Photographs by Suresh Narayanan
When TVS had revealed the now-familiar Apache RR 310 as a concept at Auto Expo 2016, it got motorcycle enthusiasts all excited. At the time, it was called the Akula which means ‘shark’ in Russian. Like others, I too was awestruck by the carbon-fibre fairing and contrasting red-painted chassis, and all that it promised. When the production model launched, unfortunately, it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment despite its capabilities. Why? Well, to begin the power delivery was snappy and irregular, while the front fairing would vibrate like no one’s business. Also, the tyres never really seemed to have your back; they’d rather put you in a tight spot every time a handful of brake was grabbed. Back then, I wondered if it was just me who felt this way.
Luckily, I guess the boffins at TVS also felt the same. And just like racing, where the pursuit of improvement is constant, the 2020 Apache RR 310 has improved. And how. To see how good it’s become, I headed to the Madras Motorsport Race Track near Chennai. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting much of a difference, the previous-generation RR 310 firmly lodged in my memories. But all of that changed as soon as I was out on track, my knees tucked tight into the 11-litre fuel tank, helmet’s chinbar resting on top of it, hitting upwards of 150 kph on the main straight. The tyres gripped hard, too, allowing my knee slider to scrape itself all the way around the big-D corner at the back end of the circuit, and that too without any real effort. It was nothing like the RR310 I’d previously known.
Before doing all of that, though, I turned the key in pit lane, and was welcomed by a spanking new vertically-mounted TFT display for the instrument cluster. It offers a plethora of information to the rider, from a lap timer, selected gear and race telemetry besides the standard bits. TVS has revamped the whole electronic package of the motorcycle by adding several features. And that, in all honesty, can take a while to understand and get accustomed to. For the first time in its segment, the Apache RR 310 comes with different riding modes via the new ride-by-wire throttle. There are different preset levels of ABS intervention, more sophisticated switchgear and also a new dual-tone colour scheme which looks stunning.
TVS hasn’t changed much on the bike in terms of looks except for the front visor which is now a floating unit, thus taking care of the vibrations the previous generation suffered from. Speaking of vibrations, although still present, they’ve reduced by a large extent even at higher revs. While TVS didn’t say much on how the issue was addressed, it seems that it has carried out improvements to the engine mounts along with optimising the electronics. Thumb the starter, and the 313cc motor springs to life without any drama. If you have ridden or even heard the previous-generation Apache RR 310, the broken-sounding exhaust note was quite disappointing. However, with the 2020 edition, it sure feels more refined and sweeter to the ears.
While the RR 310 already came with fuel-injection, the powertrain is now BS6-compliant and TVS seems to have made significant improvements besides complying with the regulations. The air-fuel mixing has been optimised with better swirl action which, according to TVS, has resulted in better idling stability and quicker cold starting. Also, the RR 310 now comes shod with new Michelin Road 5 tyres which have completely changed the feel of the bike in the handling department compared to the earlier Michelin Pilot Sports. And this is a big deal — no matter how good the suspension, brakes and chassis are, without good tyres it’s always going to be a wasted effort.
The Road 5s harness the true potential of the Apache RR 310, allowing it to carry more speed and lean through corners. The folks at TVS were so confident of the new tyres, they’d even arranged a wet-braking test to understand the performance of the tyres. On the first run, I grabbed a handful of brake at 60 kph in Rain mode and the bike came to a halt without skipping even once. After a few more runs, I was jabbing the brakes hard in the wet at 120 kph and the RR 310 kept everything under control with no scary moments at all.
With the new riding modes, better tyres, and some more tweaks all over, the RR 310 has become an even more rider-friendly motorcycle than it used to be. There are four modes to choose from, which change the characteristics of the motor, the engine braking and the ABS to better suit the requirements of the rider and road conditions. The Track and Sport modes offer the maximum level of performance and acceleration with 34 bhp and 2.78 kgm combined with lesser ABS intrusion. The Urban and Rain modes, on the other hand, have a reduced power output of 25.8 bhp and 2.54 kgm which, according to TVS, make the bike more rideable in the city and safer in wet-weather conditions. In these modes, the ABS also kicks in a little sooner, while the claimed top speed of 160 kph is limited to 125 kph.
After a full day of track action, with the kind of upgrades TVS has carried out, the Apache RR 310 now feels like and delivers what the flagship motorcycle should have been in the first place. As the old saying goes, racing improves the breed, and TVS has managed to weed out the shortcomings of the Apache RR 310 to offer a product that you’ll be inclined to take to the limit as soon as you get on it. Looks like the shark has finally got its teeth. Can’t wait to ride it on the street!
TVS Apache RR 310
Displacement: 312.2cc, single
Max power: 34 bhp@9700 rpm
Max torque: 2.78 kgm@7700 rpm
Transmission: 6- speed
Type: Trellis frame, split-type
F/R: 300mm disc / 240mm disc
F/R: 110/70-ZR17 54W / 150/60-ZR17 66W
L/W/H (mm): 2001/786/1135
Wheelbase: 1365 mm
Ground clearance: 180 mm
Seat height: 810 mm
Kerb weight: 174 kg
Fuel capacity: 11 litres
PRICE: Rs 2.4 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai)