Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

TVS Apache RTR

Thu, May 6th, 2010

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NOTE: The TVS Apache is only sold in India.

2009-10 TVS Apache 180 RTR
Most Americans can't conceive of a serious 180cc sports racer. In India, 180cc bikes are considered a viable, full-sized class of motorcycle suitable for experienced enthusiasts. While TVS Apache's 17 HP and 4.15-second 0-60 kilometer (0-37 MPH) time are not quite the fastest on Indian roadracing tracks (yes, 180cc roadracing is very popular in SE Asia) it is still a 'hot' ride in India. It won't quite set the world on fire by Western standards, but it is a well-engineered, sporty engine. Its smaller 160cc version is even available with fuel injection.
The Apache is a serious race replica, with serious chassis components: piggyback-reservoir gas shocks, wave rotors front and rear, sticky tires and even an optional state-of-the-art ABS system developed by Continental (who also provide Aprilia's ABS hardware).
The 180 has some dowdy bits and pieces, but overall it works, visually speaking. From the alloy rearsets to the LED taillight and digital dash, it shows a remarkable level of refinement for such a small bike. The overly-wide black engine guards look very strange on a sports machine, at least to Western eyes.
The TVS is widely regarded as a strong, durable mount, capable of racing on the weekend and commuting through traffic during the week. If you think Indian bikes are crappy Third-World creations on a par with China's chintzy exports, think again. The Indian market is a demanding and sophisticated bunch of bike nuts who have grown up with Hondas and Yamahas, so they know the level of reliability Japan can provide.
Classic Motorworks (U.S. importer of new Enfields from India) briefly talked of importing the Apache 180 to America last summer. Even though those plans now seem to have fallen through, I am hypothetically rating this bike from a U.S. prospective, where its lack of dealer support and 75 MPH top speed would be real drawbacks. If I lived in downtown Delhi, I'd surely give the bike a '5.' It's perfectly suited to its market...as demonstrated by its popularity there.
The TVS Apache is a favorite of mine, even though I will probably never get a chance to swing a leg over one.
I dig small bikes, and domestic market Indian bikes like the TVS Apache 180 are treated much more seriously by their makers and buyers than anything of similar displacement America has seen for many, many years.