More than half a decade ago, cycling was not a fad among the youth. It was only seen as a poor man’s bread. Cyclist, who rode those days, would sometimes get pushed to the edge of the road, holding on to their dear lives. Factors like lack of awareness, access to high-quality bicycles, accessories and poor infrastructure played a major role in restricting cyclists to pursue their passion.
However, with every sunrise and sunset, things today have changed. Cycling enthusiasts have grown in every city; groups have been popular on social media and Whatsapp; more bike brands have come down to offer a variety to people of different age groups; super randonneurs that were once hard to find live and breathe among us; century rides and brevets that were dreaded back then now seem to be a joke! More races are organised and health is the epitome!
This has not only helped sports evolve nationally but also internationally. (INDIA’S participation at PBP in 2011 and 2015 was 15 and 53 simultaneously.) All these achievements have added fuel to newbie cyclists which have made them confident to take on the streets.
Today, Indian cycling has not only grown on the road and in the mountains but also has evolved as a mode to commute. While there is plenty to choose from for road, hybrid and mountain bikers, commuters now have a variety too! Thanks to Pankaj Patil- the man behind India’s first foldable bicycle (PPOF).
We were lucky enough to get in touch with this man to present to you his inspiring story that will want you to get your hands on his masterpiece, the foldie!
Q: What have you learned from cycling?
Pankaj Patil on foldie: A lot. Mainly the following 3 things: –
Never Give Up
There is no such thing as ‘failure’. Either it’s a success or it’s NOT a success. All you need to do is keep on trying until it is a success. Till you reach your goal, you will face many obstacles in various forms. Some will make you strong while others will demotivate you. Regardless, you must keep going and believe in your dreams. In this process, every obstacle will teach you something that will eventually help you succeed.
Dare to do different:
People tend to do or follow what has been done in the past. However, there is no single method or ONLY correct way of doing things. Trust your gut and try it your way at least once before writing it off.
Follow your passion:
Anything that you can do every single day without getting tired and worrying about what you will get in return… that’s what you need to do!
Q: Tell us about some of your biggest achievements till date?
Pankaj: In relation to cycling, doing 600km on a folding bike was special for me. Not because I think it’s a big deal (It isn’t), but because of the way it happened: –
Someone challenged me to do a 200km brevet on a foldie. I accepted and eventually went on to do the entire Super Randonneur series (200, 300, 400 and 600kms) on the same bike.
It took six unsuccessful attempts and each one took a lot out of me. A few people started making fun of me and suggested that I should give up. But I never let that get in my head and my dreams. My achievement is that I never felt that I cannot do it and I proved to myself and my critics that what I felt and knew indeed happened on the 7th attempt. This achievement has changed me as a person completely!
Q: Tell us about Pankaj Patil on Foldie PPOF…
All of us ride regularly and some of us use foldies as secondary bikes (except me as they are primary). Over time, I realised that we couldn’t buy the foldie we really wanted, in terms of the specifications available on the Indian market. There seemed to be a void of sorts, especially in the mid-range. Along with my team, I wanted to fill that void.
So, in a way, we (Pankaj and team) set out to put together the bike we would like to buy ourselves.
“ The thought of coming up with our own folding bike brand; implementing, executing and finally going live was a daunting task, especially with me personally having no background in business, zero experience in marketing or branding. Fortunately, it turned out that my friends i.e. our team, had all the background, experience, and technical skills in-house.”
“Regardless of how things go from here, I consider this as another achievement in self-belief!”
Q: How did the thought of manufacturing a foldie bloom?
PPOF Team: A couple of years ago, Pankaj was announced as the Indian brand ambassador of one of the world’s leading folding bike manufacturers. Around the time his obligations to the brand concluded, the idea of making our own foldies crossed our mind. It made sense in a way; there’s hardly anyone out there who has spent more time with these bikes and he understands them in a way few people do.
The rest of us also saw a huge, untapped potential in folding bicycles for commuting to work etc. and felt that we understood what someone who likes the idea of a folding bike is looking for. We liked the idea of a foldie that is equally good at short trips to a shop or long weekend rides, a bike fitted with tried-and-tested components we can count on.
As stated above, we thought of a bike that we would want to buy ourselves and then make it available to other people. One thing leads to another and it ended up becoming a full-fledged project.
Q: What were the challenges you faced while making your first bike?
Team:A lot of time was spent on finalizing the specifications of the bike. We had several high-quality parts in mind but we wanted to make sure they would all work together perfectly. The frame being the backbone of any bike had to be particularly good; something we could rely on for future versions of the bike if need be. Several variations later, we settled on a frame that was up to the mark.
The second challenge was that we needed to be sure that the bike would work well on Indian roads. While Western/European foldies are made for smooth roads, ours had to be compliant enough to handle potholes, road bumps, be stiff and fast at the same time. Striking this balance was quite daunting for us!
However, after trying three bikes with different components, the fourth bike felt exactly as we had imagined in our heads. We got what we wanted and that bike became the first PPOF model.
Q: What makes your foldable bike so special?
In order to get similar components from another bike manufacturer, you’d have to move up an entire price tier! We make use of rugged mountain bike parts wherever necessary to make sure that the bike along with the components is reliable and durable.
Our frame is; strong yet light, comfortable yet fast, compliant yet stiff. It can hold its own with manufacturers that have been making frames for decades.
Despite 1) & 2), our bike is very competitively priced.
Q: Any views of people who have already purchased the bike?
Q: Do you make custom bike frames?
PPOF Team: Traditionally, custom frames are built to a buyer’s height and size specifications. However, foldies can accommodate riders of virtually any height which makes custom frames unnecessary.
General bike customization is not something we’re doing now although we might in the future. Inderjit Singh Khamba has been customizing bikes for quite some time now and he’ll probably be the guy from the team most likely to take this up.
Q: Where can one buy the bikes?
If you prefer buying the bike in person, we work with several dealers that have our bikes stocked at their stores. We’re constantly adding new dealers; get in touch and we’ll point you to the closest location.
Q: What warranty do you offer? Any after-sale services that PPOF offers?
Team: Our frame carries a 5-year warranty and the parts are covered for 1 year.
EVO Bikes Vashi is the official tech support for PPOF. Any technical issues will be taken care of by them. Support or advice, if needed, is just a call or email away.
Q: What are your future plans?
Team: As cyclists, we understand the importance of pacing and so we’re taking things one step at a time.
Our ambition is to revolutionize personal transport, transform the nation’s fitness and improve people’s lives by introducing them to the joys and benefits of cycling.
Special thanks to Pankaj Patil on Foldie
Editor: Nigel Buthello