In order to ward off the loneliness and claustrophobia, many cycling enthusiasts find cycling the best way during the lockdown in COVID-19. As the gyms and pools shut, also health becomes a priority for people around India, people around India turned to cycle during COVID-19. Some of the people are commuting on their bikes, and others buy them completely for exercise that could be done while avoiding any human contact. Here you can read, why cycling has been the biggest affair of COVID-19 in India.
While COVID-19 has been a global pandemic, Indians have also realized the value of cycling. It is also unlikely to become as commonplace as it is in Europe. However, cars are still a symbol of status.
The market of bicycles has boomed in India, with certain brands, manufacturers, and stores reporting uplifted demand. According to Mr. Sharma, whose family has been in the business of cycles in Delhi for 50 years, the “costly bikes” have gained a demand of 400% that is much more than last year’s 10-15% hike. His uncle who handles their mass market and mid-range, which is known as semi-premium bikes, states that, in these segments, earlier 70% of the business was from teens, now it’s about 50%.
The rest is from ages and genders that show overall demand of up to 400%. Amidst fielding nearly 200 calls every day. But earlier it was approximately 50, Mr. Sharma adds that hybrids sell the most in high and medium that is Rs 10,000 to 20,000 levels. However, at the top level, people are willing to spend even Rs 30,000 to 40,000.
The Chairman of Hero Motors Company, Mr. Pankaj, remarks that the cycles that are over Rs 12,000 have seen drastic changes in his company. This sector has also got influenced by high production due to a lag in the supply of parts from China.
The geared bikes are doing much better than non-geared ones. In India, the cycle is determined as a social determinant of status, the geared bikes that are much higher in price also stands at the top in the cycle hierarchy.
POTHOLES AND BUMPS
There is also the downside to this interest of cycling that people are getting onto the roads often without the helmets and are not using basic hand gestures to give signals to the traffic, says Founder of Cycloon, a group of more than 200 cyclists in Delhi, Miss Garima. She remarked that she also hasn’t ventured on the road, as she didn’t want to take any chance with the speeding vehicles. To exemplify, in the month of April, five people were killed in separate accidents in Delhi in a single day. She mentioned, “During the time of COVID-19, I don’t want to lie in the hospital amidst virus”. She also said that she is instead using her indoor bike.
Mr. Banerjee, who has been a cycling businessman in Delhi said, “Infrastructure has been a challenge in India that existed even before lockdown times.” The only thing that has changed is that roads are not as crowded that they used to in pre-COVID-19 times, since the education institutions are still shut and most of the people are working from home.
The leader of communication at Decathlon, Miss Prachi, marks this trend as a part of the wider leaning towards people setting up small home gyms. It wasn’t the beginner level equipment that was in demand, but also the intermediate level one, she added.
Mr. Dheeraj has been optimistic and feels that the pandemic has induced a “behavioral change towards cycling” that will create the circumstances of an organic demand from the locals for cycling infrastructure and safe roads. Mr. Pauls says,” Our numbers must grow, only then people will listen”.
FOR HOW LONG IT WILL LAST
The bike boom of India could face halting since the demand overwhelms the supply. Because the manufacturers were not prepared beforehand to satisfy the demand and the bike shops are running out of stock.
Mr. Gupta says, “I have been in this business for the past 5 to 6 years, I have had to turn back many of the customers just because of lack of stocks”. “The supply chain will also be hit in the upcoming months just because of India-China border scenario”, he added.
“Importers are facing lots of hassle as the customs are not clearing their items. For the past 25-30 days, we have been waiting for the stocks”.
Many of the accessories of bicycles are sourced from China. In Spite of the current enthusiasm, it is not guaranteed that the boom in cycling will be permanent. Mr. Gupta said,” Many of my customers says that they won’t be using bicycle after two to three months”.
In India, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the remarkable sale of bicycles, since people are trying to avoid public transport in the fear of contracting the virus. However, the boom can be temporary.