It was my 2nd year of engineering when I decided to stay with my parents rather than staying in a hostel. This means I will need to travel 65 kms everyday to attend college. In those days, I had the Suzuki Access.
Tried taking the Access to college for a week but it started to show its incompetence in the city as well as highway when I had to travel a long distance. I realized that scooters are good for the city, but on the highways? They can cover distance but at a cost (backache). I finally decided that it was time to buy a motorcycle.
Lots of excitement and questions. The last motorcycle we owned was the KB100 Aka Kawasaki Bajaj 100. We also did own the Yezdi CL250 but then it was sold in the ’90s. The question struck me, “which bike do you want to buy?”
There were quite a few options in the market in 2012 (obviously not as many in 2016 but yes there were quite a few). This would be my first bike but then again I knew how to drive a car. So controlling the power wasn’t really an issue (I thought). Never really considered a bike below the 150cc segment, matter of fact never considered a 150cc segment motorcycle either.
All I remember that it was my dream to own a white TVS Apache 180 that came up on the TV racing on the track. The motorcycle had this tagline, which still gives me goosebumps : “You don’t choose the bike, the bike chooses you”. Time passes by .. I start looking at different bikes.
1. Bajaj announces the Pulsar 200NS. Beautiful looking street naked, but then again. Bajaj? That was my biggest question, but at the same time confidence inspiring. Bajaj is not really known for reliability in the modern world. My friend, who owns a FZ-S and P220F strictly advised me to stay away from these motorcycles. Initially, I thought he may be joking but later things became crystal clear for everybody. The bike had a waiting period of 90 days, which was clearly too much.
The 220F was never even considered even though it was second on power only to the KTM duke 200. The brakes were awful, the chassis was old school (literally handled like a boat), semi fairing was a hit or miss.
2. Honda had the CBR250R which was insanely priced (as it is now). A normal middle-class family cannot really shell out 2L from no where for a Honda which is not really a city commuter but mostly a tourer. Did I need a tourer then, maybe or maybe not. But could I spend 2L then? Not at all.
The CBR150 on the other hand is poorly spec’ed. No engine kill switch, ugly saree guard and a few to begin with. But hey, I’m not saying it’s a bad motorcycle. It’s just not worth 1.5L on-road. One can always agree that it comes with almost the same kit as the R15 but the R15 is a much more fun motorcycle.
3. Yamaha had the famous R15 V2 on sale, and it was also insanely priced at 1.43L. But it did have all the goodies like 4V head, liquid cooling, mono suspension, 6th gear. All these things came at a price and the maintenance would just shoot up. Not to forget my daily commute was about 65kms (considering if I only go and come back from college, which doesn’t really happen). With an avg mileage of 30-35kmpl in the city (As per users) it’s not really a very fuel efficient bike. Over that you have that all famous riding stance which is always begging to break your back over long distances.
FZ was out of question as I test rode one. It was so sluggish and the brakes were wooden, literally no feel at all. The chassis was good, so was the suspension. The Fat rear tyre and the beefy forks look tempting but once you ride the bike everything just fades away like a sun at 6pm.
4. TVS on the other hand were selling their 160/180 in very good numbers. You could literally call them the black horse here. Steadily selling 17,000-20,000 units a month. They had launched the newer updated model with LEDs. Most people hated the model but I did not judge it without seeing it in real. Walked into a TVS Showroom with mom and I see these really good looking DRLs (Day-time running Lights). It was a white 180 kept beside the old 180. This had several changes in terms on looks, design and even engineering. Most of the people thought this was just a facelift, but no, TVS had actually changed a few things on the chassis too. The switches were better, the plastics were better, everything as a whole looked a lot better to me (atleast). Took the brochures, price list and went back home. The bike was priced at INR 86,500 for the 180 and INR 97,000 for the 180 ABS. I had already heard about the racing heritage TVS had and the razor sharp handling of the Apache. The Roto Petal discs, which were the first in the segment, clip on handlebars, rear set pootpegs, everything you want in a track tool. Good part was customers said however the conditions are it gives an avg mileage of 40-45kmpl easily. Also being an Indian brand the spares were available easily and were cheap but of good quality.
Note : Duke wasn’t considered. Few points about the Duke 200.
1. I did not really think it’s a bike i can use for 70kms a day because of the mileage.
2. Sounded really bad.
3. But at the same time, insane power delivery, chassis, tyres and handling.
4. Bad service backup and niggling issues.
5. Last but not the least, very expensive. 1.55L on road.
So finally dad comes to me and asks which motorcycle would I like to own. It was an easy decision for me. Next day we went to the TVS dealer and booked a white Apache 180 (std). Though I regret not buying the ABS variant when my dad insisted me to. I was happy with my decision of buying this motorcycle, even today.
To be continued…
Words – KR7