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India is the world's largest two-wheeler market and a vast majority of those sales numbers come from the commuter motorcycle segment. You may love performance motorcycles and fast machines, but you have to agree that without commuter motorcycles, the Indian market wouldn't be what it is today.
TVS Motor Company is no stranger to this commuter motorcycle segment in India. With motorcycles like the Victor, Star City, and to an extent, even the Fiero, TVS had in the past cemented its place as a stalwart in the commuter motorcycle space.
Now, TVS has come up with a brand new premium commuter motorcycle. The keyword here is ‘premium' and you will know just why as you read on. The Raider marks TVS' return to the 125cc motorcycle segment and is priced at Rs 77,500 (Starting price). We were invited to the company's test track at its Hosur factory to find out what it's all about. Read on to know more about the TVS Raider.
Design & Style
If you look at the TVS Raider for the first time, without any knowledge of what it is, it is almost impossible for you to figure out that it is a 125cc commuter. It looks like a 160-180cc street bike. There are various elements on the motorcycle that make it stand out in a crowd.
The motorcycle we rode was decked in the Fiery Yellow shade, and yet there were multiple colours on the Raider. The fuel tank, front mudguard, and engine bashplate were finished in the same Glossy Yellow. The tank extensions were finished in Gloss Black and under that is a Grey element. The Grey finish continues to the rear-end too.
All of this come together to make the TVS Raider look more premium when compared to the competition. If Fiery Yellow is not to your liking, there are three other attractive colours on offer - Striking Red, Wicked Black, and Blazing Blue. The Wicked Black shade looks rather simple, but we found Blazing Blue to be the most attractive. This, again, is completely dependent on your personal tastes and preferences.
Though the Raider is an all-new motorcycle based on a new platform, the design inspiration seems to have been drawn from the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V. The most distinctive design element on the TVS Raider is the LED headlamp up front. It comes with unique X-shaped LED DRLs and LEDs for both high and low beams.
Right above it is a small flyscreen and behind that is the LCD instrument cluster. The instrumentation looks great and gives out a lot of information. The front mudguard is a dual-tone unit and then there's the petal disc brake further adds to the design aspect.
View the TVS Raider from the side profile, and your attention is immediately drawn to the huge fuel tank with its extensions. It is really muscular and attractive. The motorcycle is not very big in size, but this fuel tank gives you the impression that it is rather large. That is the extent to which the fuel tank affects the design of the motorcycle.
The bashplate under the engine further adds to the youthful and sporty design. The Raider badging on the side panels, the cooling fins on the engine, split seat arrangement, upswept exhaust and large grabrail are some of the notable design elements on the new TVS Raider. The motorcycle rides on simple six-spoke alloy wheels.
At the rear, the TVS Raider comes with a simple, yet sporty setup. The tail lamp is a split LED unit with a unique design. The turn signal indicators are lit up by halogen bulbs. The saree guard is yet another design element that will be noticed as it is rather large and also has the side-step built into it.
On the whole, it is a premium commuter that looks really sporty and attractive. The design and styling is certainly bound to attract younger buyers who want something sporty, yet affordable and usable.
The TVS Raider is targeted at younger buyers or Gen-Z across the world. One of the primary requirements of the younger audience across the world is a long features list, and TVS has equipped the Raider with just that. Right off the bat, it is safe to say that no other 125cc motorcycle in India gets as long a features list as the Raider.
As aforementioned, LEDs power the headlamp and tail lamp of the Raider. This makes the Raider the only motorcycle in the 125cc segment that is equipped with an LED headlamp while others make do with just LED DRLs. We did end up wishing for LED indicators too, but that would push the price up by around Rs 1,000. Hence, the halogen setup is understandable.
Instrumentation is handled by a super informative inverted LCD screen. It displays the speedometer, odometer, tachometer, trip meters, range, fuel economy, ride modes, and even gets a top/average speed recorder.
TVS will also retail a top-spec variant of the motorcycle that will feature a bigger 5-inch TFT display. This display will be loaded with features including TVS' SmartXConnect smartphone connectivity suite. It will get high-speed alerts, message notification alerts, digital document display, etc. However, we did not get to experience this instrumentation.
The switchgear is brand new. On the left side of the handlebar are the switches for the lighting and the horn. On the right side is the one-touch starter button and the engine kill switch has been replaced by the switch for the ride modes. You can choose between Eco and Power modes at the flick of this switch.
However, if you are used to using an engine kill switch to turn off the engine, this new ride mode switch will take some getting used to. The TVS Raider also features a USB slot in front of the fuel tank to help you charge up your smartphone.
Engine Performance & Riding Impressions
The difference that this new engine makes and the premium feels it brings to the segment is felt the moment you thumb the starter button. It is a one-touch starter and it brings the engine to life almost immediately and quietly. It brings you to the realization that TVS has brought a whole new ballgame to the 125cc segment.
It is an Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) at work here and it gives the motorcycle a rather premium feel. Then there's the bassy exhaust note. Several iconic TVS motorcycles in the past have had deep, bassy exhaust notes and the new TVS Raider carries it forward.
If one just listens to the exhaust note from afar without looking at the bike, it would be almost impossible to figure it is a 125cc engine producing this sound. The motorcycle produces a great soundtrack throughout the rev-range. It does sound a little stressed post 6,500rpm but is good fun until that mark.
We rode the motorcycle on TVS' test track located inside the brand's Hosur production facility. It is not the ideal place to test a commuter, and yes we will be testing it out in the real world very soon. However, the ride on the track certainly helped us get acquainted with the sportiness of the TVS Raider.
It isn't sporty enough for the TVS Racing badges but is sportier than all the other motorcycles that don't sport the TVS Racing logo. The secret of this sportiness is in the power-to-weight ratio. Speaking of power-to-weight ratio in reference to a commuter motorcycle is to an extent immoral, but we're going to anyway.
The TVS Raider is powered by a 124.8cc, single-cylinder air and oil-cooled engine. It has a maximum power output of 11.2bhp at 7,500rpm and a peak torque output of 11.2Nm at 6,000rpm. A 5-speed gearbox drives the rear wheel. The output isn't much when looked at on the whole.
However, it is the fourth most powerful 125cc motorcycle on sale in India after the KTM 125 Duke, KTM RC 125, and Bajaj Pulsar NS 125. This definitely is a big deal as this is a premium commuter motorcycle while the others are performance motorcycles.
At 123 kilograms, the TVS Raider even weighs lesser than the aforementioned motorcycles. On the saddle, this translates to a fun experience. Acceleration is brisk, and before you know it, you're past 60km/h. Even 90km/h comes up pretty soon, but the motorcycle slows down after that.
TVS claims a top speed of 99km/h, but we managed to clock 107km/h on the speedo. This however was in a crouched, tucked-in position on the long straight. In an upright riding position, we managed 101km/h.
Speaking of riding position, the upper half of the rider's body is in a relaxed position thanks to the handlebar. The lower half on the other hand takes up a sportier posture thanks to the positioning of the footpegs. This also allows the rider to grip the fuel tank very well.
We also found that the motorcycle was very flickable and agile. This is bound to be a boon in the urban jungle, where most of the TVS Raiders will spend their lives. The low-end torque is great and it pulls from as low as 2,000rpm in 5th gear and this aids rideability further.
Should you decide to take it out on the open road, the motorcycle does 70km/h at 5,000rpm and 90km/h comes up at around 6,500rpm. Cruising at 90km/h might be a little too stressful, but 70-75km/h is doable over longer distances.
Suspension duties are handled by a 30mm telescopic fork up front and a 5-step adjustable monoshock at the rear. The setup is more towards the softer side and this takes away the stability while cornering at high speed. However, it was a fun experience trying to push the motorcycle on the long right-hander at the TVS test track.
The soft suspension should make for a supple ride quality on uneven, pothole-filled roads. Do stay tuned for our full road test review to know more about this aspect. The brakes are powerful as well. It comes with a 240mm petal disc up front and a 130mm disc at the rear, complemented by a combined braking mechanism.
Pushing down on the rear brake pedal also results in the front brakes being applied and it brings the motorcycle to a stop pretty quickly. More feedback from the front brake lever would have been better, but it is not something that you would really notice in a daily use scenario.
The TVS Raider rides on 17-inch alloy wheels shod with TVS Eurogrip Remora tyres. The Remora brand of tyres have always been fabulous and provide exceptional grip levels and the ones on the Raider are no different. You have to push down really hard on the rear brake lever to get the wheel to lock up. The front end just kept gripping on the track. It remains to be seen how they perform on the road.
Competition in the 125cc segment has always been rather cut-throat. A few years ago, one could find only commuters in the segment. Now though, there is a divide between the commuters and the performance motorcycles in the same 125cc segment.
Bikes like the KTM 125 Duke, RC 125, and Bajaj Pulsar make up the performance end of the segment. On the other hand, bikes like the Honda SP 125, Bajaj Pulsar 125, Honda CB Shine, Hero Glamour i3S, etc, make up the commuter side of the segment.
The TVS Raider slots directly between the two sides of the 125cc segment. It is sporty enough to hold a candle to the likes of the Bajaj Pulsar NS125 and to an extent even the KTM 125 Duke. At the same time, it is also very comfortable for your everyday commute. This seems like the perfect combination for younger buyers in the segment.
Commuter motorcycles have come a long way from their bare basic, utilitarian beginnings. The TVS Raider is proof of just that! With some premium features and a butter-smooth powertrain, it looks all set to rule the game in the premium commuter segment.
We have only ridden the motorcycle on the track and our first look at the product has left us impressed. We are looking forward to riding the bike out in the real world, and we will do the same very soon. Stay tuned for our road test review where we will dig into all the little details. Until then, kudos to TVS for bringing the fun back to the 125cc segment.