TI Cycles launches Montra, India's first indigenously-produced carbon frame bicycle that weighs just 8.5kg
Watching his colleagues take turns to lift the ultra-light carbon-frame bicycle Montra and pose for pictures, I.V. Veeresh smiles. For the young designer from TI Cycles, this sight is a reward for a protracted struggle. Two years ago, when the company asked him to design a fully carbon-frame bicycle good for fast pleasure rides — together with designer S. Ramchandran and Thiyagarajan — Veeresh found the assignment novel and daunting.
The youngster had not designed a bicycle, let alone a carbon one. Qualified in automotive design from Coventry University, he realised he had to become a student again. But, who would teach him? Since the proposed cycle was going to be India's first indigenously-produced carbon-frame bicycle, there was no local expertise. He went to engineers of Bianchi and Cannondale — brands TI cycles has brought to India — who are familiar with the technology. But, most of Veeresh's knowledge comes from the road.
“The process of self-learning started with a whimsical ride to Puducherry,” recalls Veeresh. An experienced motorcycle racer and passionate bike-rider on scenic expressways, he had to make only a minor shift in his mindset when deciding to take a bicycle to Puducherry. “I was studying the man-bicycle dynamics,” he explains. “I realised I take the bicycle to a destination as much as it takes me there. I serve as an engine for a bicycle.” This was not a lone ride aimed at kick-starting the project. “In the last two years, I have done about 12,000 km with bicycles,” says Veeresh. “Looking back, this passion for long-distance cycling — more than anything else — helped me contribute to this project.”
During these rides, he arrived at calculations that would go into the design of ergonomic features that can benefit people with any body structure. “For example, the seat tube and head tube are placed in angles that will make the ride comfortable both for short and tall riders,” he says. Veeresh and his team mates had to bear this in mind — the bicycle had to be ultra-light and also strong.
Ramachandran and Thiyagarajan helped with the analysis of the bike's structural stability through Nastran software. With the fully carbon-frame Montra weighing in at 8.5 kg and surviving a punishing run of 2,000 km, the team has achieved both goals.
“We could have reduced the weight by 3 kg and made an extremely light bicycle, but, given the conditions of roads in India, this is just the perfect weight.”
He barely finishes this sentence when a colleague lifts a Montra effortlessly with one hand and holds it like a trophy. (The price of the fully carbon-frame range — Montra Techno — begins at Rs. 60,000; the alloy-and-carbon range — available in two variants, Montra Jazz and Montra Country — starts at Rs. 21,000).