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A few Budweisers down, I was reminiscing and reliving the 90s with my boombox banging out Boom Shack-A-Lak by Apache Indian. Almost on cue, a few moments later, I received an email from TVS Motor Company inviting DriveSpark on a celebratory ride in the land of the Himalayas — Nepal.
Yes, Nepal! This marks TVS' first international media ride and big-league event for the Apache brand.
Recently, TVS Motor Company celebrated the 3 million sales milestone of their Apache series, and to commemorate this achievement, a few auto journalists were handpicked to explore Nepal on the many TVS Apache variants: 160, 180, 160 4V, 200 4V, and the RR 310.
In the Nepal context, former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli's quote, "Travel teaches toleration" couldn't have been more true. Nepal has certainly increased my tolerance of traffic jams. Boy, if you think India has chock-a-block traffic and bottlenecks, head over to Nepal for an enlightening experience.
Traffic aside, it wasn't too soon until most of us settled down and made our way out of Kathmandu and headed towards Pokhara. Our route for Day 1: Hotel Crowne Plaza, Kathmandu to Siddhartha Restaurant, Chitwan for lunch; and our pitstop for Day 1 was Shangri La Village, Pokhara (total distance: 200 km).
I took an immediate liking to the Apache 180 2V and Siddhartha Riverside Resort in Chitwan, our first half of the day. With the nightmarish road congestions behind us, most of us were soaking in Nepal's picturesque landscape, not to mention the unforgiving heat from Mr. Sun Almighty (it was a dry 32-degrees).
Slotted for the first half of my ride, the Apache 180 2V managed to smooth over the distance without breaking a sweat. From Chitwan to Pokhara, I was astride the Apache 200 4V. I was convinced that the BMW-TVS partnership had a positive impact on the new Apache motorcycles. The quality, design and engineering is not restricted to the RR 310, but reflects in the new products too; especially the Apache 160 and 200 4V.
From Chitwan to Pokhara, the 200 4V seemed like just the right bike to take on the flowing and twisty mountain roads. The race-tuned KYB suspension and the slipper clutch was the need of the hour, as I began soaking in the purity of the valley. While the Apache 200 4V elevated my whole experience en route to Pokhara, I couldn't wait to reach the destination.
It was during our mighty momo lunch break that I was told of the infamous Magars and Gurungs of Pokhara, who have earned worldwide recognition as the Gurkha soldiers.
Shangri-La Village, Pokhara
After Day 1 of riding, I was set for the next few days. For the remainder of my Nepal ride, I hopped onto the Apache 160 4V, the latest entrant in the Apache series. The transition to the Apache 160 4V was easy, as much of its design and character is borrowed from the Apache 200 4V, I was riding earlier.
On Day 2, we started early from Pokhara to Chitwan, and the following day, we rode from Chitwan back to Kathmandu, where it all began. Enroute to Chitwan, we stopped over at Sarangkot, a village just above Pokhara.
Most people come to Sarangkot to experience the panoramic sweep of the Himalayan peaks. Sarangkot offers a spectacular view of one of the largest mountain ranges in the world, the Annapurna range, including Annapurna I, which is the 10th highest mountain in the world. Sarangkot is also the launch pad for paragliders, where they are witness to the stunning view of Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu.
After carving corners up Sarangkot's mountain road, I did feel and appreciate the refinement in the Apache 160 4V engine — stellar job TVS.
The Apache 160 4V is easy-to-ride, and the smooth nature of the engine throughout its rev range was in sync with the scenic views that Sarangkot, Chitwan and the ride back to Kathmandu had to offer.
To conclude, the Nepal market is growing. As part of TVS Motor Company's globalisation strategy, the Apache brand is participating in emerging Asian markets and establishing their presence.
It should be said, TVS Motor is the third largest two-wheeler manufacturer in India and they seem bent on offering a vehicle for every person — be it motorcycles, scooters or mopeds, TVS truly has a vehicle for everyone.
And when it comes to the Apache series, the company has done a commendable job, with the Apache motorcycles becoming a brand in its own right. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Which is why it comes as no surprise that #3MillionApaches have been sold to date. Take a bow TVS.