Adhish Alawani finds out if the new RTR 180 packs in the ingredients of an all-rounder
Photography Sanjay Raikar


TVS Motors had the Apache RTR 180 in the pipeline for a long time. The bike’s predecessor, the RTR 160 has already proven to be one of the best bikes in its class. This fact alone had definitely raised my expectations from the new bike and when I first saw the breathtaking promotional video of the RTR 180 shot at one of the MotoGP tracks abroad, my excitement knew no bounds. I could hardly wait to lay my hands on this beast. After innumerable calls to the TVS guys, I finally got the chance to pick up the RTR 180 from the company warehouse on the outskirts of Pune.

The bike’s sparkling white colour with golden front forks and rear shock gas reservoirs plus the big RTR logo running across the tank scoops is a treat for the eyes. In spite of not making too many cosmetic changes to the original RTR, the 180’s refreshed looks make it stand out from its 160cc sibling. The front and rear petal disc brakes come from the fuel injected version of the RTR 160. TVS has retained the instrumentation console of the 160 although it sports a white treatment now. It retains the 0-60km/h timer and the high speed recorder previously featured the older RTR. What comes as an option on the bike is a set of naked footpegs for the track (which otherwise have rubber sleeves over them) and a stylish rear fender. All in all, the RTR 180 is more or less the same as its 160cc version with minor but welcome upgrades.

Without wasting too much time at the warehouse, I hit the road astride one of the most awaited performance bikes in the country. The company claims that the RTR 180 is one of the quickest Indian bikes from zero to 60km/h. I wasn’t quite convinced about this while riding it for the first few minutes. The engine is not as free revving as the smaller RTR. TVS also claims that the 180’s horsepower is considerably higher (17.3PS) at 8500rpm compared to the 160cc bike (15.5PS). Additionally, the new bike’s peak torque has increased to 15.5Nm from 13.1Nm of the RTR 160. It was obvious that all these figures had to reflect in the performance testing results even if they weren’t really being felt while riding normally. And boy was I impressed after the performance runs! The RTR 180 managed to pull off the 60km/h mark from standstill in just 4.64 seconds – a feat as yet unattained even by some of the higher capacity Indian bikes. During testing, the bike took just 18.47 seconds for the quarter mile run. An interesting fact here is that the engine has a very linear power delivery. Wring your wrist at any given rpm and the bike is more than happy to start pulling away comfortably. The Apache 180 also managed to pull off a true top speed close to 124km/h which is slightly more than the RTR 160’s top speed. What is worth mentioning is that the new 180’s engine doesn’t have a rev limiter. The tacho redlines at 9000rpm, however, rev it hard and the engine can go all the way up to 12,000rpm – the last mark on the tachometer. The fact that TVS is developing a race kit for the RTR 180 makes a lot of sense as it will help boost the power in those high revs. Nonetheless, until that happens, we are sure enthusiasts will be more than happy with the stock bike.

The new 177.4cc mill packs in adequate power to plaster a grin on every enthusiast’s face

The golden gas reservoirs are among the few cosmetic upgrades on the 180

The instrumentation console remains more or less the same as the 160’s except for the white treatment

Considering the fact that TVS has created the 180 by keeping performance as a top priority, it goes without saying that the company has made sure that the bike’s chassis can handle power quite ably. The bike’s wheelbase was increased by 26mm as compared to the RTR 160. The longer wheelbase has lent a very stable and planted character to the 180. The way the bike behaves in corners instills a lot of confidence in the rider. Throw the bike around a bend at the maximum possible speed, get your butt off the saddle and point the knee down – you are surely in for a comfortable high speed cornering act. I wonder how many Indian bikes would be able to match this kind of handling. And it is not just about the corners, the RTR 180 feels very stable on bumpy and uneven surfaces as well. The stability of the chassis is phenomenal and the grip lent by the new set of lightweight TVS Shrichakra aids the handling of the bike to a great extent. The manufacturer has switched from the 18-inch rear tyre of the 160 to a wider 17-inch one on the 180 while retaining the 17-inch front.

TVS engineers who have done a lot of work on the racing front for the company’s factory team in India have pooled in their collective experience in creating the RTR 180. The new bike’s amazing power delivery and fantastic handling characteristics is a proof of the fact that a motorcycle can be perfected to a great extent on the racetrack. Yet, in doing all this, they haven’t missed out on other aspects of biking. I had to catch up with a friend in Mumbai the other day and I took this opportunity to ride the RTR on the NH4. Even after riding the bike for two and a half hours continuously, there was no hint of fatigue crept in my body. The new RTR’s handlebar-footpeg geometry is so versatile that apart from the racetrack, it will prove to be highly comfortable even on the highways and in the city. The Pune-Mumbai NH4 ride was a testimony of the high speed stability of the RTR 180. Not to forget, that the Apache RTR is one of the better bikes to ride in traffic with its strong low end grunt. Additionally, the bike’s flickability makes it a fun machine for the city.

Let’s talk about an aspect of biking worshipped in India – stunting. The images of the Apache 180 featured on these pages probably speak more than a thousand words. The bike is a stunter’s delight and is extremely wheelie friendly, ready to pop that front wheel anytime it is required to do so. In fact, even during the performance testing, I had a tough time keeping the front wheel down while managing the perfect launch. The longer wheelbase has made it a bit difficult to execute stoppies easily, however, it’s just a matter of getting the hang of it. So where does the RTR 180 lack? There are hardly any negative aspects of the bike aside from the fact that the engine doesn’t rev smoothly. Also, one wouldn’t call the RTR 180 a very refined machine. But well, refinement is not something that everyone likes. There are people who love to have that slight grunty feel from a motorcycle which adds a big bike flavor to the machine.

At the end of the day, when I look back at all the characteristics of the Apache RTR 180, I am convinced that TVS has successfully introduced a bike in the local market which is ready to take on other contenders in India’s performance bike segment. The RTR 180 is a highly versatile machine that can do almost everything comfortably be it sport riding, city commuting, touring or stunting. There is absolutely no area where the bike refuses to perform. The manufacturer’s claim that the RTR 180 is one of the quickest from zero to 60km/h is absolutely correct and the bike truly lives up to TVS’ racetrack promotion. But there’s a lot more to the bike apart from just its performance and racing gene. It returns a decent fuel efficiency of 42kmpl in the city and 55kmpl on highways. What else do we need from a bike that costs Rs 72,000 (approx OTR, Pune)? Probably nothing! Except, of course, TVS’ performance kit that produces even more power beyond the red line!'

Bike India Team – who has written posts on Bike India.

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