Women are coming up to buy superbikes: Vimal Sumbly


Hinckley, Leicestershire based 112 year-old motorbike maker Triumph, which owns iconic brands like Bonneville, Rocket, Daytona and Thunderbird, is gearing up to take on rivals Harley Davidson, Honda, Yamaha and Royal Enfield in India. Having started its journey in January 2014, Triumph has sold 1600 bikes so far, and claims to have 32 per cent market share in the 500cc plus bikes segment. 

In an interview with Sohini Das, bike industry veteran and managing director of Triumph Motorcyles India, Vimal Sumbly talks about how women buyers are a growing phenomenon in the superbikes space. Edited excerpts:

How is the luxury premium bike segment growing in India?

In the luxury premium segment, the market is changing drastically. The 500 cc plus segment in India just started in 2008-09 with Harley coming in. At that time the industry was hardly 450-500 bikes in a year. Last year, when we closed March 2015, this was around 9,900 units. I expect this segment to double, touch 20,000 bikes per year by 2020. And the reason behind this rapid growth is that people in India want to splurge. India is not a cost-driven market, it's rather a value-driven market.

Any new customer trend you have spotted? 

Women are coming to buy superbikes. We don't see much of this in the South, but in West we are increasingly witnessing this trend. In Surat and Ahmedabad, in cities like Pune and Mumbai. The Bonnevilles are a favourite. One customer from Surat actually bought a 1000 cc Speed bike from us. There are two clubs called the Bikerni in Pune and the Riderni in Ahmedabad, where there are owners of different brands of bikes.

It has been a good journey so far for you in India. What next?

In 500 cc and Rs 5 lakh plus, we have a 32 per cent market share - 1,600 bikes in 18 months and counting. Strategically, we have a three-pronged approach for India. One is to get the correct products and that too at the correct price points; today we have a classic that starts at Rs 6 lakh and a Rocket which is at Rs 23 lakh. We are the only brand in India which has all the category of bikes. When we launched, we only had five products that were in the completely-knocked-down (CKD) format. In CKD, you save duties, and now we have eight products in CKD. So, we have almost doubled our products in CKD, thereby passing that benefit to the end-consumer. Second, is to have dealerships at the right locations, and third is to have a strong service network. All dealerships (currently 10 and we are adding two more soon) have a service center attached. Our Manesar plant has enough spares to service the Indian market. We plan to grow by 30 per cent this year. It's more about the category growing, and market shares are dynamic.

Harley Davidson motor clothes will now be available through an exclusive online store on Myntra. Do you have plans for e-commerce?

The strategy of Triumph is slightly different. Our prop line-up is all technical props. We are motorcycle oriented, and want to offer an experience to the customer.

What has been India's response to the limited edition Rocket? 

Superbikes are all about power. When you experience power, you are stuck with it. Once you experience an 865 cc, you can't really go back to a 500 cc. The segment is growing and as more machines come in, it will continue to grow further. We are launching a 10 year edition of Rocket, there will be 500 bikes across the globe. We sell in 55-60 countries. Rocket is the largest production motorcycle in the world, it's a 2300 cc bike, priced at Rs 23 lakh. It has completed ten years, and we are bringing in a limited edition, and in India we have got 15 bookings already.

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