Cycling the new normal in Bengaluru, sales shoot up after lockdown

Activists who have been urging fellow citizens to take up cycling too say that they are pleased with the development.
Bengaluru cyclists
Bengaluru cyclists

Pointing to a surge in the demand for bicycles, several shops in Bengaluru are reporting a shortage of cycles. Residents wanting to shift to the healthier form of transport are finding that most models of bicycles are sold out at many of the city’s cycle retailers.

Meghana Ranjith, a resident of the city who lives in KR Puram, says that she recently took up cycling to ensure she stays fit. “When you’re staying at home all the time, health issues crop up, like back pain, stress and even lethargy. When you cycle early in the morning, your body feels fresh and you feel active,” she says. 

Meghana says she found it hard to find one. “We went to many showrooms to get cycles. All their geared cycles were sold out. The showrooms said that they wouldn’t get restocked soon, and if orders were placed (with manufacturers) for a hundred cycles, they would get only about 20-30 percent of that. In fact, the people at the showroom were urging us to buy normal cycles and retrofit the gear system.”

Life Behind Bars Cycles or LBB for short, a boutique bicycle store in Indiranagar, has sold out all the models in their store. LBB specialises in imported bicycles, and most of the models in their store are high-end models. 

Shariq Rahman, the owner of LBB says, "There are no cycles left in the country! After the lockdown lifted, we had so much sales that we have completely sold out our cycles. We even do bike servicing for high end bikes, and have seen new customers, who are bringing in their older bikes. Now we have placed orders for new bikes, which are set to come from Taiwan, but delayed in imports. We expect to get them by August.”

When asked why there was such an increase in demand, Shariq says, “People have realised that things are not to be taken for granted. We don’t just sell bikes, it’s a lifestyle of living differently.”

Padma Naveen, who is part of a cycling group called “The Cyclones” in KR Puram, says that since the lockdown, they have been using their cycles a lot more. “This is a way to get exercise and be in a community, while also maintaining physical distance and wearing masks. I have found that there has been an increased interest in cycling, and our group, which had only four members before the lockdown, now has ten new people who have bought cycles and joined us. A few of our members have gone up to the Bengaluru airport and come back, a journey of 60 kms up and down.” Padma says that her husband has joined the club, and that they go out cycling on weekends as a family, with their teenage daughter.

Babu, the store manager at Decathlon in Indiranagar says that higher end models got sold out first. 

“We don’t have space in our store so we have display pieces, based on which we take orders and deliver. But the godown has no stock of three gear cycle models anymore.”

“We have about three models for children, and the high end model is sold out. We have about ten models for adults, and two high end models for them too, have been sold out, surpassing our sales projections. The next supply for these models will come only in September, especially as manufacturing has been hit.”

Anil from Cycle Works in Kalyan Nagar says that about 10 to 15 models are out of stock at their store. “We’ve seen an increase in demand and many models are out of stock. As far as children’s cycles are concerned, this is expected. This is the season for buying cycles, especially as children get their exam results and parents fulfil their promises, one of which is buying them bicycles. Now that the lockdown is lifted, we are seeing more customers,” he told TNM.

Even Crankmeister Bicycle Works in Cox Town, a bicycle tuning store, is witnessing increased customer footfall. “Compared to pre-lockdown days, we have definitely seen an increase in demand. We sell only a few cycles, but we’ve been seeing more demand for cycle components (parts), bike service, and demand for our bike fit service,” Monica from Crankmeister says.

She notes that people are probably getting their cycles out more. “Due to the lockdown restrictions people can’t go very far, and people who already had cycles are coming in for a tune-up. People who have unused cycles are coming in for a bike fit, which is a service to get the cycle more tuned to the cyclist’s body measurements, depending on their leg and torso lengths.”

Padma says that all this has made her hopeful that more people will take to cycling. “I am crazy about cycling. I used to cycle once a month to work. My office is 15 km away, in Whitefield. Now that we have gone 30-35 km, the distance to the office looks a lot less now. Maybe I will look at cycling more often, when things return to normal.”

Activists who have been urging fellow citizens to take up cycling too say that they are pleased with the development.

Dasarathi GV, a city-based activist, says, “I notice that there’s a sudden increase in the number of adults cycling for pleasure in my locality over the past couple of months. I suspect it’s because they have more time at home and the roads have fewer automobiles. I only hope some of these people graduate from using bicycles for pleasure to using them as a regular mode of transport.” 

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