Does TVS’ newest number change the 125cc premium commuter motorcycle game?
We first rode the TVS Raider on the bikemaker’s test track and it left quite an impression. Even before that, the all-new motorcycle impressed with its feature list and spec sheet. However, closed confines do not really give you a clear idea of a motorcycle. To understand it well, you need to take it to its natural habitat, the place where it will spend most of its life - the urban jungle. Does it impress?
It does in the styling department. In a segment that plays it safe with conservative styling, the Raider is a breath of fresh air. The muscular styling and bright two-tone paintjob ensure it stands out in the parking lot and makes the Raider look bigger than other 125cc motorcycles. While the headlamp styling is subjective, its LED array looks striking. I like the sculpted fuel tank with extensions and the engine cowl which adds to the sporty feel. The split seat offers a premium look and is at 780mm, quite accessible as well. The tail section panels get recesses below the grab rail which, while functional, feels out of place on the well-executed overall styling. The subtle use of graphics is another draw and the 3D logo ups its premium quotient. The fit and finish levels are quite good and complement the premium looks.
Another appealing feature is the colour LCD instrument console. The crisp display packs a lot of information such as engine speed, gear position, top speed, average fuel efficiency and distance to empty. No Bluetooth connectivity though. We were told by TVS that a new variant is in the works. It will feature a five-inch TFT instrument console with Bluetooth connectivity and turn-by-turn navigation. This one though gets a USB charger neatly integrated atop the fuel tank. It even gets two modes (Power and Eco) and auto start-stop.
The all-new 124.8cc motor features a three-valve head and pushes out 11.38PS and 11.2Nm making the Raider torquiest 125cc commuter motorcycle currently on sale. A highlight of the motor is the throaty exhaust note which has kind of become a trademark of premium TVS motorcycles. The motor characteristics feel different from its 125cc competitors. Where those offer a strong bottom end, most of this motor’s performance seems concentrated in the mid and top-end of the rpm band. It is a free-revving motor with linear power delivery. While you can potter around in town in fifth gear the motor is happier when canned a bit. The five-speed gearbox though isn’t as slick-shifting as its rivals. In terms of performance, the Raider definitely feels quicker than other 125cc commuters.
In Eco mode, throttle response is softer and engine rpm curtailed to 8,000rpm in the first four gears and 7,000rpm in fifth. It also activates the auto start-stop feature. Coupled with the starter generator, it makes the process of the engine shutting off and starting quick and seamless.
Like the motor, the single downtube frame has been developed from the ground up. The suspension is tuned on the softer side making the low-speed ride comfortable when gliding over potholes and bad surfaces.
At 123kg, it is a lightweight 125cc motorcycle. That coupled with the skinny 80-section front and 100-section rear grippy Remora tyres, the Raider is fun to hustle through city traffic. The front end feels light and agile while offering a feeling of stability allowing you to ride quicker than you normally would. That said, we feel the brakes, especially the 240mm front disc could do with a bit more bite.
Like other 125cc premium commuters, the Raider will spend most of its time commuting in the city and it gets the job done quite well. It is light on its feet and the powertrain is sporty enough to appeal to the younger audience as well. Then there is the plethora of useful features as well as the striking looks that makes the Raider stand apart and above the competition.
Priced at Rs 85,496 ex-showroom for the disc brake variant, the Raider makes a compelling case for itself if you are on the lookout for a premium 125cc commuter. Heck, with its looks, features and sporty demeanour, the Raider even appeals to the college-goer who is looking for something different and affordable than orange.