The difference was obvious. First time out, with the Apache RR310 in stock street settings, it wallowed a bit through corner one (C1), felt mushy through the big bowl, and slipped a bit under power coming out of corner eight (C8). Then, with the suspension dialled into ‘track’ setting - as fine-tuned by TVS’ own championship winning racers, Jagan Kumar and KY Ahamed - it felt as solid as a rock. It was flatter and more planted through both, C1 and the bowl. And, forget the rear moving under power through the bumpy C8; I couldn’t feel the bumps at all!
Now that is the magic of an adjustable suspension.
Not only does it make the motorcycle right for your weight and riding style, it also makes a race track or a section of your favourite road feel nicer than it ever has. But there’s a caveat - you better know how to make that suspension work for you.
I am at the Madras Motorsport Race Track in, well, Chennai. And at my disposal is the new 2021 TVS Apache RR310, albeit with the Built To Order kit thrown in. Now, if you want to know what the BTO kit includes, how much it costs, how to order it, and who it’s for, check our first ride story HERE.
Because, this article is about me.
Me, Myself, and My RR
Vikrant’s RR runs a race body kit but is otherwise stock. Picture by: Pramukh Bajaj.
You see I own a first generation RR310. And, in terms of suspension, handling, ride quality, seating comfort, and overall feel-good factor, it’s wonderful. But when it comes to sportiness, I have always found it a bit lacking. Especially in terms of seating ergonomics and cornering clearance. Okay, even braking to an extent.
The riding position though sporty, isn’t aggressive or committed. And yes that’s a good thing when I am commuting, but it’s not so nice when the footpegs start grounding a little too soon come a twisting road. And no matter how much I try and tuck in, I never feel like one of those MotoGP riders, because my upper body is still quite upright, courtesy the relatively high clip-ons.
And lest I forget, the suspension is only adjustable for preload; that too exclusively for the rear mono shock. So, if I want fewer dives under braking; or less lift under acceleration; or a sharper turn-in into a corner, I need to play with the front fork oil viscosity and where the triple clamp sits on those forks. It’s anything but ideal. Plus, if my riding style doesn’t suit the rear tyre wear, I can’t do anything about it!
Or, I couldn’t. Because, with the BTO, it’s now possible.
No Plug and Play, This
Back to that caveat then and the adjustable suspension at the front and rear…
Now, even though the RR felt better in ‘track’ setting than it did in the stock road one, it didn’t work out as well for me as it could have. You see, Jagan and KY are light, like any athlete would be. And they are more aggressive with the motorcycle, like any professional motorcycle racer should be.
As for me, I am a little heavy, and also a bit soft when it comes to manhandling a motorcycle. It’s a reflection of skill and confidence and bravery, or in my case, the lack thereof. And so, I found the RR less pointy, especially through faster corners like C1 and the bowl and even C12, which is the last corner that brings you up to the start finish straight. As a result, ( I did the exact same thing as on previous laps - same corner entry speed, same turn-in point, same steering input) the RR refused to come close to the apex. Even hooking it didn’t help much.
And so, I clearly needed a more malleable setup. Not as mushy as the street, of course, but also not as rigid as the ‘track’. I needed something in the middle. Something that wouldn’t require me to change my riding style or inputs. But, it would still feel more stable and also inspire me to be more aggressive with the throttle. And voila, next time out, with the TVS engineers having worked their magic; I had just the setup I wanted.
Again, that is the magic of an adjustable suspension.
It’s not plug and play. It would require you as a rider to pin point the problem. And then you will need someone experienced or smart enough to decode that and offer a suspension setup solution. But when all this falls into place, you will have a machine that inspires so much confidence, you’d end up riding faster and with more precision, but calmer all the same.
So, should you upgrade?
I don’t know about you, but as an RR owner who wants to get the best from his machine, I am most certainly upgrading!
I am not going for the race replica graphic. And I am going to steer clear of the new exhaust and the new rear-set footpegs, which are part of the Race Kit. There’s, of course, no console upgrades or apps for me because mine’s a 2017 model, and I am quite happy with my black wheels too.
So, why no exhaust or rear-sets? Well, the new exhaust has a cat, which I don’t need. I’d much rather have my freer flowing 2017 stock exhaust. And thanks to motorcycle custom house JCMoto, I already have footpegs higher and more rear-set than the stock ones.
What I am certainly getting though is the Dynamic Kit complete with the adjustable front and rear suspension, and the new, prettier looking and harder wearing chain set. I will also opt for the new handlebar. The narrower and lower unit will help me get closer to that MotoGP tuck I so want.
Finally then here’s my suggestion for you: If you want to truly exploit and enjoy what your RR can do, get the Dynamic Kit. It’s a steal in the truest sense of the word. No one is going to offer adjustable suspension - and a top notch one at that - for anywhere near Rs 12,000. Ride or handling; track or tour; commute or just plain bragging; it doesn’t matter what you use it for; it’s just better. Period.