TVS Apache RTR 200 4V BS6 | Road test
The TVS Apache RTR 200 4V has multiple accolades to its name. It was the 2017 Indian Motorcycle of the Year and last year, it won our mega 200-250cc naked comparison test, even outshining established rivals like the KTM 200 and 250 Duke. For 2020, TVS has upgraded the RTR 200 4V with BS6 trickery, a new Bluetooth-enabled instrument console, a new headlamp cluster with LED unit, minor styling tweaks and a new feature call GTT - Glide Through Traffic. We tested the motorcycle at TVS’ Hosur test track early this year and were very impressed. But is the 2020 model as good on the road as it is on the track? This is our first motorcycle shoot after the lockdown and we’re rather excited to see how the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V BS6 fares on the road.
Design and features
Apart from the minor cosmetic tweaks, there are no significant visual upgrades to the design. The halogen headlamp is replaced with a new LED unit and it is neatly integrated into a new ‘claw’ positioned cluster, as TVS likes to call. The headlamp cluster itself draws divided opinions but since looks are subjective, you can have your own opinion regarding the same. For my personal taste, it looks overdone. What helps is the new LED headlamp which has a wide throw and uniform beam, illuminating the road fairly well.
Another significant addition is the Bluetooth enabled digital instrument console. The display is crisp, fonts are clear and the visibility is great even under harsh sunlight. For Bluetooth connection, you have to download the TVS Connect app on your smartphone and the system needs fiddling around a bit before getting used to it. Apart from the usual speedometer, trip meter, gear position and rpm readings, there is plenty of data here, including turn by turn navigation, call and SMS alerts, race telemetry including lap times, lean angle mode and crash alert. The navigation particularly isn’t accurate and there is a fair amount of delay before it shows the correct turns. It’s recommended not to rely on this navigation system unless you wish you lose your way and wander around. We have reviewed the other settings before and you can read about them here.
That said the fit and finish remains excellent as well. Good quality materials have been used for the switchgear and the body panels are solidly put together. There are no rattling noises bothering you and overall, it feels like the RTR 200 4V is built to last which is usual for a TVS-badged vehicle.
Engine and performance
Get astride the RTR 200 4V, fire the engine with the feather-touch ignition switch and a gruff exhaust note welcomes you. Some of you might even mistake it for a higher capacity engine thanks to this meaty and likeable tune from the exhaust. Thankfully the BS6 gods have heard our plea and the RTR 200 still sounds great, we must say! The 197.75cc motor may seem to be the same to the eye, but has been majorly overhauled. It comes with new, asymmetrical piston rings, new intake and valve timings along with a new manifold. The torque has gone down by 1.3Nm at 16.8Nm but power remains the same. However, unless you’re timing it on a Vbox, you’ll barely feel the difference. Once you’re past 2500rpm, the RTR 200 4V deploys torque linearly and builds its way up the rev range before the peak torque kicks in at 7500rpm. Find an open stretch of tarmac and the Apache will go on to hit a speedo indicated top speed of 127kmph, claims TVS. That said, the gear ratios are well-spaced. You can go from 20kmph in the third cog to 75kmph and from 35kmph in the fifth gear all the way upto the top speed. However, lack of sixth gear means the RTR 200 4V gets to 7,000rpm in fifth at 100kmph which isn’t really comfortable.
Get going and in the first 100 metres itself the bespoke levels of refinement impress you. The BS6 complaint engine is super smooth (still not as smooth as the 160 4Vs) and instills a sense of reliability and robustness. We have always ridden the carbureted version of the RTR 200 4V although a few friends managed to get hold of the fuel-injected variant of the predecessor. The BS6 version is being offered only with fuel injection and it’s a welcome feature. What betters the experience is the slipper clutch and the smooth shifting five-speed transmission. Frequent upshifts and downshifts in the slow-moving traffic are precise and the gearbox feels extremely slick.
Speaking of traffic, the 2020 RTR 200 4V has another trick up its sleeve. It comes equipped with what TVS calls GTT, or glide through traffic. The first-in-segment feature aims to alleviate the hassles of riding in slow paced traffic. Without any throttle inputs, the RTR 200 4V can get upto speeds of 7kmph in first gear, 12kmph in second gear and 17kmph in the third cog, all by itself. Slowly release the clutch and the RTR 200 4V will crawl at the aforementioned speeds, even on inclines. At first, I stalled the bike, but after getting the slow clutch release right, the system worked just fine.
Ride and handling
The RTR 200 4V’s sorted ride and handling set-up was one of the key reasons why it won our mega 200cc comparison test last year. The low speed ride is comfortable and as you build up speed, the RTR 200 feels planted and stable. Bumps don’t unsettle the motorcycle; even mid-corner and the suspension does its job really well at soaking up the undulations. It is as agile as ever and the front end allows easy maneuvering around traffic. You can easily snake your way past slowing moving vehicles. Throw it around twisties and the RTR 200 willingly switches from leaning onto one side to the other in an enthusiasm filled manner. However, if comfort is the priority, then the Hero Xtreme 200 R is better suited for the job. That too if you find a used BS4 model, as Hero hasn’t rolled out the BS6 upgrade yet.
Surprise package are the new TVS tyres that perform impeccably. Never would you miss the Pirellis which are still offered as an option. And last but not the least, braking has improved significantly and the RTR 200 4V BS6 definitely stops in a shorter distance as compared to the BS4.
Apart from the imperfect navigation system, lack of sixth cog and the slightly overdone headlamp cluster, it is hard to fault this motorcycle. It is an extremely well-packaged offering that can please a variety of buyers. The ripped and lean design is attractive (and has aged well too) and gimmicks like the GTT work well for the intended audience as well. Not to forget the top-notch fit and finish that leaves a lasting impression. Currently, there are limited options in the 200cc naked streetfighter space, with the RTR 200 4V, Bajaj Pulsar NS 200 and the KTM 200 and 250 Duke being the only BS6 upgrades as of this moment. If you want something predominantly sporty and performance focused with budget no bar, then go for either of the KTMs in this class. But if you want a machine that is a jack of all trades, then it doesn’t get better than the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V BS6.