TVS NTorq 125 Race Edition BS6 vs Yamaha Ray ZR 125 BS6 vs Aprilia Storm 125 BS6: Road Test Review
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Three sporty scooters in a competitive 125cc space, but which one should you choose?
The 125cc scooter space offers plenty of options. But if you belong to the younger generation or Gen Z so to speak, these three popular offerings may grab your attention: the trendy NTorq 125 Race Edition, the bold Ray ZR 125, and the sporty Aprilia Storm 125. All three scooters offer a decent amount of performance and features for their asking price, but the question is, which one of these should you put your money on?
Not much has changed for the TVS NTorq Race Edition in terms of design. It gets the same bodywork as the standard scooter, albeit a sharper-looking LED headlight, sportier colours and, of course, a Race Edition badge below the grab rails. But what impressed us the most is the overall build quality, which I must say is significantly better than its competition. We've covered the scooter in detail here.
The Ray ZR Street Rally definitely stands out from the current crop of conventional 125cc scooters in the market. But not everyone might agree with its bold design approach. Design highlights include handguards, a fly screen, independent indicators, and pretend air ducts which serve no practical objective.
Its block pattern tyres may give you the impression of an off-road ready scooter, but it isn't really meant to be bashed around on the rough stuff. Having said that, they do offer ample grip both in dry and wet conditions. Overall, we'd say the build quality as well as fit and finish is an improvement over its predecessor but not comparable to the NTorq 125. The handguards, for instance, look plasticky and feel flimsy.
Unlike the Vespa which uses a complete metal body, the Storm 125 sticks to fibre to keep costs and weight in check. If sporty is what you seek, it doesn’t get any better than an Aprilia in the current scenario. Sharp lines and bold graphics paired with compact dimensions and chunky tyres give the Storm 125 a distinctive look. It looks and feels properly sporty. While the overall build quality is quite good, the switchgear could have done with better tactile feel and materials.
The NTorq 125 feels quite comfortable with tall-set handlebars. The merit to this is that it doesn't foul your knees while taking sharp U-turns. While the concave front apron offers ample knee room, the design tapers towards the rider and eats into the floorboard space. Nonetheless, shorter riders will still find it roomy and will easily be able to place both feet on the ground while being seated -- thanks to the low seat height of just 770mm. And while there's ample room for both rider and pillion, the cushioning is soft enough to feel uncomfortable over long journeys.
The Ray ZR is the lightest scooter here weighing in at just 99kg -- 4kg lighter than the older 113cc model. Thanks to this, it's easy to move around the parking lot. Quite surprising when you consider its bulky design.
A low seat height of 785mm is perfect for average-sized riders. Even shorter riders won't find it particularly difficult to get their feet on the ground. However, the seat, although well cushioned and comfortable, has an inclined design which tends to push you forward every time you brake hard. This constantly has you moving around to get back to your normal seating position.
The tall handlebars on the Ray ZR offer a lot more legroom compared to the Storm, but the floorboard space feels a bit cramped when compared to the NTorq.
The NTorq and Ray ZR may dwarf the Storm in terms of sheer size, but its compact design has its perks. You get smaller rims (12-inchers rather than the SR’s 14-inchers) and a lower seat height of 775mm which is perfect for shorter riders. Besides, the tapered seat design makes flat footing the scooter real easy. And unlike the ray ZR, the Storm's seat texture is also quite grippy, keeping you from sliding off when braking hard.
Having said that, the seat cushioning is too firm. The firm seat coupled with the stiff ride gets quite taxing during long journeys. We hope Aprilia reworks the form density and makes it a bit softer in the next update. Pillion comfort isn’t that great either. However, the single-piece grab handle does a decent job of making your partner feel secure on the seat and not falling behind when you accelerate hard.
TECHNOLOGY AND FEATURES
The TVS NTorq is by far the most feature-packed scooter here. It comes with LED lights everywhere, except in its turn indicators which are the conventional type. The LED headlight offers a strong and wide beam spread, however, it's projected low towards the ground which only illuminates a short part of the road ahead of you.
Other notable features include a full-digital instrument console with smartphone connectivity and a host of readouts, LED boot light, and a USB charger. The NTorq also features an external fuel filler cap which pops open instead of you having to manually unscrew it like the others. More on its features here.
The Ray ZR and Storm 125 pale in comparison to the NTorq. The former features a 'T' shaped LED DRL, a side stand cut-off switch and a remote boot opener, aside from a digital instrument console which offers the bare minimum in terms of readouts. This includes a speedometer, odometer, a trip meter, a fuel gauge, and a tachometer which makes no sense on a scooter. We believe a redesigned console with a few extra features such as average/real-time fuel-efficiency, distance to empty, and a service indicator would have given it a couple of extra brownie points.
The lighting is fairly conventional too, you have a halogen headlamp which lacks throw and spread, failing to illuminate the road at night. Yamaha has also missed out on nifty bits such as an underseat storage light or a USB charging socket which are pretty much the norm these days. However, you could get them added if you're willing to pay an additional Rs 770 over the price of the scooter. We would have also loved to see an external fuel filler cap, rather than the underseat one which leads to you refuelling the traditional way. On the bright side, its 21-litre underseat storage is big enough to accommodate a half-faced helmet and a few knick-knacks.
As for the Storm 125, it offers the bare minimum -- a cost-effective twin-pod headlight which provides a decent spread and throw. Then there's the semi-digital console with readouts such as a clock, two tripmeters, an odometer, and a fuel gauge. While that takes care of your necessary bits, we would have loved to see features such as distance to empty, range or even average fuel efficiency .
The Storm even misses out on remote boot unlocking, external fuel filler cap, underseat storage light or even USB charging. The last feature is the only thing that's offered as an accessory.
ENGINE & PERFORMANCE
The aspects that differentiate these scooters are refinement and the way they put down their power. While the BS6 NTorq makes the same power and torque as before, it's peak power now kicks in 500rpm earlier. What's glaringly clear is how refined the motor feels. The updated motor feels a lot smoother even at higher speeds compared to the older motor which sounded gruff. While it feels more responsive than before, the BS6 NTorq has lost out on its bottom and top-end performance. And that's pretty evident in our performance runs, but more on that later.
The Ray ZR 125 is one of the most refined scooters we've ridden, surpassed only by the Activa and Access. There’s literally no noise from the starter motor thanks to the new silent start feature. All you feel is a light judder from the engine when you thumb the starter. It isn't short on performance either, the engine offers ample bottom-end and mid-range grunt which makes quick overtakes in city traffic an absolute breeze. The sheer tractability of the motor makes the Ray ZR a hoot to ride.
Certain improvements have been made to the Storm’s 125cc single-cylinder engine that strengthens its overall usability. The BS6 updates may have ironed out the harshness of the BS4 motor, but it still feels a bit gruff. The silver lining is its exhaust note, which is still raspy making the overall experience more engaging.
You probably expect the NTorq or Storm 125 to be the quickest scooter here, but that simply isn’t the case. Performance is where the Ray ZR 125 shows its true colours. It’s surprisingly quick and it’s all down to how light the scooter is. Better power-to-weight ratio means the Ray ZR beats its competition in almost every run from 0-80kmph. Post 80kmph though, the motor’s performance tends to taper off.
Coming in second is the BS6 NTorq. However, the highlight here is its meaty mid-range which allows it to post the quickest time in roll-on accelerations from 20-50. On the plus side, the NTorq’s motor feels more eager during quick overtakes in city traffic.
Despite being the most powerful scooter here, the Storm 125 takes last place and that's due to its rather lethargic bottom-end performance. Since most of its power lies in the top-end, it's the slowest to get off the line.
The Ray ZR’s frugal engine coupled with its lightweight chassis helps it extract the best fuel efficiency in the segment. Within city limits, the Yammie eclipses the NTorq and Storm 125 by delivering a staggering fuel efficiency of 66.23km to a litre. That's motorbike territory. Thanks to this, it more than makes up for its small 5.2-litre fuel tank. In fact, you could expect a range of about 344km on a full tank of fuel.
The BS6 update has also had an impact on the way NTorq 125 sips fuel. While it isn't nearly as good as the Ray ZR, the NTorq's fuel-injected motor burns fuel more efficiently. The result is an improvement of 4.5kmpl in the city as opposed to the BS4 model. Add a larger 5.8-litre fuel tank to the mix and you get better range than before.
The Storm’s engine has to be kept on the boil to keep it within its power band, resulting in slightly lower fuel efficiency. However, it has the largest fuel tank which helps it deliver an estimated range of around 325km of a full tank of fuel -- more than enough for your daily commutes.
RIDE & HANDLING
The BS6 NTorq 125's suspension setup is tuned for a slightly stiffer ride which aids its handling prowess. Direction changes are quick with chunky TVS Remora tyres offering exceptional grip in the corners and straights. The stiffer front though tends to transfer certain road imperfections through the handlebars. However, it isn't as bothersome as the stiffly sprung Storm 125. The monoshock, on the other hand, is perfectly set up to flatten out potholes bumps and glide over bumps. Overall, NTorq feels composed at speeds, but a bit bouncy at low speeds.
What we love about the Ray ZR 125 is its potent chassis. It's light which makes the scooter extremely flickable and easy to turn into corners while its 12-inch wheels and long wheelbase ensure stability. The suspension setup too has been revised for 2020. It’s been set up for a plush ride with a certain amount of stiffness on the front suspension which settles as soon as you gain speed. The rear monoshock though is a bit too soft for our liking. While it does a decent enough job of gobbling up potholes and small undulations, it tends to feel wallowy on larger speed breakers. Despite that, the setup works well, settles down, and regains composure fairly quickly.
The Storm 125 is set up for better absorption compared to the SR 125. In fact, the monoshock gets preload adjustability that you can set as per your liking. While the bumps still filter through the handlebars and floorboard, they no longer feel jarring.
We think the block pattern Vee Rubber tyres have a big role to play here. You see, the sidewalls on the smaller 12-inch tyres are much thicker (compared to the ones on the 14-inch wheels) which help with better insulation while going over bumps. However, a tradeoff to this is a slightly lazy feeling steering. It doesn't feel as nimble as the SR and is a bit reluctant to turn into corners. The grip from the tyres too isn’t confidence-inspiring while leaned into corners.
That said, the brakes on the Storm 125 are nothing short of awe-inspiring. They offer great feel and progression through the levers which help bring the scooter to a dead stop a lot quicker than its rivals. Go hard on the brakes and the rear tends to feel a bit wiggly but isn't anything you cannot control. But the CBS calibration could be improved by offering better braking distribution over the front end.
As for the BS6 NTorq, it offers strong, progressive bite and under hard braking, with wide profile tyres helping anchor the scooter. However, the extra weight plays spoilsport and increases its braking distance.
What we loved about the Ray ZR’s braking system is the way the CBS distributes braking forces. The scooter never felt unnerved or jittery even when we went hard on the brakes. Further inspiring confidence is the feedback and progression from the levers. We think some extra bite from the brakes would have helped us record better braking distances.
PRICE & VERDICT
On the whole, we still think the BS6 TVS NTorq offers the best value for money. It not only caters to a broader set of audience with four variants and a wider price range, but also offers better build quality, features and a likeable engine. Not to mention, it is easier to use and maintain in the long run as well.
As for the Ray ZR 125, it’s a definite improvement over its predecessor in pretty much all aspects. If it was only down to performance and handling, we’d quite certainly pick the Yamaha. But factor in the fewer features compared to the NTorq and slightly lower build quality, and our opinion sways. Finally, the Aprilia Storm 125 too is impressive in its own rights, but its lack of features and a high price tag really puts us off from recommending it to anyone over the others.