Two Wheeling India

Previously I had posted about my morning tea routine, where the hero of the story was the tea. Read Here. Today we have a different hero. It is the blue moped pictured above. Here is a quick story about India and the ever popular two wheelers of India. India runs on chai and moves on the mighty two-wheeler!

In a huge country like India getting from one place to another can be a pain. For most part India is well connected by road, rail, air & water transport systems. It is just the last mile connectivity and transportation within villages are yet to be addressed.

The last mile commutes were always by unconventional methods like Bullock carts, rickety rickshaws (Popularly known in other parts of the world as Tuk-Tuk), bicycle rikshaws, share autos with 15 people in it and other whackily modified vehicles.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Overloaded_jeep,_Rajasthan,_India.jpg

Cars were very expensive in India until the early 2000’s. Until the 1990’s two wheelers were the choice of personal transport. And in the two-wheeler segment, it was the scooters that were the most popular mode of personal commute. These scooters  were popular because we Indians figured out that the scooters were perfect for a family of 4 people, with one little kid standing in the front, and the other kid sitting on the lap of the mother who sat side saddle!

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Family_in_the_bike.jpg

They also doubled up as a utility vehicle to transport everything, from groceries to small furniture to gas cylinders! The scooters were the workhorse of the aspiring Indian! Check out these advertisements from the 1990s. These advertisements capture the essence of the aspiring India from that era.

Do watch these videos!

The holy trinity of the two-wheeler segment in India comprised of the Motorcycles, The Scooters and The Mopeds. Although the scooters were the go-to vehicle of most Indians until the 1990’s, they were soon to be replaced by motorcycles which saw a boom post the economic liberalization in 1991. The scooters were not the best on fuel economy and were not that easy to maneuver which was a big contributing factor for the rising popularity of the motorcycles. A large section of the Indian population now depends on motorcycles for their daily commutes.

Until about recently, motorcycles were designed and marketed for the Indian male population and the new models of gearless scooters were targeted towards the young female population. The advertisements for motorcycles were all male-centric some of them were outright sexist.

Here is one such advertisement that in my opinion was outright sexist.

The company has made amends recently and are marketing some of their motorcycles as gender neutral. Check out this iconic video advertisement put out by Bajaj Motorcycles in 2017. The theme of this advertisement was the strong independent woman of the present day India.

The motorcycles were not really meant to carry luggage on it, but we Indians do not really care much for what the intended purpose of a product is. You can see motorcycles, scooters and mopeds that carry as much luggage as a mini pickup truck sometimes!

Until the 1990s the two-wheeler was the domain of men. It was never designed for the saree clad Indian women! Enter, our hero, the moped! Mopeds were initially designed keeping women in mind, the small frame with the V chassis was perfect for Indian women wearing sarees.

Below is the video ad that specifically targeted the Indian women.

But, like all Indian things; people here found a different use for the mopeds. The mopeds became the go to vehicle by small vendors who sold things from house to house or as pop up markets. Basically, they quickly started replacing the good old bicycles which were earlier used.

Below is a video ad that targeted the small door to door vendors in India.

India moves on two wheelers and I cannot imagine an India without them.

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