Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bums on the Saddle

Bikes serve a number of purposes in Bengaluru ranging from fruit stands to transportation and wheelchairs to wheelbarrows. For the vast majority of “cyclists” out here the environment isn’t the least of their concerns. However, amidst the smog and noise pollution emanating from all the vehicles Rohan Kini and Nikhil Eldurkar are trying to rev up the cycling community into what would be seen in more developed countries with their project Bums on the Saddle. They are promoting cycling as an alternative transportation source to a new generation with a strong take on improving both people’s lives and the environment.

The only bicycles available in Bangalore were hunky steel bikes from brands like Atlas and Hercules until Bums on the Saddle came into existence. The company started from Rohan and Nikhil being fed up with inefficient and unreliable bikes that can bought around here. They contacted Trek and Firefox to become one of the only shops in all of India to import bikes.

Bums on the Saddles (BOTS) home base is on the rooftop of Nikhil’s home just south of the main center of Bangalore. Nikhil graciously invited me to come by and hang out on Saturday to see what BOTS was about. I arrived at Nikhil’s a little bit before the shop opened and his mother had made a delicious home cooked Indian breakfast. The mint chutney and curd was absolutely delicious. After breakfast we went to the shop which is perched on a rooftop with an awesome view. Several customers from all over the world came by to either check out the shop or buy a new bike. All the test rides are conducted on the roof. It is bar none the best environment I have ever experienced in a shop.

Later on in the day, BOTS tech Nelly came by. It was really awesome talking to Nelly who had a vast knowledge of all kinds of cycling solely based on his own research. He brought over his BMX bike which we were riding that on the roof. His BMX bike was something out of Ride magazine circa 2000. It was this heavy ass Dirt Bros bike that felt solid as hell. Some of the other BOTS helpers came by including Kaddy and Simba. Everyone was really nice. After we closed up the shop, we all had lunch with Nikhil’s family. I don’t know how I can repay their hospitality.

Bums on the Saddle are definitely a little green. However, the customer service that Nikhil offers and Nelly’s tech skills offer a solid backbone to what could be a very progressive company in this country. Sadly, Rohan had to leave for New York City earlier this week. I think he will learn a lot about what a real cycling community is like and will be able to bring that back to Bangalore to make some major improvements on what is already proving to be a great endeavor. Hopefully, the great media publicity keeps coming in and some companies become willing to take a chance on these guys into building a solid project in a developing country.

Be on the lookout for some BOTS sponsored cycling advocacy events kicking off in Bangalore.

Bums on the Saddle sign

Nelly and a BOTS saddle bag

Inside the Shop

Nikhil and some customers

Simba and Nelly

View from the rooftop
More pictures at

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