Not-so-old wine in a not-so-new bottle, the 2019 TVS Apache RR 310 is a significantly improved product over its still-fresh predecessor.
Midlife makeovers are commonplace in the automotive industry. Usually, a product has a lifecycle of around 7 years, post which it’s replaced by a ‘next-gen’ or an ‘all-new’ version. This means that, normally, mid-life updates come in not before two-and-a-half to three years after a product’s launch. But not so in the case of the TVS Apache RR 310!
TVS has decided to rush things a bit, and has launched the 2019 version of their most premium offering only a year-and-a-half after its market launch. Why? Well, some not-so-positive customer feedback in terms of the bike’s refinement – as a result of which, they’ve seen lower-than-expected sales. TVS, however, claims that the Apache RR 310 is the best-selling fully faired motorcycle in the segment. Either way, the fact is that the TVS Apache RR 310 has now been updated – and the new version is already on sale.
What new bits, again?
On the face of it, there doesn’t appear to be much! The 2019 Apache RR 310 is mechanically identical to the outgoing model, save for the addition of a slipper clutch – which, incidentally, can be retrofitted on the outgoing model as well.
Additionally, you also get a new gloss-black paint scheme with white racing stripes running across the bodywork. The other colour option is red, which remains unchanged. Matte black is not available anymore. The price has gone up by `3,000 – the TVS Apache RR 310 now carries a price-tag of `2.27 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). For the most part though, the motorcycle remains largely unchanged.
That sounds quite insignificant, but...
…there’s more to it. A new paint job or the addition of a slipper clutch may sound underwhelming at first, but TVS has been silently improving the TVS Apache RR 310 over the past few months based on the feedback from its customers. A couple of weeks ago, TVS rolled out free updates for existing RR 310 bikes, which included an ECU update, beefier bar-end weights and a new chain roller. According to TVS, the ECU update improves low-end power delivery, the thicker bar-ends negate handlebar vibrations and the updated chain roller reduces chain noise, and also enhances its life.
According to TVS, all these minor changes result in an improved package. Additionally, the inclusion of a slip-and-assist clutch is said to have made the powertrain – the gearbox, to be precise – more refined and smoother. But do these changes really make a difference in the way that the new bike rides and feels. Well, TVS invited us to the Chennai racetrack to find out.
So, is it any better?
Let’s begin with the new gloss black paint. I, for one, definitely prefer the new gloss finish over the matte black of the original. Sure, the matte finish gave the TVS Apache RR 310 a stealthy look, but this new colour scheme – with contrasting white stripes – has an unmistakable sheen, and it stands out. Also, having lived with a matte black RR 310 for over a year – it was a part of our long-term fleet – I can tell you that it requires a little extra effort to maintain its lustreless shine on a day-to-day basis. So, if you don’t have expertise in bike detailing, or are just plain lazy, the gloss paint finish is definitely a welcome change.
In terms of the riding experience, the updated TVS Apache RR 310 definitely feels a lot smoother. Sure, the 312cc single-cylinder motor still springs to life in a gruff manner, but once you open the throttle, it becomes smoother. However, you can still feel some handlebar vibrations, but the body panels, especially the tank, are properly bolted together. On our test bike, I couldn’t hear them rattling, which sadly wasn’t the case with our long-term bike.
Performance wise, the engine’s behaviour is exactly the same as before. Great low-end torque with a flat midrange, followed by a very, very strong top-end. Out on the track, this really works well because when you’re on the gas, you don’t really have the time to think about vibrations, for the engine keeps you entertained with its seamless torque delivery. Not to mention the fact that the RR 310 felt aggressively fast on the tight layout of the Chennai racetrack.
Attacking corners on the TVS Apache RR 310 continues to be a thoroughly enjoyable affair. Thanks to its top cycle parts – a trellis frame, beefy 41mm Kayaba front fork and a mono-shock at the rear – the RR 310 has always been a fun and forgiving motorcycle, especially when ridden hard. Thankfully, that hasn’t changed with the new bike. The fun factor is still intact and the composure with which it leans in and out of corners is definitely praiseworthy.
Having said that, it’s still not a pure track tool. While the suspension feels taut, you can sense it’s not firm enough for hardcore track riding. The Michelin tyres aren’t cut out for track riding as well – when pushed hard, feedback from the wheels is quite inert. They grip well in normal riding conditions though. And, having done one too many long-distance rides on the old bike with the very same tyres, I’d say that they are quite good in the real world. But, on a racetrack, they aren’t the best option for the RR 310.
The brakes are still very strong, but the front lever lacks feedback, and I find it to be a bit too long. On the track, the braking performance was quite impressive though. For instance, C2 at MMRT is a tight right-hander, and you enter it with a lot of speed. With the TVS Apache RR 310, I could brake really hard, load-up the front nicely – thanks also in part to its slightly softer front setup – and then take the desired line while hitting the apex like a seasoned racer. It’s a very enjoyable exercise. That said, the riding posture is still very much like a sport-tourer with forward-set foot-pegs, which also means that you run out of clearance very easily.
What about the ‘race tuned’ slipper clutch?
It works very well, and you don’t necessarily have to be a racer to figure this out. The downshifts are super smooth, especially when you drop the cogs hard before entering a corner. No wheel hopping, no fishtailing and no back breaking jerk. I remember going down from 5th to 3rd gear around a corner in a very clumsy manner, but the slipper clutch did its job to keep the rear wheel grounded.
Apart from canyon carving, the slipper clutch makes the clutch action lighter by around 20% in the TVS Apache RR 310, according to TVS. So, it’s likely to be quite helpful during city rides. We, however, aren’t in a situation to comment on its stalling issues, something which we regularly faced with our long-term bike in the past. We can only comment on it when we get to ride the new motorcycle in city traffic.
There’s no denying that the Apache RR 310 is more or less unchanged. To be brutally honest, the riding experience is largely unchanged – even the addition of a slipper clutch doesn’t make a world of a difference to the way it rides. However, the new version definitely feels a lot more refined and smoother thanks to the updates. And special props to TVS for ironing out these small niggles in such a short time.
However, for the next update, can we finally do something about that exhaust note? Perhaps add more bass and oomph to go along with the exotic look of the motorcycle? I know TVS is listening – and I’m counting on them to bring in yet another mid-cycle update very soon.
- 2019 TVS Apache RR 310
Engine: 312cc / Single-Cylinder / 4 Valves / Liquid-Cooled
Power: 33.5bhp @ 9,700rpm
Torque: 27.3Nm @ 7,700rpm
Price: ₹2.27 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
X-Factor: Continues to be great value for money. Plus, it’s more refined & smoother than before.