Team TVS Racing : On a fast track to product development

By: | Published: August 22, 2016 6:11 AM

The company’s journey on the racetrack began 32 years ago, in 1984, when Sundaram Clayton (a TVS Group arm) introduced 50cc mopeds in the arena of road racing, clocking speeds of 105kph.

The company’s journey on the racetrack began 32 years ago, in 1984, when Sundaram Clayton (a TVS Group arm) introduced 50cc mopeds in the arena of road racing, clocking speeds of 105kph.The company’s journey on the racetrack began 32 years ago, in 1984, when Sundaram Clayton (a TVS Group arm) introduced 50cc mopeds in the arena of road racing, clocking speeds of 105kph.

Do you know that the kind of learning the R&D department of a motorcycle company gathers after, say, 1,50,000 km of product testing in usual conditions, on a racetrack the same amount of learning can be had in just 5,000 km. In physics, the term is called “accelerated life testing” method, i.e. the process of testing a machine by subjecting it to conditions (stress, strain, temperature, speed, durability, wear and tear, etc) in far excess of its normal service life.

“Racing speeds up product development manifold,” says Arvind Pangaonkar, the head of Team TVS Racing and a company veteran.

The company’s journey on the racetrack began 32 years ago, in 1984, when Sundaram Clayton (a TVS Group arm) introduced 50cc mopeds in the arena of road racing, clocking speeds of 105kph.

In 1987, TVS Racing was established. Its objective was improving the performance of company bikes.

“TVS Racing has provided valuable data, design inputs, development of reliable motorcycle models, and excellent vehicle handling inputs to the R&D department,” says Pangaonkar. “The evidence of this is seen in today’s Apache RTR series—technically born on the racetrack.”

Apart from scooters, mopeds and commuter bikes, TVS makes three performance-oriented motorcycles—RTR 160, RTR 180 and RTR 200. (RTR is short for Racing Throttle Response.)

The event the company takes part in is called the Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship (INMRC). The other participants are Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki. INMRC is held on all the three fully-functional tracks of the country—Kari Motor Speedway (Coimbatore), Madras Motor Race Track (Sriperumbudur) and Buddh International Circuit (Greater Noida).

While there are different classifications in INMRC—based on cubic capacity—the most technically advanced is the SuperSport class (165cc). The TVS bike that competes in this class—called the RTR 160 Race Version—is theoretically similar to the road-legal RTR 160. However, they are like chalk and cheese.

While the RTR 160 develops a peak power of 15.2bhp, the Race Version develops 32bhp on an almost similar engine block. A TVS Racing spokesperson says the doubling of power is achieved by modifications like reprogrammed ECU, tuned intake and exhaust, liquid cooling and reworked gear ratios.

More power means more speed. While the top speed of the RTR 160 is 118kph, the Race Version touches a high of 160kph. Better acceleration is also made possible by the fact that the latter is about 40 kg lighter.

More speed means the bike has to be very good at handling. “We rework the chassis, the rear suspension is mono-shock, we use special compound racing tyres,” adds the spokesperson.

All of this entails heavy investments. “The modification cost per unit is Rs 2 lakh. We run dozens of bikes each season, and dozens of new ones the next. Then there are indirect costs such as development time and engineering efforts,” says the spokesperson.

While Pangaonkar doesn’t disclose how much money goes into racing activities, he adds that the investment is more than made up for by reduced product development time. “On a racetrack, there is only one motto: Create better and better machines and beat the competition. In the process, we have created a strong team of engineers, who keep shifting between TVS Racing and TVS R&D. What they learn at TVS Racing, they implement in the R&D, and vice-versa. Better machines also result in a better design (aerodynamics). The design of our bikes has improved a lot because of racing.”

Today, TVS bikes are famous for their good suspension, unmatched road handling, reduced wobbling … all perfected on the track.

The men riding these mean machines have also been perfected by Team TVS Racing. Jagan Kumar—who takes part in the category “modified 4-stroke up to 165cc”—has been the national champion every year since 2012. He rides the RTR 160 Race Version and has been with TVS since 2008. The company has trained him in Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand with top Asian riders. Harry Sylvester, who has been with TVS since 2005, is another big name in the Indian motorcycle racing scene.

Pangaonkar says that the biggest names in Indian racing and rally circuit, at one time or the other, have been associated with TVS. “Jagat Nanjappa, Gaurav Gill, CS Santosh, Zubin Patel … all of them were once associated with TVS. We feel proud that we have a significant share in growing the racing community in India. Now, with Alisha Abdullah, we have formed an all-girl team.”

Pangaonkar says the next big step is ensuring a good performance at the Dakar Rally 2017—the world’s toughest off-road event, which takes place in January every year in South America. “For Dakar 2017, we have collaborated with Sherco—the French company specialising in off-road motorbikes—and have developed a 450cc motorcycle called the RTR 450. The team is new, called Sherco-TVS Rally Factory. It is formed by long-time TVS rider Aravind KP, the Spanish champion Juan Pedrero Garcia, and a third rider who will join them soon.” Dakar runs through three countries—Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia, covering a 9,000-km distance.

Pangaonkar says he is proud of the fact that the management has been consistently supporting motorsports. “Racing has made TVS stronger, technically.”

Get live Stock Prices from BSE and NSE and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Switch to Hindi Edition