2021 TVS Apache RR310 first ride and track test
Some manufacturers believe in long product lifecycles with the occasional makeover, and then some manufacturers keep adding and tweaking their product now and then to keep their wares fresh and relevant. TVS is the latter kind, especially with their Apache line-up. To that effect, TVS has prepared yet another sizeable update for its RR310, which was supposed to be released earlier this year, but the second wave of the pandemic delayed its launch. Nevertheless, it's finally here and our impending track test of the new RR310 finally got underway at the MMRT in Chennai.
TVS is calling this the Apache RR310 BTO or Built To Order. It's a rather thoughtless name for a motorcycle that promises so much more, but it highlights that TVS is now jumping on to the customisation bandwagon. It's much like their neighbours Royal Enfield's Make-It-Your's program but promises more than just apparel, riding gear and cosmetic updates. TVS is bringing their track pedigree to the customisation program by offering performance parts. For the RR310, these performance parts are offered by way of two kits - Dynamic and Race. The former comprises of fully adjustable suspension - fore and aft, and a more enduring brass coated drive chain. The race kit adds track focussed ergonomics which come courtesy of higher set, knurled footpegs and new clip-on handlebars that are tucked inward and lowered than the standard RR's sport-touring friendly 'bars.
The new suspension
With the RTR 200 4V receiving pre-load adjustable Showa forks from 2021, it was only natural that TVS would meet out similar treatment to its flagship as well. The RR 310 gets a more capable KYB suspension setup which allows 20 clicks of compression and rebound tuning and 15mm or preload adjustment. The forks are the separate function type, with the right fork taking care of compression and the left one assigned with rebound duties. Similarly, the rear monoshock can be tuned for 20 clicks of rebound adjustments and a similar 15mm preload play. The exterior dimensions of both suspension components remain unchanged, meaning you can simply swap your existing (BSIV and BSVI) Apache RR310's suspension for the new adjustable units.
TVS handed out the test bikes with a street setting, with the compression and the front and rear rebound set at 10 clicks each (mid-way) and front preload fully dialled out. In this setting, the RR310 was marginally tauter than last year's bike, but there was still noticeable squishiness at the rear that we had also complained about last year. The motorcycle leaned a bit more in the corner thanks to the 30mm higher footpegs, but it still did not feel as sharp as a tracking tool should.
A couple of laps later we pit in to tune the suspension. With time constraints to deal with for a large batch of journalists, the sag wasn't set for each individual, but the TVS engineers tinkered with the setup to make it more or less ideal for the MMRT as per their data. Compression was stiffened up to 2 clicks and ditto for the rebound, front and rear. The change was immediately evident. The bike felt noticeably more stable through the switchbacks at C4 and C5 of the MMRT and the nosedive was far lesser when braking for the left-hander C6 from 148kmph.
While I was still trying to rid myself of the rust that my track skills have gathered over the past year and a half, the new RR310 showed a 5s improvement in lap time between the street setup and the track setup. The fastest time I could manage was a 2min13, which is about eight seconds quicker than my time on the BSVI RR310 from last year's 10 lap outing. For reference, the quicker bunch from the group was managing between 2:09-2:10 on the new RR310 with the track setup.
Notice the difference in the posture of the new Apache RR 310 with the tauter suspension setup, compared to the last year's bike (below)
TVS lets you choose between two ergonomics for the RR310 now. We have often said that it is a great sports tourer, but that restricts its abilities on the track. Instead of giving in to that pressure that making changes to the chassis, they have simply gone about altering the clip-on handlebars and the footpegs. Like the like suspension components, these too can be retrofitted onto the older RR310s, but unlike the suspension, these aren't adjustable in any way despite what the "race kit" name would suggest. But out of the box, the revised handlebar and peg geometry that comes courtesy of this kit provides a more aggressive riding positing. It is still not as extreme as the RC390 and won't put as much pressure on your wrists, because the seat still sits lower than the RC by 10mm and isn't angled as sharply. Therefore, riding to the track shouldn't be cumbersome even if you chose to go with the race ergos.
Like the chassis, even the engine doesn't see any tuning changes. It will put out the same 34PS/27.3Nm output, which would be dialled down to 25.8PS/25Nm in the Rain or Urban riding modes (or until your first service is over). What has changed marginally is the exhaust note, which has a hollow growl now compared to the more throaty note of last year's model. The canister shape and size are the same, but the internals has been revised yet again to get the new sound profile. The canister has also been angled upwards by a couple of degrees to contribute to the improved (by 4.5 degrees) cornering clearance. Though TVS should have opened a bit more room between the right foot-peg and the exhaust canister as it continues to restrict the movement for the right foot.
The TFT instrumentation now has a dynamic rev-counter that alters the red line as per the engine temperature and allows storing of all vehicular documents onboard in a digital format
While there are no noticeable changes to the design or the bodywork, the 2021 RR310 receives a new paint job. As you may have noticed, the new livery is inspired by TVS' racing colours - red, white and blue. Any motorsport fan or motorcycle nerd would know that these three colours are legendary and usually look great on any motorcycle that wears them. But on the RR 310, they don't quite work for me. In a passing glance or when seen from far, the blue is lost and the motorcycle looks very much like the older, white and red Yamaha R15. The yellow pinstripes look tacky and make the colour scheme look inspired more by Maharashtra's Police Ertigas than TVS' racing pedigree. And the red wheels seem to come from the BMW G 310 R and are a mismatch with the reds on the rest of the bike. The minimalist designs of the older RR310 still look more appealing to me, and thankfully, TVS has retained them.
Apart from the new paint scheme and the cramped right foot-peg, there is nothing worth complaining about on the new RR310. Sure, it leaves you wanting for a quick-shifter and more power, but the updated suspension is good news and it shows the RR310 in a new light - one that makes it more joyous and confident on the track. The adjustable suspension also opens up a lot of scope for young track and sport riders to learn and implement the fine art of suspension tuning and understand how much of a difference a good suspension setup can make to lap times or road comfort. The base RR310 without all these niceties has gone a bit pricier now, but as a platform that can now let you choose/switch between a comfortable sports tourer and potent track machine, the new RR310 and its optional kits are worth every penny of the asking price.
Photography Sumit Gaikwad
Starts Rs 2,45,000
Starts Rs 2,40,000
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