On September 5, the Godrej Eon Tour de India 2012, a big cycling carnival, was announced. Starting from Mumbai on November 4 and culminating at Budh International Circuit, Delhi NCR, on November 11, the event is being promoted by the Maharashtra Cycling Association, Tourism Ministry and the Cycling Federation of India.
In metros and large cities, such cyclothons are getting popular as young adults increasingly take to cycling for recreation, fitness, traffic congestion issues, and due to the development of cycling tracks by state governments – as at the Bandra Kurla Complex and Carter Road in Mumbai – and housing developers. Shikhar Sachdev, 30, a chartered accountant with a multinational company in Mumbai, bought his bicycle for Rs 12,000 recently “to skip early morning traffic snarls, and remain active.”
Cycling clubs are mushrooming. Pedal Yatris in Delhi NCR and Mumbai Bikers in Mumbai regularly organise cycle safaris and weekend trips.
Rajesh Kalra, 36, senior mediaperson and co-founder of Pedal Yatri, said, “We started in 2007 as a group of six-seven working professionals. We number 30-plus now.” “During cyclothons, our sales go up by 40-50%. In the last two-three years, we have grown 20-30%. Cycles are the best emerging category in the sports department,” said Ashutosh Chakradeo, head - buying, merchandising and supply chain, HyperCITY Retail, Mumbai, which sells Raleigh and Maxit.Demand is also being fuelled thanks to lifestyle townships with cycling spaces. "Seeing the growing interest in cycling, we now include cycling space as a selling point," says Barkha Inder, spokesperson for the Mohan Group, a housing company.
Alok Ranjan, 34, proprietor of an advertising agency who regularly goes with colleagues for mountain climbing, recently purchased his third bike in four months, totally spending over Rs 1.5 lakh.
Like Ranjan, there is a growing clutch of metro and large city consumers who are spending on high-end bicycles. In response, international and Indian brands have been quick to launch adventure, road, mountain, tourer, hybrid and BMX bicycles.
The most expensive adult high-end bike sold by the multinational Firefox Bikes, says its India general manager Ajit Gandhi, was for Rs 4.25 lakh. Firefox recently tied up with MTV in India to launch co-branded adventure bicycles — Thor, Smoke, Dirt and Hades — priced at Rs 10,000-16,000.
Said Akshay Kapur, director, Action Bikes, the exclusive distributor of Huffy bicycles (USA): “We have seen a tremendous increase in the sales of our adult bicycles. We are launching our new Elite range.” He said that Huffy has the highest sales – growing 20% year-on-year – in Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Surat and that young adults make up 60% of customers.
India’s Hero Cycles has just launched its high-end brand, Urban Trail. The first of 16 products, Red Dot, a carbon fibre bike, is priced at Rs 43,000. The highest priced bicycle will touch Rs 3.5 lakh.
“We’ve started manufacturing high-end bicycles, priced at Rs 9,000-1.5 lakh. Their sales are higher in metros compared to standard bikes. In the last two years, our fancy bicycles have accounted for 38-40% of sales,” said Harish Ahuja, spokesperson for Avon Cycles, Ludhiana.
The recent import duty hike on bicycles by 20% has the industry worried, but optimism is high on the high-end bicycles.
Rajesh Mani, GM marketing and retail, TI Cycles & BSA Motors, predicts that more brands will focus on the high end. “We launched our international brand Montra, a carbon fibre bike, and have brought in international brands Conondale, Bianchi, GT, Mongoose, Schwinn and Ducati. About 40% of our sales are to 25-years-plus consumers,” he said.
Other major international brands such as Trek (through Firefox), Giant, Merida, and Gary Fisher are also present in India.