As it turns out, there are hardcore cyclists in India. And there are far more brands then I could possibly imagine. I am glad to know that cycling craze is spreading like wild fire all over the country (though among a billion people, this wild fire might look like a fire on a match stick, 🙂 ). When I was thinking like a 20-30km max for a good long ride, there are people who regularly travel for 100km! Oh I was overjoyed hearing that. And now I know it, I want to be a part of this fire of passion for cycling!
It´s still early days for me. The max I might have traveled on a bike (not a motor bike, :p) was 10km. It was back in those school days, when I was crazy about cycles like Hero X-treme, Hercules Top Gear (which served me for over 10 years!). The best part of cycling is that I could go almost anywhere possible and that I could enjoy the scenery around and that I did this without any fuel except water into my body. Those days I used to dream myself biking around the pristine forests of Western Ghats, seeing the clouds skim over the beautiful green hills, watching the dew drops fall from the leaves of the evergreen trees, listen to sound of peacocks with sounds of joy for the rain bearing clouds coming to greet the hills. Enough said, I just wanna be there, and now I know that there are people like me already doing it! Oh God, I am such a lazy idiot!
Well, I have been posted to Infosys, Chennai. Work and heat has taken a toll on me. But it was that day I passed by the BSA stores and saw awesome bikes in the showroom, screaming out to me to ride on it! My mind dived into those moments when I was in bus from Whistler to Vancouver, Canada, that I saw many a cyclist riding on those road bikes pass by me. Those moments when an episode of Tech2 showed the bike enthusiasts talk about cycling in India an year or 2 ago. And those moments when I ride down the winding roads on my Hercules Top Gear, watching the beautiful landscape of the ups and downs of Kannur, Kerala. I just barged in to the BSA GO store in Express Avenue mall, Chennai and it was paradise. I decided then that I am going to get a bike.
But which bike? That´s exactly what I am going to cover about the post (phew, you read through all of this!? I couldn´t stop myself punching in those paras!). Around 6 months ago I dropped into firefox bikes shop in Mantri mall, Bengaluru, and saw the beautiful bikes from firefox and Trek put on display. I wasn´t too sure how it was going to work out when I buy one, and that too many have suggested to for Trek than Firefox. And getting a Trek bike would mean quite an investment. I wasn´t too sure, though I´d got the money for it.
But that day it was a different thing. Already 6 months working in Infosys, I had to travel 30km from my rented house (Perungalathur) to Mahindra City, Chennai daily. With 95-100 kilos, it was obvious that I needed to head to gym. And gym in the evenings is an impossibility. So theoretically every day I need to get up at 5 am, catch a bus and reach there at around 6:20 am and walk all the way to infosys (around 2km). It was kind of an hassle for a guy who gets bugged by a PM everyday to sit late in the night and then head to gym early morning next day to reduce that flab. No wonder, that day at EA mall, it struck like a lightning to me!
The idea is to get a cycle, budget of 20k, and use it for daily commuting like say around 5-10km everyday (2km to metro station from my home, 3.3km from station to infosys and extra here and there) and ride for 30-40km in the weekend. Yeah, it seemed a good plan for me. But as always, every plan has it´s pros and cons. The cons? Well first of all the weekend ride. Chennai, you know, is not exactly a bikers paradise. It´s hot and humid, to the extreme I tell you. And I sweat like a pig! So, as a noob, I really don´t know how am I gonna do that until I set my eyes on these 2 posts. So as the latter post orders, I would stop beating around the bush and just ride, ride.
Okay, but there´s a second worry. Security. For daily commuting, a cycle of 5k or less would be more than enough. But what if it´s a 20k bike? It would look different from other bikes for sure, maybe not for you, but there will be someone who thinks like-wise. And that someone may have more than just admiration on his mind. Well theft is a concern and that is something I´ve not really come up with solid ideas for preventing it. Sure, locks should do the job, but anything can happen, can it not? And the fact that I stay in a house that we pay rent and with little or no security, it would definitely be concern on my mind.
Never mind, I´m gonna buy a bike (Yay!). But again, which one?
I´ve put few bikes on my list. First of all, it´s gonna be a hybrid. Road bikes, with their thin tyres and extremely lightweight frames, can be a liability to bad roads (some of them you can consider for off-roading!). MTBs, on the other hand, have fat tires and straight handle bars that are ideal for such roads but it can be difficult to gain speed on tarmac. So there you go, hybrid is for me. It´s got a straight handle bar like the MTBs but thinner tires that are meant for comfortable rides on highways. So what are my options? PFB
- Trek 7.1fx: Priced around Rs18.5k, it has been recommended as a good bike for short trips and moving around the city. The one concern I have that many users shared is that it doesn´t have front suspension (though many suggested it´s not necessary) plus it´s saddle is kinda hard on the bumps. Anyways it´s still on my list.
- Trek 7100: It´s better version of the previous one I believe, with front suspension, 8*3 gears (fx has 7*3), better saddle, but it´s pricey, Rs21.3k.
- Schwinn Sporterra Sport 2011: Around 18k, it´s slightly thinner tires than others I´m gonna talk about from the Schwinn saddles, resembles more of a road bike.
- Schwinn Searcher: I would have gone for Sport version of this searcher series, but it only has white color (I am pretty choosy about colors, security you know). So I thought Searcher 2011 should be good enough. Rs16.6k
Well, these are my primary options. Yeah there are other brands, Merida, La Soveriegn, but I´ll be blunt on these two companies. Maybe I might look into GT Traffic 3.0 (Rs22k) cuz it falls in the hybrid range and in the budget. Canondale has Quick 5 for Rs 24k. So there are lots of options, you can see.
Apart from buying a bike, accessories become a necessity. Though I didn´t want one (how often you see a guy on a bi-cycle wearing one on roads in India?), helmet is a must and I´ll buy one. Then there is pump, repair kit with tube, flash light, gloves, lock, mudguards, etc. So I expect to shell out Rs5k on accessories alone! (¨What!? I can get a bike with that!¨, yeah I know). Well, that´s what you need when you decide to bike from Chennai to Pondicherry or from Mysore to Kushal Nagar and many other routes. Oh, I forgot one thing, water bottles!
So all set and done, now all you need is to get to the shop and get one. Not that easy eh? Well, easy or not, there are lots of bike shops in Chennai. Head out to EA mall and find BSA Go, that will be a start. Also these sites would tell you where you can find others in Chennai. Hmmm, I´m thinking of how to bargain with these people to get the most of the bike and accessories. Wish I had been in Bengaluru.
Nevertheless I am going to get one very soon, and I am going to update here when I get one. By that time, do post comments on what you think about what I have here (ummm, experts, please drop in an opinion. I need it, please, please… 🙂 😀 ). So the end of a long long article, oh I wish I´d ride on these bikes rather than type type type… 😀