Indian bicycle industry designing electric portfolio for global market

LUDHIANA, India - The shift towards increasing automation in bicycle manufacturing, graduating towards high-end components and the return of major OEMs like Avon Cycles & TI Cycles all marked the recently concluded CFOSE 2024 (Cycle, Fitness & Outdoor Sports Expo). Held from 1-3 February in Ludhiana, India, and with a greater focus on e-bikes, the show highlighted Indian company's urge to spread their footprints globally.

Being held for the 14th time, this year’s edition of CFOSE saw a shrink in size due to inherent industry and economic challenges, but the Indian government’s strict approval process for granting visas to Chinese nationals also hurts the annual show. “More than 30 Chinese companies booked a booth but the government didn’t issue a visa to any one of them,” informed concerned Surinder Singh Brar, Managing Director, Annex Media Marketing Network Pvt Ltd, the organisers of the CFOSE 2024.

The increasing scrutiny and reluctance to grant visas to Chinese professionals and companies is delaying regulatory clearance of Chinese investments. This is in part due to the geopolitical relationship between the two Asian giants which has soured over the last decade, particular following a 2020 border brawl between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley.

Portuguese industry seeking collaboration

Interestingly, among the notable foreign exhibitors was ABIMOTA, National Association of Two Wheel Industries in Portugal. The association was scouting for Indian companies looking for cooperation with Portuguese bicycle companies. “We are here to explore the Indian bicycle market to identify possibilities for cooperation. Some Indian companies are supplying bicycle tyres, pedals and other components and if they are keen on increasing their business, we can help them identify business partners in the Portuguese bicycle industry,” said Sergio Ribeiro, Project Developer, ABIMOTA.

The Portugues association exhibited for the first time at the Indian bicycle show to understand the market and to identify how the bicycle industries of both countries could increase their cooperation. Portugal exported €800 million worth of bicycles and parts in 2022. Only 5% of the total production is destined for the domestic market, with the majority of 95% exported. “The objective is to establish a network with Indian companies, share our experience in high-end bicycle manufacturing and how Indian companies can take advantage and improve their products in order to supply the high-end European market.” 

Indian OEMs designing e-bikes targeting to European market

The shift towards electric bicycles is now visible as Indian OEMs are investing in building electric variants targeting the European market. The domestic market is growing steadily towards a premium range but the electric segment is still a long way from churning sizable numbers. Therefore, OEMs are targeting foreign markets for electric variants.

Chennai based Murugappa Group bicycle subsidiary TI Cycles is working on an e-bike range expected to hit the European market by the middle of 2024. The company plans to sell 1,500 units in the first year. The product is designed in India, claimed as the best commuter bike that money can buy, pitched to retail at around €1,000, have max range of 70 km in pedal assist mode.

“The product is already validated in the Dutch market, conceived with insights gained from the European market. It is based on a modular platform to ensure the same frame can be used in multiple variants. This creates a bouquet of product propositions answering the requirements of various target segments. This makes the product and manufacturing process sustainable too,” explains Deepak Samuel, Head, Electric Bicycles, TI Cycles of India.

Component producers focusing on innovation and sustainability

Supplier of high-end bicycle parts Amar India showcased its growing versatility towards innovation, light weight parts and sustainability. The component maker displayed a wide range of light weight short length alloy cranks and customised narrow wide chain ring sizes in an innovative design with specific requirements for superior chain retention and noiseless ride.

“Currently, we are working with key overseas customers on mid-motor and rear hub motor e-bike crank-sets and chain rings suited for different applications. There is increasing focus on sustainability in manufacturing also, with an objective to create a green product range with low carbon footprints,” said Karan Aggarwal, Managing Director, Amar India.

Indian OEMs investing in plant automation

Indian OEMs have been investing in automation in bicycle manufacturing from quite some time and European companies like Holland Mechanics and Bike Botix have emerged as key suppliers to the Indian OEMs.

Dutch bicycle machinery supplier Holland Mechanics expanded its product portfolio beyond wheel assembly and now focuses on tailor-made, customized layouts of complete bicycle assembly lines. “Customers are focusing on diversification towards e-bikes, kid range, wheel chairs etc. Therefore, we are also focusing on complete layout and design of bicycle and e-bike assembly lines to make production lean, increasing efficiency, reducing tech time between various processes,” explained Puneet Madhav, Sales Director, Holland Mechanics India. The Dutch company’s business in India was at its peak in 2022. Diversification has continued to drive the market in 2023 with Holland Mechanics mainting the levels of the previous year maintained and a spike in sales is expected in the second half of 2024.

Data management

Meanwhile French machinery maker Bike Botix (previously known as Mach1) is further expanding its range in India. Earlier it was promoting wheel building and rim manufacturing lines in India. “We are now introducing three more verticals in India i.e. bike assembly, data management and bike tools. We have started all five in Europe and now as part of expansion three more verticals are added in India,” said Jean Pereira, Sales & Marketing Manager, Bike Botix.

When asked the reason of expanding the range in India, he said, “Indian OEMs are graduating towards high-end push bikes and e-bike segments, data management plays a key role in improving efficiencies and the quality of the product.”


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