Time: 6.30 am. Place: the Firefox Bikes showroom in Lajpat Nagar. Some 250 people, all on bicycles and arrayed in impeccable cycling gear, are jostling around. The occasion: Ride with Gary Fisher.
Gary who? You might well ask. Fisher, 62, is a global icon, the Sachin Tendulkar of mountain cycling, and an entrepreneur who designs and makes bikes. At his age, he still average 200 kms a week on his bikes. And Firefox has brought the man to India to give a boost to the premium cycling scene in the country.
"Four years ago you would not have found such response," said Shiv Inder Singh, MD, Firefox Bikes. "It just shows how fast the popularity of mountain bikes and cycling itself has spread."
"What I was particularly happy about was that there were several women in that group," he added.
On Monday, Fisher celebrated his 62nd birthday by launching two premier cycles from Trek Bikes' niche 29er series, SuperFly, at a crowded press conference. The aluminum alloy SuperFly AL is priced at Rs. 1,45 lakh, and its carbon sibling, SuperFly Comp, at a princely Rs. 2.35 lakh.
Firefox is confident that the Indian market is ripe for such offerings. In view of their sales figures in recent times, perhaps, the confidence is justified. "We sold 38-40,000 bikes last year, and expect to sell 50,000 this year," said Ajit Gandhi, deputy general manager, Firefox. He said about 15% of the sales comprised of the premium Trek Bikes, whose range starts at over Rs. 30,000. Firefox has been the dealer for Trek Bikes in India since 2006. Firefox's own bikes start at Rs. 7,000-odd.
So who is buying? The spoilt brat? The potbellied executive type looking to cut down on weight?
"We view anyone who owns a WagonR or a Santro as a potential Firefox customer," said Jain. "And someone who owns a Honda or a BMW is a potential Trek buyer."
"The ride with Gary Fisher mostly had riders on premium bikes: CEOs, executives, senior officials, all kind of people," said Gandhi. "These riders are serious about their biking."
What about the SuperFly, which Fisher described as the Ferrari among bicycles? Who would spend the equivalent of a Maruti Alto on a bicycle?
Anyone who is serious about bikes, said Singh. Only such a person would appreciate what a SuperFly brings to his or her biking experience. So what does Fisher himself think about the market for his products in India? "This is my first visit, but it won't be my last," the flamboyant maverick said. "There are so many things to see, especially down the countryside. And the best way to see a place is--on a cycle."