Driven #6: TVS Apache RTR 180 ABS

You gotta love TVS for what they do. While every other two-wheeler manufacturer, both domestic and international, are content with churning out the same old models with an occasional nip, a tuck and a sticker job, here is one company which keeps pushing the technological barriers and comes out with models that sets the pace and trend in the industry. From the VTi technology introduced in the Centra to the most recent auto-clutch technology introduced in the Jive, TVS has always been at the forefront of technological innovations when it comes to two-wheelers.

So, it should come as no surprise that TVS has once again taken the initiative and launched the Anti-lock Braking System, a technology that should ideally become a standard in our country, given the unsafe road conditions. And they could not have chosen a better model for launching this feature than their flag-bearer Apache. The Apache RTR 180 ABS thus becomes the first Indian motorcycle to feature the life-saving ABS technology and more importantly, comes at a price that does not make it out of reach of common people.  

So, how is the ABS-equipped Apache to drive and stop? Do we feel the ABS kicking in during panic braking? Does it inspire confidence in us or is it just another gimmick? Is it worth spending the additional 12,000 odd rupees over the regular Apache RTR 180? A short drive in the new Apache RTR 180 ABS answered all these questions and much more. But, I don’t want to keep that last question unanswered even for a moment. Hell yeah, the ABS tech is worth every extra penny that you will shell out for it. Period.

The Apache, since its launch in 2005, has retained its basic shape and design till date. A mid-life facelift with a series of subtle yet significant changes boosted its appeal and as a result, the Apache still looks fresh and hot against the latest competition from Yamaha (FZ16, Fazer) and Honda (CB Unicorn Dazzler) unlike say, the Pulsar, which has started to look severely dated. Apart from its sleek and sexy sculpted body panels, another attractive element on the Apache range surely has to be the palette of colors on offer. Be it white, red, yellow, orange, black or grey, they all are stunners and the paint job is immaculate too. This particular ABS-equipped version of the Apache comes only with the unique white coat with contrasting black stripes.

There are certain striking design elements in the Apache RTR 180 ABS that makes it really stand out from the rest of the crowd. Details like the gold-colored petal disc up front, racy RTR stripes running along the length of the bike, the sub-fairing with the RTR and ABS stickers, the broad and muscular fuel-tank, the body-colored engine fairing, the gold-colored ABS system in the wheels, the striking twin LED taillamps and the broader 110/80 tires in 17 inch alloys make sure that you get as many stares on the road as you desire. Having said that, the absence of a full frontal fairing means that the ‘big-bike’ feel that you get, like when driving a CBR 250R or a Karizma ZMR, is not there.

Get closer and you will find that the fit and finish of the bike is top-notch in many areas but equally iffy in some other areas. The switchgear, for example, feels solid to touch, feel and operate and the clip-on handle-bars are great too. But the same can't be said about the rear-view mirrors which vibrate like hell at speeds in excess of 70 kmph. Also, the stitches in the seats have started coming off exposing the cushion and there seems to be a small misalignment in the position of the kick lever as it comes into contact with the leg brake lever when in operation. Those are not something that you expect in a ‘brand-new’ bike. Apart from that, the overall quality of the bike was good and it felt built to last.

The Apache RTR 180 is powered by a single-cylinder, 4-stroke, 177.4 cc engine capable of producing a maximum power of 17 bhp and a maximum torque of 15.5 Nm. Turn the ignition ON and the Apache settles into a nice and sporty groan. Though a bit loud, the deep-throated and sporty exhaust note is a big plus and a major part of the excitement of driving this bike. TVS, with its long racing heritage, knows a thing or two about power and handling and it clearly shows with the Apache 180 being one of the more powerful and nimble bikes available in the market today. Be it a quick start from standstill in a traffic light or cutting and making way through dense city traffic or a relaxed drive in an open highway, you say it and the Apache RTR 180 does it all without much of a fuss.

Though the handling is great and the bike is willing to lean into corners, the tires remain a sore thumb with grip levels not on par with bikes like FZ16 and Fazer. Nevertheless, one other area where the Apache RTR 180 inspires confidence in the rider is in braking, thanks to its Anti-lock Braking System technology. On paper, the ABS integrates sensors placed in both wheels with an Hydraulic ECU. With a constant stream of input from the sensors, this HECU can detect a potential wheel-lock. It then modulates the braking pressure to the wheels accordingly thus making sure the wheels don't lock which, in turn, eliminates skidding and improves stability in all surfaces, be it gravel or tarmac, wet or dry. That said, any technology is easy to understand as long as it remains a theory on paper.

But, how good is the ABS in real-world conditions? How does this technology help an average road-user? Back-to-back rides in a regular Apache 150 and the RTR 180 ABS gave us the answers.

Not much difference was observed between the two bikes as long as the roads remained smooth and perfect and there were no instances of panic braking. Then came some muddy patches of broken tarmac and the RTR 180 ABS immediately made its presence felt as soon as the brakes were slammed a little harder. Where the regular 150 encountered wheel-lock for a few seconds before it regained composure leaving you with a heart-in-your-mouth feeling, the RTR 180 ABS just sailed through with superb stability. Another area where we really felt the significance of ABS was in a gravel track. The RTR 180 ABS refused to lock wheels and remained supremely stable in stretches where the regular 150 repeatedly locked wheels and lost composure.

* Engine Type: SOHC, 4 Stroke
* No of Cylinders: 1
* Displacement: 177.4 cc
* Max Power: 17 bhp @ 8500 rpm
* Max Torque: 15.5 Nm @ 6500 rpm
* Transmission Type: 5 Speed, 1Down 4Up
* Tyres: 90/90 R17 (Front) / 110/80 R17 (Rear)
* Brakes: Petal Disc (Front) / Petal Disc (Rear)

On checking the TVS website coming back from the test drive, it's pretty clear that the Apache RTR 180 ABS is engineered to be equally at home negotiating wet patches and gravel tracks as it is on smooth tarmac. Overall, all I have to say is TVS, along with its ABS supplier Continental  has done its part really well in trying to bring this technology within the reach of thousands of Indians. But TVS can do nothing about the typical-Indian attitude of opting out of safety features to save a few thousands of rupees. Its up to each one of us to realize the significance of a life-saving technology like this and embrace it. Hats-off and way to go TVS!

Photography: Arun Varadarajan


  1. Great pics, awesome..

  2. @ Above - Thanks for your compliment. Most of the photos were taken by Arun Varadarajan (www.passionphotography-me.blogspot.com). All credits to his talent.

  3. Is tis ABS Really Successful..? Some Ppl Say tat the breaks get totally locked sometimes....!? I jus wanna kno is tis really working n tat too here in Indian roads...??

    1. Hey Dude, I having Apache 180ABS for almost 10 months, There is no such Brakes locking like you said. You may get confused with wheels locking. More over this ABS version avoids the wheels locking while turning high-speed in turns and applying sudden brake while in high-speed it's allows to both the wheel to rotate to avoid skating. Yes you can feel that working with-out skate(while applying full brake) while riding in high-ways over 90-110 kmph speeds. And finally, While ABS is in ON mode if you apply brake with high pressure to the brake pad you can feel of ABS working. The break pad will revert to the feet(You may get brake pad Vibration). For avoiding that reverting back to the feet vibration Showroom Specialists inserting a round wood in side the rear brake drum(which is having my Apache :)).

  4. @ above - In one word, ABS is really useful and worth the extra money you pay, especially in Indian road conditions where gravel and mud form part and parcel of our daily commute. I think your understanding is wrong as ABS prevents the wheels from locking unlike what you state.

  5. A nice, detailed review and great photos.. keep it up..

  6. @ Above - Thanks for those nice words. Do keep reading the blog and post your comments/feedback.

  7. Am the fan of TVS Apachi, does Ramkaytvs is best to buy TVS Apachi. Can anybody compare me the price offered for TVS Apachi given here, does this price is better than other shops in Chennai

  8. SelvaGanesh,

    Ramkay TVS is one of the renowned dealerships in Chennai, so you can go ahead and buy the bike there. Regarding the prices, almost all dealerships will quote more or less the same price with only negligible difference between them. So, no worries on the price factor too.

    And the Apache RTR160 is a great choice.

  9. I am thinking to buy RTR ABS 180 , but need to know what is the cost of Bike (ON ROAD PRICE) i am in Mumbai ...

    And Nicely written.

  10. @ Shahbaz - On Road Price of Apache RTR 180 ABS in Chennai was 92,485 two months back. It should be similar in Mumbai too. Keep us posted on your purchase.

    And thanks for the compliment.

  11. He TVS Apache RTR 180 Bike technology has been put to extremes in the category and hence they may cost higher. TVS is an Indian Brand and cost of spare parts within the reach of the customers. The readily available of them also add another reason for has a look at this bike. The bike engine Specifications 177.4c, ABS technology, 5 speed gear, maximum power 17.03 BHP @ 8500 RPM.

    1. You are partially right Lokesh. But we keep hearing from those who own as Apache RTR 180 ABS that after-sales service support is pathetic. That's where TVS really need to concentrate.

  12. What about the vibration? You have mentioned that rear view mirror vibrates at about 70 kmph. The single most reason I am hesitating to buy this is several observations in most of the reviews. Is it that bad that it creates numbness?

    1. This definitely doesn't create numbness but the vibrations were too strong to be ignored. We heard the current Apaches don't vibrate as much. Anyway, TVS has already started testing the new Apache and it makes sense to wait for the new model.