Gearless ride

Consumer preferences have shifted in favour of motorbikes and though this is partly related to price factors, it is also due to the fact that motorcycles are actually being seen as better vehicles than the heavy and unwieldy geared scooters.

The sales tax rationalisation that took place in the 2001 budget resulted in scooters becoming more expensive than before. In addition the government began to enforce strict Euro-emission norms which forced scooter manufacturers to install catalytic converters in existing vehicles or to go in for four-stroke engines to reduce pollution, thus adding to the costs of scooters. But, fortuitously, motorcycles were already in tandem with these new norms.

Motorcycle, being more suited for commuting than any other vehicle, combines a variety of factors such as comfort, ability to handle bad roads and intrinsic stability. All this makes it extremely suitable for the Indian market.

Also, motorcycles combine sturdiness and speeding capability with a smart and trendy image, which appeals to teenagers and young urban people, while rural consumers like them for their sturdiness and ability to navigate and sustain bad roads.

Here comes gearless But, curiously enough, in the past one year the scooter has not only back, but is surging ahead in sales — and this time it is sleeker, lighter and, most importantly, without gears. Indeed, in a number of B and C cities and small towns across India, women and teenagers are taking to gearless scooters like ducks to water.

It’s easy to see why. Gearless scooters are light and easy to handle, have sufficient compartments to carry goods and go easy on fuel, much like mopeds, with their almost legendary fuel-saving ability.