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Sunday, March 13, 2011

TVS Apache RTR 180 - Review

It was about time, that I get over my not liking Apache's and try out the biggest Apache on the block and change my impression. Yes Sir, I'm talking about the TVS Apache RTR 180 (well it's strictly the non-ABS version, so don't start getting any ideas). Today it was time to flip my legs over one of the most desirable motorcycle in it's class.

TVS has been the second most prolific motorcycle manufacturer after Bajaj, joining the party a bit late, but in no way remained at the back seats. Very quickly TVS was making news for all sort of right things and soon, even before anyone realized, the Apaches became as much a revolution as the Pulsars are. The fight became more fierce, but only to benefit us - the motorcyclist.

Bajaj Pulsars were launched in twins, the Pulsar 150 and a bit more souped up Pulsar 180. For long enough the Pulsar 180 remained the only one in it's genre. TVS realized this opportunity and launched the Race Bred TVS Apache RTR 180, the Biggest, the Baddest, and after today's flip, easily the Best Apache RTR till date.

The Engine

The Over Square 177.4 cc engine is as potent a unit at low revs as it's at high revs. The engine loves to be revved the fun actually begins as you go past the 6k rpms mark. There's a surge of power that comes between the narrow band of 6k and 8.5k rpms, where the engine maxes out with a peak power delivery of 17bhp.

Needless to say, that in terms of power, I was quite satiated, as the power delivery and range came quite close to that of my bike, but yes at the same time, it's the way the power is generated that made the analyzing the difference easy.

As with all other Apache RTRs, thumb the starter, and the engine bangs into life settling into a heavy grunt of idling at 1.3k - 1.4k rpms. Twist the throttle and the engine roars louder to make it's intentions clear and set your expectations of what lies ahead. The grunt of the engine continues all through the rev rang and that's what I liked the most about the engine character. It's almost like you get the feel of riding a Ducati Monster with a bit more of fairing alongside the tank area (well there's no comparison between a Ducati Monster and the Apache, but yeah you really get that feel here).

The engine provides a solid mid range and top end, and almost a satisfactory low end. It's not that the engine lack low end performance, but yes, the engine did had to put some effort pulling from 10kmph at 3rd clog, but once past 18kmph, the job was quite effortlessly done. The engine, as I mentioned before, begins to entertain past 6k rpms, but at the same some vibrations also start to make their presence felt at the same time. It might be a case that the motorcycle I was riding was a test motorcycle and generally they are pretty badly abused and in a properly maintained motorcycle that should not be the case, at least the vibrations should not make their presence felt from as low as 6k rpms.

Ride and Handling

This is one department, which came as a pleasant surprise to me. With a Kerb Weight of just 137 kg, which in fact is a staggering 10kg lesser than it's only competitor, and with a Power to Weight ratio of 124.08 bhp/tonne, you are only asking for a party when you ride the baby hard.

With better mass centralization and front end geometry, the Apache RTR 180, invites you to flip and lean. I was surprised at the staggering levels of lean angle I was able to achieve without making much effort. The low seat height (well not as low as say in a Yamaha R15 or Kawasaki Ninja 250R so to say), good mass centralization and front end geometry make the Apache RTR 180 one of the best handling Indian motorcycles available and easily the best in it's class. The competition comes no way close to it's handling. Be it 10kmph or 30kmph, making a tight U turn is a kid's play on it, and I almost forgot to mention that while having the test ride, I was having a pillion with me. So, all this, with a shit scared pillion at the back, anyone can easily imagine, what it would be like if one is riding alone.

The 270mm up front and 200mm down rear petal shaped disc do their job wonderfully, which is equally complemented by the rubber. Though I felt that
  1. The rubber should have been more stickier on this genre of motorcycle as the feedback from the wheels was a notch down .
  2. The clip on provide too little room to adjust the brake lever up to satisfaction as I felt that I had to do some work to reach to the point of the lever were I actually wanted to hold it to operate.

The seating position remains to be a bit awkward for me, as you need to reach to the clip on bars, which is good, but at the same time, the foot pegs are not equally rear-set, which made the riding position a bit uncomfortable for me, to the extent that I had to constantly keep adjust my foot on gear and the rear brake levers to find a comfortable position, which I was not able to discover till the end.

The suspension settings are just right to inspire confidence in the ride and also gobble up un-even pot holes. The feedback was quite nice and way better than motorcycles of the same class.


The instrumental console is the same standard as on the rest of the RTRs. The blue backlit console definitely looks sporty and is very easy to read. Also the tacho graphics are pretty good. The electrical is A.C with 12V, 9.0 H batteries, which is again standard as for the RTR series.

Quality and Reliability

The Apache RTRs are easily one of the best built Indian motorcycles available. The fit and finish of the body panels are top notch. In-fact the instrumentation cluster gives you a premium feeling, which from my point of view is very important, if you are putting so much of your hard earned cash on a motorcycle of this genre.

As I said earlier too, the rubber is one thing which can be bargained with as I didn't find my them much confidence inspiring.

On reliability, the Apache RTR 180 is as reliable as any Indian built motorcycle can be. It's at par at the Hondas and Yamahas available. So, just don't worry, just ride and have that grin of satisfaction on your face.

Value for Money

Well that's the big question.

That's a question, the answer to which might vary from person to person. For the tech, and overall package, I find the Apache RTR 180 a bit pricey. At ₹ 76,040 on road, Gurgaon, the TVS Apache RTR 180 might seem a bit pricey when you bring into perspective the Bajaj Pulsar 220F/S DTS-i which bears a tad lower price tag, and is much more higher in cubic capacity and brake horse power. But at the same time, when you compare the RTR 180 with the Yamaha FZs and Fazers, then the RTR 180 is great overall deal for the performance mongers.


Out and out, I found the TVS Apache RTR 180, the best motorcycle that money can
buy in it's class.

If you are performance hunter and you are starting to feel bored with your 150cc motorcycle, then the RTR 180 is the machine for you. Believe me, the RTR 180 is going to keep it's rider satiated for quite some time before the rider thinks of upgrading things, and with the Apache RTR 180 ABS being just round the corner, things look more bright for this package.
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  1. Its really informative and interesting one, although I am not a bike lover but your article has created some interest in me as well :) ....Thanks and keep it up with your passion.....

  2. Manpreet Bro
    Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment. Appreciate it man :)

  3. So you finally got over the dislike for the Apache RTR..??

    I have never ridden the Apache RTR 180, but I am sure it will only be more exciting than the RTR 160.

    And nice to see your pic on the bike towards the end.. gives the post a personal and authentic touch.

  4. Payeng Dude
    Yeah man... the dislike has changed to liking big time (minus that crampy riding posture the bike still has)

    You can't even imagine how much effort I had to make to get my photo clicked. Firstly since I went alone for the test ride and secondly, I don't know... I've some personal mental block towards posing for pictures ;)

  5. I Own Apache RTR 180, Covered 700 km in just 5 days, it's a good bike, power packed, reliable roaring tiger. i just love it.

  6. Absolutely Gaurav!! Would really love to know about your experience with the RTR 180 :)

  7. After waiting for 30 years, I purchased the RTR-180 on 29.04.2011.I am first time biker and always drove a car. After driving the RTR-180, my car is confined to the garage. I Iam 54 and a first time biker. I love the raw-power, macho looks, the stability and the consoles. If I can be so mesmerized by the bike, what about younger hearts. I am feeling younger and join the young brigade. Best wishes to all young bikers.

  8. Vasant Sir,

    It's so so heart warming to read about such passion and ride experience. Congratulations on your buy and I'm so happy for you that you are liking it. No doubt, Motorcycling and that feeling of being a free bird can make anyone younger by heart and that's what matters the most.

    It would be great if you could share with us your story as how you zeroed down to the RTR 180 and your journey till date :)

    Best of luck and ride safe :)

  9. I am still to become 18 .... But I am really excited about this bike.... Io have been reading reviews on this bike.... But I still think FZ is a strong contender in the league only coz of it's killer looks.

  10. @Darshan,

    Dude, looks are definitely a point of consideration of a bike, but then it all comes down to one point.... what do you expect from a package. In Indian economy, you have to compromise some way or the other.

    The Apache RTR 180 is an immense performer, but might look so appetizing some, while some drool over it :)

    At your age, I would suggest you go for the FZ, as it's more well behaved, has the looks would give you the same economy as the Apache RTR 180.

    So... Ride Good and Ride Safe

  11. Bro, is there a problem with the rear discs.. Cuz i hear people saying bikes wit rear disc are fun bt they do give a lot of problems in the long run

  12. @Anonymous
    Well, during my test ride, I did'nt find anything with the rear disc. It was crisp and precise. Believe me, even the braking system of SBKs need proper maintenance else, even before you know it, they fade off. Psychologically we tend to neglect the rear disc a bit too much because we have that Drum brake mentality and to add to it many think that the rear brake should provide lesser bite than the front, so, we tend to neglect it even further.

    With proper maintenance, I don't see anything happening to the rear brake in the long run too :)

    Cheers and ride safe

  13. I recently got my apache rtr 180...the bike is really fun to ride and handling is superb ..making it awesome in zipping past traffic..but can it be taken for a tour on highways..???bcoz many friends advised me not to do it as the seating position is not comfortable for long drives...???

  14. @Anonymous

    Many of friends who are avid tourers, have Apache 180 RTR and they very happily tour as long as from Delhi to Leh.

    As per my observation (and I many be complete wrong on that), an average Indian as a tendency to slouch on saddle. So, I would suggest, if you want to bang the miles out... go ahead and do it... your steed is perfectly suited for it... it's just that you need to get a comfortable posture as per your height.

    Tip : Support your torso with your abs. Don't bend your back, keep it as straight as possible. You would feel your lower back and wrist very comfortable that way. :)

  15. Apache rider is comfortable, but pillion seat is high so not comfortable. In pulsar rider is not comfortable but pillion is comfortable during long rides.

  16. Hello Sajal,
    I was thinking to buy Apache 180 RTR, but have noticed reviews stating that the bike starts vibrating once it touches 60KMPH.
    eg. - http://www.zigwheels.com/newbikes/TVS/Apache-RTR-180
    What has been your experience so far....Is it safe to invest on Apache, as 60KMPH is the normal speed and would not like the bike to vibrate at that speed.

    1. Hey Rohan,

      Vibes on Indian bikes is a very subjective thing. It's true that Apache's do have vibes, but those vibes are certainly not a deal breaker. The current crop of Apaches are much better than the previous gen.

      So, I would suggest that go and take a test ride and decide for yourself as for me, I had no issues with the vibes, and I for can vouch that if you have the correct gearing, there won't be any vibes at 60 :)


Item Reviewed: TVS Apache RTR 180 - Review Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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