TVS Apache RTR 160 long term ownership review

TVS Apache RTR 160 is the 3rd two wheeler under my ownership-after a TVS Sport moped I used during college days and a BajajDiscover 110 that I used during my first 8 years after getting a job. TVS Apache RTR 160 I that own now is about 4 years old. This post shares my long term ownership experience of this bike. There’re lakhs of Apaches on Indian roads- it is a fully proven bike- my review doesn’t really make a difference as the model is almost withdrawn from the market. But this review helps understand various aspects of bike ownership and how things work with TVS.
The reason I decided on buying Apache RTR 160
When I decided to sell off Discover 110 of 8 years I wanted a slightly more premium bike but not a super expensive, fuel guzzler ones. Thus I decided to select a bike of around 150-180 cc and under 1 lakh. At that time my options were Pulsar 150/180, Apache RTR 150/180, Yamaha FZ 2.0, Hero CBZ, Suzuki Gixxer, Honda CBR 150 etc. I decided not to spend on 1 lakh + bikes like Pulsar NS200 or CBR or KTMs. Of the sub 1 lakh ones, Hero showroom was far from home, so discounted it, went to Suzuki showroom on a Sunday but they were closed, Bajaj I wanted to avoid as my previous bike was from Bajaj. I was left with Yamaha and TVS largely. Raj Yamaha in OMR was very customer friendly- they explained my queries, offered some 500 Rs worth goodies, gave test drive etc. The FZ 2.0 had just arrived then. The only reason I didn’t select FZ was because it had a fuel injection engine without a kick starter. FI technology was relatively new back then. I wasn’t sure how reliable it was, what to do if it fails on a cold start or after few years- without a kick starter I will be left stranded. Looking back, may be it was a wrong decision. Lakhs of FZ 2.0 are on the roads and I haven’t noticed any major concerns on FI or problems due to lack of kick starter. I should have probably bought it.

Anyway Apache RTR 160 was a few thousand cheaper that FZ 2.0, had all the features, show room was nearby, few bikes were readily available and it was a proven bike with lakhs of them on the road, so I decided to buy. I would have preferred red one with rear disc but due to non-availability settled for gray one with only front disc.

Major repairs in 4 years
  • I had to replace rear rim and tyre at the cost of 6000 INR within first year, as the original rim developed a crack as I rode over a pothole at high speed.
  • Battery lasts just about 2 years- had to replace again recently, so two replacements in 4 years- around 2200 INR per battery
  • Chain Sprocket replacement is due- Bike has done about 25000 kms now- I am planning to replace the chain sprocket in next service- will cost me about INR 2000
  • Digital Console that shows speed and other information was malfunctioning and was replaced under warranty during first year.
  • I think clutch cable and accelerator cables were replaced once.
  • Had to replace mirrors a few times- because they got rust and failed to work or broke down due to fall etc. Have replaced front number plate once at original one got rusted. A few hundred rupees expense.
Roadside incidents:
I had a few of minor roadside incidents with my bike, like any biker would have.

  • Gear lever fell off- the nut holding gear lever fell off and the gear lever was left hanging. Stranded me for a while but eventually figured out how to put it back in position and ride carefully till the mechanic shop
  • Chain coming off- there have been 2-3 instances of chain coming off in past 4 years. Once I had to go get a mechanic, twice I managed to put the chain back in position myself. I think the chain is getting old and lose- will replace it in next service. Having the chain in right condition is very crucial-it failing at wrong time-like on highways, while overtaking etc can be fatal.
  • Twisted handlebar: Once the bike fell and handlebar got twisted. Couldn’t ride any further. Had to get a mechanic’s help to put it back in position.
TVS Service experience
1. Couldn’t get me replacement rim: 
Laxmi TVS in OMR Chennai, where I bought the bike from, couldn’t get me replacement rim for the rear wheel for close to a week. They had carelessly parked my bike in the open and it was gathering dust. They won’t call to update and would give random new dates whenever I visit to inquire. After a week I took the matter to my own hand, went to a bigger dealer and got the rim myself, then took the bike to a MRF tyre centre to buy a new tyre and have it fitted. With some help from local mechanics the bike was ready in half a day. Laxmi TVS people would have taken months if left to their own.

2. Chain sprocket change experience
TVS recommends changing chain sprocket at 12000 kms. On one of the service the engineer recommended me to change the chain sprocket, on seeing the odometer reading of 12000 kms. My second opinion from a local mechanic had suggested chain will last another 8000-10000 kms and there’s no need to change immediately. In fact the actual kms was about 18000, since information console was replaced under warranty after about 6000 kms. Thus the engineers are NOT trained to inspect the chain and suggest if it needs replacement- they only look at odometer reading and suggest changes. This is bad training on part of TVS. Next few service no one asked me to change the chain sprocket- as they all assumed it was changed at 12000 kms. I am planning to replace it now, but I suspect again at 24000 kms they will suggest me to replace again, despite it being very new.

3. Feedback not actioned.
TVS office in Bengaluru regularly calls me for feedback after each service. They ask me to rate everything between 1 to 10. If I give low rating they ask why. First few times I explained in detail but the problem was they didn’t do anything based on my feedback.  So giving detailed feedback was just a waste of my time, later I started asking tough questions or didn’t bother giving feedback.

4. Showroom shifted and I had no clue.
The Laxmi TVS Showroom from where I had bought the bike was suddenly gone. I have no clue if they closed down completely or shifted anywhere. There was no display at the old site, people around didn’t have a clue, no communication was sent to existing customers about the closure/movement. So I was on my own to find a new service centre. Luckily the new service centre was smaller but much better. For example Laxmi TVS said they won’t fix numbers on the number plate and I had to get it outside, but the new agency did the stickering for me when I asked them to add new number plate. Laxmi TVS was never able to fix the issue with centre stand (won’t retract fully on its own, have to push with leg) despite multiple complaints. The new service centre did a better job at it.

Some minor issues I need to live with
  • The rubber cap covering a bolt on the instrument cluster has been missing since early days. No service centre seem to have spares.
  • Also they don’t replace rusted nuts in the mirror- only option is to replace entire mirror.
  • The rubber caps next to the mirror would come off often and won’t sit in their position for long. even if fixed by service centre guys.
  • Display clock often shows wrong time after each service and I have to ask them to fix it (it is bit complicated to reset myself).
  • Centre stand issue I have mentioned above.
Long rides done with my bike
So far I’ve done multiple long rides on my Apache RTR160. Most prominent ones are below. Didn’t face any major issue during the long rides.
Fuel Economy: I am getting around 45-50 kmpl from the Apache RTR160 most of the times, 42-45 kmpl a few times. Have tried speed petrol and shell multiple times but couldn’t notice any improvement.

Average service bill: Each service costs me around INR 1300-1500, excluding major repairs stated above. Now I have exhausted all paid service coupons. Labor charge will be higher and I am expecting future services to cost around 1800-2000. Almost all free and paid service are done as per manufacturer’s recommendation. Now service is being done once in 4-6 months, depending on my assessment of a need for a service or any long rides coming up. I once tried synthetic oil but didn’t notice any difference, so since then using regular TVS oil recommended by service centre.

Overall TVS Apache RTR 160 has served me well. Haven’t faced any major break down/accident/trouble. Yes there’ve been a set of minor incidents, repairs etc but that would be common to any vehicle. At present there’re improved version of my bike in the market, BS 4 TVS Apache RTR 160 4V and 200 4V. The model I own is still available but will be eventually phased out I think. I miss the comfort of mono-shock suspension offered in current day bikes and the confidence of a rear disc brake- two things missing in my bike. Also when it rains or when I have lots of guests at home, at times I feel I should have bought a car, but all other days, I am happy riding around on a bike and rent a car when needed. Not buying a car saves me good money on EMI, Fuel, Toll etc, which I can spend on travel.

On TVS
They seem to be building some good bikes but doesn’t look like they are marketing it well. I could hardly see the newly launched models in showrooms whenever I visit. Typically car salesmen chase their current customers to upgrade to a more recent model/better car after few years-no such attempts are made by TVS. While the Apache range seem to be doing good, not much innovations on the 100-125 cc bikes. They seem to be contempt with mopeds like Jupiter and Scooty which are selling in great numbers. Anyway best wishes to them.

Future plans:
However I am planning to use the bike for another 2-3 years at the minimum. After that will decide what to do next. May be a more powerful bike in 250-300 cc range if I feel like or may be I will just upgrade to a 200 cc bike. I haven’t managed to anything super big with my bike- like cross country ride or going to Leh Ladakh etc- mainly due to time constraints- if I have a week, I find it convenient to fly to a new country than do a bike tour within India. Let us see how the years ahead turn out.

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