From bicycle parts to e-bikes and conversion kits, here’s the story of Geekay Bikes
Ludhiana-based Geekay Bikes has a long history which dates back to 1961 when it started trading cycle parts. It now sells a range of premium bicycles, e-bikes and conversion kits. SMB Story traces the six-decade journey of Geekay Bikes.
India may be at a nascent stage in the adoption of electric bicycles, but there is a growing market for electric bicycle conversion kits, which can transform standard bicycles into e-bikes with relative ease using an electric hub motor and a battery pack. And this is where Ludhiana-basedbelieves it has gained a first-mover advantage.
DIY electric bicycle conversion kits, which Geekay Bikes ventured into in 2016, now contribute around 20% of the company’s revenue.
The innovation to transform an ordinary bicycle into an e-bike was a watershed moment for the company, enabling it to tackle the issue of long-distance mobility at a fraction of the cost of owning a car or a two-wheeler.
Geekay Bikes wanted to offer a product that would save space and cost, lead to a better environment, promote a healthier lifestyle, and also enable people to ride more distance vis-à-vis standard bicycles.
“We observed that electric power will play a key role in India’s transportation growth story and tried to include electric bicycle conversion kits for people who have already invested in bicycles but were passionate to go far more miles through our conversion kits,” Rajesh Bhatia, a second-generation entrepreneur and Managing Director of Geekay Bikes, tells SMBStory.
The ratio between users of standard bicycles and electric bicycles in developed markets is about 20:25, says Rajesh. In comparison, the adoption of e-bikes is very low in India. Currently, about 51% of Indians use the regular bicycle for daily commute.
“Even if we are able to convert 10% of the 51%, the growth rate will be phenomenal. The market potential is very bright,” says Rajat Bhatia, Rajesh’s son, and Managing Partner at Geekay Bikes.
Rajat says there has been a growing interest in e-conversion kits due to better consumer awareness and curiosity for solutions that tackle everyday problems.
The global market for hybrid EV conversion kits was valued at $0.5 billion in 2021, according to an Allied Market Research report, and it is projected to reach $2.6 billion by 2031, at a CAGR of 16.5%.
Geekay claims to be the only player that offers DIY kits to users. Other players offering conversion kits include GoGoA1, eRideLite, and Loop Moto.
Apart from e-conversion kits, Geekay Bikes also offers a range of e-bikes.
The company’s e-bikes can ride 50 km on a single charge and are priced between Rs 28,000 and Rs 42,000. It competes with players such as Hero Lectro and Meraki in this category.
“Our e-bikes and e-conversion kits offer solutions of better fitness and health while reducing travel and ownership costs, which make them a strong use case for very fast adoption,” says Rajat.
E-bikes and accessories contribute 25% of total sales, while e-conversion kits and allied products contribute 20%. The remaining 55% comes from exports and retail of premium bicycles (mountain bikes, kids’ bikes) and spare parts.
The traction for e-conversion kits is 50% more than e-bikes due to high curiosity in these products, says Rajat.
A trip down memory lane
While e-bikes and e-conversion kits are relatively newer product categories, the company has been in existence since the early sixties.
The story of Geekay Bikes dates back to 1961 when Devraj Bhatia (Rajat Bhatia’s grandfather) set up the company. Initially, it was involved in trading of bicycle parts in and around Ludhiana in Punjab.
In 1976, Devraj’s son Rajesh Bhatia joined the business and ventured into exports, understanding the potential of the rapidly growing market for cycle and rickshaw parts outside India, especially in Bangladesh.
A need to innovate pushed the Bhatias towards the finished products market—leading to the birth of Geekay bicycles in 2010.
As he explored the market, Rajesh realised that bicycles were more than just a mode of transportation. They were an integral part of people’s childhood and their memories and also a lifestyle choice for many.
It was a time when the bicycle market in the country was dominated by large players such as Hero Cycles and Avon Cycles. So, Rajesh wanted to differentiate his brand and offer a "premium" product with "innovative solutions" to passionate riders.
The company’s inaugural bicycle—Geekay Geometry—boasted of a 3*9 gear configuration, making it one of India’s premier high-spec models in its day, according to Rajesh.
Despite the challenges of a crowded market, Geekay Bikes, Rajesh says, stuck to its philosophy of innovation and high-quality products catering to all age groups. This enabled the company to thrive and spread its presence across the country with a vast distributor network. It now works with 800 distributors across India.
The company’s bestseller is the high-end LEOX, a 1*13 speed downhill MTB with air suspension and hydraulic brakes. Rajat says Geekay Bikes is one of the few brands in the world to have made a bicycle with 13 gears at the back—suited for rides in trails and in the city. Other than Geekay Bikes, Taiwanese bicycle manufacturer Giant and Indonesia-based Polygon have made this kind of a cycle, he says.
“Unfortunately, the major bicycle manufacturers in our country are not investing in R&D; they are still fighting for price points and this is where we are filling the gap by investing in innovation,” says Rajat.
Today, Geekay Bikes has about 160 SKUs across bicycles, e-bicycles and e-conversion kits.
The company has big plans for the future. It is developing e-bikes that can travel 100 km on a single charge and is planning to launch them by May this year.
There are also plans to bring in an e-bicycle under the price point of Rs 20,000 and also introduce four models of e-scooters, thus marking Geekay’s entry into the EV two-wheeler space.
Edited by Swetha Kannan