The 150cc-160cc motorcycle segment is actually quite congested these days so a bike has to be a lot many things in order to stand out. TVS’ Apache RTR brand has enjoyed much popularity for a very long time owing to its sporty looks and the decade-long ‘boy racer’ appeal. Other motorcycles came stumbling on similar lines and today stand in serious competition to the RTR. Entry-level sports oriented motorcycles have to meet expectations from two separate worlds – sporty performance and comfort that promises ease in daily riding. Last month, I had the chance to ride the new TVS Apache RTR 160 4V and was left appropriately impressed. And now, having experienced Honda X-Blade, a comparison between the two is inevitable.
RTR 160 4V no doubt is looking better than before with finesse to its styling, retaining the ‘boy racer’. TVS knows the Apache RTR 200 4V is well appreciated for the way it rides and for the way it looks. Hence, the baby RTR walks on its bigger capacity brother’s footsteps. In comparison to Honda X-Blade, some might argue, the RTR 160’s design isn’t as fresh. Well, you have to agree on that!
Honda X-Blade sticks to the edgy sharp lines similar to Honda Hornet 160R, but definitely has a lot more going on all over its body. I find defining design a bit tricky because if someone likes how a bike looks, there aren’t many logical theories you can present to make them change their mind. The X-Blade’s design has one explanation though – the overall silhouette is larger a bit like a small ADV. The other difference, of course, is the LED lamp which also adds to the aesthetic appeal.
Engine and performance
While the new RTR 160 has nippy throttle response, some will agree that the older version felt more raw – the nature of the throttle has transformed from a snarl to a purr. But in fact, the new bike is faster than before. The addition of two more valves has ensured a boost in power and heightened fuel efficiency.
The 159.7 cc single-cylinder four-valve engine mounted on the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V delivers the best in class power and torque figures of 16.1 bhp at 8,000 rpm and 14.8 Nm at 6,500 rpm. Instead of air-cooling, the new engine is oil-cooled, which allows slightly better cooling that helps it deliver consistent performance.
The new Apache RTR 160 4V’s throttle is considerably lighter and nippier than the Honda X-Blade. The two additional valves have made it a lot more civilized and with a substantial reduction in vibrations.
Honda X-Blade, in comparison, has a bit more vibrations. If you happen to climb up the power band with a light hand, the response from the engine is rather smooth. But if you’re quickly climbing up the rev range, the vibrations set in.
The 162.71 cc single-pot air-cooled engine of Honda X-Blade puts out 13.93 bhp at 8,500 rpm and 13.9 Nm at 6,000 rpm. On paper, the difference in power stands 2.17 bhp but doesn’t translate to a lot of difference in reality.
The two motorcycles get a five-speed transmission, but the gearshift on the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V is much smoother than Honda X-Blade. It is pretty much a smooth click versus a mechanical clunk.
Ride and handling
You can expect to take your TVS Apache RTR 160 4V to a race track. In all honesty, we may never take our 150cc motorcycles out on a race track, but TVS Racing does, and it does handle like it’s been honed on one. No wonder they train their racers on the race-spec versions of these bikes.
Unlike the older version of the Apache RTR 160, the new RTR 160 4V comes with a single-piece handlebar instead of the clip-on unit. It remains stable at high speeds and the rider can maintain speed while cornering too.
I’d expected Honda X-Blade to have a more comfortable ride but surprisingly, TVS Apache RTR 160 4V has a softer suspension and at higher speeds and during cornering, the X-Blade feels a bit wobbly.
Honda X-Blade, sadly for reasons we absolutely cannot fathom, does not feature Honda’s CBS (Combi Brake System), but the disc up front is very bitey, in fact, more than the RTR 160 4V. And TVS offers it with the option of a rear disc as well. However, having said that, the braking power from the rear drum on the X-Blade is appropriately enough.
I see where this comparison is headed. Both, Honda X-Blade and TVS Apache RTR 160 4V have been marketed as entry-level sports oriented motorcycles, but the truth remains that these motorcycles will be ridden every day to and from work or to some extremes in the hands of a college student.
Convenience and styling are very important in the real world. Honda X-Blade’s LED headlamp ensures both of them, along with hazard lamps and a gear position indicator, which will come very handy to a new rider. These features are more relevant than a lap timer and dual horn on the RTR 160 4V.
Honda X-Blade already has a fan following considering some of the comments from our audience on YouTube. So, it really boils down to RTR and Honda aficionados. The X-Blade offers a new design and styling and is better equipped, but Apache RTR 160 4V goes faster and is surprisingly more comfortable as well. Honda X-Blade is a bit wedged between the Unicorn 160 and Hornet 160R.
The CB Unicorn 160 (Rs 72,081 ex-showroom, Delhi) offers more comfort and comes with CBS and CB Hornet 160R (Rs 86,336 ex-showroom, Delhi) is sportier. So, if there is a Honda fan, she/he already has competition bikes to choose from in Honda’s lineup. Pit it with the RTR 160 (Rs 80,490 ex-showroom, Delhi) though and the X-Blade (Rs 80161 ex-showroom, Delhi) remains a few steps behind.