The TVS Apache RR 310 is the latest from the manufacturer that produces perhaps the highest quality products of the Indian brands. It represents a big step in many ways. First of all, it arrives on the tenth anniversary of the TVS Apache - a brand that has become well-known for its sporty intent. Second, it marks 35 years of TVS Racing, a department that's taken very seriously at TVS and more to the fore, was central to the development of the Apache RR. And finally, it represents the first TVS model form the 2015 TVS-BMW joint cooperation arrangement albeit the Hosur factory started making the BMW models, the G 310 R and the G 310 GS first. As it turns out, TVS are first to market with the 310cc platform. The TVS Apache RR 310 doesn't have a direct competitor but there are a series of motorcycle it will be compared to. These range form the old Honda CBR250R and the outgoing Kawasaki Ninja 300, to the new BSIV Yamaha YZF-R3 and naturally, the KTM 390 Duke and KTM RC 390. But now, let's talk about the bike.
The TVS Apache RR 310 is the first motorcycle from the TVS-BMW arrangement to go on sale in India. It uses the same frame and the 34PS/27Nm 310cc single-cylinder engine as the BMW 310s
The TVS Apache RR 310 is a sportsbike that is based on the same engine and frame that the BMW G 310 R uses. The frame is almost exactly identical but TVS uses its own subframe and KYB (or Kayaba) has tuned the suspension to suit the role. Dual-channel ABS is standard. The engine, a fuel-injected 4-valve DOHC single is also identical to the BMW G 310 R in design, hardware and gearbox. But TVS uses its own ECU with custom maps for greater response and has add an extra tooth to the rear sprocket as well. The gearing and the slippery fairing - TVS claims the lowest drag coefficient in class thanks to extensive wind tunnel time - allow the 160kmph top speed, a surprise for a 34PS/27Nm/169.5kg motorcycle. The price is Rs 2.05 lakh ex-showroom and we have all the technical details on the motorcycle in a separate story. We also got to ride it on the Chennai race track and it proved to be rather likeable! And now, to our list.
The TVS Apache RR 310's shiniest asset is the handling. TVS says that the wheelbase is not long but the tilting back of the engine allows the cast aluminium swingarm to be longer. Between that, the grippy Michelin tyres and the superb suspension tune, the motorcycle is neutral and responds very fast to inputs. TVS has managed to nail response balance so despite its eagerness, it never feels rushed, nervous or frantic. You will love it in the corners, I promise.
The TVS Apache RR 310 takes inspiration from the the shark and one of the few non-functional body parts is that little 'fin' under the tail section. The only function it serves are aesthetic and some rain water splash protection says TVS
Yes I've already noticed the Panigale, RSV4 and other sportsbike references but it doesn't matter. The Akula has superb lines and much of the lines have carried forward into the RR 310. The design team told us that the first prototypes were sleeker and skinner but in time, the aero-efficiency requirements caused the surfaces to become slightly more curved. That said, the little 'fin' under the tail apart, TVS says that every single surface is a result of aero-sculpting or has a functional purpose. The result is a proportionate motorcycle that feels good to ride and looks substantial to the eye - a good combination, I think, for the new Indian sportsbike buyer.
The vertical all-digital dash is a compact unit with a lot of information packed in. The speedo is huge and easy to read and you get used to the rev counter that runs up the right edge pretty quickly too
Not that TVS wasn't making quality motorcycles already, but this is another step altogether. TVS has clearly picked up something from BMW Motorrad in terms how quality is created, deployed and then perceived. And the results absolutely gleam. I think there are two parts to it. The first is finish. And the Apache RR 310 is going to be a benchmark on that front. Each and every panel, metal form or aggregate seems to have been finished with the utmost care. Even the smallest of mold edges seem to have been eliminated. This makes the motorcycle look absolutely top notch. The second is detail design. This is a very Italian thing to do, but TVS has paid attention to the design of some of the crucial smaller elements that pay huge dividends in perceived quality. This is exactly what Triumph has done with its latest models as well. On the TVS Apache RR 310, the top triple clamps, the surround plastic on the fairing, the switch cubes etc are all carefully designed and well-made and it elevates your sense of how expensive the motorcycle is.
The BMW-TVS engine is a sweetheart in the sense of its power delivery. The TVS version of the engine has an extremely sweet, linear power delivery and that makes riding it easy or hard very easy. I suspect that a small step midway would have raised the involvement level though. At Chennai, seeing as much as 145kmph on the fastest stretches was possible and the 160kmph top speed claim is real. The 7.17s time to 100kmph and the 2.93s run to 60kmph both seem realistic.
TVS had us really scared with all this ominous talk of premium pricing. But ultimately, the price, Rs 2.05 lakh ex-showroom is good for the motorcycle. This price includes standard ABS, radial Michelins, superb build and finish levels, a nice engine and most excellent dynamics. The comparison tests will be extremely interesting for sure. TVS also claims that the lap times are quicker for the Apache RR than all of its competitors and that is very, very intriguing!
But as with all motorcycles, the TVS Apache RR 310 isn't perfect, right? Well, there were a few things we noted on our short stint at the Madras Motor Race Track outside Chennai.
The footpeg mounting position was a surprise. The ergonomics on the TVS Apache RR 310 prove to be comfortable but sporty. But the flip side of that was that we had more than a few pegs scraping as we lapped the Chennai Track despite hanging off. Pro? Comfortable ergos that might even support long tours if you put your mind to ti. Cons? Harder riders will find cornering clearance will hold the bike back a bit
Knee down is good. Pegs down is fun. Knee and pegs down simultaneously is a bit too on the edge. In the hunt for comfortable but sporty ergonomics, TVS has created a rather effective package that blends track use and regular use well. But in the same breath, this means that all of the fastest riders were soon out of cornering clearance and the pegs were scraping. I suspect that the pegs need to be moved back and up a small bit to enable a chassis that most certainly has tremendous composure and capability.
Our motorcycles vibrated just a little bit albeit the racetrack is not the right place to ascertain this. We suspect that this could be something related to them being brand-new and not quite run in but we shall be looking at the engine's refinement closely when the test bike arrives.
And there you have it. The TVS Apache RR 310 is a rather likeable, well-priced sports motorcycle and we cannot wait to get our hands on a test bike that we can ride out in the real world. It should set the new benchmark for quality and finish while firmly putting the pressure on its competition with its blend of ability, quality and pricing. And of course, it also means that the sort of motorcycles that the BMWs will be - due second half 2018 - is extremely, extremely promising indeed!