Hero Cycles plans to bring Street Velodrome to India

MUMBAI: Indian cycle major Hero Cycles has signed on as headline sponsor for The Viking Street Velodrome, an urban street sport in the UK that is growing in popularity and has landed TV deals to broadcast from November on BT Sport, Fox and CNN in the UK and globally.

                                                                                                                                       

A report on website indiagbnews.com quotes Hero management as saying that the company intends to take the sport to India next. Street Velodrome events are operated under license from the The Street Velodrome Company, which calls itself 'home of the world's most accessible cycle sport series. The sport, according to its official website, appears to be active only in the UK, although it has listed India among the nations it plans to target, along with Singapore, South Africa and Australia.

The Hero senior management team was in London recently for the grand finale of The Viking Street Velodrome ‘Pro Series’ which is now in its fourth year. The concept involves teams of riders taking to ‘Street Velodrome’ in cities across the UK and competing in ‘time trials’ over three laps.

The concept sees participants riding on the Avocet range of bikes including Viking and De Novo models.

Hero acquired British brand Avocet Sports in 2015, and this includes Viking – a long established UK bike brand set to celebrate its 110th anniversary in 2018. During the 2017 roadshow, the Pro Series involved local councils from within regions to send school children along to participate. It has seen children from as young as four-years-old engaging in the action, says the report.

The Viking, along with other Avocet brands, including children’s line De Novo, will form a key ingredient for spearheading a pan-European sales drive by Hero, the report says.

Several current and former British cycling greats have participated in the sport, including Olympic track cyclist and gold medal winner Craig Maclean, European and twice Italian national downhill champion Veronika Widmann, British national downhill champion Harry Molloy and British downhill champ Jess Stone.

Hero Cycles chairman and managing director Pankaj Munjal told indiagbnews that the UK has become a large focal point for firm’s global ambitions. “We have already learnt so much from working in the UK,” he said. “Around 80pc to 90pc of our sales are directly within India, so we have historically been focussed on the domestic market. Through the acquisition of Avocet Sports we have been able to transform our design and engineering capabilities including our standards and expectations. Through this process Hero Cycles has been able to evolve to the next level. I thought these developments would have happened in two to three years’ time, but it has happened much sooner.

“First, we had a country specific brand plan, now our plan is to take the English brands overseas to mainland Europe,” said Munjal. 

Hero is said to export around 20 per cent of the 500,000 units it manufactures every month. It now says the UK bike market holds massive potential with around 3 million bike sales alone each year, currently supplying around 18,000 to 20,000 bikes per month.