The TVS Ronin is on a mission to create a segment of its own. We got to ride the motorcycle recently on a rainy day in Goa to bring you our first impression
Story: Azaman Chothia
Photography: Apurva Ambep
A “Rōnin” was a samurai warrior without a master during the Feudal age in Japan. With the new TVS Ronin, the Chennai-based manufacturers are aiming to create a segment of their own as this bike doesn’t fall under any one type of motorcycle category; just as its name suggests. We initially expected to see the TVS Zeppelin cruiser, a concept model showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo, but TVS seems to have taken a different direction.
At first glance, there is a lot going on with the new design. The TVS Ronin looks like a blend between a retro cruiser and a scrambler with some modern street bike elements. There is a round headlight unit at the front that encases the unique T-shaped daytime light signature. Like many scramblers, the bike sports an offset instrument cluster that offers a lot of information and, like all TVS motorcycles, gets smartphone connectivity via the SmartXonnect application. Below this is a 14.5-litre teardrop-shaped tank that very closely resembles the tank on the erstwhile Bajaj V15. The rectangular side panels have a retro look and get “Ronin” branding.
There is a long exhaust unit that is slightly upswept with a large bash-plate covering the bend pipe. The rear end sports a sleek tail-light running under the seat, although, the distinctive mud-guard design looks an afterthought. The modern street bike elements come in the form of sharp indicator units and a set of good-looking mirrors. While they might look great, they are difficult to adjust. TVS also wanted to mimic large-capacity cruisers so they added an enormous chain cover that looks like a belt-drive system from afar. Chain lubing and maintenance would be easier if there was a window incorporated into this component.
Overall, the build quality is up to the mark but I am personally not a fan of the design as I find it quite disproportionate. That being said, looks are subjective and this may be the beginning of a new platform, meaning the Zeppelin cruiser is still a possibility in the near future.
The ergonomics of the TVS Ronin are relaxed, like most cruisers, thanks to the forward-set footpegs and the wide and tall handlebar unit. At 795 millimetres, the seat height makes short riders comfortable whereas the light kerb weight of 160 kg makes it effortless to manoeuvre.
The engine in the TVS Ronin has been derived from the 197.75-cc motor in the RTR 200 4V. In this application, it is a 225.9-cc motor that puts out 20.4 hp at 7,750 rpm and a peak torque of 19.93 Nm at 3,750 rpm. The bore has remained the same at 66 mm but the stroke has increased from 57.8 mm in the RTR 200 4V to 66 mm in the new Ronin, making for a square engine. This engine is mated to a slick five-speed gearbox paired with an extremely light and easy-to-use slipper clutch. With the integrated starter-generator (ISG), the bike starts up quietly and effortlessly after which one hears a nice grunt from the exhaust unit.
This motor is very smooth like anyone would expect from a TVS and, with all of the torque available from just 3,750 rpm, there is a good amount of force propelling the bike forward in the low and mid-range. The Ronin is super tractable and can easily handle low speeds of around 30 km/h in fifth gear. With a high level of refinement, there is hardly any vibration even when the bike was high up the rev-range. This engine would be a great companion in the city for an effortless ride around town. TVS claim a top speed of 120 km/h but with the inclement weather conditions and the short amount of time we spent with the motorcycle, that is something that we will have to test later.
The TVS Ronin uses a double-cradle split-frame while suspension duties are handled by a 41-mm Showa USD fork at the front and a mono-shock unit at the rear. This is the same front fork we get on the Apache RR 310 which has been set up slightly differently to suit the character of this motorcycle. We did spend most of our time on the bike over the well-paved roads in south Goa and the ride quality was plush. The 17-inch alloy wheels have been shod with newly-developed TVS Rumbler tyres. These dual-purpose block-pattern tyres provided me with superb grip and inspired confidence over the extremely wet roads that we encountered and even over mucky sections when venturing off-road for a bit. The braking setup includes a 300-mm disc at the front and a 240-mm disc at the rear, which get the bike to stop quickly. This top-spec TD model gets a dual-channel ABS set-up, while the entry-level SS and the mid-range DS model receive single-channel ABS. There are two riding modes, “Rain” and “Urban”, which only affect how the ABS kicks in and can be switched on the go at the push of a button.
As far as a first impression goes, the TVS Ronin is a sweet motorcycle to ride because of the smooth and tractable nature of its engine, relaxed and comfortable ergonomics, and the great overall build quality. There are three variants—SS, DD, and TD—priced between Rs 1.41 lakh and 1.79 lakh (ex-showroom). Considering all of the features and equipment on offer, this is a good deal considering the current pricing of motorcycles in this day and age. TVS say that the Ronin wants to be an “unscripted” motorcycle so there is no direct comparison but, if I were to hazard a guess, it will appeal to riders who like retro motorcycles such as the Royal Enfield Classic 350 and the Honda H’ness CB350.
At present, it seems like most people in the Indian market are looking to buy a pocket-friendly ADV or sport-tourer. With TVS’s off-road racing heritage, it would be nice to see them offer an adventure bike; especially considering the rapid growth of the segment.