Cranking out new takes on the bicycle

Reinventing the cycle: Enthusiasts with an innovative bicycle at the Cycle Katta

Reinventing the cycle: Enthusiasts with an innovative bicycle at the Cycle Katta  

At a community meet, creators showcased innovative versions of the humble two-wheeler

Mumbai: On Sunday, the city’s cycling community gathered at D.G. Ruparel College in Matunga, to see bicycles made from steel, titanium, aluminium, complex alloys, even waste metal and bamboo, at an interactive session devoted to ‘creating the bike’ organised by Cycle Katta, a non-profit organisation.

Cycle Katta was founded in 2015 by a group of cycling enthusiasts. “There are platforms to discuss books and movies,” says Prashant Nanaware, a member, “but none to talk about cycling experiences. So we started Cycle Katta, as we wanted to develop a cycling culture in India.” While many Indians did cycle regularly once, he says, now it is only vendors who go from house to house who do so. While abroad, he has seen important elected officials commute on cycles, but “in India, we see a convoy of cars for ministers. That must be changed if we want to develop a cycling culture.” The community meets every three months to share experiences and promote the cycling culture.

Reinventing wheels

S.A. Pathak, founder of Bamboochi, which makes bamboo cycles, told The Hindu, “One day, while watching a TV programme, I saw that a bicycle could be made from bamboo. I began researching it, and started building my first bicycle, which took two years.” Bamboochi now makes bamboo cycles custom-built to a customer’s requirements, size, and weight. “The customer chooses the bamboo; we then fix the geometry of the cycle.” The bamboo flexes and absorbs high frequency vibrations, he says, and the joints are carbon-fibre, seven times stronger than steel, to make the cycles lighter.

Sanjay Paranjpe of Crimpjack, a Pune-based company, displayed his Mindwagon, a light-weight aluminium bicycle. “I have invented shock-absorbing techniques for bicycles which are not available anywhere in the world. We use polyurethane and butyl tubes hidden in the main tube under the seat, allowing for a convenient ride on any surface. The chance of a puncture is reduced as well, because of the use of butyl tubes.” It also has sealed ball bearings in the wheels, to protect them from dust, brake lights, night-lights, turning indicators and horns. His bike weighs under 12 kilos, as compared to the conventional 18 kilos, and costs ₹16,000.

Durgesh Zipre, a cycle shop owner from Kalyan, makes tandem cycles (bikes on which more than one person can sit and pedal). “My friends were travelling to Pali and asked me to build something different. My father had made a tandem bicycle after watching the movie Shaan, so I made a tandem for them, with three seats. That was my beginning” His tandems use waste metal pipes for the frame, and the chains are from motorcycles, as they are stronger. For his second cycle, which he has named Rocky, at the request of his son, Mr. Zipre has used a suspension from a damaged motorbike he owns. He has been making customised cycles since 1994. He loves cycles because “all one needs to have is will power. One can then travel wherever one wants to”.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 2:42:15 AM |

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