TVS Motor’s two-wheeler portfolio has been undergoing a slow and steady transformation. After lifting the appeal for its scooters and giving buyers more choice and depth with the Jupiter and the Ntorq, the brand has been focusing on improving the breadth of products in the key upper middle segments of its motorcycle portfolio. The Sport, StarCity and the Radeon fulfil the entry-level and commuter segment demands, and the Apache RTRs and the Raider offer buyers in the executive and entry-performance segments excellent choices.
The RR 310 was TVS Motors’ answer to critics that said that the company was destined to be a low-displacement bike maker. The RR 310 made TVS an aspirational performance brand. Then, with cruisers not really capturing the fancy of young riders, the only gap that really needed to be filled was that of a roadster. That was the new Ronin’s job.
The Ronin has hints of a cruiser in places. So, while some may consider the design to be a bit crossover-like, it still does sit on its wide rear tyre like an easy-riding roadster. TVS Motor calls it a “modern-retro” motorcycle. That retro-styling flavour does come through in several design elements, starting from the off-centre (asymmetric as TVS calls it) positioning for the speedo-pod, the low-set leatherette seat, and the part-cruiser style, steeply angled, golden upside-down front forks. I missed riding the Ronin during the official launch rides in Goa earlier this year. So, to get a more detailed, extended first-hand experience on the saddle of the Ronin, I asked for a test mule to spend a few weeks with for this extended road test.
Approaching the Ronin, the first impression I get is that this will be a comfortable bike to ride with a relatively upright but scrambler sort of riding posture. Swinging my leg over and grabbing the handlebar only reinforces this impression, even before I power up the 225cc, fuel-injected engine. One of the design elements that catches my eye first is the T-shaped LED pilot lamp; for me, it walked the fine line between being overkill and novel. As a light signature, this totally works. The split configuration for the LED main headlamps and the matte chrome ring for the housing give the Ronin more character. The naked bike design is again very scrambler-like, as does the off-centre digital instrument pod, which also adds that bit of uniqueness to the Ronin. The overall design of the fuel tank is not very sporty, though it does have a touch of a roadster feel to it. My test mule sported a soft-glossy silver and black dual-colour theme with a bright yellow highlight stripe. Fairly deep recesses on either side of the fuel tank should allow even tall riders to sit comfortably.
The heavy-set middle with the tank, engine, and transmission case adds centre weight to the Ronin. The simple combined saddle in stitched leatherette material also adds to the retro charm, though I’m not sure how it will wear over time, especially if it is exposed to the rain. The taillamp is a slim, semi-circular unit that is tucked just below the seat edge at the rear. And the grab handle is a simple tubular, powder-coated piece. Turn indicators are thin and feature LEDs. The engine, transmission case, belly pan, and exhaust pipe and silencer get a matte black coating. The exhaust muffler is finished in chrome. The alloy wheels on my test mule also wore black with some chrome accents.
The Ronin gets a single-cylinder, 225.9 cc, 4-stroke, 4-valve engine that is fuel-injected. The oil-cooled unit delivers a peak power of 20.4 ps and a peak torque of 19.93 nm. The 5-speed gearbox is engaged using a slipper and assist clutch. At the lever, the clutch activation is light and quick. It also gets what TVS calls GTT (glide-through tech), it is an anti-stall feature that allows riders to let go of the clutch in 1, 2, and 3 gears without any throttle input. The motorcycle’s output is adequate for this class of bike, though I missed that bit more while trying to stretch the Ronin’s legs on the highway. But it is good to note that the short gears and low rpm levels (3,750 rpm) at which peak torque becomes available make it easy to ride in the city. In typical scrambler style, the Ronin can be ridden with far fewer gearshifts in city traffic. The engine comes alive quietly and quickly at the press of a button. There were a couple of occasions when my test mule seemed to skip a beat or misfire before settling into a steady idling note. Exhaust tuning has been a TVS speciality and that continues with the Ronin and the mildly raspy note coming off its cylindrical silencer.
The engine is refined and delivers enough power and torque to the rear wheel enabling easy pull-aways in gear. At about 160 kg (kerb weight), this isn’t a very heavy bike compared to some of the competitors. Yet, it isn’t seriously quick like some of the bigger mills in the mid-displacement class, but it doesn’t feel like a laggard either. The engine delivers a vibe-free performance up until it crosses over into 3-digit speeds. The suspension set-up includes a pair of 41mm upside down forks at the front and a 7-step pre-load adjustable monoshock at the rear. The combination pairs well with the double cradle split synchro frame. So, while the chassis stiffness lends the Ronin a lot of confidence while cornering, the suspension itself is quite pliant and offers a comfortable ride over bad sections of road. Aiding the ride quality are the 130/70 (rear) and 110/70 (front) TVS block tread tyres shod on 17-inch alloy wheels. Braking performance comes from 300mm and 240mm disc brakes for the front and rear, respectively. The Ronin’s top “TD” variant gets dual-channel ABS brakes, and the lower two variants get single-channel units. Similarly, the top trim gets adjustable levers (3-step for the clutch and front brake) while the others get normal levers. But all variants get two ABS modes, “Rain and Urban,” for better braking in wet and dry conditions.
The Ronin’s asymmetric, all-digital instrument pod displays a whole bunch of ride-related info. So, in addition to the speedo, odo, fuel gauge, and time, the pod also displays info like distance to empty, average speed, gear shift assistance, two tripmeters, and even a service due indicator. The display’s backlighting can also be dimmed or brightened if needed.
The feature list isn’t long, but it is a good strategy to offer most of them across all three variants. The one feature that only the top variant gets is Bluetooth connectivity. SmartXonnect, which is what TVS calls the protocol integration, allows turn-by-turn navigation, voice assistance, incoming call alerts, and even an ETA (expected time of arrival) to be displayed on the instrument pod. There is the option of using the TVS SmartXonnect App for real-time ride analysis, document storage, and ride information.
The TVS Ronin is priced in the range of about ₹1.5 lakh to ₹1.7 lakh. Stand-alone, that is neither an aggressive nor an uncompetitive pricing strategy. The trouble is, the TVS brand doesn’t yet have the aura that some of the heritage brands in the mid-displacement segment have. So, it is not going to be easy to take on some of them that also sport bigger engines and matching prices. But that doesn’t take away from the Ronin’s appeal as a reliable, easy-riding, scrambler crossover with good road presence. It would be perfect for the lifestyle-conscious urban rider. And if he is a regular rider and wants a dash of adventure, a long road trip in the Ronin can be rewarding too.