A lot has been written around the web about the sheer brilliance of the all new Suzuki Gixxer, about how complete this little Suzuki is, as a motorcycle. With looks to stand out among the crowd and enough performance to rewrite the segment rules, it is just impossible to ignore the Gixxer's importance in the segment as well as Suzuki's future in motorcycle segment in India. However, the Gixxer might be a great package on its own but it contests in probably the toughest segment in the Indian motorcycle scenario, the power commuter segment. It is a segment jam packed with incredibly capable motorcycles, with each model from each manufacturer matching power to power, spec to spec with each other.
Saying that, there are indeed a few models in this segment that have been slugging it out in this territory and enjoy some serious cult following, one of them is the TVS Apache RTR 160. Just like our recent comparison review of the Gixxer with the Yamaha FZ-S V2.0, which was indeed a closely fought battle, it was a matter of time we pitted the Gixxer against the track bred race tool from the Hosur based TVS Motors. The Apache RTR 160, is the only bike in the segment that can proudly show off its racing pedigree, no wonder since TVS is the only two wheeler manufacturer that has shown commitment towards two wheeled motorsports in the country, rest all just too concentrated on what happens on the showroom floor. The RTR 160, thus, with its history, its incredible brand pull and some serious performance to boot, is one tough competition for the new kid in the fight for the crown.
On one hand, where the Suzuki benefits from being new and time well spent by Suzuki in understanding the segment and creating a motorcycle that has solely been designed to exploit every loophole or weakness its completion might consist off, the recently updated RTR160 is a proven tool for fun, and is least perturbed by the new kids exiting entry to the segment.
Looks and Styling!
The first of the Apache variants that earned the RTR moniker were seriously great looking motorcycles and no wonder they took the market by storm. When, the news came out that TVS was going to upgrade the RTR range, the internet went into a frenzy of sorts and by and large the present form of the RTR siblings has been a huge deviation from its purist centric looks to a more bling friendly market. No wonder, the upgrades got mixed response from the diehard fans of the Apache series, but for the rest of the population, it seemed to have done the trick. No doubt, we belong to the purist category and find the older RTR's to be far more striking and mature looking than the current face-lifted versions. Still, we have met a lot many people who admire the looks of the new RR's and this is where we leave it for you to decide. Although we do like the, new pilot lamps and that use of pseudo carbon fiber finish, that said, the older light fairing looks more purposeful than the present one.
Gixxer on the other hand, looks smaller than the Apache owing to the RTR's comparatively flatter design where the Tank and the seat are almost at the same level. While the Gixxer wears a tank that is muscular with just the right kind of bulges and creases, the way the tank gives the whole bike a very agile and a sporty stance is a clear indication that the Gixxer name tag isn't just a marketing 'lingo', this tiny little Suzuki is indeed a lovely inspiration from the iconic Gixxer's. The bike we had came with a black shade and still not so photo friendly colour made the bike look gorgeous. Infact the Gixxer is a even more stunning bike to look at in person.
Every angle of the Gixxer shouts out load about Suzuki's intend to make sure that it scores big time on looks department and they have not failed at it. The Gixxer is stunning to behold, the way the tank flows into the triple section is immaculately detailed and it provides a very god recess to give the rider enough space to adjust his/her riding posture as they feel. The tiny little thin tank shroud's help accentuate the lean muscular stance of the whole bike. Adding to the beauty of it, there is that instrument console and we cannot emphasise more on the fact that this is probably the best one around by far.
Saying that, the RTR offers a comfortable and a flatter seat that enables the rider to shift around comfortably while cornering. The Clip-on's provide a good body posture for a racier riding style. However the clip-on's could have been a bit higher and wider, since the lack of a higher tank doesn't really leave a lot of place to tuck in while riding fast. The blue backlit instrument cluster with a lap timer, on the other hand, is the coolest thing we have seen on a bike from any of the Indian motorcycle manufacturers, we love it, dig it.
Ride and Handling!
The Suzuki Gixxer has this, very sporty intent in not just the way it looks, but in whatever it does. They bike offers a very good feedback from its front end and inspires the rider to lean in and take the corner at some pretty interesting speeds for a 155cc machine. The rear benefits from a thick 140 section tyre , which provides ample stability while cornering. The capable chassis is fast on changing directions and makes it fun to fire the Gixxer into tight corners. All this sportiness, is great for cutting through the sluggish traffic our cities are gifted with. However, the stiff front and rear suspension which helps in the wonderful handling of the Gixxer has a tendency to make the bike lose its composure in potholes, it is never scary, but the jolts will make you feel tired after some hard riding through the city roads.
The engine is buttery smooth, like all the Suzuki's should be, and never there is a moment where the vibrations come to notice, making the Gixxer a pretty fun bike to ride even in low gear high rev situations. The wide precisely weighted handle bars provide ample control and leverage to steer the bike as desired helped by a confidence inspiring front end. The 41mm thick front telescopic suspension up front, tempts the rider to go fast, and it is where the Gixxer is at its happiest self.
On the other hand, the TVS Apache RTR 160 has been known to be bred on track and for years have been the flag bearer of being one of the best handling motorcycles in this segment. However, the bike which we had ridden for the review seemed nervous mid corner when we tried to lean in and rocket out of the corners. That could have been a cause of slippery tarmac because of the rain we had that day, but Yes, the still fairly capable chassis requires more traction from the rear and a fatter tyre would be a welcome addition to the RTR's dynamics.
The semi-sport-dedicated riding posture of the RTR is also something that is bang on for Riders who are around 5 feet 5 inches - 5 Feet 7 Inches in height, but it becomes fairly compromising and small for rider with height more than 5 feet 7 inches, like yours truly and his 6 feet height weighing almost a ton. Though, once adjusted to the rather diminutive ergos of the RTR, one can start to push it around with more confidence, however, the Gixxer on the other hand, is ready to pounce and do some real interesting cornering and racier performance on the onset itself, you sit on it, turn it on and bang, you are ready to go, such incredible handling Suzuki has gifted to the Gixxer that it is almost intutive and in reality you feel that the Gixxer can easily wear a more powerful and bigger engine and it still would handle with such class.
Performance - Which one is Better?
These two are a very interesting match, and in fact, the Gixxer is a symbol of how closely Suzuki has monitored its rivals in such a closely contested segment. The effort put by Suzuki in the Gixxer is such that, there is no bike that can claim to have a clear advantage over the Gixxer in all round departments. Where the TVS RTR 160 shines with its 15.7PS@8500rpm the Gixxer makes a low 14.8PS as compared but, makes it earlier at 8000rpm, meaning we have almost the same power for general city usage from the both. Same goes on the torque rating front, where the Gixxer just outclasses the RTR with 14Nm@6000rpm as compared to RTR's 13.1Nm@6500rpm, this translates to superb pulling power on the Gixxer.
The same acceleration figures of 4.4 seconds for 0-60kmph run in both bikes owes to the fact that the less powerful Gixxer weighs 2kg's less at 135kg than the RTR160 (137kg), also, the Gixxer produces its power at lower revs as compared to the RTR. This also, translates into almost identical top speeds of around 120kmph, that says a lot about how precisely Suzuki has managed the Gearing Vs power ration on the Gixxer.
Saying that, as good as the RTR 160 has always been, it just does not cause any real opposition to the Gixxer and the Gixxer performs at par with the RTR160 in almost every performance parameter. Although, the breaking on the RTR is better with its rear disc assembly as against the Gixxer's rear drum setup and the front petal disc (which is bigger at 270mm than the Gixxer's 240mm) of the RTR provides better feedback that the Gixxer's.
Both the bikes returned around 42-45kmpl during the comparison which makes the RTR having a larger tank at 16l to have a better range compared to the Gixxer's 12l tank.
Bikeportal Verdict -
TVS has a very very special place in our hearts for the very fact that it has kept the motorcycle racing in the country alive and always looked forward towards bringing motorcycle racing to more and more riders in the country. The original RTR series that came as the upgrade to the first Apaches was a game changer and that was the first time any manufacturer even bothered to bring a racier track bred motorcycle to the masses of India and it is rather unfortunate that TVS is still the only motorcycle company in India to be truly dedicated to the motorcycle racing sport in the country, (Yamaha and Honda only just beginning and nowhere close to the full hearted effort by TVS in every form of Motorcycle Racing in India).
However, the competition have moved on, and the age of the incredible Apache RTR series have started showing. To be true, the latest upgrade to the Apache series has taken a step back, and the bikes neither ride as good as the previous generation nor they look as stunning and mean as the previous generation looked. It is sad to note that TVS had to give in to the account drawers and dilute its true Racing heritage. We desperately hope to see the Draken X21 Concept based Apache's sooner than later . TVS needs all new Apache series desperately to keep this legend alive and we need the all new Apache series to fall in love again with, a series of bikes what made us want to race!!! We sincerely hope TVS is listening!!!
Until then, the Suzuki Gixxer is a way better motorcycle and it just not trounce the old war horse from TVS, but it might just be the best 150cc Power commuter the country has seen till date.
Stay with us as we bring more Comparo's and Reviews to you soon.
You can watch the Video Comparison of the Suzuki Gixxer Vs TVS Apache RTR 160 below...