The 2019 TVS Apache RR 310 is a not-so-old wine in a not-so-new bottle. But the end result is still a significantly improved product than before.
Midlife makeovers are commonplace in the automotive industry. Usually, a product has a life cycle of around 6 – 8 years, before the ‘next-gen’ or an ‘all-new’ version replaces it. Usually, this means that mid-life updates happen after at least two years of a product's launch. Not in the case of the TVS Apache RR 310 though! You see, TVS has decided to rush things up a bit, as they’ve just launched the 2019 version of their most premium offering after only a year and a half's time of its market launch. Reason? The not-so-positive customer feedback in terms of the bike's refinement combined with lower-than-expected sales. TVS, however, claims the Apache RR 310 is the best-selling fully faired motorcycle in the segment. Anyway, consequently, the Apache RR 310 has now been updated, and a new version is now on sale.
What are the new bits again?
On the face of it, there’s nothing new actually! The 2019 Apache RR 310 is mechanically identical to the outgoing model, save for the addition of a slipper clutch – which can be retrofitted in the outgoing model as well. That aside, 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. And, yes, matte black is not available anymore. The price has gone up by Rs 3,000 – the Apache RR 310 now carries a price-tag of Rs 2.27 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). On the whole, though, the motorcycle is 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 Apache RR 310 over the past few months based on the feedback received 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 cut handlebar vibrations and the updated chain roller reduces chain noise as well as enhances its life. All minor changes add up and result in an improved package, says TVS. 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. And to show that all of these updates actually work, TVS called us to the Chennai racetrack and sent us out on the new version.
So, how much better is it now?
Let’s start with the new gloss black paint. I, for one, definitely prefer this over the matte black of the old bike. Sure, the matte finish gave the RR 310 a stealthy look, but this new colour scheme – with those 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 required a bit more effort than usual to keep it clean and maintain its lustreless shine on a day-to-day basis. So, if you don’t have expertise in bike detailing, or you’re are plain lazy, the gloss paint finish is definitely a welcome change.
As for the riding experience, the updated 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. Through the handlebar, you can still feel vibrations, but the body panels, especially the tank, are properly bolted together. On our test bike, I couldn’t hear them rattling – it 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 RR 310 felt plenty fast in the tight layout of the Chennai racetrack.
Attacking corners on the 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 very fun and forgiving motorcycle to ride 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 praiseworthy indeed. 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 is quite inert. They grip well in normal riding conditions though, and having done one too many long-distance rides on the very same tyres with the old bike, I’d say that they are quite good in the real world. But on a racetrack, I’ve to say that 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 carrying a lot of speed. With the 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.
And 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 per cent in the RR 310, says TVS. So, in city riding, it will be quite helpful. That said, we don't know if its stalling issues, which we regularly faced with our long-term bike in the past, have been fixed. That’s something we can only comment on when we get to ride the new motorcycle in traffic.
There’s no denying that the Apache RR 310 is more or less unchanged. To be brutally honest, the riding experience is vastly similar, and even the addition of a slipper clutch doesn’t make a world of a difference in the way it rides. However, the new version definitely feels a lot more refined and smoother than the original, thanks to the new set of 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 for sure, and I am counting on them to bring 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: Rs 2.27 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi)