2023 TVS Apache RTR 310 review - big surprise!
The BMW 310 platform has quite a few motorcycles built on it, but interestingly, TVS, who builds all of them, have had only one of those vehicles to show in their own portfolio - the Apache RR310. Over the years, TVS have also done a lot more to this is full faired machine than what BMW has done to all of its own 310 line-up, combined!
So, when TVS announced that it is finally coming up with its own street fighter on the 310, we were all waiting with our eyes peeled. That day finally dawned in Bangkok and TVS revealed the RTR 310 amidst a cheerful crowd of street performers, graffiti artists and stunt riders. It was TVS' way of highlighting that its newest RTR is more than just a stripped out RR310 and one that has some serious street cred.
The street fighter styling is right up that alley of stunt riders and hooligans on two-wheels. I would have liked to see the street art/graffiti theme even in the paint jobs on offer - but I believe TVS didn't want to create a KTM Duke pretender. Speaking of inspiration, the RTR 310 has an uncanny resemblance to the Ducati Streetfighter and the Yamaha MT-09 - but the design is executed rather well and it all comes together quite nicely.
One of the things that I don't like is the vulnerable position of the oil filter which sits in the belly pan and in the line of fire for all the debris that is kicked up by the front tyre. On the top, the bezels for the instrumentation could have been slimmer in today's day and age. And the exhaust canister should have been sleeker like the rest of the bike.
The yellow scheme looks a bit overdone but the Sepang blue, which is a colour scheme I had recommended TVS should make after their ARRC success last year, looks the best in my opinion - but it comes at a Rs 10,000 premium, which is a bit much (more on that later).
As for the things I like - this is the sharpest looking RTR yet! The bike looks great from all angles - front, side or rear. This is also the largest RTR yet in terms of the room it offers and the 800mm seat height is very accessible for most Indian riders. Do take a longish test ride though, because the foot pegs are rear set like the Apache RR310 and that makes for a more sporty and committed riding posture compared to any of the smaller RTRs. Like the RR310, these foot-pegs, too, dig into the corner quite quickly when you riding on the track.
Engine, performance, ride and handling
This isn't a track machine, though TVS have tinkered with the internals of the engine to push out more power and torque than the RR310. With the lack of a fairing and wind hitting you a lot harder, the 150kmph claimed top speed is 10kmph lesser than the RR310. Acceleration is marginally slower too - expect a sub 7.5s 0-100kmph sprint. Had they carried over the RR310's engine unchanged, this performance gap would have been wider. The 2PS bump in power then compensates to an extent for the lack of the better aerodynamics offered by a full fairing.
The improved torque is also dialled in around 1,000rpm earlier for an even stronger mid range ideal for zipping through traffic and pulling quick overtakes. In fact, the acceleration in first gear is so brisk that it can get annoying in bumper to bumper traffic, especially with the TVS Glide Through Tech making the bike lurch forward even when you close throttle. Easy trick - engage the Urban mode which restricts power to around 27PS and feather the clutch. Thankfully, the clutch lever is adjustable too, so commutes can get less cumbersome.
There are plenty of riding modes to choose from - Urban and Rain with the reduced power and more alert safety systems, or the full-blown Sport, Track and Supermoto modes for the fun times. We didn't get a chance to try the Supermoto mode, but we had a chance to ride at the Thailand Circuit (not to be confused with Chang) which was a good place to try the Sport and Track Modes. The difference between the two modes isn't very noticeable save for the crisper throttle response offered by the Track mode. The motorcycle I was riding seemed to have a very choppy throttle response though and randomly cut power even on the straights between the 7,000 to 8,000rpm zone, while the red line and limiter sits above the 9,000rpm mark. Some other riders seemed to have similar issues too and TVS says they would look into it. I suspect it has something to do with an overly alert traction control system, but why it would mess up on the straights too, beats me. Honestly, this bike is enjoyed best with Sport mode engaged and traction control completely turned off.
Tyres and Suspension
The grip and stability offered by the Road 5 tyres and the excellent chassis derived from the RR310 makes it an excellent handling package, and you won't really complain for traction often. And yes, these tyres will be offered on the India-spec bike too, despite the import ban on fancy rubber.
The suspension is set up on the softer side for better comfort on the streets, but I urge you to choose the adjustable suspension while ordering your motorcycle - even if you are never going to hit the track. Rs 18,000 is a relatively small asking price (part of the Dynamic package) for a fully adjustable setup and its advantages will be mind blowing once you setup the suspension to your preference.
On paper, even the Dynamic Pro package is ideal for track users only as it gets you the six axis IMU controlled electronics suite - but it has its advantages on the road too. Things like Cornering ABS and Cornering Traction Control add a degree of safety and also allow you to push the bike that much harder while sport riding. As a part of this electronics suite, TVS have also developed something called a Cornering Cruise Control function, which automatically shaves off speed when you lean the bike into a bend while using cruise control. It's counterintuitive at first but works pretty well for long, sweeping curves on the highways. Not something you should rely on in tighter winding stretches, though.
And finally, the much talked about feature - the cooled/heated seat! I tried it all through the ride in Bangkok and it works. Even with the thick waterproof lined riding gear, my butt could feel the cooling offered by the seat and it will be a boon while commuting to work! It's not very noticeable at speed, but works well at slow-moving speeds - though the engine needs to be above 2,000rpm for the function to be active. TVS should offer this as an accessory on all their bikes - that's how effective it is. Just make it 5-degree cooler, maybe? Temperature controlled seats are usually available on more expensive touring machines and it's good to see TVS engineering it at this price point.
Another feature that comes from higher end motorcycles is the ability of the TFT instrumentation to connect to your GoPro and allowing you to control it on the go. Though this is a feature we couldn't try on our short first ride. So more on that with a road test, where we will also get you the real world fuel economy and performance figures.
Summing it up then, I think this is easily the best iteration of the 310 platform yet. TVS needs to make the traction control less intrusive, fix the choppy throttle and make the acceleration feel as linear as the RR310. Apart from these easily fixable gripes, the RTR 310 is an excellent all-rounder that's packed to the gills with tech and features and all of it has been packaged separately to fit different pocket sizes. The completely specced out RTR 310 does enter the KTM 390 Duke territory and those are dangerous waters, but the fact that you can choose a lower variant if you don't care much about the track hardware, makes the RTR a more easily accessible package. Typical to the RTR name, it feels at home on the road and the track and if you don't care much about a fairing this is the best TVS motorcycle for you right now. Definitely the biggest surprise of 2023!
Words Rohit Paradkar
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