In Conversation with Navneet Banka, Country Manager, Trek Bikes on Lifestyle Cycling Culture in India
We got in touch with Navneet Banka, Country Manager at Trek Bikes, premium and super-premium cycle manufacturer to understand better about the evolving lifestyle cycling culture in India.
Even though the cycling market in rural India is the largest in the world, the urban market is struggling to accept cycling as an alternate form of transportation, something we have seen in the European and other western markets. However, a large number of people are opting for cycling as a lifestyle choice for health, environment and transportation. To cater such market of urban dwellers, a lot of premium cycling manufacturers have started their operations in India in the recent years. Not only does these premium cycles offer functionality to the riders, they also look good on the road. We got in touch with Navneet Banka, Country Manager at Trek Bikes, premium and super-premium cycle manufacturer to understand better about the evolving lifestyle cycling culture and infrastructure challenges in India.
News18 – What are the benefits of cycling?
Navneet Banka – Cycling as an activity, is a low impact activity. What it means is, when you are peddling, your body and legs are moving in a smooth motion. So there is no impact on the knees.
Secondly, it builds muscle in your body. Not only thighs, but the muscles are built in the whole body as a complete workout. The third part about health benefit is that you define the intensity of the workout. So if you want a very exhaustive workout, you decide the pace. And the fourth is, it’s something which is very easy. All of us have grown up cycling and it doesn’t require a lot of time learning. You can just get on the cycle and you can start it.
News18 – Can you please shed some light on the premium cycle market in India?
Navneet Banka – If you look back at the market in 2006, the entire premium, super-premium segment was probably less than 2500 units in a year. And if you look at the market today, we are looking at more than 2500 cycles a month. So we see that the segment is growing very well and a lot of people today are taking to cycling, not only to stay fit, but to also make their own contribution towards the environment. It is also a fun and a social way of keeping fit.
News18 – Tell us about the history of the Trek Bikes?
Navneet Banka – Trek Bikes was established way back in 1976 in Wisconsin, U.S.A. We are known to hire rocket scientists to design bicycles. We have also partnered with senior designers and scientists who are into racing and Formula 1 racing to design some of the components on our bicycles. So as a company we have always focused on bringing new technology to the bicycles.
News18 – What are the different types of bicycles one can buy?
Navneet Banka – There are three broad categories of bicycles one can choose from – Hybrid, Road and Mountain bikes. And as you go further, each of these categories are further divided into subcategories. If you are someone who wants to use the cycle for fitness or a short ride on the weekend or probably go to office, then the hybrid bike is perfect for you. If you are someone who wants to do a little bit of cross country cycling, a little bit of trail cycling, then we recommend mountain bikes. And if you are someone who wants to do long distance cycling on the road, or want to be fast with 100 km riding, then we recommend a road cycle.
News18 – How should a buyer decide what kind of bicycle to go for?
Navneet Banka – First you decide the broad category of the cycle, for example, if you want to do fitness, then you have to go for a hybrid cycle. Once you have come to a hybrid, within the hybrid you have two broad categories – one with a suspension and one without suspension. Once you have decided on the category, then based on your height, you decide the frame size. We have frame sizes starting from 47, going upto 56-58, depending on the height of the person. Then you decide the material of the frame. We have bikes which are made of aluminium and we also have carbon bike, which is very light. The key aspect that someone needs to understand is that the lighter the product, the more efficiently you will use your energy. And the last aspect is to take a demo of the bike before deciding to buy it. Sit on the bike, ride the bike for a good distance before you make a decision, because you need to be comfortable on the bike.
News18 – What are the infrastructure challenges for cycling in India?
Navneet Banka – In the past few years we have seen the Indian government do a lot in terms of creating the infrastructure, or having that intention for creating the infrastructure for cycling in cities. If you talk about the smart city mission that the Indian government rolled out in 2015, they are looking to create cycling tracks in 100 cities across India. Also, Bangalore has what we know as a bicycle mayor after Baroda and Guwahati in India. What they do is to serve as an advocate for creating cycle specific or something that supports cycling infrastructure in cities of India.
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