TVS Raider first ride review: Just another commuter?
TVS recently announced plans to launch two all-new vehicles in the 125cc segment and soon after, we got an invitation for the first ride of the first of two products. Word on the street was that it would be the revival of the Fiero title and that prospect really excited us. But, much to the surprise of most of us journos, the company did not launch the new Fiero 125 instead, an all-new offering called the TVS Raider. The TVS Raider is a 125cc sporty commuter targeted to attract young adults colloquially known as Gen Z. The plan was this — make a light, agile, feature-packed bike with enough power and sharp styling to keep the buyer (for whom this will most likely be their first bike), entertained in all aspects. How does it all come together?
TVS Raider looks and styling
The TVS Raider is a funky looking motorcycle. It gets sharp styling, with cuts and creases sprinkled across all sides. TVS has nailed the sporty look and if you didn’t know what you were looking at, you’d not think it is a commuter until you notice the finer details – like the skinny 100-section rear tyre and the lack of a rear disc brake. The headlight is made up of two DRLs around which are packed the LED units. In my opinion, the light feels a bit over-designed but as always looks are subjective and there are plenty of people absolutely drooling over this design. In terms of colours, there are four on offer — Fiery Yellow, Striking Red, Wicked Black and Blazing Blue.
TVS Raider engine and performance
The TVS Raider uses a brand-new 124.8cc single-cylinder, three-valve engine and it puts out a respectable 11.2bhp at 7500rpm and 11.2Nm at 6000rpm. In terms of power, the bike makes more power than most 125cc bikes barring the Pulsar 125 which makes marginally more power. But in terms of torque, the Raider makes the most torque in the 125cc segment. Now for obvious reasons, this isn’t the peppiest motorcycle out there but for someone just getting into the world of motorcycling and doing so on a budget, it will be more than enough. The power delivery is linear and smooth. And to make the experience more engaging, TVS has kit this bike with ride modes, as it did with the NTorq 125 Race XP, Apache RTR 200 4V and the flagship Apache RR 310. Two of them to be specific — Eco and Power, and these modes can be changed on the fly. Like the Apache RTR 200 4V the ride modes don’t come courtesy of a ride-by-wire system but in fact, is just a second engine map. You will hit the redline on Eco mode at 8000rpm and it is roughly 10 per cent slower than Power mode.
Modes aside, the engine is extremely tractable and revs freely to the redline. But this isn’t the most refined engine. You do feel a certain amount of buzz on the pegs and the handlebar post 6000rpm. The vibrations shouldn’t be too bothersome if you are wearing proper shoes and gloves but it is still something worth mentioning. The engine is mated to a five-speed gearbox and the shifts are slick and tactile and the clutch is also nice and light ensuring a stress-free experience for a beginner. In typical TVS fashion, even the exhaust note is deep and sporty and sounds better than some bikes with more displacement as well.
TVS Raider ride and handling
The TVS Raider uses a diamond frame, a small 240mm front disc brake and a 140mm rear drum brake, 30mm telescopic forks, and a skinny 100/90-17 rear tyre. Swing a leg over it and you’ll be surprised with how well it handles. It has that quintessential TVS handling characteristics. The front end is extremely reactive and it will definitely teach you to keep your hands steady when tipped into a corner. Speaking of corners, the 90 section front tyre, the ergonomics and the low 123kg kerb weight mean getting the bike into a corner is a piece of cake. A touch of counter steer and the bike is leaning effortlessly. The suspension setup is way too soft for proper sporty applications and if you are on the heavier side like me, it bounces around a lot mid-corner. But then again TVS is not marketing the bike as a sportbike, to begin with so it is in no way a deal-breaker. Despite this, it is still the best handler in the segment barring maybe the Bajaj Pulsar NS 125 but, bear in mind, that it also costs a lot more.
The ergonomics on the bike are setup up perfectly for the daily commute. It strikes a good balance between sporty and comfortable and despite its low 780mm seat height it is properly comfortable even for taller riders. The braking setup is at par with what its rivals have on offer and it does the job. There isn’t any ABS but the bike gets what TVS calls a synchronised braking system which is essentially a combi brake system. The rear drum brake has acceptable levels of bite and feedback but the front braking experience suffers because of its lever. The front brake lever has a really short travel meaning you have very little room left to modulate brake force. The braking experience can improve dramatically with this one change.
TVS Raider features
The TVS Raider is definitely one of the most feature-packed motorcycles in this segment. As mentioned earlier, the bike comes with ride modes which is a first in this segment. The Raider is also fit with TVS’ Intelli-Go technology which works in Eco mode. When you come to a stop and slot the gearbox into neutral, the engine cuts off and when you are ready to go, all you need to do is roll the throttle on and off and the engine comes back to life. Nifty trick this. Weirdly though, this feature does not work in Power mode. Then there is the instrument cluster, which is a negatively lit colour LCD unit that is packed to the brim with information like a gear position indicator, a gear shift indicator, fuel range, user greeting, top and average speed, ride mode display, side stand indicator and more apart from the standard speedometer, tachometer and odometer. There will also be a model with TVS’ SMARTXONNECT feature enabling all the navigation and voice assistant features that are available on the TVS Ntorq 125 Race XP. This model will come equipped with a five-inch colour TFT display. Yes, you read that right, a colour TFT display on a 125cc commuter bike. Crazy times right?
TVS Raider verdict
At Rs 77,500, the TVS Raider is a proper value for money package and I can definitely see it hitting all the right strings in the young buyer’s mind. It however is not without its flaws but the issues it does have don’t seem like the kind that would bother the target audience. It has the styling, handling and performance to keep them entertained and TVS also claims a 67kmpl mileage figure which is a win-win in today’s times of ridiculous fuel prices. Should you consider the TVS Raider over something like a Bajaj Pulsar 125 which starts at Rs 77,843, the Hero Glamour that starts at Rs 76,700 or the Honda SP 125 with a starting price of Rs 78,381? I certainly think so!