Turbocharged | Words by : Benjamin Gracias | Photography by : Siddhant Gadekar | Aug 2, 2023
Being a part of the new TVS Eurogrip Roadhound tyres’ lifecycle
While I have tested out tyres multiple times on the road and the racetrack, this was the first time I got to witness the tyres being made at the factory and then trying them out on the racetrack, all within a span of 24 hours. The factory in question is TVS Eurogrip’s sprawling complex at Madurai and the tyres are the new Roadhound touring radials for mid-capacity sports tourers.
It is interesting to watch a tyre being made, even more, when you consider that modern tyres have little natural rubber in them. A modern tyre consists mainly of Silica and other synthetic compounds. Tyre-making starts when these compounds are precisely measured and mixed before being extruded into flat sheets. The sheets are then put into a tyre-shaped mould and wrapped in steel wires. These wires are precisely placed parallel to the direction of the tyres rotation which covers the contact surface of the tyre. This makes it a zero-degree radial as the steel wires keep the tyre from deforming under stress even when leaned over. Next, it goes into another mould where treads are imprinted on the outer surface.
We also saw the way the tyres are developed and tested at the R&D facility, right from material sciences to the Roadhound tyres being tested on a rolling rig at speeds up to 340kmph. That’s quite impressive for the W-rated (up to 270kmph) tyres. Besides the Roadhound tyres being developed and tested in-house, these were also tested on racetracks around the world. And now we were about to test them on the Kari Motor Speedway next.
The motorcycles for the test were a mixed lot, to showcase the diversity of the tyres. Right from the Benelli TRK 502 heavyweight adventure tourer to the sharp Honda CBR650F sports tourer with even the Harley-Davidson Street Rod thrown in between, it was a veritable buffet laid out for us enthusiasts.
My first choice was the Benelli TRK 502 as what’s more fun than riding a motorcycle completely out of its natural habitat? With the Roadhound tyres fitted, the TRK felt supremely stable around corners. Even more impressive was its eagerness to turn into corners thanks to the rounded profile of the tyres. I can only imagine the pressure being exerted on the tyres every time I attacked corners on the 245-kilo adventure motorcycle and braked hard from 150kmph at the end of the long back straight. The zero-degree steel belt technology ensured that the tyres did not flex or compress allowing the motorcycle to feel composed throughout. In fact, for my last stint, I hopped on the TRK again and came away impressed by the tyre’s consistent performance even after multiple laps throughout the day.
Post my first stint on the TRK, I hopped onto the quickest motorcycle of the lot. The CBR650F felt stable even at maximum lean angles. The tyres come with Quadrazone technology that features different rubber compounds on the shoulders to ensure maximum grip when leaned and a different compound at the centre to ensure maximum longevity.
Besides the sports tourers, we also rode interesting motorcycles like the Harley-Davidson Street Rod and the Kawasaki Z650 both of which were shod with Roadhound tyres. While the Street Rod was quite fun to ride on the racetrack, the tyres played a major part to keep the motorcycle in check even when I fumbled lines in corners. However, I was most impressed with the Z650 shod with the Roadhound tyres.
I’ve always felt that the Z650’s aggressive nature was held back by its street-oriented chassis and footwear. With the footwear sorted, it felt like giving a talented rugby player the right set of technical shoes. Despite the edgy throttle response and strong midrange that spiked in corners, the tyres inspired confidence.
In fact, the Roadhound tyres felt over-engineered and capable of taking on a lot more powerful motorcycles. That’s not surprising really given that the tyres were developed with the best of international sport touring tyres as benchmarks. The best part is that the made-in-India Roadhound tyres will cost significantly lower than its competitors, most of which attract higher import duties. So effectively, you get world-class performance at local prices. It’s a fantastic time to be a bike enthusiast in India.