If you’ve been procrastinating about picking up a cycle and making your way through Mumbai’s bylanes, today’s the best day. Touted as India’s first ever car-free day, South Mumbai will see bike-a-thons and walk-a-thons organised from 7 am to mid-day.
Avid cycling enthusiast Chirag Shah, who recently opened his own store of high-end bicycle brands at Gowalia Tank, says, “For those newly getting into cycling, and who only intend to ride in the city, hybrid cycles are the best option.” These, like the regular road variety, have thinner tyres but are slightly heavier and often feature suspension systems. “Mountain bikes look fancy but aren’t useful in city conditions. They’re not as fast, and most people only want them for their macho looks,” adds Chirag.
However, BMX stunt-biker Rahul Mulani who also owns a multi-brand cycle shop in Bandra feels, “I recommend ATBs (all terrain bicycle) to novices. They’re a lot more forgiving on the city’s bad roads and they allow you to go off-road when the opportunity arises.”
However, both Mulani and Shah recommend buying good quality international brands such as GT and Schwinn that cost upward of Rs 14,000. “There are plenty of Indian brands in the market that are a lot cheaper, but they’re the equivalent of Fiat Premiers in the time of Toyotas,” says Mulani, adding, “Technology has moved on. Cheap cycles will always have pedal trouble, crank play and worn bearings. You get what you pay for.”
Mulani also emphasises not to get misled by the number of gears in a cycle. “It’s a myth that needs to be busted. More is not better; you won’t even end up using half the number of gears in a 27-geared bike,” he says. Finally, there’s adventure enthusiast Jehan Driver who offers courses on mountain biking in Kolad and takes people on cycle trips through the country. From the other side of the camp, Driver says, “Newcomers should go for any normal cycle with straight handlebars. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, ‘dabbawalla’ cycles are perfect for city commuting. They’re very sturdy and only cost around Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000. Of course, if you can spend more, then hybrid cycles are a good option too.”
As far as accessories go, all three strongly recommend picking up a helmet and taillights. “I’d also recommend buying an air pump, so you never get lazy to head out when your cycle’s low on air,” says Mulani.