Pimp your ride
A collapsible and compact version of the bicycle is encouraging Mumbaikars to pack their cycle and take off. A look at the city's Brompton community.
About 15 years ago, when Murugan GS was diagnosed with diabetes, his doctor prescribed doses of cycling instead of medicine. He then developed a passion for cycling but it took an unfortunate turn in 2017 when he met with an accident — the high speed was to blame. Keen to begin a new journey on the bicycle, he started searching for options that wouldn’t put him in the same situation ever again.
The Brompton, a foldable version of the bicycle manufactured in Britain, didn’t exceed 25 kph. "That also meant exerting more pressure while riding, which is good for your body. I also tested other models but they proved to be heavier. That year, I wrote to the manufacturer and they directed me to the ProCycle store in Bengaluru, where I bought it from," says 50-year-old Murugan, who works as a general manager with a travel firm. The Prabhadevi resident has a cycling target of 1,000 km per month. "I also lost weight. After surgery, I was 92 kgs and I now stand at 75," he reveals.
Two years back, Bengaluru’s ProCycle became the official importers and distributor of the Brompton in India. "It’s a cult brand ridden with passion in most mega cities, so it was only a matter of time before Mumbaikars embraced it," Vikram Limsay, managing director of the store, shares. Eventually, the Brompton made its way here. Although Borivali’s BikeShark started selling the bike six months ago, they started marketing it this month. Dhiren Bontra, who helms the store, explains that there is a growing interest despite the hefty price point. "A three-gear model costs R1.2 lakh and it’s R1.3 lakh for six gears. But if you wish to build your own bike, which you can do via the official website, the cost can go up to R1.6 lakh. Our clientele comprises businessmen and CEOs and we also offer a demo. We’ve sold two bikes every month," he informs.
Ride for your money
Brommies [as Brompton riders are called] maintain that the product is more than just a bicycle. "I travel a lot and used to have a normal bicycle. But they can be easily stolen even when you lock them. That’s where the Brompton comes handy. It’s also useful when you have to travel a distance that is too long to cycle, so you know you’re going to need another means of transport as well. You can just fold it then. Another advantage is evading traffic," explains Andheri-based Ashutosh Bijoor, CTO of a software firm. The bike comes with a bag adaptor that can be fixed onto its frame. On a standard bicycle, bags are carried on the handle and this reduces your ability to manoeuvre it. The Brompton also has an in-built pump and toolkit installed in the frame. So, Bijoor only needs an extra tube for it.
"People think it's a lot to pay for but it depends on your needs. If its leisure, then yes, it's too much. But if you're looking at it as a vehicle, then it's a very good deal. It folds so small that I have been able to fit it in the overhead luggage of a Pune to Mumbai Shivneri bus," he adds. Even well-known orthopaedic surgeon Dr Anant Joshi, 64, describes the Brompton, which he purchased over 10 years ago from Brussels, as something he can take straight into the surgery room. "I use it predominantly while commuting to my work at Cumballa Hill Hospital, Bombay Hospital and Breach Candy Hospital — parking is a huge problem. But you shouldn’t race on this bike and take it to rough terrain,"
A budding community
Although globally the Brompton riding culture is a cult, its growth in the city is slowly taking shape. Vishal Nanil, 42, who works as the AVP of a financial firm, travels from Kandivali to Churchgate daily, carrying the bike in a local train. "I don’t waste time looking for rickshaws and cabs anymore. I can safely say this has become my favourite mode of transport. People have started noticing my Brompton, and ask me a range of questions about the cycle in the AC local. It has definitely made me more popular in the train," he quips. Limsay estimates Mumbai users to be between 50 and 100, of the Indian user base, 10 per cent are women. It remains to be seen how these figures will grow but Brommies are hopeful. As Limsay states, "In future, we plan to make it available at more stores and even start a Brommie club and a Brompton Junction [exclusive stores]."
Dr Anant Joshi
Murugun GS's target is to cycle 1,000 km per month. Pic/Shadab Khan
Ashutosh Bijoor's Brompton fits well at his workstation in Andheri. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Buy the bike
BikeShark - The Urban Bicycle Store
At Indraprasth Complex, Pawan Building, Satya Nagar, Borivali West.
ProCycle & Sports India Private Limited
At 20 1st Main,3rd Cross, Stage 2, Domlur, Bengaluru, Karnataka.
Cost Rs 1,19,550 onwards
Log on to brompton.com (for customised models)
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