TVS Ronin first tour review: Samurai without a champion
With the evolving market trends and changing buying preferences from customers, it is not really a surprise to see TVS jump on the cruiser / neo-retro carriage, especially after they have previously shown interest in showcasing the Zeppelin R cruiser at Auto Expo. But what is actually surprising was the extent to which the company had changed the concept behind Zeppelin to Ronin. When Ronin was rolled out, TVS clearly announced that it does not have its own segment. But it does, and it’s so clear what TVS is trying to achieve with this model and indicate the number of riders it aims to attract.
So what is Ronin? Google says that it stands for a samurai without a master or master, but in modern Japanese usage the term is usually used to describe a wage earner who is unemployed. Although the name tag is certainly cool, I’m not sure which of these definitions are related to TVS Ronin. And here’s why.
What is it?
On the outside, Ronin benefits from clean body lines that give it a very mature look. Take a step back to admire the silhouette of the bike that gives pure retro vibes, although I do not want to call it a retro, a pure cruiser or something like that. Ronin has a unique identity, it’s as if it wraps all the right classic elements and fills it with modernity plus a pinch of chemical X. And all this comes together to give Ronin a sympathetic, premium-looking design.
The front has a typical circular headlamp built-in with a bright T-shaped LED DRL. This design gives the front an exclusive bike look, and it is flanked by elegant, high-quality LED indicators. But what really gives Ronin a scary appeal is the use of a bold, golden front fork. That said, the fuel tank sits on the bike as a sculpted device that adds breadth and masculinity. The company has also used some particularly smart colors for a youthful look.
The single seat on the bike gets a tuck-in design and a brown leather screen which in turn is a thoughtful touch on the bike. However, there are some plastic elements added to the side body of the bike that may not appeal to some buyers. The use of a single rod-type grip rail is also not something I am a big fan of at Ronin. That said, the rest of the details look nice, including the use of an elegant LED taillight, and a length-extending rear fender that not only looks good, but is also targeted, especially when cycling on wet roads.
Get in the driver’s seat and you can not help but admire the staggered, scrambler-inspired single digital cluster that, according to TVS, has been thoughtfully placed. But I reckon the only idea behind this cluster was to make it look cool. Turn on the key and the LCD screen comes alive as a black and white device, but displays a variety of information, including ABS driving modes, driving data and connection alerts, apart from common informatics such as speed, time, rpm and gear. This screen can also be connected to the user’s smartphone and also gets smart voice assistance.
What about the drivetrain?
TVS already has a number of drivelines and platforms that it could have clubbed to save development costs. But no, it invested in a brand new 225 cc unit that could support the Ronin brand. The result is a 225.9 cc, single-cylinder unit that pumps out close to 20 hp and 19.93 Nm. The motto behind the development of this device was to create something with its own character. And therefore, engines from the Apache series were kept in check. TVS focused on coming up with an engine that could feel relaxed regardless of driving conditions and speed. And it managed to achieve that with this device.
With strong low-end and mid-range response, this device feels fast, not only for the city, but also on open highways. The flat torque curve is also clear, and there is plenty of torque, especially in the first half of the rev range. But what I could not stop smiling at was how simple and stress-free this engine remains regardless of what speeds you are at. Also, even higher in the area, it manages to remain calm and vibration-free. There is no rattling, no noise from the engine or body parts, not even from the footrests when the speed goes hard. I think it is still one of the smoothest bikes that is even rolled out from TVS, and I do not mind being quoted about this.
The transmission, a 5-speed unit gets a slipper clutch and auxiliary function. The shifts are regular, but I would like to have this bike on the road for a longer duration before I comment on the gearbox. However, the conditions are well placed and you do not have to change continuously to stay in the power band.
But is it comfortable?
Jump on Ronin and you will see yourself sitting on something like a scrambler due to its steering position which is wide, relatively flat and has good range as well. However, put your feet on the pins that are stretched forward and you will find out why you can not ride it like a scrambler. Out on the road, ergonomics are actually not bad. The seat is wide enough and also well padded, and I also felt no pressure points on the limited seating time I managed on Ronin. But as a cruiser-oriented model, the best way to check out the same thing would just be a much longer trip.
Is it doing well?
Ronin is not meant to dig deep into corners, like a cruiser it should remain planted and not feel heavy. And I think I’ve already summed up what Ronin is about even before I started.
The slightly relaxed rake in the front together with greasy rubber and a slightly long wheelbase give Ronin a stable feel over the asphalt. The suspension also works well to provide stability and absorb waves. Goan roads, however, were in good shape, so Ronin’s suspension suspension remains to be tested on a thorough road test review. But the general layout works quite well on the corners as the bike attaches to the ground and allows the rider to be calm, without any drama.
Do not expect Ronin to glow quickly around corners, it is not, because it is not designed for that. However, it still copes very well for what it is.
When it comes to offroading, Ronin is able to get out of the way, but it’s not an offroader. High ground clearance, underbody protection, meaty rubber and assorted suspension give Ronin a robust look, but do not expect to stand on the bike when you hit the high-speed trails, since stretched footpaths do not even allow you to stand up properly.
Press the brakes, and ABS with two channels (at the top) prevents you from hitting the ground. The tested bikes were fairly new and still in the run-in period, and so were the brake pads that need at least 300-400 km of driving to be fully functional. So I guess a lot of rain, dirt and slush and no run-in time were some factors that resulted in a slightly lighter feeling on the brake levers.
TVS Ronin is a carefully put together model that does not follow the traditional cycling rules. It aims to merge genres and create waves with each unique bit it offers. At a starting price of ₹1.49 lakh (former showroom), Ronin not only comes out as a well-designed product, but also placed very smartly, and undermines segment rivals such as the Royal Enfield Classic 350 and Honda H’Ness CB 350 by a good margin.
- Refined engine
- Value for money
- Connected functions
First publication date: July 9, 2022, 12:59 IST