A Comeback of Sorts
The Indian two-wheeler market is making a comeback of sorts, although it is still far from where it was before the pandemic. Manufacturers like Hero MotoCorp, who used to register 7,00,000 units in some of the months, are now down to 3,00,000 units a month. Most of the manufacturers are registering 50 to 60 per cent of sales of what they were before the outbreak of the pandemic.
With high inflation, the cost of two-wheelers has already gone up and now, with new emission norms coming in with OBD-II, bike prices are likely to go up even further. Furthermore, the high cost of fuel keeps having a major impact on the cost of living for the poor and the middle class and these are the people who buy entry-level 100-cc motorcycles and scooters. A true indicator of the economy is the sale of entry-level two-wheelers: if they are doing well, then you know that the economy is doing well and if not, you know that the bottom of the pyramid is not doing well.
The mechanically linked braking system in entry-level bikes is not a foolproof system, for it does not yield the desired result when the brake cables are not adjusted regularly or one of them has greater free play than the other. In such cases, you will either experience excessive braking at the front or at the rear. It works well when you have linked hydraulic brakes because hydraulic brakes are self-adjusting, ensuring that you get the desired pressure and stopping power on the front and rear brakes. Thus, mechanically linked braking is a flawed system.
As has been reiterated in these columns several times, we require stringent licensing norms to decide who deserves a riding licence and who does not. Riding a two-wheeler is not just about knowing how to balance yourself on it, depress the clutch, engage the gear, and start moving. There is a lot more to riding a two-wheeler. Besides, we do not have proper riding schools that can train people in riding a two-wheeler before obtaining a licence and venturing on to the road.