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Joy of cycling  

Riding a cycle is cool and local shopkeepers report that summer sales are keeping them energized, reports Team B&C

You know it’s holidays time when small children can be seen furiously peddling away in the neighborhood. The sight of kids cycling their bike along the shady Campal road and inner lanes is a pleasant sight during summer holidays. It is making older kids keep aside the cell phone and pester their parents for a new cycle along with the latest accessories that go with riding.

All this is good news for sellers who have faced tough times in the past. Ground level check reveals that shopkeepers are happy as the crowds are back. New bikes are being tried out and purchased and sales are zippy, according to shop keeper. It is the seasonal spurt in sales that comes every summer and Diwali holidays, says Pandurang Raikar, of Raikar Sales near Panjim Square who is in business for as long as one can remember.

These days, says Raikar he sells about 10-15 cycles a day as against five-ten in off-season time.

The staff as the other cycle shop DP Shirodkar, MG Road is also in a cheerful mood as he talks of sales in the fast lane these recent days.

The bicycle in Goa is gone through some tough ride over the years with new mode of conveyance (two-wheelers) taking its place. It faced difficult years thanks to growing prosperity of residents who preferred fast bikes for moving about the place. However the humble means of transport is facing revival in demand thanks to fitness reasons, says Raikar.

Elderly and getting along in years he has his son Vinay Raikar to assist in the shop and the younger seller explains how much the market is changed.  Demand for cycles, he says is shifted from eight-20 age group to two-15 age-group. Riders are getting younger as Goan parents want their kids to have the latest bicycle. The other segment of buyer is the fitness conscious who rides a bike for keeping in good shape.    For the fitness freaks there are geared bikes and even the non-geared ones are far better in quality then they were previously says Raikar. His shop he adds sells bikes on Indian make viz. BSA, Hercules, A1, etc., and does not stock imported range.

Sales of geared bikes, says the manager at DP Shirodkar are increasing over non-geared bikes because they require less effort and are more comfortable. But for small kids non-geared is more popular says the manager. The price differential is about Rs 2,000, for instance if a ordinary bike for a eight year old is Rs 3,550 it is Rs 5,600 for a geared model.

All-India cycle sales are growing at a snail’s pace, but thanks to few players in the fray shopkeepers say that their sales are steady and they are comfortable for business. In the past says the elderly Raikar there were eight dedicated cycle shops in Panjim. The numbers have dwindled to two (other shops sell sports goods along with bicycles) and thanks to which we are well placed for clientele.

Times have changed and people want fast-paced motorbike, but the old fashioned cycle will continue to be around, he feels. Cycles according to shop keepers need to be encouraged by the government. They are environment friendly and cheap and great to remain healthy. The government unfortunately is doing little to popularize it despite Goa being a tourist state and having great potential for cycle tours.

Traffic woes and congested roads are keeping people away from cycling says the manager in DP Shirodkar as he helps a little girl in making a choice. In the olden days says Raikar most of us got a bicycle on rent as parents had little income to spare and new cycle was owned by only few. However overall purchases of cycles were high as it was used for transportation. However it is an irony that when people have higher income cycle sales are facing the heat from  noisy motor bikes. His own shop he says was started during Portuguese times by his father and in early days it dealt in rented bikes.

Owning a cycle shop has its hassles because you need person to help with the repairs and assembling. The profits are also extremely modest which is why the number of shops is less. Imported bikes like Firefox or HLX are highly popular and add to the range available in the market.

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