A track is probably the best place one can push himself and a motorcycle to its cracking point without the threats of road hazards. Hence when TVS Motors invited us for a first-hand experience of the TVS Star City Plus at their Hosur test track, a wicked smile emerges on our faces. A 110cc motorcycle on a circuit might not set your heart racing- but on a track, keeping a small capacity motorcycle on the boil sounds like a lot of fun.
But before we could jump on the bike and go peg-scraping (and the center-stand too)- a small presentation was made by the TVS officials highlighting the improvements made over the earlier gen TVS Star City that we’ll be sharing in our 2014 TVS StarCity Plus Review ahead. Here we go!
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
At first glance, the new TVS StarCity Plus might remind you of the styling of the earlier-gen StarCity, but look closely and you would discover a thorough design overhaul. The headlight and front fairing have undergone a minor change and so has the fuel tank with knee recesses. The side panels are now sportier and sport faux mesh inserts and a branded 3D logo hiding the top of the rear shocks unlike the exposed units in the earlier model. The taut lines of the side panels overlapped by an upsweeping rear panel adds that touch of raciness to the overall styling of the new TVS StarCity Plus.
The engine side covers look more modern and appear to influenced somewhere by the Phoenix’s and RTR’s design. The Ecothrust badged heat shield seems to have been swapped with the Phoenix 125 albeit in chrome with the rear fender getting a separate number plate light. The amber coloured blinkers are now replaced with transparent lenses. Overall, the new TVS StarCity Plus is an impressive looking, handsome motorcycle and should appeal a bit more to the audience as compared to the immediate competition.
Coming to build quality- as has been our experience with TVS products, the new TVS Star City Plus continues to carry the built to last assurance of the Hosur based manufacturer. The paint quality is top notch with deep luster that one would associate with higher capacity premium motorcycles. The black coating is smooth and evenly finished throughout the bike and except for a few rough edges on the saree guard, the new Star City Plus gives you no point to complain. The plastics feel solid and there are no squeaks or rattles even when the bike was being pushed to the limit. Even small bits such as the switchgear plastic, rubber quality on the grips and pegs and the stitching on the seat have a degree of finesse and quality about them. It won’t be out of place to say that the new TVS Star City Plus is one of the most well built and finished motorcycles we have reviewed in the 100-110cc segment.
Engine and gearbox
The moment of excitement finally arrived and we were rubbing our hands in excitement- with the 800 metre straight of the test track in front of us. Fresh bikes, straight off the plant’s the conveyors were presented to the media. A mild press of the starter button fired up the Star City Plus to life. The engine did feel a bit sluggish at the start considering it was not run-in and cold. But a mild first lap eliminated the sluggish feel and the subsequent laps saw the new Star City being meted out the cruelest of treatment. High speed up and downshifts on the four speed gearbox were handled with aplomb by the small machine. We didn’t encounter a single clunk or false neutral during the entire track session and the gears slotted with minimal effort of the foot. The bike was pushed in every gear till the speedo needle on the analog-digital console refused to move any further with following speeds recorded at max rpm in every gear:
1st gear: 39 kph
2nd gear: 58 kph
3rd gear: 79 kph
4th gear: 89 kph
In crouched position, we managed to hit a max speed of 92 kph in top gear.
TVS claims that the new 110cc Ecothrust series engine features an anti-friction (Moly) coated piston with the rocker arms featuring roller followers for smoother cycle movement. An optimized carburetor size and a high capacity air filter unit aid in better fueling and breathing to the engine. The timing/cam chain now leans against a rubber guide that eliminates friction noise.
All these improvements might not have bumped up the power figures with the new Star City Plus which cranks out 8.3 ps @ 7000 rpm, but torque has gone up and now reads 8.7 nm @ 5000 rpm against the previous 8.1. TVS claims that the Star City Plus has the widest flat torque curve with the 109.7cc air cooled engine delivering peak torque from 3500 rpm all the way to 7000 rpm. On the 0-60 kph sprint, TVS claims the new StarCity Plus to be quickest against its two main competitors at 8.1 seconds. Also the top speed is rated at 90 kph, which, again, is claimed to be higher than its other closest two rivals.
An 800 meter long straight was hell in disguise for the poor new bike, and even the loop at one end didn’t help the Star City Plus’ plight. The throttle was kept pinned at the same position into the corner as it was on the straight for most times, except when we tested the bike for tractability. The engine felt strong and refined throughout the rev-range. It does get audible at higher revs, but never did it translate to upsetting vibes on the pegs or the bars. We were expecting loose tappet noises post 40+ laps of sheer torture to the motorcycle- but the new TVS Star City Plus held its composure without complaints.
Handling, braking and ride quality
Sometime hammering a lower capacity bike to its peak is more thrilling than going around on a higher capacity motorcycle. We never kept high hopes on the handling part of the TVS Star City+ as it targets the segment where this trait wouldn’t be very high on the customer’s wish list. But the little TVS was just waiting for an opportunity to prove its point.
Not only did it show great road manners in a straight line when we were trying to lock up the front brakes, but held great balance while bending around corners and being flicked from one side to another. Though the track was devoid of any rough spots, a purposely placed depression in the middle of the loop served well to determine the shock absorbing characteristics of the new Star City+. A motorcycle going at full blast at maximum lean with the pegs and the center stand grinding against the surface suddenly hitting a bump doesn’t make up for a pleasant experience. The front suspension has the right amount of travel to soak up the undulations and at the same time would regain balance in a flash after that initial jerk.
The rear suspension too is well balanced providing the right amount of damping and rebound that doesn’t throw you off the seat while on duty. The only preconceived worry with the bike was the tyre. Going by personal experiences, the TVS branding on a tyre sidewall doesn’t inspire much confidence when it comes to grip. In a small discussion with the officials, we happened to enquire about the rubber compound. We were told that the new TVS Dura Grip tyre adopted a softer mix with a block type pattern would offer better grip on tarmac than any other TVS tyre. Still not convinced, we decided to take the TVS Star City+ slower around loop initially and our confidence soared with the tyre clasping onto the tarmac very well indeed. In the end, the new TVS Star City Plus managed to impress us with its handling attributes.
Coming to braking, the 2014 TVS Star City Plus features 130mm front and 110mm rear drum brake setup. It was easy to dismiss them outright when it came to performance against discs- but the drum setup scored better than our expectations. Though not as sharp as discs- the brakes were effective in dropping the anchors at moderate speeds. It was only during max speed that the brakes were left wanting for sharpness. TVS has no plans of bringing out a disc brake variant and we feel the targeted buyers should be contented with the present braking setup.
Talking of ride quality- the new TVS Star City Plus offers a comfortable riding position which TVS claims to be the best amongst the competition. The suspension has been enhanced with the front forks featuring double check valves for shock absorption during extreme road disturbances. The 5 step adjustable rear shocks feature an improved valve circuit that offers increased damper response to high frequency jerks.
The two tone high density polyurethane seat utilizes low contact pressure foam towards improved seating comfort for both short and long rides. A dimpled texture seat cover at the rear ensures a non-slipping surface for the co-rider. During our 40+ lap stint with the StarCity+, never did we feel any discomfort and we assume the seat to be comfortable for the average everyday rider crawling his way through the urbane traffic.
The new TVS StarCity Plus is an attractive motorcycle to look at, but the major improvements really go skin deep. TVS has worked on various, or we’d say every little area to make the bike an all round performer and it surely does come out as one. With a robust engine offering respectable performance to go along with impressive road manners and ride comfort, the new StarCity+ manages to check all the boxes for a buyer looking for a capable everyday motorcycle. The official launch is slated for May 2014 and if priced well- TVS might just set the cat amongst pigeons. To us at the moment, we feel TVS has a winner in its hands!
TVS STAR CITY+ IMAGE GALLERY