WORTHY CONTENDER: Wheels24 bike guru tests the new Dries Van Der Walt as he tests the TVS Apache RTR 180. Image: Dries Van der Walt
Johannesburg - While sport and adventure bikes get the lion’s share of attention, the humble commuter bikes quietly go about the business of taking people to work and on errands quickly and economically.
The sector’s reputation has unfortunately suffered because of cheap and badly-built bikes from the East, which has also hurt more reputable non-Japanese offerings like the Indian-made TVS and Bajaj bikes.
One such a bike is the TVS Apache RTR 180, a solid little urban commuter importer and distributed by Puzey Motor Corporation.
The bike is driven by a 177.4 cm³ single-cilynder engine, and – unusual on a bike in this price class – Roto Petal 270mm disc brakes with ABS. Styling-wise it has the insectoid headlight assembly that has become a standard cue on naked bikes, with plastic trim panels along the tank and a neat little belly-pan to make it’s appearance less workmanlike.
Image gallery: 2016 TVS Apache RTR 180
A generous single-piece seat allows sufficient space for a pillion passenger, with two cantilever grab-handles and a smattering of carbon-fibred look-alike trim pieces to complete the look.
Size-wise it is not likely to be mistaken for anything bigger, but it still offers reasonably comfortable accommodation for an averaged-sized South African. The seating position is typical of a commuter bike: relaxed and upright with only the slightest hint of forward lean.
The fairly compact size means that it is narrow and light, making the RTR a breeze to take through traffic. In fact the one thing I missed most after returning it was its nimbleness and effortless manoeuvrability.
'Fairly quick off the mark'
Despite its small engine, the RTR is fairly quick off the mark if you give it a handful of throttle, leaving the urban traffic behind with relative ease. In town you never feel that the bike is particularly under-powered, and it is perfectly happy to cruise at up to 110km/h. Above that the engine feels and sounds a little strained, although the bike is capable of a top speed of about 121km/h with sufficient patience. Engine vibration becomes a problem when you take it out of its comfort zone, but in urban commuting it’s much less intrusive. Handling and braking are perfectly up to scratch, and at no time during the review did I feel that the RTR was in over its head.
The instrument panel consists of a blue backlit digital display for the speedo, fuel gauge, odo and clock, and an analogue rev counter which includes warning lights for low fuel, service interval and battery charge error. The switches on the handle bar as as simple as can be, with indicators and dim/bright on the left, and the starter button, engine stop and headlight switches on the right. The headlight itself is bright enough for night riding, and it features LED positioning lights, contributing to making you and the bike more visible to oncoming traffic.
The RTR is no match for the sportier small bikes, but those are considerably more expensive. However, among local workaday machines it more than holds its own at a very attractive price. TVS bikes have a reputation for reliability in their native land, so there is no reason to think that they won’t last well in South Africa’s less demanding conditions. If you are in the market for a solid, inexpensive and economical commuter bike, you should definitely place the TVS Apache RTR 180 on your short list.
Manufacturer: TVS Motor Company
Model: Apache RTR 180
Type: Air-cooled, 4-stroke, single-cylinder
Displacement: 177.4 cm³
Maximum Power: 9.3kW @ 8500rpm
Maximum Torque: 15.5Nm @ 6000rpm
Fuel supply system: Carburettor
Fuel type: 93 octane RON
Fuel consumption: 2.33 litres/100km (claimed)
Type: Five-speed sequential
Final drive: Chain
Overall length x width x height (mm): 1860 x 820 x 1200
Dry weight: 136 kg
Fuel tank: 16 litres
Front: Single drilled petal disc
Rear: Single drilled petal disc
Front: Telescopic forks
Rear: Monotube gas filled shocks (MIG)
WHEELS & TYRES
Tyre, front: 90-90/17
Tyre, rear: 110-80/17
PRICE: R27 990