India is the midst of a cycling boom and the center of that boom is Bangalore…or at least that’s what I’ve been told. So naturally the city is blessed with beautiful cycle shops. That in itself isn’t unique— Mumbai and Chennai have their fair share of shiny new cycle stores. But here it seems each shop has its own personality. Some are corporate looking and slick, others are funky and informal. You can find them on bustling commercial streets and quiet neighborhoods alike. Some have large glass frontages, others are hidden in a residential apartment building. This is what happens when shops are owned by passionate cyclists rather than businessmen throwing cash at what they think is the latest trend.
Bums on the Saddle. They were cycling when cycling wasn’t cool. The problem was that back then (in 2005), legacy shops’ delightful, yet old-school, wham-bam style didn’t exactly help promote cycling as a lifestyle. People wanted to learn about their bikes and make a community around it. So Rohan Kini started repairing bikes on a friend’s roof. Soon, he quite his IT job and started Bums on the Saddle (BOTS). When Specialized wanted to come to India, all roads led to BOTS. The trend continues. They promote cycling in all forms through a cycle to work program called “Wheels of Change.” They host panel discussions on topics like cycling and nutrition. They organize fixie-only rides. And there are skeleton parts. Go there and ask why. http://www.bumsonthesaddle.com #67-11, 8th B Main, 4th Block, Jayanagar & #135, Infantry Road (opp. the Hindu).
Giant Starkenn Cycling World. A large open room displays a massive variety of spectacular bicycles. Its walls are lined with all the right accessories and in the back is the city’s fanciest looking repair area. With Super Randaneuse Meera Velankar as their consultant, you know this place is going to do it right. They offer hard to find bikes like a woman’s mountain bike and a lovely library of cycling books. The extremely talented technicians include a national level cyclist from Bijapur (the real capital of cycling in India) and people like Nadeem (not pictured), a third generation bicycle mechanic who seemed to have been born with a chain tool in his hand. http://starkennbikes.com/ #961, HAL II Stage, 100 Feet Road Crossing, 12th Main Road, Opp. Lakme Salon, Indira Nagar
Cadence90. A man in an old school technician’s apron tinkers in a garage, a bare room serves as the owner’s minimalist office, Marin bicycles and accessories are scattered around what looks like a converted living room. Entering this shop is feels like visiting a friend’s home. The informal feel is a product of the store’s history. “Most stores start up and then try to build community around it,” says Chethan Ram, the owner. “We built a store around an already existing community.” After organizing group rides for a few years, Chetan quit his job at Dell to open this store. What was once solely a passion became a full-time career. He friends are envious. But, he says, behind the beautiful pictures on Facebook is a lot of hard work. http://www.cadence90.in/ No. 1, Old No. 264, 36th B Cross, 7th Block, Jayanagar
ProCycle. Bicycles spill out on the sidewalk. Information on the latest community ride is scrawled on a white board. Inside, flyers list events like Critical Mass, a huge colorful mural depicts the city’s cycling scene, copies of Crank magazine are scattered on a counter. Cyclists hang around, soaking it all in. It’s a beautiful mess. http://www.procycle.in/ #226, 1st Main Road, Domlur, 2nd Stage, Indiranagar
Cycling Boutique. Tracking down this shop is a challenge, but once you do, you’ve reached more than a few cyclists’ idea of paradise— a three bedroom apartment taken over by bicycles. They hang on walls and windows. They fill every nook and cranny. There’s a shower for people who ride to the store. Each room is a different theme. Road bikes, touring bikes, fixies, dozens of jerseys, a small cupboard of butt creams. Biju Kunnappada the owner, started this store after taking a break from his software engineering job. “Everyone wants to quit their corporate job,” he says. But few do. When customers hug him when they leave the store—or return to tell him that their life has changed because of cycling—he knows he made the right choice. http://cyclingboutique.in/ (also an excellent online store) No 68/3, 1st Floor, Brindavan, 4th B Cross, Michael Palya, 80 Feet Road [location: http://goo.gl/sBWwYD ]
Crankmeister Bicycle Works. A popular store among commuter cyclists, who say it has an attractive absence of corporate slickness. It gained recognition for its unique “pick up and drop” service which brought old bicycles back to life. Its library of bicycle books and Sunday morning workshops shops on bicycle care and other topics show a commitment to cycling education. Cycle Sheher did not get a chance to talk with him, but in a beautifully made video the owner says he quit a corporate job to start the store…hmmm, a trend. http://www.crankmeisterbicycles.com/ 2, Frazer Town, MM, 124, MM Road, Pulikeshi Nagar