An interview with the co-founder – Upendra Deshpande
A brave young brand Convolution Bikes is not only making high-end customized bicycles in India but also achieving podium finishes. Has India’s technical prowess finally caught up with national pride? Get answers from the founder himself – Upendra Deshpande.
What does a Made-in-India cycle really mean?
For us, its with design and manufacturing. The cycles are not just assembled in India, but our frames are made right here in Pune.
How did you get into this?
Both me and my partner Ashish were housemates in the UK, pursuing Masters programmes. With London being an expensive city, we bought our first bikes to get around the city and freely explore. We connected with many cyclists and followed the cycle races in the 2012 London Olympics; the pro cyclists were whizzing right past our backyard!
After studies, both of us wanted to start something on our own, related to high-end design and manufacturing. We saw there were no Indian cyclists in the London Olympics, no bike brands coming out of India and decided to develop a performance-oriented product.
What is Convolution Bikes all about?
For us, Convolution Bikes is a platform for Indian engineers, designers, technicians, to work for the betterment of the Indian and perhaps the world bicycle industry. Within a few years of inception, we have worked with designers and engineers from many prestigious institutes like IITB, IISC, IDC, ISD Pune.
India being one of the largest markets for cycles, we thought there should one Indian brand coming up with bikes at par with European and American bikes. Being made in India, the cycles would also be more affordable for Indians.
Interesting! We heard you do custom bikes too…
We offer two types of cycles
- Standard geometry cycles
For customized bikes, our design team recreates the
rider’s body in CAD as a 2D mannequin. We take account of his body
measurements, weekly activities, riding style, past injuries, average power
output. We calculate the correct crank length, gear ratios and stem lengths for
that rider and only then start cutting the tubes. Some of our earliest
customers were seasoned riders and loved having a bike made for them.
Our standard designs are made from all the data collected on Indian bodies in the last 3 years and from ARAI data. Indians have different arm and leg ratios, but having no choice they had to buy European bikes made for European bodies. The cyclist can also choose a custom colour, and have a personal message or name pasted in the cycle.
Why would a cyclist choose Convolution Bikes over better known international brands?
Our presence in India makes us unique, as we are literally a phone call away in case of any queries about the product. The cyclist has instant and direct contact with the maker of his cycle!
User-centric design is our base. We use the same quality materials, sophisticated CAD and FEA analysis tools as any good brand. We also control the quality of our frames with an expert team for metallurgical analysis, stiffness and strength testing. Our forks and the rest of the components are thoroughly tested as per ISO standards by us and our trusted OEMs that work with the best brands around the world. And finally, Convolution is cost-effective, with international level product quality.
How are these bikes performing?
A few pro athletes have been involved with us since product testing days. They are now achieving podium finishes.
Varun Iyengar, one of the top 10 ultra runners in India and a mechanical engineer himself, was instrumental in prototype testing. He is continually placing in the top 3 positions in the BRM circuit in Pune, on his Convolution Bike.
Eshaan Sharma from the Maharashtra MTB team stood 6th in the Pune-Baramati race in 2019, also secured 2 more podium finishes in Mumbai Crit races and was a top finisher in the Bangalore Cycling Challenge on his Aspera.
Kunal Bhave, Senior Manager (Finance) at HDFC, Mumbai completed his solo Spiti Valley Expedition on his customized Aspera in 2018. And Stefanie Fritzen from Germany has bagged many QOMs in India on her customised Aspera bike.
We want to have a stronger base in India in 2020. We are coming up with two more products. The first – an under 9 kg hybrid bike for commutes and long weekend rides. And second – a pro-level aluminium-carbon bike for serious racers by end of this year. Next year you will get to see our first flat mount disc bike, as prototyping is underway.
Currently, we offer free customization to all pro athletes and also women, towards making standardised sizes for women. We are also going to offer research programmes to fresh graduates, designers and engineers, increasing the knowledge base in the high-end bicycle manufacturing.