In 2006, TVS Motor Company introduced the TVS Apache RTR 160, the first of the company's Apache series, which spawned an entire range of TVS premium motorcycles we know as the Apache series today. The RTR in the Apache was an acronym for "racing throttle response" and the first Apaches boasted of using TVS Motor Company's racing experience to design and develop these bikes, making them good performers in their respective segments with great road handling. Now, more than a decade later, the Apache RTR 160 gets its first significant upgrade, with new styling, new features and a new engine with four valves in the cylinder, and so the name TVS Apache RTR 160 4V.
The new bike is available in both carburetted and fuel-injected variants, and we get to spend a few hours riding both these variants around the short test track at the TVS Motor Company manufacturing facility in Hosur, Tamil Nadu. It's an all-new bike, yes, and it boasts of TVS Racing DNA as well, tracing its roots to TVS Motor Company's very own six-time Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship (INMRC) winning motorcycle, the RTR 165 Prototype. With a new 159.5 cc, four-valve, single cylinder engine which makes 16.6 bhp on the fuel-injected version (16.3 bhp on the carburetted variant), and 14.8 Nm of peak torque, the new TVS Apache RTR 160 4V has the highest power figures in this segment. But does it have all the qualities to be the winner in this highly competitive segment?
It's got the look
The face of the new Apache RTR 160 4V looks familiar. In fact, you could be fooled into believing it's the Apache RTR 200 4V, since it's almost entirely identical. The new RTR 160 has the same headlight with LED pilot lamps, same front fender, same engine cowl and identically styled fuel tank, and fuel tank extension. The 'double barrel' style exhaust is also borrowed from the Apache RTR 200 4V, and the all-digital instrument panel is packed with features, including a lap timer and gear position indicator on the RTR 160 4V with electronic fuel injection (EFI).
It looks similar to the RTR 200, but not entirely, it now gets the 'cantering horse' TVS logo on the fuel tank, a single-piece seat, new side panels finished in silver with the 'Apache' branding on it, and a new tail section, with a split grab rail tapering off to the LED taillight. Build quality is top notch, and if there's one benchmark motorcycles from the TVS stable has set of late, it has to be fit and finish. And the new RTR 160 4V is no different, right from paint quality, panel gaps, welds in the chassis to the switchgear, everything looks and feels high quality.
It's got the performance
Our first time with the Apache RTR 160 4V is with the carburetted variant, and immediately the refinement levels of the four-valve engine are apparent. The engine is smooth, and picks up revs without a hint of harshness. In a way, it's a departure from the 'gruff' Apache character of earlier models, but it's a welcome change really. The company claims 0-60 kmph figures in 4.73 seconds for the carburetted version, and speeds build up quickly till about 80 kmph. It's only a 160 cc single after all, so the top end takes some time to reach, but that said, even in the tight and small TVS test track, we saw speeds of up to 118 kmph on the speedo, before it was time to brake hard at the finish line. The five-speed gearbox is precise and there's no room for complaint here, although I personally prefer some more 'click' to the gear changes, rather than being soft and cushy.
The RTR 160 4V with EFI is the slightly more powerful variant, at least on paper, but it takes slightly longer to reach 60 kmph (4.8 seconds) and even in the 0-100 kmph acceleration time it's the carburetted version which feels quicker and more responsive. The EFI variant though feels more refined, with more linear power delivery, and in city speeds, it's this version which is bound to feel slightly smoother and more relaxed in putting down power to the wheels. The engine features ram air assist and with the oil cooled combustion chamber, it delivers refined performance across the revs, with only a slight hint of vibration around the 7500 rpm mark, which disappears again towards between 8,000 and 9,000 rpm.
It's a handler!
The chassis is all-new on the RTR 160 4V, and the double cradle frame offers superb high-speed stability and handling. At the corner entry into the loop at the TVS test track, the RTR 160 confidently drops into the right hander and retains its composure. Lap after lap, we pushed the bike faster into the loop and it displayed no sense of losing stability and composure. The test track is slightly bouncy at places, and rear did feel slightly bouncy at some point, but it's nothing to complain about really, and at no point did the bike lose its composure or show any signs of losing stability, even when leaned over at speeds close to 90 kmph.
Speaking of which, the Apache RTR 160 4V now ditches the earlier twin shock rear suspension configuration, introducing a monoshock rear which has been precision tuned for compression and rebound damping in cooperation with Showa. The bike comes with disc brakes at both ends, with a 270 mm petal disc on the front wheel and 200 mm disc at the rear. A variant with a rear drum brake is also on offer with a slightly thinner 110 section rear tyre. The wheels are shod with Remora tyres which offer great grip and ride quality. And yes, the brakes are adequate, even without ABS and offer sure and confident braking, as we found out during a panic braking experience at the track.
The last word
The TVS Apache RTR 160 essentially started the TVS Apache range of motorcycles, and with significant updates for 2018, the RTR 160 now gets completely updated to take the challenge to the contenders in the 155-160 cc premium commuter segment. With prices starting at ₹ 81,490 (ex-showroom Delhi) for the base rear drum brake variant with the carburetted engine, the Apache RTR 160 4V certainly offers a superb value for money motorcycle. Updated styling, top notch fit and finish, and a delightful performance and handling package only makes it all the more attractive in this segment, and makes an even more compelling case for itself.
There's little to find fault in the new Apache RTR 160 4V, and that makes it a wholesome package in the premium commuter segment, which has equally well-packaged contenders with the Suzuki Gixxer, Honda CB Hornet 160R, Bajaj Pulsar NS160 and even the Yamaha FZ-S FI V2.0. The Apache RTR 160 4V has got the looks, it's got the performance and it's available in three different variants spanning almost a ₹ 10,000 price difference for discerning buyers in this segment. Although only a full comparison with its rivals will put the Apache RTR 160's strengths to the test, we can certainly say with conviction that the new Apache RTR 160 4V is one of the best bikes in the segment right now, if not the best. We like it!