TVS Apache RTR200 4V bike review

I rode the new TVS Apache RTR200 for 3 days/730 kms recently. This post is a review of this new bike, based on this usage experience. I do not own it, but rented it from Royal Brothers. TVS Apache RTR200 4V was launched early last year, but I haven’t noticed TVS marketing this bike aggressively. Even when I visited TVS showrooms to service by RTR160, they didn’t have a stock of RTR200 RV. Obviously there’re very few Apache RTR200 on the roads compared to its direct competition- Pulsar 200 NS/AS/CS. This is supposed to be TVS’s flagship model, so not sure if it isn’t given the attention and marketing budget it deserves.
What are the improvements in RTR200 compared to RTR160/180?
RTR 200 gets BS4, Carb/FI engine. No kick starter. RTR200 also gets mono suspension, all digital instrument cluster, split seats with elevated pillion seat, different style exhaust, there’s an ABS version as well. What I got was the cheapest version- no ABS, no FI, no Pirelli tyres. So my review is based on these.

RTR200 vs Pulsar 200 NS
Pulsar 200 NS, 200 CS and 200 AS are selling in more numbers than RTR200. I don’t have enough experience/exposure to NS200 so can’t really comment which of them are better.

Performance: Was good. I had to stay within 90 kmpl speed limit so can’t comment on top speed. Within this, acceleration was good.

The bike was fine to ride, but had several minor but really irritating issues. Let me explain one by one, in the order of their significance.
Pool cold start abilities. RTR200 doesn’t come with a kicker. Only self start. After leaving the bike overnight, getting it to start in the morning needed lots of attempts- at least 10 to 15 times I had to press the start button, try to start it, push it around a bit. Only then the bike would start. I think competition bikes aren’t this bad. This is for a bike with 13000 kms on the odo. Can’t imagine how it fares once it is used for 30-40k kms or more (or if bike is left idle for say 10 days). Because there’s no kick start, next option would have been to ask someone to push the bike and try to start it like how vehicles were started in 1990s. I feel TVS should pay some attention in this department. If they can't ensure cold start in 3-4 attempts, better to include a kick start.

Poor quality instrument cluster/sensors. The gear sensor would fail regularly, showing a message “Check Gear Sensor”. How am I supposed to check that? When it shows the gear, most of the time it is off by one or two gears- not very reliable, forcing me to rely on my memory and intuition.
Trip meters were faulty too- they would reset on their own or swap from Odometer display to trip meter without me touching any button, sometimes jump a km or two etc. Bit irritating. Thankfully Odometer worked without any trouble so I could use it for my calculations, without having to rely on tripmeter

Mirrors losing alignment. Every 100 kms or so I had to stop n realign the mirrors, as they would change their orientation a bit due to vibrations during the ride.

Main stand needs extra push: Main stand won’t roll up fully, unless you push it up with your leg (same problem in my RTR 160 also)

Fuel economy of RTR200 4V: During my 730 kms ride, I filled petrol in smaller quantities multiple times and measured mileage reserve to reserve. I got a fuel economy ranging between 26kmpl to 40 kmpl. 26 during uphill ride from Bhatkal to Sirsi via Honnavar), 35 on highway, 40 while riding downhill from Thirthahalli to Someshwara. On an average expect around 32-35 kmpl of fuel economy from RTR200. This I think is at par with competition like Pulsar 200 NS, but with ever increasing fuel prices, you're looking at an expense of 2 Rs + for every km. With a 12 litre tank, you’re looking at a range of about 400kms on a full tank. You’re also advised not to fill full tank (to the brim)- probably because of fear that fuel may spill from the cap or not having any air might affect fuel flow. Fuel tank cap is offset towards right, doesn’t come off like RTR160 or 180, only can be opened n closed. (stays connected to the tank)
In summary, Apache RTR200 is a good bike to ride but has several quality issues that will annoy you. It could be possible that whatever I experienced was one off case or caused by poor maintenance of the specific bike. But my gut feeling says these issues are not due to poor maintenance, they are manufacturing defects/quality control issues. I suggest waiting for another 6 month or so before buying it. Like most automobiles these days, buying a newly launched model is risky because manufacturers often release it to market without thorough testing. Only after first set of customers buy it and start using, more n more issues surface, which are silently fixed in future batches. So it makes sense to wait for 9-12 months from launch date before taking delivery of your bike or car (may be little more if possible). RE Himalayan had same issues, so was XUV500. Initial batch of customers worked as free testers for the brands.

Other recent bike reviews: Dominar 400 * Avenger Street 220 * Things bike rental companies can do for better customer experience
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