TVS Eurogrip Tread Talks: Roadhound Tyres Track Test
When TVS Eurogrip launched the Roadhound range of sport-touring tyres back in April this year, it marked the Madurai-based tyre manufacturer's first attempt at catering to the premium medium- to large-capacity motorcycle segment in India and in markets abroad. This was effectively the company expanding its portfolio further to now provide Indian owners of medium-capacity to large-capacity street bikes a home-grown option to a new set of high-performance road tyres at a fixed price rather than hunting around for the best deals on some imported set of treads to the likes of Michelin Pilot Road 4s or Pirelli Angel GT 2s.
The Roadhound tyres are W rated, which means that they qualify in the 'sporty' side of the tyre listings, being designed to handle speeds up to 270kmph. These new tyres feature what the company calls 'Quadrazone' tech which in simple English translates to four different compounds in each tyre a durable compound down center, softer compound on the shoulders for accelerating out of corners, even stickier compound on the tyres extremities or wings for mid-corner grip and a different compound altogether on the inner base of the tyre to hold it all together comfortably.
I was recently invited by TVS Eurogrip Tread Talks event where over the course of two days I'd interacted with Sivaramakrishnan Viswanathan, Chief Technology Officer, TVS Eurogrip, and his team and even had the chance to take a guided tour through the various processes and treatments that the rubber went through at the R&D plant before the actual Roadhound tyres came to being at the plant in Madurai. All bit heavy on the info, yet all good sounding in theory. But being one who fancies more of a practical sorts, I relished day two a lot more because this was the day we'd actually get a chance to head out on track to literally get to grips with the new tyres and check out how they hold up out on a closed circuit.
Now the Roadhound tyres come in 3 sizes, 120/70 ZR17 58W (costing Rs 12,999 a pop) for the front and 160/60 ZR17 69W (Rs 14,999) and 180/55 ZR17 73W (Rs 16,999) for the rear. The bikes that I'd be testing the new tyres on weren't track-bred machines namely the Honda CBR 650F, the Kawasaki Ninja 650 and Z650, the Harley-Davidson Street Rod and even the Benelli TRK 502.
First up was the stock Harley cruiser with its low center of gravity and an aftermarket exhaust, felt completely out of place out on track. It was a 30-odd degree day out at Kari during the test and thankfully there was an overcast. It took just a two laps around the 2.3km circuit for the tyres to feel up to it after which I was flowing with confidence and belting it around. But the bike was had its limitations with the pegs scraping on mild corners. Still the level of traction out of corners felt great and so did the grip under hard braking.
The Kawasakis felt best for this sort of excursion as they were light and if you're in the right gear, the tyres are there to back you up with traction. On the Green Teams 650 twins, the cornering grip was all there to be felt and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Especially while flicking it through the tight left-right chicane past the start-finish straight. Gas it early heading into the double apex corner and if you don't get hit it right, the Z650 will wheelie a bit but it never once felt out of control. Tremendous grip. Tremendous fun.
The Benelli TRK 502 was another bike that felt out of sorts out on track, but thanks to the Roadhound tyres, it felt like teaching a top-heavy baby elephant how to waltz through a minefield. And the best part is that it felt quite graceful. This was the most eye-opening bike for me out here today because I'd never have expected to have this much fun with this motorcycle out on track. The tyres definitely gave it a new lease on life and although it didn't match the pace of the others out here today, strangely, it definitely didn't feel overly out of place taking on this technical circuit.
Now I've ridden the front heavy high-revving bundle of joy that is the CBR 650R out on track with its stock tyres, and I can definitely vouch that the TVS Eurogrip tyres gave the bike that much more room to play around (and learn taking and keeping to lines if you're not used to riding on track). Go in hot, brake late into the negative camber sections, no problem. Ease on the power while still leaning out of a corner easy pickings. It just felt like the stock bike had it's performance quota turned up a couple of notches just with the tyres alone. Great feedback all around and great fun!
The good news with these Roadhound tyres is the fact that, yes, they are great for track use. TVS Eurogrip says that you could have a set on for two to three full-session track days. And out on the road, have been tested in India and abroad (countries like Spain, Italy and a couple of others) and should be good for an average of about 12,000-14,000km we're told. On the affordability front, a pair of Roadhound tyres should cost you somewhere in the vicinity of around 30k Rupees, which should be more affordable than a set of the Perellis or Michelins I mentioned earlier. Not too bad at all, yeah? But still, we're yet to test them out on the road. Waiting for that to happen. Once it does, you'll be the first to know!
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