2018 TVS Ntorq 125 first ride review
The TVS Ntorq 125 lends itself to a few conclusions which aren't fair. For instance, almost everyone seems to believe that TVS simply took the 110cc powertrain that powers everything from the superb Scooty Zest to the best-selling Jupiter as the starting point. And then they bored or stroked the engine out to achieve the new engine. And the frame is an evolution of... Stop. This isn't true. This is an all-new scooter.
TVS engineers took pains to explain that every part of the scooter, a few nuts and bolts aside are new from the ground up. And in that sense, the TVS Ntorq 125, which takes on a gamut of scooters starting at the 125cc leader, the Suzuki Access 125. It isn't alone either. There is also the matter of the new Hero Duet Maestro 125s (unveiled at the Auto Expo 2018) and the new Aprilia SR125 and the Aprilia SR Storm (also at the Auto Expo). And the Honda Grazia - this is a long list aimed at the Suzuki.
The TVS NTorq 125 is at least differentiated from the others in the sense that all of the above scooters, SR Storm aside, use cosmetic versions and small components upgrades to create the 125cc scooter from the 110cc platform. TVS is the only one that uses a completely new platform.
The fast facts
So this is a 124.79cc single-cylinder three-valve engine that connects to a new automatic transmission - all the gearing has been changed from the 110cc scooters. The engine produces 9.4PS at 7,500rpm and its 10.5Nm peak torque (5,500rpm) is nearly a 2Nm jump on the 110cc engine in the Jupiter - substantial. To compare, the Honda Grazia makes about 1PS less, makes about the same torque but is 9kg lighter also.
The market leader is the Suzuki Access 125 which is both less powerful and less torquey at the peak. But at 102kg, its just over 14kg lighter than the TVS. That's a huge weight difference.
Engine and frame
As we noted, this new engine is a three-valve configuration that uses two intake valves and a single exhaust valve. This arrangement, says TVS, is similar to their three-valve motorcycles in design and cylinder head arrangement because it gives them a good blend of torque and efficiency. The transmission was geared afresh to modulate the new torque and power curves of the engine.
This engine and transmission is mounted in a completely new underbone frame with telescopic forks up front and a gas-charged rear monoshock. Both, again, receive fresh tuning for the intent of a sporty-feeling scooter.
220mm disc brakes up front and a 130mm drum brake at the rear handle stopping duties. And in keeping with the premium role and image of the scooter, TVS has given the scooter 110x80 section 12-inch tyres. These are grippy TVS Tyres, albeit scooters in general, seem to be quite happy to grip forever once you get over the top-heavy feeling that asserts itself initially.
Since you will be reading a lot about this, let's also get this out of the way. The instrument cluster on the TVS is a new Pricol-made LCD screen with a white backlight. The basic display includes a big speed read out, an engine oil temperature gauge (not sure why), a fuel gauge, two trip meters, a clock and a big space for the odometer across the top. TVS add a service light and a reminder to wear a helmet on the left middle of the screen as reminders.
At the bottom are two lines of text-ready LCD dots that are the magic. TVS brings an app (so far on Play store only) that connects to the scooter over Bluetooth. And it enables these two lines of the text to display hello and goodbye messages, navigation prompts, incoming and missed call information as well as notifications that tell you you have an SMS from a caller.
The app itself adds a few more features including trip data that you can share to your social and a GPS tracker when you want to record your route.
The idea is good and I do use a system like this on OVERDRIVE's long-term Ducati Multistrada. I do find the name of the caller on the display when the phone rings useful but I suspect that while this is very cool, owners will tend to boast about the capability more than use it in the real world.
This is a sporty scooter all right, but in the TVS way. Let me explain that. The TVS Apache RR 310 is conveniently SEO friendly as well as explanatory. Heh heh. The RR 310 is a TVS sportsbike but they chose not to make the motorcycle too sporty. For instance, like the KTM RC 390. The logic is that a mild sportsbike is easier for more people to understand and buy than a really hardcore one.
In the exact same way, the TVS Ntorq 125 is no Aprilia SR 150 and it doesn't intend to be either. The idea is to have zingy performance but it's a notable increment on the regular 125-110cc feel rather than a revolution.
And that bears out. The top speed is rated as 95kmph and even with my (considerable - Team OD) weight, I managed to clock 99kmph on the clock while lighter riders were hitting 100kmph in the same space. Acceleration is linear and refinement levels are pretty good.
In fact, we spoke to the TVS engineers about the weight of the scooter. And they told us that the engine note and refinement are both reasons why the TVS is a bit heavier. The tyres also add roughly 2kg to the weight, they noted.
What I liked a lot was that from steady 30kmph to flat-out riding, the engine never loses its grip on refinement.
Ride and handling
Again, TVS didn't want the Ntorq to become too hardcore. And that's what the suspension has been tuned for. So I wouldn't call it stiff. It's competently damped and supple. In feel, I suspect it will stiffer than the average scooter by a small margin but not rock hard like the KTMs or something. In that sense, I think TVS has nailed the feel of the scooter as per the product's intent.
Personally, I do think that they could have pushed the Ntorq towards the sportier side a fair bit. It could have been faster on the throttle as well as stiffer to feel like it was responding quicker to the rider's inputs. To wit, the steering angle is the same as the 110cc platform.
But I think a youngster buying the Ntorq 125 will be happy with it. And when Mum wants to borrow it to ride to the shops, she won't come back complaining either.
The brakes deserve a special mention. The front brake is powerful, feelsome and for a scooter, terrific. I really loved its power and feel both. The rear wheel does lock up but it takes considerable pressure on the level and that's just about right in my book.
And that brings us neatly to the tyres. The TVS tyres are grippy and you will like them. I cornered the Ntorq till the plastics were scraping and it felt confident and trustworthy.
I can imagine that a day at the go-kart track with this will be huge fun!
The TVS NTorq isn't an all-out sporty scooter and that makes for an NTorq RR version. Ooh, there's an idea! On the flip side, TVS's selection for the feel of the throttle, its handling and brakes is astute. It offers more response than the average scooter but in the same breath it isn't so sporty that any specific customer group - old people for example - will be out of sorts.
This package is wrapped up in extremely well-finished plastics that present the picture of a sporty, sleek modern scooter, topped with the LCD screen that I think the youngsters will like. Finish levels look good too.
My only concern is the scooter's weight which is quite heavy for the average 125 and I think the sizzle in the performance would be stronger (as well as economy) if the scooter was lighter - something TVS should aim for when the time comes to update the Ntorq.
Overall though, this is a solid option for youngsters looking for an urban runabout that appeals to their sense of style as well as function. At Rs 58,750 ex-showroom, the TVS is roughly Rs 6,000 more than a Jupiter and I know that I'd bring the extra money to the showroom. And I will confirm this, I think, when the road test bike comes to us shortly.
Photos Anis Shaikh