It has been amazing to see motorcycling in India grow. Moreover, it has not only been about seeing more motorcyclists on the road, more people taking up motorcycling as a serious profession or seeing more people appreciating this form of expression; it has been about motorcycling as a whole like an autonomous economy. Bigger bikes are now being made in India.
Bigger bikes are now being made by Indian manufacturers. The same goes for the components that go into making a motorcycle. Better aftermarket parts, better electronics, and better tyres. When it comes to tyres, CEAT Tyres has been at the forefront of this revolution. Now, with the launch of their steel radials, SportRad and CrossRad, they seem to be at the cusp of something truly transcending.
CEAT Tyres has been a premier tyre manufacturer in India for a long time now. They have literally put shoes on the feet of the common man, their motorcycles to be more precise. The Indian market was, and somewhat still is, dominated by commuter motorcycles and in that space, tyres from the house of CEAT have not only been present but prominent. As the market grew and higher capacity motorcycles such as 150s, 180s, and 200s started to set their roots, CEAT Tyres was there as well.
The paradigm has shifted big time now. 300cc and 400cc motorcycles are more commonplace than ever and more than that, a fair few of them are homegrown or at least made right here in India. With that, CEAT Tyres came out with the Zoom Rad to fulfil that particular need. But as these motorcycles grew in power and popularity, the need for even better tyres was palpable and with their latest steel radials, SportRad and CrossRad, CEAT Tyres has risen to the occasion yet again. We got the opportunity to test both of these tyres recently and we came away mighty impressed.
Starting with the SportRad, this steel radial is meant to provide exceptional grip on the tarmac. In our test, it was on duty on the new KTM RC 390, a ferociously torquey and quick motorcycle that can put the best of rubber to a strenuous test. Moreover, its dynamic capabilities on a racetrack are almost a benchmark in the class and therefore, it was the right motorcycle to put the new SportRad tyres to the test.
Let us start with some nerd-talk and we’ll top it off with the experience. First off, the most obvious aspect- the construction. Steel radials are much better than bias-ply tyres in the sense that they are sturdier and retain their shape and structure even under extreme riding scenarios. Heat dissipation is another aspect which makes them not only safer but also better in high-performance situations such as a racetrack. Also, these tyres are W-rated so they can do 270 kays an hour all day.
Then, there’s the compound in use. CEAT SportRad tyres have a harder compound in the middle for longevity and a softer compound around the edges to ensure optimum edge grip. The groove design also adds another facet to their high performance. Slick areas around the centre and the edges ensure a dependable grip on high-speed straight-line runs and extreme lean angles alike. The grooves are also placed strategically around the middle and just off the edges to provide exceptional wet grip.
On the racetrack, we got the KTM RC 390 and we pushed it fairly hard. To test the tyres something proper, it was necessary. The layout of the track had just one measly straight and then a ton of turns, from hairpins to long sweeping ones. Ideally, we spend most of the time on our knees, literally and not figuratively. There were some wet patches and some corners that had a little dust as well making this tricky counter-clockwise track even trickier.
We came away very impressed with how the tyres performed. Whether it was accelerating hard out of the counters, braking hard entering one or wringing the heck out of the throttle on the little straight bit, the tyres performed tremendously. The edge grip, the stability on the straights, and even when things got trickier in the wet patches; we had all the confidence we needed to push harder and harder with every passing lap. In a word… scintillating!
Then we got to test the CrossRad and as the name suggests, it is meant for dual-purpose motorcycles. Motorcycles that you take for a long ride without being afraid of the tarmac… or the lack of it. The tyres were fitted to a BMW G 310 GS and the test track was a mix of what you’d find on some trails and broken roads. Offroad, gravel, turns and jumps; the layout had it all. Again, the CEAT CrossRad tyres performed extremely well.
The steel radial construction played a big role again. The sturdiness of the construction meant that obstacles could not mess with the structure and shape which resulted in consistent performance. These tyres have an asymmetrical block design and transversal grooves around the edges so that the tyres bite into the mud and gravel even during cornering. The central blocks also ensured that the motorcycle had enough grip to maintain its line while saddling, virtually unaffected by the undulations.
Throughout the run, the performance of CEAT CrossRad tyres was consistent and dependable. The design grips whatever is under the tyre with prowess so that the rider has a lot of confidence to keep pushing. A fair few corners were incorporated in the layout and these tyres make when in doubt, throttle it out look easy. The BMW G 310 GS is a pretty torquey motorcycle in the mid-range and grabbing a handful of throttle when you are off the tarmac would have made a lesser tyre squeal.
Regardless of what the track could throw at them or the rider, the CEAT CrossRad tyres put up a flawless performance. Based on our experience, it is very easy for us to recommend these tyres if you are someone who takes up long journeys on a whim without a care in the world about what kind of roads you will encounter. With these tyres, you can let the worries be taken care of by your motorcycle while you focus on enjoying the journey and being the best rider-self that you can be.
It is a matter of immense pride to see such high-performance tyres being made by an Indian manufacturer. In the 110-section (front) and 140 and 150-section (rear) space, CEAT Tyres have already left a mark. More than that, what excites us even more is that they plan to come out with 180, 190, and 200-section tyres soon! Take a minute to imagine that; the tyres that we need for our Busas and Streetfighters being made right here in India by an Indian manufacturer!
On top of that, we were also told about a special 240-section tyre in the works… our Triumph Rocket 3 R riding on CEAT Tyres. With the market rife with options; from motorcycles to motorcycling essentials, this is a good time to be a motorcyclist in India. And we can reserve a sizeable chunk of the thanks we owe to manufacturers like CEAT Tyres.