Bumping up the front preload (which basically pre-compresses the front springs) not only helps the front suspension support a heavier load more comfortably but the slight change in geometry also allows for a more reactive front-end that’s quicker to steer. Of course, this comes at the expense of a bit of plushness from the front suspension on bad roads.
We fiddled with the setup with a 75kg rider on board, and found that the second notch from the softest setting works best for overall rideability. It does a fantastic job at flattening bumps and potholes, and almost offers a carpet-like ride.
The handling capabilities of the 2021 RTR 200 are further highlighted by its tyres. Sure, the configuration may be a bit odd -- Remora's at the front and the new Eurogrip Protorq SR tyres at the rear. But it works! The grip from these tyres are incredible, and it reflects in the braking department as well.
Braking was one of the biggest drawbacks on the older RTRs. That’s not the case anymore,though. Braking distances have improved by 3-5 metres compared to the previous-gen model. The improved numbers are down to the tyres and also the way the brakes are set up. It's the same configuration as before, but TVS has re-tuned the unit to offer better bite, feel, and progression through the levers.
To keep things simple, TVS offers the Apache RTR 200 4V BS6 in two trims: dual-channel and single-channel ABS.
The Apache RTR has come a long way -- from being just another entry-level performance bike to almost TVS’s crown jewel. It’s now a fine product, and dare I say, better than the BS6 RR 310 in terms of overall rideability.
You have a better spread of power throughout the rev range (that makes it more usable in every situation) and an adjustable suspension setup that can be tweaked for different riders. It brakes and handles much better than the older model too. It’s truly an enjoyable bike that’ll keep you engaged, no matter how experienced a rider you are.
So should you put your money on the 2021 RTR 200 4V then? That’s an emphatic YES from our side.