Pros: Peppy engine, good power delivery, appealing design, unique features
Cons: Front brake needs better feedback, plastic quality on certain parts could be better
TVS Motor Company is going aggressive to grab a share of the 125cc segment in the Indian market. The Ntorq 125 is now joined by the new Raider 125 to attract young buyers in the segment. The motorcycle is aimed to rival the likes of Bajaj Pulsar NS125 and the Honda SP 125, and TVS has made sure to make it fun enough to compete against its well-established competition. But is it enough? We rode the new TVS Raider 125 to bring you a comprehensive road test review of the motorcycle.
TVS has been taking bold steps when it comes to designing its products. We have seen that in the past with the Apache series. The new Raider is no different. The front fascia gets a unique headlight design with integrated DRLs that look nothing like we have seen in the recent past. The front fascia is followed by this compact LCD screen and we’ll get to that in the latter part of this review. The fibre-cover on the fuel tank features a muscular design and is complemented by black-coloured tank cowls and a plastic cladding that runs through the top-centre.
The seats feature a sporty design while the pillion grabrail looks neat and stylish. The design of the grabrail matches that of the rear panel over the taillight and it looks very appealing. Apart from the design, the fit and finish levels are commendable too. There are no uneven panel gaps while the switchgear operates with an assuring click. However, the cover on the USB charger and the plastic covers around the switchgear could’ve been of better quality, but it isn’t a deal-breaker, especially if you consider the pricing of the motorcycle.
TVS currently offers the Raider 125 in four colour options, and the Fiery Yellow variant of the motorcycle that we tested, looks the most appealing one.
The rider’s triangle features a sporty stance. The handlebar is lower while the footpegs are slightly rear-set, which deliver sporty ergonomics. However, the stance isn’t too aggressive to put excessive pressure on your wrists or lower back.
The telescopic front forks and the rear mono-shock are tuned for spirited riding. Thus, the suspension feels firm, although it did not feel too stiff during the road test. Sure, the rear could’ve been slightly softer, but it isn’t something that’ll leave you sore after a long ride. The sporty tuning to the suspension aids the handling department and the Raider 125 feels agile and comfortable with quick direction changes.
Its lightweight and short turning radius make it an absolute treat while filtering traffic too. Furthermore, the light weight at 123kg makes it easy to move the motorcycle around in parking spaces.
The Raider 125 uses a 124.8cc, single-cylinder, air- and oil-cooled engine that makes a healthy 11.2bhp of maximum power and 11.2Nm of peak torque. The engine will keep treading forward without fuss as long as you stay above 2,500rpm. There is a noticeable step-up in the acceleration post the 5,000rpm mark and the Raider 125 continues to build momentum at a commendable pace until 8,000rpm, which is very close to its 9,000rpm redline.
For quick overtakes, you would have to shift down a cog and rev above 6,000rpm. The speedometer will happily zoom past 80kmph and venture into the triple digits in the Power mode. The motor feels comfortable at highway speeds. It also feels refined for most of the time and it is only in the higher revs that the vibrations start to make an appearance. The gearbox is crisp, too, although we did face a few false neutrals during the test ride.
While the engine features a sporty and likeable character, the same can’t be said about the braking setup. The response from the front feels hard and it doesn’t deliver confidence-inspiring feedback. The setup works well when used along with the rear brake. The combined braking system applies pressure to the front disc when the rear brake is applied, and the setup feels better this way. It may not appeal to experienced riders. But consider this, the Raider 125 will be bought by buyers who are either new to motorcycling or people who are moving up from the 100cc space – riders who typically use the rear brakes more than the front.
The feature list is at par with its rivals like the Honda SP 125, and the new TVS Raider 125 comes equipped with an LED headlight, LED taillight, and a fully-digital instrument cluster. The instrument cluster is very easy to read and delivers sufficient data. Apart from the regular ride-related data such as the speedometer, tachometer, odometer, and two trip meters, the console also shows a gear-position indicator, the ride mode selected, fuel economy, and the range remaining.
There’s another variant that has been announced but not launched while writing this review. This upcoming variant will sit on top of the list and pack first-in-segment features such as a TFT display and Bluetooth connectivity. While the company is yet to announce that variant, the existing versions of the Raider 125 come with two riding modes – Eco and Power.
Unlike the TVS Ntorq 125, the riding modes on the Raider 125 do not alter the power or torque output. However, the Eco Mode restricts the tachometer to 7,000rpm in the top gear, which restricts the maximum speed to about 95kmph. The Eco mode also engages the automatic start/stop system that aims to save fuel during long halts or at the traffic signal.
While the feature list is likeable, there are a few negatives to the Raider 125. The headlight, for example, albeit very stylish, isn’t very useful in the dark. The low-beam has a good spread but the high beam feels inadequate and you’re forced to go easy on the throttle after dark.
The motorcycle delivered a fuel economy of 56.76kmpl during our fuel-economy test that, along with its 10-litre fuel tank, should give it a range of about 570kms.
It is safe to say that the new TVS Raider 125 is among the best 125cc motorcycles, if not the best, in its price segment of the Indian market today. The styling is appealing while the engine performance and handling characteristics are praiseworthy. The only downside that we found was the lack of headlight performance in the high-beam and the unsatisfactory response from the front brake, but the pros outrun the cons by a big margin, and the TVS Raider 125 should be a serious contender on your buying list if you’re in the 125cc market for a new motorcycle.
Photography by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi