How far can you push the TVS Ntorq 125 and Raider 125? The answer will surprise you…
It’s not every day that you get an opportunity to ride in the mountains; so, when TVS called us offering a chance to ride a couple of 125cc machines across Nepal, I quickly seized the opportunity. You see, the idea was to ride the Ntorq 125 Race Edition and the Raider 125, both of which have been hugely successful for TVS in both India and Nepal.
Now, given that we were to ride these machines mostly in the mountains, I couldn’t help but wonder the whole time during my flight as to how they would fare on mountain roads, especially during the monsoon. Well, as with most things in life, time had the perfect answer to that question, and all I had to do was wait to find it out.
On day one, we assembled at Jagdamba TVS in Kathmandu – the only official TVS dealer in Nepal. The plan was to begin the journey as soon as possible, for we didn’t want to get stuck in the morning Kathmandu traffic. And thankfully we didn’t, but then fate had something else in store for us. It started pouring almost immediately after we set off, so out came the raincoats, and the ride continued. I must say that riding in the rain has its own charm, and besides, it also gave us an opportunity to test the Ntorq’s under-seat storage’s waterproofing ability. You see, everyone had put their phones and other valuables in the under-seat storage, which is also where you charge your phone. So, it was important that the storage remained dry, and it did –throughout the entire journey.
Our first major stop on the way to Pokhara was for a photo op at a new bridge under construction as part of a new highway. Here, something interesting caught my eyes – the road beyond the bridge. It was a road full of rocks that went all the way to the top of a small hillock. Some kind of an instinct kicked in, which prompted me to immediately ride towards it on the Ntorq. As I got closer, I realised that it was a temporary road for trucks and was full of medium-sized stones. I love off-roading, and what better way to find out the limits of the Ntorq! I reached the top with little to no effort. Yes, the Ntorq was thrown off a little by rocks, but it was clearly built to take on a lot more.
As we progressed towards Pokhara, we encountered a traffic jam. Little did I know that it was going to be the longest traffic jam of my life. We snaked through the long queue of cars to arrive at our lunch destination. The jam was still there, so we decided to eat first. During lunch, we got the news that it was no ordinary jam – there was a major landslide ahead, and people had been stuck on the road for more than a day! It was time to take a call. As it was day one, we decided to proceed with the journey. The idea was to snake through the traffic jam, and here, the Ntorq and Raider came to our rescue. Given their small form factor, squeezing through narrow gaps was a breeze at most times, and when required, we could simply push them around to make an acute turn. Three hours later, we came out the other side, battered and mentally drained, but the Ntorq never once complained.
'Given their small form factor, squeezing through narrow gaps was a breeze at most times, and when required, they could simply be pushed around for an acute turn'
Interestingly, my earlier impression of 125cc machines was that they are only good for doing milk-and-bread runs, but after I came out the other side, I realised that these machines, though small, could stand next to the tallest of mountains and not feel out of place.
While leaving that never-ending traffic jam in our wake was a big relief for us, our problems were far from over. You see, we had to reach Pokhara, which was still 100kms away, and the sun was already retiring for the day. To make up time, I decided to bulldoze my way through all kinds of obstacles on the road. I went through everything that came in my way at full gas – potholes, slush pits, you name it.
Surprisingly, the Ntorq’s tiny wheels managed to take on everything without any problem. The scooter even remained stable through slush pits at speed and displayed great confidence around corners. I must say that if you have the skills, you can even ride it at motorcycle-like speeds around corners.
By the time we reached Pokhara, it was already 10 at night. I was exhausted and drained, after facing what we did that day, I knew I wasn’t going to forget this ride anytime soon. It was an experience of a lifetime – wearing, yes, but memorable nonetheless.
Our itinerary was thrown out of the window by this point, so we decided to ride around Pokhara the next day. We went to a nearby six-lane highway to shoot pictures and videos, and this is where I rode the Raider, which added the only thing that I thought was missing in the Ntorq – the sensation of shifting gears. And I must say that hitting 100km/h on the Raider and Ntorq feels way more satisfying than exploring the upper reaches of any superbike’s speedometer.
We flew back the next day with a tinge of sadness in our hearts, leaving behind our Ntorqs and Raiders, as roads were closed, and there was no point in continuing with the ride. But this journey changed my perception of 125cc machines – I no longer think that they are only good for small grocery runs. In fact, I think that the limits of 125cc machines, especially that of the Ntorq and Raider, are defined by the rider who sits atop them.