‘Raiders’ of the lost art of commuter motorcyclingOctober 1, 2021
There is so much news flooding our inboxes from the world of electric mobility, specifically e-scooters, that it is easy to forget that the age of fossil fuels is still upon us. And within that space of conventional commuters, there hasn’t been any new motorcycle that has really excited us all in quite a while.
After the relatively recent pull out of the StarCity 125 and the Victor GLX, TVS Motor Company has been completely absent in the 125cc power commuter segment. It attempted forays in the past too, with motorcycles like the Flame and the Phoenix. So the launch of the new Raider is good news for the company and for its customers. It’s positioning has also been tweaked in keeping with the increasingly complex buyer in the commuter plus class.
The Raider’s design is sporty and aggressive and in fact even seems slightly larger than it actually is. It is only when you sit astride the bike that you realise that it’s actually fairly compact and easy to reach your legs down to the ground and get a comfortable position to ride. In fact, TVS claims that they have also designed it in such a way that it factors into account women riders and their ability to ride this as comfortably as the average Indian male can. To reaffirm its commitment to actually make the Raider a bike that is usable by women too, the seat height has been set at 780mm. The Raider’s naked street bike design is more striking because of its LED daytime running lights and the accents that have been given to the front cowl, there is a sort of like a praying mantis look to the front design. Some of the other features in the Raider also make it look larger than what it is. One of them is the sculpted fuel tank and the wide seats which are also contoured, giving it a well-made, modern outlook. These split seats are also stepped up, so the pillion would be seated in a more sporty raised position. Infact talking about position, the Raider’s riding position too has been designed to offer a sporty, committed riding position instead of the upright posture that we have seen with most other commuters and power commuters. To deliver a better riding posture, TVS engineers have also given the handlebar an angle that offers a wide straight hold.
The general ergonomics of the bike when sitting astride gives it a definite sporty and yet comfortable position. The reason for the TVS Raider to stand out in its class would be its design. A lot of the performance too helps it create a sort of benchmark of its own, but we will get to that later. To give the design more modern, sporty and macho flavour, TVS engineers have added fuel tank shrouds and a contrast colored belly pan, in addition to other features along the side of the bike including the dual coloured muffler. Some more above-the-segment features in the Raider include alloy foot pegs and alloy footrests. In addition to that the electrical lighting is all LED, the tail lamps included. Of course, the one thing that I missed seeing given the overall use of LED was turn indicators also being LED. Instead, the turn indicators are still regular bulbs. The overall build quality comes across as very good. For example, the cast alloy parts, the machined parts, all of them look very well made and clean. The rear grab-rail, the aluminum tipped muffler, most of the plastic moulded parts etc, come across as being well made. There are some minor places where the build quality could have been better, the plastic quality could have been better in couple of places.
Some of the switches and knobs don’t feel very sturdy. But in general, the overall quality of the bike is much better than the average power commuter class bike out there in the market.
There are other features too like a considerable amount of under seat storage that can be used. There is an optional USB charger slot right next to the instrument cluster.
There is a very usable section right below the pillion seat for better hold during riding and the foot pegs have been positioned in such a way that they support a sporty riding position for the rider. A half chain cover with a sealed chain means that the average rider doesn’t need to worry about wear and about usage during monsoons. One of the most interesting features in the TVS Raider given its power commuter 125 cc position will be the reverse LCD display instrument cluster.
This display is ideal for better visibility under the sun. The screen offers multiple bits of information including fuel economy, gear position, two trip meters, distance to empty in reserve.
It also displays some interesting other information such as top and average speed, the integrated starter generator indicator which activates the auto start-stop system, and also has a helmet reminder and side stand indicator.
The TVS Raider’s engine is a new 124.8cc fuel-injected petrol engine. The engine is not a carryover from the Ntorq. This three-valve, fuel-injected and oil-cooled engine has been specifically developed for the Raider. It is a very refined, a fairly peppy engine for its class. The engine delivers 8.37kW or about 11.4hp at 7,500 rpm and the peak torque is 11.2Nm at 6,000 rpm. I test rode the TVS Raider at the company’s test track within its plant in Hosur. Rated mileage for this engine is about 67kmpl. So there are two aspects after riding it on the test track that I cannot say with certainty. One is, ofcourse, the mileage and the other is the suspension quality. The test ride was on their internal test track. The engine is oil cooled, but you will not see an external oil coolant system because TVS engineers have managed to very smartly package the entire oil cooling system into the engine assembly overall and there are a set of fins right behind the engine and clutch assembly where it is cooled and recirculated. One of the other interesting features about the engine is the TVS Intelligo package which includes the integrator starter generator that activates the start-stop system. So if you stop at the signal it automatically cuts of the engine and a quick twist of the throttle allows the engine to come back on without the noise of the starter motor. The TVS Raider also gets two riding modes- Eco and Power. The venturi throttle body is another additional feature that the Raider gets. There is no change to the throttle character but the fueling character changed and that helps to deliver the two drive modes. The Eco and Power modes can change the Raider’s character quite a bit. The power mode offers quicker acceleration by about 0.4 seconds and in Eco mode you get little more mileage including the start stop system activation. The two modes can be selected using a selector switch positioned right next to the throttle and you can switch between both modes on the go. Test riding the TVS Raider on the company’s track made me come away quite surprised with the level of refinement that comes through from this engine. It is peppy, extremely tractable, lots of usable power in the right rpm range. It doesn’t feel very strained even at high rpms while on full throttle. Its rated top speed is 99 kmph, though on the straights at the test track the digital speedometer showed over 104 kmph. I am given to think that there is a certain degree of error that is inevitable. TVS claims that the Raider’s pickup and acceleration is faster than other competitors in this segment. It’s 0 to 60 kmph acceleration is a claimed 5. 9 seconds. The engine is paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The gearbox shift quality is good; smooth, clean shifts with almost no false neutrals. The engine also offers enough low-end torque and power to be able to cruise at about 35-40 kmph in top gear. Overall, the powertrain is a good combination and offers a very sporty performance. Keeping it on full throttle constantly lap after lap on the track, the engine feels very capable and there is no overheating issues. Infact TVS has patented multiple technology inputs in the engine especially for the cooling system. The exhaust note is also very likeable, and sporty.
TVS has managed to understand dynamics and fine-tuning balance for its bikes. The chassis for the Raider is a new single downtube frame that, while being compact, gives the bike excellent rigidity and keeps the 123kg bike on balance. The 30mm front telescopic forks and the mono shock suspension for the rear feel like the kind of combination that will offer a comfy ride. But it was good to see that the handling character was also helped in equal measure by the suspension.
Can’t comment on on-road performance after riding it only on the track. Braking is handled by a 240mm disc for the front and 130mm drum at the rear which is more than enough for the bike. There is a base variant with just drum brakes at the front, which is priced at ₹77,500. But the better variant to choose would be the front disc one at about ₹85,500. The Raider is great value at these prices.