FOLDING CYCLES – A NEW VOGUE IN MUMBAI!

Air pods, Pocket deo’s, Power banks, Bluetooth speakers, Camera lenses! Science and Technology is enabling everyday products to shrink and with fresh ideas and superior designs, things are becoming portable.     

Minimalism is a lifestyle wherein consumers like to own less and manage their needs with limited resources. Easy access to internet has led to a global movement around climate change and sustainable living, where minimalism has mushroomed as an acceptable idea for individuals to be seen as responsible consumers. For some it is a self-motivated thought while others are learning and practicing under influence. A sustained lifestyle means owning fewer clothes, single pair of shoes, less or next to no furniture at home, using a shared library, car-pooling, cycling to work, renting a dress for wedding, co-working spaces or opting for a dormitory or an air bnb homestay instead of a luxury hotel. It further means irrespective of one’s economic background, family traditions and upbringing, one chooses to lead a modest life of no wastage, buying products made from recycled material and upcycling discarded objects that adds value to its immediate surroundings. The new age consumers are decisive, bold and willing to reject established standards and seeking for innovative, compact, eco-friendly and smarter products which fits into their way of life.

To stay relevant, manufacturers are redesigning their inventory to meet the dynamic consumer needs and offer them an enhanced consumer journey. One such initiative seen in cycling business is compactification of cycles and with engineering expertise and advanced components, customers can now choose from a wide range of folding bicycles. However, the concept of folding cycles isn’t new and has been around since 1900’s and its use is fairly mentioned in history of first and second world wars.

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1917 picture of Italian Army carrying folding cycles on their back during World War 1. Photo: wikipedia.

Despite decades of initial struggle in their performance and hurdles in acceptance of folding bikes, engineers have figured out the mechanics of folding it small, more swiftly and light enough to carry, which makes folding bicycles a success in the market. Small wheels, quick folding and unfolding, lightness and its compactness makes mobility easier while traveling. Moreover, folding bikes can be conveniently stored in apartments, fits into your office desk and can be carried on public transportation and even permitted to carry aboard by airline companies. Over the years, popularity of folding bicycles has grown phenomenally and widely accepted for city commuting.

Brompton Bicycles:

A discussion on folding cycles is incomplete without mentioning UK’s premier brand Brompton bicycles. Undoubtedly, Brompton is the world leader in folding bikes and needs no introduction. The brand stands for its high quality, durability, uniqueness, aesthetics, reliability and trust built by the end users. Brompton bikes are handmade, incredibly tough, finely crafted with precision and respected all over the world. And the city of Mumbai is not far behind when it comes to owning Brompton foldies. There are more takers for these premium foldies than ever before. I see a growing network of Brompton owners called the ‘Brompton Club Mumbai’ who cycle in the city for recreation, fitness and work.

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More recently, Mumbai’s cycling culture caught attention of BBC World and their production crew flew down to Mumbai for shooting a documentary called ‘MADE ON EARTH’ An ordinary bicycles epic journey which was released worldwide on the internet in September 2019. The 23 minute short film briefly covers the essence of cycling in Mumbai, Taiwan, and Milan with special focus on how Brompton bikes are manufactured in London. Brompton’s coverage in the BBC documentary stands apart and truly impresses with its brands heritage and state of the art manufacturing facility. No wonder, sales of these super quality Brompton foldies have picked up speed and found a fan following in Mumbai market.

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A group of cyclists with Brompton foldies. Photo: West Coast Riders.

The success of high end folding bicycles has inspired domestic start-ups to create their own niche in this segment. Many cyclists are turning entrepreneurs with an ambition to achieve what Andrew Ritchie, the inventor of Brompton could achieve in past 4 decades. Although it’s a challenge to compete with bigger players but small time entrepreneurs believe in their concepts and are eager to bring forth their designs to the larger world.

One such interesting folding bike project is by an active engineer, businessman and a cyclists Mr. Ashok Puri who has been cycling from more than 50 years. A mechanic himself, Ashok was always interested in folding bicycles and observed that its high cost is taking them away from aspiring users. He realised that in order to accelerate cycle to work movement in Mumbai city, folding cycles should become more economical. He began researching on the ergonomics of bicycles, availability of components in the local market and its cost to arrive at an affordable design. At his factory in Pune, where he manufactures conveyor systems, Ashok was able to develop his own folding bike frame. And with his strong will combined with engineering knowledge, he has successfully come up with a low cost foldie design using new spare parts.

Features of Ashok Puri’s Folding bicycles:

  • Weight: 13 kg
  • Wheel size: 20” inches
  • 4 Models: Single speed, 6 speed, 21 speed, 4 fold model
  • Authentication: Applied for BIS certification – Bureau of Indian Standards
  • Commercial Production: From February 2020 for local customers in Mumbai

Ashok Puri has set a vision to make cycling a preferred mode of commuting, reduce pollution and increase the health and well-being of the common man and hence intends to make a reliable and affordable companion for the masses.

Home grown indigenous designs like these seems futuristic and certainly keeps the industries progress lubricated with new thinking. The ‘Shrinkflation’ phenomenon has seeped into the cycling world and the trend looks hopeful for a better commuting experience on foldies in the years to come.

For the moment giving you a mantra, “If you can’t hold it, fold it”.

 

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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai

4 thoughts on “FOLDING CYCLES – A NEW VOGUE IN MUMBAI!

  1. Very true Vijay, I am cycling for the past 15 Years now mainly on Hybrid and Roadie, 2 Years back met with major cycle accident and could not cycle for 6 Months. Had to look at some safe option and which can be easliy carried anywhere went in for Brompton. The journey with my Brompton started from there, did 14000 kilometers last Year which was world record on any foldie. This Year I am targeting 24000 Kilometers on it, doing 100 Kilometers on most of the days.

    Brompton is cute looking, safe, zips really fast, need to put little extra effort which is good for your body. Was able to reduce 23 Kilos within 1 and half Year just by working on the Brompton.

    Really a value for Money.

    Murugan

  2. An excellent writeup on folding cycles. They are easy to store at home and workplace and the most convenient mode of commuting other than walking. The calf muscles are the second heart of the human body which pump the blood up and promote circulation and removing toxins from the body. As cycling uses these muscles for propulsion it is a great means of leading a healthy life

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