How many times have you felt the need to own a bike for those weekend trips in Bangalore? Coming from Goa, where one can hire a bike for a day, enjoy the Goan picturesque beaches at your own convenience, it’s been difficult for me to enjoy weekend trips here in Bangalore.
Vivekananda, Anil and Varun faced the same problem, too. Owning a bike seems to be a good option, but daily traffic woes convinced them to move away from this thought. What if you could just hire a bike for a day, enjoy your ride and be back home safe without any kinds of pressures?
“All three of us,” says Vivekananda, “were crazy about bikes, like most men are. We always dreamt of riding bikes like Harley Davidson, Triumph and BMWs, and used to drool over these bikes every time we glimpsed one of them.”
The idea for Wicked Ride came from their shared dream of working on innovative ideas. They’d already been working on developing business software and mobile applications. But, the craze for bikes superseded all that.
One fine day we were discussing on some idea in the list and suddenly we decided to pool some money to buy a nice, powerful and beautiful bike. The EMI for these kind of luxury bikes turned out to be pretty high and when we decided to reduce the cash outflow by time share/renting the bike to cover a certain portion of the EMI. That's when the business of starting a luxury bike rental Company cropped up and we decided to run a pilot after some research on this particular business model.
We did surveys during the pilot to understand what our fleet should be over a period, pros and cons of doing this in Indian environment and the response from the pilot gave us the confidence to expand.
The team first did a pilot to understand the market for their choices over a period of months. They also had to spend time understanding the various rules and regulations laid down by the Indian Government for fleet services.
Being confident about the bold decision of taking up risk to startup this venture, Vivekananda says, “The support and belief shown by our family and friends is the very reason Wicked Ride exists.”
That’s how Wicked Ride became, in a nutshell. It’s simply put a membership-based, hyper-local self-drive service that allows individuals to hire luxury bikes on hourly or daily basis, and currently operates in Bangalore.
Their first bike was the Continental GT café racer. It graced Wicked Ride on 3 April 2014. Since then, they’ve added the Harley Davidson Iron 883, Super Low 883, Street 750; Royal Enfield Classic Chrome, Desert Storm, Thunderbird; Triumph Bonneville to the collection.
Vivekananda says, “We will be soon adding the Indian Scout and BMW bikes to our fleet.”
Safety of the riders is also another critical area such startups need to focus on. Speaking about this, Vivek shared,
We insist and educate on importance of proper riding gear, which includes helmet, protective jackets, kneepads etc. We give a thorough demo about the bike to every customer. Even at the time of initial booking we try to understand their previous biking experience, their height, where they want to take the bike and make suggestions. If someone is not so experienced with bike we ask them to start with lower version of our fleet so that they get accustomed to the bigger ones later. We also ask them to take couple of spins around our facility so that we are confident enough that they can handle the bike.
In response to customer needs, they’re diversifying into sales of biking apparels and gears, too. But, the immediate plan to scale is to move towards a franchisee model.
Started with the passion to fulfill the dream of every biker to experience riding high-end bikes, the team has a long way to go ahead. To further fuel this passion to ride a luxury bike, the team is getting into organizing expeditions. They’re moving ahead with creating a biker’s café amidst Western Ghats, near the incredibly scenic and serene Sakleshpur, a hill station in Hassan, home to acres of coffee plantations.
“We’re also conducting free biking classes for women. We’re doing to this promote biking culture amongst women; it also indirectly helps us create a more diverse user base for Wicked Ride,” says Vivekananda.
Currently, Wicked Ride does not charge for these training sessions, and they receive immense support for their initiative by women biking enthusiasts in the state.
Today, where many startups are trying their bit to move away people from ownership to renting vehicles, this renting bike model seems exciting. There is definitely a market gap that Wicked Ride is trying to address, but their operations and service experience shall decide their future.
Until this while, social media and simple word-of-mouth marketing is what worked in Wicked Ride’s favour.
We believe in traditional way of marketing too. We have interacted with every other person on bike who we used to see on the street and put the word across saying that you can "rent a Harley Davidson in Bangalore". People use to save our contact numbers and used to call us back to see if we were really a business or if it was a joke. We have had instances where we get calls asking if we really exist as they cannot believe something like this to exist!
Replicating this model across various cities successfully is their immediate concern. It’s still a long, but thrilling, journey ahead.
Go check their website.