Bicycle industry eyes urban market

If car manufacturers are flooding the market with luxury brands, why should the bicycle industry lag behind? Bicycle companies in India are now focusing on urban markets and are looking to expand their base in the professional and adventure categories.

Published October 31, 2007 by Economic Times 

 NEW DELHI: If car manufacturers are flooding the market with luxury brands, why should the bicycle industry lag behind? Bicycle companies in India are now focusing on urban markets and are looking to expand their base in the professional and adventure categories.

The bicycle business is flourishing worldwide with the poor and the moneyed classes alike are interested in using this mode to reach their destinations. It resulted in the global companies experimenting with the change and spreading their wings across the globe.

Leading American bicycle brand Trek recently unveiled two high-end bikes, ‘Five Star Intra’ with a price tag of Rs 14,235 and ‘Fuel 30’, which is priced at Rs 33,156. “These bikes will help evolve the adventure sport ‘Mountain Biking’ in a country like India, where very few are interested in such sports,” said Pete St Onge, international territory head, Trek Bicycle Corp.

Last year, the company had tied up with Indian firm FireFox Bikes. Shiv Inder Singh, managing director, Firefox Bikes, says “The total bicycle market in India is of 12 million units, out of which, 5-7% is for niche bicycles. After a year of Trek in India, we expect to double our sales this year,” said Mr Singh.

“The latest bikes are for the urban kids. This sizable population has the tendency to facsimile the West, especially in their lifestyles. And since the adventure sport is growing rapidly there, we hope a good response in India too. The opening up of amusement parks in Indian cities is a positive sign,” he added.

He further said the sales of hi-end products is expected to grow with the Commonwealth games in 2010. Rajendra Varma, Coordinator, non motorised transport, Initiative for Transportation and Development Programmes (ITDP), a Delhi based NGO, believes that growing awareness among people about the benefits of cycling for body muscles could be one reason for constant hike in the sale.

“As people don’t have much time for physical exercise nowadays, we have instituted an organisation called Delhi Cycling Club with an aim to make people aware about the benefits of cycling in keeping the body fit and also participate in minimizing air pollution by not using heavy vehicles,” he adds.

He further said that we should promote culture of cycling in India by making stricter laws for cyclist’s safety on roads. Demanding biking to be given the status of a professional sport like cricket, a biker from Bangalore, Vibhor feels, “Cycling in India should be promoted to make it a professional sport.”

A local club owner at Pune, Nilesh says, “Cycling has evolved from being a hobby to a passion for me. With a group of few, we work with local cyclists, who also own biking shops and try to make the people aware about the sport.” Gary Fisher introduced the adventure sport ‘Mountain biking’ to the west for the first time in 1974. Since then it has grabbed the attention of the youth.

An eco-friendly mode of transportation, bicycles are being revived across the world and the steps are taken, especially by the symbols of modernization, like the Metro in the capital in encouraging commuters to pedal their way to their destinations.