Test rode the TVS Ronin, came away impressed

The bike fires up its 225 cc engine with a soundtrack which sounds throaty with a hint of a rasp. It’s nowhere in the vicinity of the the Benelli TNT 300’s exhaust though.

BHPian Indraneel Bhat recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

After 12 amazing years of joining Team-BHP, this is my first proper review post. Why did I wait 12 years? Well, in a word, INTIMIDATION – The well researched and detailed articles that I have come to read and expect on this forum are of a very high standard. I was never sure if I could match up. Well, as they say, “you can’t learn swimming on land”, so here goes….

RONIN – a feudal japanese term for a wandering Samurai, who had no lord or master.

So the launch of the TVS Ronin came and went, I went through the usual motions of watching the launch, feeling envious of the Schumis, the Sheldekars and the rest of that reviewer gang and going back to my regular life. However, my friend and colleague, Yogesh, has been searching the 2 wheeler market for an upgrade from his Honda Shine and during discussions we both felt that the Ronin seemed to suit his needs:

  • Decent power
  • Easy to ride
  • Comfortable looking bike
  • Pillion seat on the ground floor
  • Well known brand
  • Good / decent after sales

But I always tell my friends that RIDING the bike will tell you whether the bike is for you or not. The rest is just an excel sheet.

So after a few days of stalking Century TVS of Bhandarkar Road and Wakdewadi, Pune (My TVS Wego is from here and I have a good experience of their service), Yogesh finally got a call saying that a test ride bike is available. So for the first ride he took his better half to see how she fares on the pillion. Her thumbs up, not only on the comfort of the pillion seat but also about how the bike looks and feels, won 50% of the battle in the Ronin’s favour.

On the next day, both of us drove down to the Showroom. I was very excited as an idea of this post was already germinating in my mind.

At First glance

The Ronin is a small but smart looking bike. The neo-retro Scrambler looks awesome, but nothing radical. The standout features are the headlight with a “T”, the offset and high mounted display and the golden coloured USD forks. “Stargaze Black”, in my opinion is my pick in the colour options because a bike can be any colour as long as it is black. (Blame that TV series called “Street Hawk” which used to air in the early 90’s on DD. Ruined my bike colour choices for life!). The bike feels well-built.

Riding experience

I am not going to elaborate on the spec sheet, that’s available easily on the net. I am just going to summarise how it feels while riding and my overall experience in the short while I had it.

We got the Base version with single channel ABS to test ride on. It was going to be a short test ride on wet roads, so I decided to use the “Rain” ride mode, not because we really got any information on it, but because, “hai toh istemal karo”.

The seat height at 795mm is low and easy to mount. And WHAT A SEAT!! One of the most comfortable seats around. Well-cushioned and adequately wide. Like I mentioned earlier, Yogesh’s better half gave this feature a thumbs-up. At 5’6″, my feet are able to rest fully on the ground. However, if you are above 5’10”, this bike will look small for you and I suggest you look at other options in the market.

The seating position is upright with forward set footpegs, a little too forward for my liking. I would have liked a rider triangle like the Jawa 42 or the Interceptor, to help complete the Scrambler vibe.

The bike fires up its 225 cc engine with a soundtrack which sounds throaty with a hint of a rasp. Nowhere in the vicinity of the the Benelli TNT 300’s exhaust note (The golden standard of exhaust notes on small bikes in India), but not bad at all. The clutch lever is a little hard, but manageable. Gear shifts are quick and precise and the bike races ahead with authority. The acceleration and torque is felt from the very bottom of the rev range and seems to have a strong mid-range. I mostly rode on wet, crowded Pune roads, so really could not gun the engine for long. The engine for the most part is smooth and I did not feel any vibrations. I have hated TVS’ vibey engines and this bucks the trend. Good on you TVS!!!

The Ronin feels like an “80 kmph all day” motorcycle.

The suspension (USD Showa forks at the front and gas charged mono at the back) seemed to do a good job over the bumps and speed breakers I went over, and I never really felt uncomfortable or the bike taking a beating on them. The suspension really gels with the well-cusioned seat.

The 300mm front and a 240mm rear disc brakes are great!! Since we rode the base version, it had single channel ABS, and the bike did not feel skittish under hard braking. They could have given dual channel ABS as an option on all variants at the least.

Coming to the riding modes – The Ronin has 2 riding modes – Rain and Urban. The salesperson could not elaborate on what these exactly do. But as per numerous videos on the net, these modes tweak the ABS’ sensitivity, low-rpm assist for effortless crawling in traffic etc., to enable the rider to ride the bike easily depending on the mode. The top end variant is also supposed to get adjustable levers for added versatility, but I did not get to see a top end model, and asking the sales rep was of no use.

For those of you who may have seen reviews of the riding modes on the TVS RTR 200 BS6 (Rain, Urban and Sports), will get an idea of what these modes do. I rode in the “Rain mode” primarily and the bike made me feel pretty confident. Why they have not included a “Sport mode” I do not know, nor could the salesperson elaborate.

The display is clear and well lit. You have the Speedo, odo, trip meter, tacho, fuel guage, gear indicator and ride mode indicator, all neatly laid out on 1 unit without it feeling crowded.

Final Thoughts

I wish the sales team was better prepared to answer customers’ questions. Questions on the riding modes, accessories available etc. were met with a very incredulous look and the excuse that the company has not yet trained all the staff on the bike’s features . I hope this changes in the coming days.

However this should not take anything away from the product.

With premium styling, decent power, good build quality, and an overall great riding experience, this Ronin is indeed worthy of having a good master and will serve it’s master faithfully for a long time.

And with that my short test ride came to an end, and it was time to stop playing and return home. I hope this article gives you a basic, layman understanding of what it is to ride the TVS Ronin. Please do let me know your thoughts (including constructive criticism). I will now let the pics do the rest of the talking (or typing?)

These pics will give you a clear idea about the bike’s size. I am 5’6″ and a fairly “healthy” 83kgs. You can see how I fill the bike. So if you are 5’10” or taller, this bike will look small on you.

With a low seat height, my foot is on the floor completely, thereby increasing rider confidence

Front – Best angle of the bike. The standout features are clearly visible – The offset and high mounted display, the golden coloured USD shocks and the headlight with the “T” DRL

Side profile – The display bike is wearing the mid-variant (called Base+) Delta Blue colour. Ugly colour, if you ask me

Headlight – DRL with the “T”. Nice looking design IMHO

Display – lots of information packed in a nice, compact design. Some would call it crowded. I did not feel it is.

Indicator light – Don’t they remind you of the of the CB350RS’ design

Rear indicators and tail lights. Tail Lights Will do their job. nothing really much to write about

RVMs – very solid design. Among the best I have seen on Indian bikes

Seat – The most comfortable seat on any of the neo-retros in the market

Saree Guard – nicely integrated unit IMHO

Rear profile – looks ordinary

The acoustic unit

The switch quality for an almost INR 2 lacs bike is not great. They will do the job, but I wasn’t thrilled

EYESORE – this plasticky bit near that superb engine (Pic Courtesy – zigwheels.com)

The OTR quotation for the Base+ (mid-level) and top version in Pune (discussions on the “Incidental charges” and “Essential Acc.” are still ongoing)

Read BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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