Back To Basics - A Track School Experience On The TVS Apache RR310

  • May 2, 2023
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Even if you’re an experienced rider, going to a track school such as Indimotard’s Throttle Wide Open (TWO) can be an eye-opening experience

I’ve been riding motorcycles for the better part of two decades and testing them for almost fifteen years. But after nearly a year away from riding – thanks to a kidney transplant – I really felt like I was new at this after I got back on a motorcycle. I’m not going to go into the details about what kidney failure does to you, but I will say, getting a new kidney feels like getting a new lease on life. Since I was treating each day post transplant as a new day of a brand new life, it was only natural that I take things one step at a time with motorcycles as well - start afresh so to say. So when Shumi, my ex-colleague from Powerdrift, told me about the dates of Indimotard’s Level 1 Throttle Wide Open (TWO) track school, I signed up earnestly.

 

Had I been me from a year or so ago, I would’ve balked at the idea of attending a Level 1 track school. Afterall, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve had a lot of saddle time and have been to the racetrack dozens of times in my career as an automobile journalist. And many people whose riding skills I admire had also told me that I was really fast on a track. So what could a level 1 program, designed for absolute track newbies, have to offer me, I would’ve thought. But new kidney, new life, new me. A perfect time to start from scratch.

A whole new world

From the moment I started planning for this track school, things felt different. I had to pay my own money for the school, for my travel and staying arrangements in Chennai - something that a motorcycle manufacturer would’ve taken care of without me having to lift a finger if I was going to the track to review a bike as usual. The only thing a manufacturer, TVS Motor and their corporate communications team in this case, was kind enough to help me with was arrange for a bike at the track itself. Getting a TVS Apache RR310 BTO at the track not only helped me save some cash on transporting my own KTM there, but it also alleviated my worries about whether my 9-year-old bike would be able to manage a track weekend without something inevitably breaking down.

Things felt different in the pits as well. Unlike the sea of familiar faces from other publications present at the first ride event, here, apart from a couple of trainers, and a couple of my colleagues who had also joined for the weekend, I was surrounded by strangers. Some level 1 students were riding monsters from Kawasaki ZX-10Rs to Aprilia Tuono V4s, some had kitted out CB650R’s,while there was one who actually showed up on a rented Hero XPulse 200. Quite an eclectic bunch then.

Back to Basics

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A Level 1 track is about focusing on the basics of riding. Even experienced riders, over the years, tend to pick up some bad habits... I know I have! And when you’re used to riding on the road, a lot of what you do comes from survival instincts. A racetrack lets you stop looking out for danger like oncoming traffic, pedestrians, animals or potholes. A track school like TWO helps you unlearn what you have come to believe is right, and relearn the basics to go faster, and has drills specifically designed for this.

These drills included doing some slow laps on the left edge, right edge and then centre of the track, which help you really understand what the surface is like at each section and how wide the track actually is in each place. Then there are drills where you can only ride in one gear and with no brakes, which really teaches you to anticipate what speed you need to be at for each turn. But what was a revelation for me were the sessions we spent in finding our own track markers for turning in, hitting the apex and nailing the exits. Markers could be as simple as a broken kerb in one corner to a change in paint on some of the bordering lines. It’s completely up to you what to pick, but the idea is to pick markers which will stay consistent through the weekend, and nail them every single time.

Eye opener

I’ve ridden various bikes at the Chennai track many times in the past. But it’s always been based on instinct, and more than that, reviewing the bike I was riding has always been the priority. TWO helped me focus on my own skills rather than worry about the bike, and after incorporating said visual markers to pick my racing line, my speed, but more importantly, my confidence went up exponentially. While I can’t attest how fast I was around the circuit, I’m certain that this was the best I’ve ever ridden in my life.

At the end of the two days of the TWO school, I’ve come out the other side more confident than ever that a lot of my riding errors are a thing of the past, but also that there is also room to improve. And without fail I’em signing up for Level 2, and Level 3 after that. I just need to save some money now to make that happen. But the experience was so profound that I’ve decided to put a lot of my other future purchases on hold just so that I can do more track schools and get some more track time. As they say, a race track is the most honest place earth, and some honesty is just what the doctor ordered.

The bike

Of course, I can’t talk about my complete experience at the track school without talking about the wonderful TVS Apache RR310 BTO. It was more than a faithful companion through the track weekend, it was more of a friend who always had my back. The fantastic riding posture with the dropped clipons and rear set foot pegs made hanging off a breeze and the brilliant Michelin Road 5 tyres provided endless grip. During the open sessions at the end of each day, while the bigger, faster bikes were impossible to keep up with in the straights, passing them in the turns, mostly from the outside, was an incredible flex like nothing else. The one thing where the RR310 still felt lacking though, and this is a concern we’ve raised multiple times through the years, is the front brake. It feel quite spongy and you really need to yank the lever till the end to get proper braking. But there I go being a motorcycle reviewer once again… tsk tsk tsk!

TVS Apache RR 310 Video Review

TVS Apache RR 310
TVS Apache RR 310
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