TVS Apache 180 ABS Test Ride Review
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TVS Apache 180 Review

Bike tested: 2013 TVS Apache (ABS)

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 94,000/-

The Apache 180 has a splendid blend of performance and handling, enough to put a wide grin on your face.

The Apache RTR is a range of motorcycles from TVS Motor, which come in two categories – 160cc and 180cc. The Apache is well known for being a quality and race inspired motorcycle from the TVS stable. Its racing characteristic has earned itself a special place in the Indian motorcycle scenario. The motorcycle has been upgraded two times in the last two years. The Apache 180 also boasts of a segment first feature – ABS! Yes, that’s right! Anti-lock brakes from a home based manufacturer is a very unique and a highly appreciated move by TVS. Recently TVS updated the Apache, giving it many cosmetic changes. TVS says that it is a new bike with the same bloodline. We take the flagship TVS Apache RTR 180 ABS for an early morning ride to Aamby Valley to see if it really does deliver the best and lives up to the hype.

Styling – The TVS Apache RTR 180 is an extremely sporty and dynamic looking motorcycle. The compact dimensions, low stance and the tri-color scheme (black, white and golden) shout sportiness. The large head light dome with the LED (not so bright) lights looks like an eyebrow and grabs a lot of attention if you are looking at them through the rear view mirror.

The huge bikini fairing with the RTR decal looks very futuristic on the TVS Apache. The electrifying graphics, the well-sculpted tailpiece with the Indian monogram is inspired from Italian automotive manufacturers. There are carbon fibre cues on the distinct looking side panels. The new chiseled engine belly fairing is much more noticeable than before. The exhaust though, could have been designed better as it looks outdated. The rear looks distinctive thanks to a unique tail light piece and a short and open mudguard.

The pillion footrest is now mounted directly to the chassis like any other international sport bike and it replaces the footrest holder of the older TVS Apache. A small detail but adds a lot of flare to the entire sporty package. While other bikes in the category have a muscular theme, the Apache is the sportiest naked bike in the country today (below Rs. 1 lakh).

Instrument Cluster and Switch Gear – The instrument cluster looks very racy. The carbon fibre cues with the blue backlit and the white tachometer adds a lot of excitement to the package. It is loaded with goodies too. The cluster features a clock, top speed and an acceleration time recorder. The TVS Apache also comes with a service due indicator, two trip meters, fuel and battery warning indicator. Switchgear and palm grip are made of high quality material. The piano black finish on each button of the switchgear is a dazzling idea. We find that the switchgear and the palm grip also adds sportiness to the package.

Ergonomics – The seating position on the TVS Apache feels fairly dedicated, wide and comfortable at the same time. The stock setting of the clip-on handlebars we had on our bike was comfortable for even long rides. The seats of the TVS Apache are well cushioned for both the rider and the pillion. The seats are big enough to accommodate a rider of any size. The tank is sculpted according to the seating position, so you can grip the tank and ride enthusiastically. Rear view mirrors are well positioned and offer a great view of what’s behind.

Performance and Gearbox – The TVS Apache RTR 180 is powered by a single-cylinder, 2-valve, 177cc engine producing 17.03 PS of power at 8500 RPM and 15.5 Nm of torque at 6500 RPM. This all aluminum engine is smooth and refined. Throttle response is excellent and crisp. NVH levels are mediocre. The vibes can be felt on the handle bars and foot pegs after crossing 6000 RPM all the way until redline. This engine sound track deserves a special mention. The TVS Apache sounds very sporty and throaty under 6000 RPM after which it screams all the way to redline in a smooth manner. This 177cc motor loves to rev up to the redline. This engine is mated to a smooth shifting 5-speed gearbox.

The first three gears are short and acceleration of the line is very fast for this powerhouse. Fourth and fifth gears are relatively tall, aid in cruising; extract better fuel economy and top speed. Fueling is smooth and there is no jerkiness in the entire rev range. The 11,000 RPM redline is there, but then again power tapers off after 10,000 RPM. Low-end torque is excellent and one can easily potter around town in third gear and a slight twist to the throttle provides ample overtaking power. Mid-range is good for overtaking and bike reaches from 60 to 100-110 km/hr very easily, after which it struggles to reach its top speed of 130 km/hr (speedo indicated).

Riding Dynamics – Armed with a double cradle frame and twin shock absorber layout at the rear and telescopic suspension at the front, do not think that it is a slouch in the corner. Despite the conventional suspension, the bike handles beautifully! The compact dimensions, the extremely short wheelbase makes the Apache extremely fun to throw around sweepers and corners. The spring and the dampers are well tuned and the chassis is stiff. The perfect rake and trail, the mature suspension setup at the front and rear give the RTR the composure it needs while cornering.

The feedback from the steering is excellent and feels well weighted at any speed, inspiring confidence to the rider all the time. The ride quality is on the stiffer side but not extremely stiff to make things uncomfortable. Turn in is crisp and low stance of the bike helps you to lean and get your knee down into corners easily.

The Apache is very nimble in the city and changing directions in the traffic feels like you are driving a motorcycle, a category below. High-speed stability is good. Sudden directional change on bad roads disturbs the bike’s composure. 270 mm petal disc at the front and 200 mm disc at the rear with steel braided lines and ABS assistance stops the Apache 180 in a very short time, be it from 60 km/hr to 0 km/hr or from 120 km/hr to 50 km/hr. The stopping distance is very less, which is instantly noticeable. The major chink in the amour is the dreadful TVS tyres which are extremely hard compound tyres and give no grip what so ever. The tyres start squeaking on hard braking and through fast sweepers.

Miscellaneous – An upgrade to sticky soft compound tyres of same dimensions will aid a lot more confidence. The LED pilot lamps act as daytime running lights, they stay on always. If you wonder why the pilot lamp switch is for, it is for turning the tail light on. No flap mechanism of petrol lid on a flagship motorcycle is really a bad idea. The ground clearance is low, but even hard cornering or with a pillion, nothing kisses the ground. ABS is on, when the light is off, a strange fact, should have been vice versa. Factory rear suspension setting is on softest mode. Please change to second for best compromise of high-speed stability, better dynamics and ride quality.

The Apache written on the tank used to be a sticker, now it’s a 3D logo. Given the engine performance, an oil cooler could have made long distance touring a lot less stressful. TVS claim this new model with larger bikini fairing is 10% more aerodynamic and cools the engine much better. The weight has gone up by 1 kg over the previous model. Head light throw is not so wide, but the illumination is superb. The dual seat texture with stitching also adds a sporty touch to the package. As every other TVS bike, fit and finish is excellent, no uneven panel gaps, high quality materials are used.

Verdict – There is no doubt that the TVS Apache RTR is one of the best options for the enthusiasts out there. The dynamics are excellent and an ABS system that works precisely sweetens the deal further. The recent cosmetic update also takes the style quotient higher. If only TVS could come up with higher capacity motorcycles with the same DNA injected into them, it could help them tap into this quickly growing premium market before it is too late. While the tie-up with BMW is sure to rock things in the future, we feel TVS has the ability to produce a splendid 200-250cc motorcycle on its own. The Apache 180 is after all proof, that TVS does know what the enthusiasts want.

The Apache RTR 180 ABS offers good performance, sharp handling and excellent brakes. This bike has a soul.

What’s Cool

* Sporty and futurisitic aesthetics
* Ride and handling balance

What’s Not So Cool

* Vibrations
* Dreadful tyres

2013 TVS Apache 180 Specifications

* Engine: 177.4cc, 4-stroke, 2-valve, air-cooled, SOHC, single-cylinder
* Power: 17.03 BHP @ 8500 RPM
* Torque: 15.5 Nm @ 6500 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* 0 – 100 km/hr: 15 seconds
* Top Speed: 124 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 40 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: Telescopic forks (Front), Monotube inverted gas filled (Rear)
* Tyres: 90/90/17 (Front), 110/80/17 (Rear)
* Brakes: 270 mm petal disc (Front), 200 mm petal disc (Rear), ABS

2013 TVS Apache 180 Dimensions

* Length x Width x Height: 2085 mm x 730 mm x 1105 mm
* Wheelbase: 1326 mm
* Ground Clearance: 165 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 16-litres
* Kerb weight: 139 kgs