In our journey to find #100Motorcycles in India, we stopped over at the TVS plant, where we were lucky to experience 3 of their racing bikes. The street racing, supercross with Aravind KP and now the third, the TVS Apache RTR 180 FX Rally bike!
This bike was ridden by ace rider Nataraj for us to capture him on camera as he flew around the course. Just watching him ride would give you Goosebumps and we can only imagine what it must be like to ride at his level. Anand from the TVS R&D gave us the lowdown and some interesting insights about the machine.
The TVS RTR 180 FX Rally Bike is used to participate in the Group B Rallies. Nataraj has won 2010, 2011 and 2012 Desert Storm on this bike before he moved on to higher capacity motorcycles.
Nothing on this bike that you see will remind you of the street going RTR. It is drastically different, with only the name being constant! It has the same forks, shock, brakes, as used on the supercross bike, though in a different state of tune. The differences between the supercross and rally bikes are down to the details.
A lot of testing goes on inside the facilities of the TVS R&D centre. Where a bike is built which the engineers think will be good for the intended usage before it is handed over to the rider where it is fine-tuned. It’s the same forks used in supercross as well but with 136mm travel to handle the terrain. The spring rates are different, though, the damping rates are different as well. The rally bike has about 20mm more travel than a production Apache 180.
With motorcycles like the Hero Impulse, Kawasaki KLX in the Indian market, why doesn’t TVS bring out something similar as well we asked? Especially considering that they already have such a motorcycle in their workshop!
Anand told us that the changes that are made to the bike make the motorcycle very sensitive, and as such this machine needs the skill of a rider like Nataraj, to be able to extract the performance out of it. A regular rider would probably be slower than on a stock machine!
From an engineering standpoint, TVS already has such machines lined up. But to bringing it to the showrooms is a marketing and business decision. When the market demands, TVS will definitely bring it out they said!
This tuned engine produces around 24-25bhp as compared to the standard 17bhp of the stock Apache. That would be quite a stressed engine. A race tuned engine will have a life of around 20-40 hours, depending on the various internal parts. That doesn’t mean that the parts are scrapped after that, but you need to service, inspect and then assemble the engines again. And of course, for doing this job you need expert mechanics like the ones that are in the TVS Factory. A street bike, on the other hand, is built to last many years/ kilometers with minimal maintenance.
We sincerely hope that TVS will bring a road legal motorcycle which is dirt inclined soon to the Indian market. It would be crazy fun!