2019 TVS Apache RR310 Cup Race Bike Test Review

10 July 2019, 06:00 PM Vikrant Singh

Introduction

I know what you are thinking… didn’t these guys just review the same bike? Well, yes and no. We did review the TVS Apache RR310 Cup race bike. But, it was the 2018 edition. And we did so during the course of attending the California Superbike School India, not in a race situation. So, to correct that, we went back to the MMRT. Only this time, we rode the newer version of the bike, and that too as part of the race weekend. 

The New Bike

Now, at first glance, the two bikes might look identical. Which they should because they use the exact same bodywork. But, the changes – as they say – are more than just skin deep. 

On the engine front, the 2019 Apache RR310 Cup bike runs a wider cam. This keeps the valves open for longer and as a result increases the valve overlap. The lift, though, hasn’t changed. The race RR310 also runs a new piston, which has increased compression; it has a new ECU and wiring harness with a custom engine map; and the throttle bodies are bigger too. Add to it, a conical free-flow air filter to go along with the freer flowing performance exhaust, and needless to say, the engine output of the new race RR, when compared to the street bike, is a lot livelier.

Other changes centre on the motorcycle’s dynamics. The race bike runs on lighter wheels. It has a larger but lighter front brake disc; it’s mostly aluminium down to the mountings for weight saving. The motorcycle also runs on yet-to-be-launched but lighter and very grippy radial rubber from TVS Tyres. Overall, this has led to a significant reduction in unsprung weight. And that means more effective suspension. Also the reduced weight of the wheels and disc should result in reduced gyroscopic effect making the bike easier to turn.

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What’s more, TVS has also reworked the internals of the front forks. Now, these might look the same on the outside, but inside the springs are softer and the valving has been changed to slow down rebound damping. The clip-on handlebars have been dropped on the forks as well to add weight to the front. TVS says, these changes allow for quicker steering but more stable motorcycle.

The Race Weekend

Now, this would be a good time for me to throw excuses at you. I am a journalist not a racer. I am heavier. I don’t get enough track time. I am older. I never get a fast bike. I had a bird hit. It was too dark. I was hungry. 

But, none of it matters because the bottom line is – one needs extraordinary riding skill, mental makeup, and the determination of a Honey Badger to be a championship winner. And the RR310 Cup only employs championship winners. Now, when it comes to riding, I don’t possess any of those traits. And, naturally, I am no champion. 

Nonetheless, I had some ambitions regarding the race. For one, I would like to qualify (which means posting a time within 115 per cent of the fastest guy’s time). I would also like not to be lapped. And, I would really love it if I didn’t finish last. And, with that in mind, I plunged head first into qualifying.  I was the last to leave the pit, which left me to my own devices on a track that seemed empty. No one up front and no one behind me. 

Then in lap two, a train of manic riders went past me into turn four; that’s a fast left after a relatively long straight. It might have looked like I was on a Sunday stroll on the outside, but inside my helmet I was holding on for dear life! I just couldn’t fathom that when I was going as fast as it was humanly possible, how could these young boys just ride past me as if I were standing still.

Needless to say, I was wrecked. But I had qualified. Last. 

The Ride

 

The race began with me in 12th and last spot. But, I had already checked my first ambition box. I had qualified. And now, I just had to make sure I wasn’t lapped. Not finishing last wasn’t even on the agenda anymore. So, I decided I was going to ride hard, as hard as I could with no self-preservation in mind. But, then I saw the rest go into C1. And immediately after seeing them enter the corner with such pace and commitment, I dropped all plans of ‘non-self-preservation’. 

I didn’t want to crash. I didn’t want to break bones. Hell, I didn’t even want to sprain anything. And, they could lap me as many times as they liked. Needless to say, half a lap later, I couldn’t see anybody else. They were gone. 

Now, it was just the RR310 and I. And with my mind not racing anymore, I started to enjoy the bike a lot more. Compared to the street version – which I had ridden on this very track, less than a month ago – the Cup bike is way more instant in its power delivery. And the quick throttle only exaggerates the effect. So every time you start rolling on the throttle at corner exits, it seems the Apache has been whipped. It just shoots off compared to the stock bike.

You also find yourself approaching your braking markers at a significantly higher speed with the Cup bike. But, here’s the thing – the race motorcycle, courtesy the new brakes, stops better as well. There’s more bite and feedback, and it is easier to trail the brakes on the new race version. 

Then there’s the handling. The motorcycle absolutely stunned me with its turn-in ability. It felt light and precise, and it was on its pegs in no time. But, there’s no twitchiness to it. It also feels intuitive and willing during quick direction changes. And no matter how much I thought I was leaning it, there was always room for more! I must say a lot of the credit here also goes to the new TVS Protorq tyres; they were communicative, grippy, and an absolute joy.

My Ambitions

Now, I might have been enjoying myself a lot, but I was also riding as fast as I could. And soon, I was on the last lap. But, no one had lapped me. Not yet. Maybe if I kept it all together, I could still meet another of my ambitions. And I did! 

The chequered flag came out, but no one had passed me. And, then when I pulled into the pits, I was informed one of the racers had crashed out of my sight. Which meant I had met my ambitions. I had scored three for three. I had qualified, I didn’t get lapped, and I didn’t finish last! Who says luck only favours the brave; sometimes it favours us, excuse mongers, too! 

Photography- Vishnu Haarinath

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