TVS Tyres Factory Visit
Getting to grips with the rubber wrapped around our wheels
MADURAI IS known as the temple town. The Meenakshi Temple present here, with its majestic and colourful gopurams or gateway spires, its thousand pillars, and seminal architecture make it one of India’s mainstays of history and culture, along with lending the city its nickname. I, however, wasn’t in Madurai for that, because the city has another, slightly lesser known claim to fame too. It is the hometown of TVS Tyres, which is why I found myself here, heading to the TVS Srichakra factory to witness the process that results in the creation of a tyre, and even have a go on a few of these creations.
Before we hit the test-track, however, we were given a tour of the facility and an insight into the step-bystep process of tyre manufacturing. Before we go into that, though, let’s briefly consider TVS Srichakra’s background. The company is the youngest in India’s tyre manufacturing scene, having been established about 31 years ago in a 90-year-old industry. TVS Tyres produces 2.3 million tyres every month from its two plants, in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, and Pantnagar, Uttarakhand. The company also has an in-house R&D facility for the development of new tyres, a facility that has earned a slew of awards and whose products cater to the who’s who of the Indian two-wheeler manufacturing market. It isn’t just OEMs, though, because TVS also manufacture tyres for the after-market segment in India, and distribute them through an extensive dealer network.
Some of the many insights offered to us during the tour included the actual construction of the tyre, such as a detailed explanation of vulcanisation and the fact that the black colour of the tyre can be attributed to the infusion of carbon black into the rubber (pure or compound) during the development of the tyre. The carbon black is infused into the tyre to help reduce the amount of wear the tyre suffers. We also got to witness the process through which the rubber for the tubeless tyre is flattened through an extruder, after which the tread and the tyre-wall were fused together, chopped in a bias cutter and then cured and processed to finally end up as a fully-fledged tyre. We were walked through the whole process in minute detail, and even given a tour of the factory’s R&D facility. The entire tyre development process was
explained to us here; from software simulation to lab testing and, finally, road-testing a tyre.
Having witnessed the birth of the tyre, it was now time to get hands on, and take cognizance of its capabilities in the real world. We had four test vehicles sporting brand-new TVS tyres from across the range. I started off with the TVS Apache RTR 180 and the new Remora tyres it was sporting. The Apache felt even more assured round corners with these tyres than it had with the previous ones that came as stock on the bike, although under intense braking you could feel a little bit of a wobble. Next it was time for the Pulsar 200 NS and the Eurogrips it was riding on. Sadly, the Pulsar’s front brakes weren’t at peak functionality, which resulted in a situation where I couldn’t really push it to high speeds and test its comfort under hard braking. The tyres provided acceptable grip round corners, though. The third motorcycle I tested was the Honda CBR 250R which was wearing PROTORQ radial tyres. PROTORQ is TVS’ premium motorcycle tyre line, and I was very impressed by these tyres in particular. The level of grip and control they offered me round corners was excellent, as was their composure under intense braking. Lastly, I had the opportunity to test TVS’s Conta range of scooter tyres on the Honda Activa. The tyres were satisfactory round corners, and also adequate under braking.
A quick tap on the brakes to stop, and the switching off of the ignition marked the end of what had been both an insightful and thoroughly enjoyable day for us at the TVS Srichakra facility.
The extruder prepares uncured rubber for shaping into tread and sidewall The tyrebuilding machine assembles all the components of the tyre before curing
The bias cutter automatically cuts ply according to predetermined width and angle
Evaluating the PROTORQ’s cornering capabilities at TVS Tyre’s test track