By Sunil Nanjappa
Cycles were always thought of in India as a poor man’s Mercedes, but attitudes are changing, at least in metropolitan cities. Heavy traffic has turned into a boon for cycles in recent times, changing the face of cycling the way FM took over radio. An added advantage, particularly for IT/ITes employees is the benefits of cycling in terms of health.
Some estimates say that the premium cycling industry in India is selling an average of 30,000 cycles a year (> units under Rs 20,000). So, each year we effectively add 30,000+ cycling enthusiasts, the numbers of which may double in the coming years.
Today, premium bike sellers from around the world have found a base in India and are bringing their top-of-the-line products to the country. Trek is one of the major international brands which entered the Indian market early with its basic alloy bikes in partnership with Firefox. We also have Scott, which is unofficially India’s No 1 international brand.
Giant has tied up with Starkenn Bikes in Pune to distribute its brand of bikes across India and has been aggressively marketing in leading publications and hoardings. It even bagged itself space at the Indian Auto Expo 2014 to showcase its bikes.
Merida bikes from Taiwan and Polygan bikes from Indonesia are the recent entrants into the market, and in very little time, these bikes are making inroads into serious athletes’ homes. The major advantage of these two brands is its ‘value for money’ products.
Even Indian manufacturers have joined the party by introducing premium bikes to their line ups, such as TI Cycles’ Montra, Hero Cycles’ UT and Firefox Bikes.
Recently, Hero acquired Firefox Bikes, an acquisition which has raised so many questions among cyclists – will Trek stay with Hero? What next for Trek? Will the UT brand continue? Did Hero buy Firefox just to kill the competition? We have to wait and watch for Hero Cycles’ move on this acquisition.
Cycling as a Sport
When it comes to cycling as a sport, we are still in a nascent stage. The Cycling Federation of India (CFI) is doing a great job by organising state and national level races every year. The big question this year is – will downhill racing see the National Championship? CFI must answer this question.
The federation’s strategy of concentrating on one branch of sport at a time is producing great results. CFI has decided to concentrate on track cycling – an indoor race held on a specifically built track called a velodrome – for the next five years and we already have achieved World No 1 in Men’s Junior in Team Sprint and World No 4 in Women’s 500mtr Sprint.
This column will be dedicated to all the cycling passionate people out there. You can expect:
1. New trends in cycling
2. About cycling athletes, their success stories and struggles they faced
3. Cycle races around India
4. Good roads for bikers and trails for mountain bikers
5. Cycling tour destinations near your cities
This column will be two-way: readers can throw in some questions about cycling and also can contribute to the article.
In the meantime, keep pedaling!