Hero Cycles managing director Pankaj Munjal, son of OP Munjal, conceded to FE in an interview that super-luxury bicycles were a very niche market in India, but as the largest cycle manufacturer, his company wanted to challenge conventions and introduce products in that price bracket.
The cycle is very personalised for an individual, just like wearing a watch. There would be buyers the moment we put it in the market. We have a long-term view. We are market leaders and want to maintain our leadership, Munjal said. The high-end cycles will come for R44,000-1.5 lakh a unit. Globally, some of the most expensive bicycles come for $10,000-15,000, or roughly R5-7.5 lakh.
Munjal hinted the cycle would be made with carbon fibre, commonly used in Formula One cars and Airbus A-380 planes. Carbon fibre means one-fourth the weight and 10 times the strength of steel, he added.
Nearly 130 million bicycles are made in India every year, of which Hero commands a 60% market share.
Hero Cycles is organising recreational bicycle rides in the capital, aimed at popularising the concept in the cycling community. Munjal felt this will be an aspirational product, vying with the most sought-after automotive brands. If you plan an evening outing, why take out your car just grab the bicycle and go for a spin, he said.
A Mumbai-based analyst said: Today, there are several bicycles high on safety features catering to children between 6 and 15, priced up to R25,000. So why cant a rich CEO afford a R1.5-lakh bike for himself Its a bold move, but one that will create a lot of excitement in the market.
Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Abdul Majeed added: The trend is clearly visible in the developed west where a small segment of the rich is opting to ride cycles than travel in expensive cars. Majeed added the product would also give the company an export option if it can produce it cheaper than in the west.