TVS Tyres Fac­tory Visit

Get­ting to grips with the rub­ber wrapped around our wheels

Bike India - - Contents - STORY: HARKET SUCHDE PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: TVS TYRES

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 bias cut­ter au­to­mat­i­cally cuts ply ac­cord­ing to pre­de­ter­mined width and an­gle

The ex­truder pre­pares un­cured rub­ber for shap­ing into tread and side­wall

The tyre­build­ing ma­chine as­sem­bles all the com­po­nents of the tyre be­fore curing

Eval­u­at­ing the PROTORQ’s cor­ner­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties at TVS Tyre’s test track

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