Interview by Sirish Chandran
Sirish Chandran: Does Trek have different bikes for different kinds of riders?
Navneet Banka: Yes we do. In fact, every ride we do in every city, ends with a short seminar that trains the participants on how to select the right bike and basic maintenance they can do themselves. We also get our brand ambassadors like Gary Fisher to talk about performance cycling and fitness because a lot of kids are taking up cycling as a career and the segment of high-end bikes is also hotting up.
SC: What do you mean by high-end bikes?
NB: We have a concept called Project 1. One can customise the bike right from the drive train to the colour of the frame. These are performance bikes made completely of carbonfibre. They are made to order, where people can actually log on to the US website and design the bike and give us an Excel sheet. The bikes start at `8.5 lakh go upto `10.5 lakh and we have delivered three bikes in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
SC: Do you assemble it here in India? Is there any CKD, CBU?
NB: In the cycling business there is no CKD concept per se. We manufacture bikes in the US, Germany and Taiwan. Hence, every bike is imported to the Mumbai warehouse in a box with disassembled wheels and handle. The bikes are then shipped to our dealers who assemble it in about 15-20 minutes.
SC: Are there any plans to manufacture here in India?
NB: We’d love to but right now we are looking at expanding the segment because this segment is a little small if you ask me. India almost does 16 million bicycles every year but the segment that we operate in starts at `25,000 which goes all the way upto `25lakh for the Project 1. This is about 2500 bikes a month and that is about 0.2 per cent of the industry.
SC: Any plans to bring e-bikes to India?
NB: Yes, if there’s a market that demands it we’d be more than happy to get it. We are slowly adding products to the line. Earlier we had 15-20 different models, today we have more than 40 different models available. Basically whatever the customers demand we’d be happy to bring it.
SC: What are your best-selling cycles?
NB: There are three broad categories; Mountain, Road and Hybrid. Hybrids are kind of an amalgamation of Road and Mountain. In Hybrid there are two categories, one without a suspension called the FX and one with a front suspension called the DS for Dual Sport. In the road category there is also an endurance category. In endurance range we have the Domane and Emonda. Then we have the Madone which is meant for racing. Coming to the mountain side we have the Marlins 4, 5, 6 and 7 and then there are X-Calibers 7, 8 and 9 meant for serious mountain biking.
SC: These are all premium bikes, how do you make it more accessible?
NB: Yes these are premium ones from technology and price point of view. To make them more accessible we have tied up with Bajaj Finance where now you can actually buy a Trek with zero down payment and no interest and take home the Trek bike. And accessibility will improve with more expansion. We are already at 25 stores this year and we are looking at 100 stores in the next four years.
SC: Any plans for selling bikes online?
NB: Not in India I’d say at the moment. We are still setting up the retail and the segment involves a lot of consultancy to recommend you the right bike. There are 6 to 7 frame sizes and we feel that it needs human interaction to select the right frame. This is called bike fit where we adjust the height of the seat, handlebar etc, to best fit you on the bike.
SC: How often do you cycle?
NB: Cycling is a lot of fun. I ride about 30km every day in Gurgaon. People talk a lot about absence of infrastructure. Well, the infrastructure is there but you can see it when you are on a bike not from a car or a motorcycle. So once you take it up it’s a great way of staying fit and Pune is a great place to go peddlin’. I suggest you also start getting into cycling. Sure it will take time but once you get addicted to it, it is fun. Next time I come we can all cycle together. I mean, your magazine is called Fast Bikes India anyway!
Test ride review of the Trek Marlin 4 – Read here