TVS Apache RR 310 Review: Is the Akula good enough to worry KTM’s RC 390 ?

The Apache RR 310 has compelling European-esque design, a competitive price tag, an engine built in collaboration with BMW Motorrrad and 35 years of track experience from TVS racing, but will it be enough to take on the KTM RC390?

By:Published: December 9, 2017 12:10 PM

The Apache 310 RR is an exceptionally well-balanced motorcycle. They say motorcycles are only as good as their riders, which means, the best time to measure the mettle of a motorcycle is when the rider makes a mistake. Something I realised mid-way through the first right-hander at the Madras Motor Race Track in Chennai, torso entirely off the motorcycle track side down. I had come into this corner too hot. A narrow exit meant that I was completely dependent on the bikes inherent physics, and limits of its adhesion. I leaned off further praying to the track gods that the Apache 310 RR was really as good as it was fabled to be. To my surprise, the Apache simply jiggled back on to the correct line and held its lean for the rest of the corner. Proving that the Apache 310 RR is really a culmination of 35 years of TVS Racing pedigree, 2 years in the making, but dynamics is one facet of the bike, what about the rest. Well , e had the entire day, and TVS racing’s home track the MMRT at our disposal, here’s what we found out.

Apache 310 RR Design – Does it really look like a proper sportbike?

One look at the TVS Apache RR 310 and it quickly becomes clear that design is going to be one of the key drivers of its sales. With a dual headlamp setup housing Bi-LED projectors and DRLs, the Apache RR 310 puts on a sharp and attractive face. The fairing flows neatly from the headlamp right up to the fuel tank and the Trellis frame. It’s a 3-piece fairing so even if you end up falling, the broken parts can be replaced separately, leading to lower repair cost. More kit at the front includes 41 mm upside down forks in a gold finish that adds to the premium appeal of the Apache RR 310. The LED tail lamp has a standout design and looks particularly nice in dark.
The fuel tank along with the seat and tailpiece have a sharp and attractive design that should appeal to a large part of the younger buyers today. The 17-inch alloy wheels along with 110/70 section rubber at the front and 150/60 section at the rear give the motorcycle a big-bike look, which is something that a lot of buyers today want in the sub-500 cc segment.

Overall, the design is an area that TVS has completely aced for the Apache RR 310 and I personally find its design to be the best in the sub-650 cc segment. TVS has claimed its 35 years of racing experience to have gone into the development of this motorcycle and as far as design is concerned, the Apache RR 310 does look like a proper sportbike belonging to the 500 cc segment. In the red shade, it is reminiscent of Ducati’s sportbikes despite being a TVS and praise can’t get any higher for the newest Apache.

Apache RR 310 Performance – Does it go as quickly as the looks suggest?

The Apache RR 310 is powered by a 312.2 cc single-cylinder liquid cooled reverse inclined engine. Power output at 34 ps and 27.3 Nm of torque at 7,700 rpm sound enough to move around the 169.5 kg kerb weight in a quick manner. Once on the track, the engine was being pushed from the word go and it was instantly clear that the engine is quite smooth till about 7,500 rpm, after which it starts to feel a little strained.
Acceleration is good through lower revs and it’s around 4,000 rpm that the engine comes into its element and delivers a good surge of acceleration. On the straights and while accelerating out of wide corners, the linear acceleration helped stability and even some journalists who were riding on a track for the first time felt comfortable with the linear acceleration. The only slight downside is that on longer straights the linear acceleration does leave some desire for more punch.

The six-speed gearbox is mated well to the engine and the shift quality is decent, although not the best in the business. Vibrations from the motor are well-controlled and it’s only after about 7,000 rpm that one starts to feel a buzz in the footpegs and through the seat.
The other thing that I interacted a lot with during my outing on the track was the vertical instrument cluster. Sure, it looks odd but sinks in within a few minutes and a few more minutes later, I actually started liking it! That said, reading information from the narrow screen except for the speed can be a slight task at high speed, when you don’t want to be focusing your vision anywhere else than the road ahead. Again, it’s a case of getting used to so the user experience could vary from one rider to the other.

Since this was track-only test, we weren’t able to check on other aspects of the engine including fuel-efficiency. However, it is clear that the BMW-derived engine does a good job in the Apache RR 310 and offers impressive performance. What is really good is that the linear acceleration makes it a bike suitable even for new riders as an accidental blip of the throttle won’t put you in trouble in most situations.

Apache RR310 Handling – Has the TVS Racing experience made any difference?
With TVS speaking so much about its 35 years of racing experience, it was natural for me to expect a machine that will be comfortable on a tight racetrack such as the MMRT. On the track though, the Apache RR 310 turned out to be quite different to my expectations. At the end of the warm-up lap, I already knew that this motorcycle is going to exceed my expectations by a healthy margin as it remained rock steady through turns taken at a speed of over 75 km/h. As my pace grew the motorcycle simply rose up to the expectations without any fuss. Lap after lap, as my pace increased, the trellis frame along with a suspension setup slightly inclined towards the firm side meant that the tail did not move around through corners. Under hard braking though, the tail did go slightly sideways but not enough to be worried about.

A good thing about the suspension is that even under hard braking the dive of the front forks is minimal, allowing for a more confident entry into the corner. Talking of the brakes, there are petal-shaped discs on both ends including a 300 mm disc up front and a 240 mm one at the rear. ABS is present on both ends but it isn’t switchable, which could be a slight disappointment for those looking at track days.
Grip from the Michelin tyres is good but one must keep in mind that these tyres are more suited to streets and hence feature dual-compound rubber. As a result, it will not have the outright grip of a soft compound tyre but will offer longer life.

Riding Posture – Is it a pain to ride every day?

Now, most sports bikes can be discomforting to ride on a daily purpose and being the owner of a KTM RC 390, I understand this discomfort. The TVS Apache RR 310, thankfully isn’t an uncomfortable motorcycle to ride. The tall handlebars along with not so rear set footpegs translate into a forward-leaning posture that doesn’t put too much strain on the back, shoulders and wrists. As a result, you can ride this motorcycle to work or college without having to carry a pain-relieving spray. The rider seat too is wide and has good cushioning, with enough space for taller riders also to move around freely. Overall, it’s comfortable enough to go touring if you’re reasonably fit and for a motorcycle that can perform impressively at the track as well, the dual-usage pushes the value-for-money quotient up further.

The only downside of this setup on the track turned out to be the footpegs that start grinding into the tarmac before one approaches the limit of the chassis. Hopefully, with the Apache RR 310 One Make race set to start next year, TVS might offer adjustable footpegs as an option.

Apache RR310 Verdict

The big question that remains to be answered is if the TVS Apache RR 310 is truly a sports bike in every respect? The answer to that is a thumping yes as it has the visual flair, performance and most importantly the character of a sports bike. It looks desirable and up close to the fit and finish is better than the likes of the KTM RC 390. It’s comfortable enough for daily rising yet fast enough to be fun on twisting roads or a race track. As a package, the TVS Apache RR 310 comes together very well and at Rs 2.05 lakh, ex-showroom, it is priced competitively.
So will it end up worrying KTM, which has been almost unaffected by competition, owing to its super-competitive pricing? Well, it might but one needs to understand that the Apache RR 310 isn’t a direct competitor to the RC 390, which not only is more powerful but is also more expensive. In the price bracket of Rs 2 lakh though, the TVS Apache RR 310 right now offers the best value for money and could attract some potential KTM buyers due to better styling and comfortable riding position. Add to it the smashingly good looks and the TVS Apache RR 310 is a motorcycle that you shouldn’t think much about. Just go ahead and buy it if you have a budget of around Rs 2 lakh since nothing else is this exciting in the same price bracket.

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