The new TVS Apache RTR 310 is impressive in many ways but riding it also highlights why the company needs a larger engine.
Platform engineering has wonderful benefits for all parties involved, and platform sharing even more so. For TVS and BMW, that has resulted in 5 motorcycles and a new EV so far as well as an entry into the popular entry level segment for BMW. However, the first BMW products were on the backfoot in the initial launch days, at least in our market. The BMW 310s original pricing was highly optimistic, but eventually they were corrected which brought them closer to the more powerful 390 KTMs.
There was always a large deficit there, not just in power but also in terms of refinement. As for moving to a brand new motor, companies typically plan for anything from seven to 10 years for the average platform life cycle. Case in point, it was only 10 years after the original 390 Duke was launched that we moved to a brand-new platform. As for the G 310 R, it only really started to go on sale in multiple markets by about 2017-2018, so there’s still time to go.
But TVS and BMW both have a challenge because 310cc is an odd cubic capacity figure which doesn’t fit into any well-defined segments. For a few years, it found a comfortable slot above the 250s, being surpassed only by the 373cc KTM, but that has now changed. The game has moved on and 400cc is the new benchmark – KTM and Triumph are already there and RE will soon join the party with its liquid-cooled 450.
Going by the price, you could argue that the RTR 310 is actually a competitor to the KTM 250 Duke, but that only applies to the attractive pricing of the base model. Start ticking the boxes for all those cleverly engineered, headline grabbing features and the top spec model goes up above the 3 lakh rupee mark at which point it’s pretty much on par with the new 390 Duke. There’s also the fact that the new Triumph Speed 400 also costs less than even the base RTR.
When we rode the new RTR 310 (review here) in Thailand, there was a clear feeling that TVS did the best they could with the motor, and then focused on increasing the bike’s appeal in other areas. This is the platform they have to work with and they had to innovate elsewhere thanks to a massive 10hp disadvantage to the KTM, which they did.
I have huge respect for TVS’ engineering capabilities and how they always push the benchmark when it comes to performance and features. Even with the RR 310, they have tirelessly worked on improving the bike, with something new coming out pretty much every year. Then there’s their racing department, which comes up with some incredible creations – the exotic carbon-fibre One Make ARRC race bike is easily the greatest single-cylinder track bike I have ridden.
But eventually, you just can’t escape the old adage: there’s no replacement for displacement. After some years of success in the top Pro Stock 301-400 category in the Indian national racing championship, TVS’s top Indian race bike has reached the point where it could do with more cubic capacity to compete against the more powerful Yamaha R3s and KTM RC 390s.
TVS and BMW need a 400 – both for their road bikes and for their racing programs. The road bikes need to match with the competition and the TVS race team could work wonders if they had a bigger motor. Hell, it could even be an opportunity for BMW and TVS to take on the KTMs, Kawasakis and Yamahas in the hot WSBK Supersport 300 championship. How cool would that be?