Cycling, ladies and gents, can be very onomatopoeic. Especially, when one is explaining the mechanics of it. One always involves aural cues to explain to the audience, what they should look out for, re. various cycle parts.

Rishabh and I have a system of keeping an ear out for explanations from Pavan and Nikhil – who will be called Cacofonix and Euphonix respectively, for the rest of this post.

Cacofonix’s Clamouring

“Likely to have your frame going DRRRRRR”

“On a roadbike, your brake pads don’t have too much give. It just goes plakkk!”

“There is nothing else on earth like the sound of a bike. Like the CL 250. It makes a metallic sound… like nnn… dhinnnnn… dhinnn… dhinnnnn…”

“Listen to the Long haul Trucker’s chain… it has that lovvvvely mechanic sssrrrrrrrrrrrrr. A-ha!”

Euphonix’s Exclamations

“When your tyre sounds like this taktaktaktak – you know you might not have a puncture but certainly low air”

“At that point, your knees should be locked out, hips should not be moving side to side, like jagajagajaga like this.”

“The foddle. Er… the saddle forward…” (okay. That wasn’t truly in the spirit of things, but hey)

“Aiii! Ahhh. Ohhh. Nice wheels, those Fast Forward ones!”

“If you hear a sound like this – badabadabadabadabada, it is possibly the chain.”

“No, the Surly is more like zzzzzzzzrrrrrrrrrzzzz.”

“I was sooo happy with my bike, I was going faaaast, like zzzwwiiiiiiiiiii on the Ulsoor lake road and just past RBANMS, pataaaar! Next thing you know, I was on the road and all other vehicles were safely whizzing past gzzzzrrrrrrrrrrrrr at some distance”

Now if I say, “friends, cyclists, countrymen, lend me your ears”, you’ll probably happily hand ‘em over and not want ‘em back! 🙂



Welcome to the sounds of the bike store!

Horn ok please ! 😉



cycle boys 2

That’s what he said. ‘He’ being Socrates.

So, on a fine Sunday morning, 9 months after the store began, I got to wondering what started the germ of the idea of a cycle store. Sure, the story of how it actually came about – the physics of it is documented elsewhere in this blog.

No, I decided to investigate the circumstances that built the DNA. And what got us from ‘corporate drone and hating it’ to walking down the trail that Emerson spoke about so eloquently – ‘Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail’

So, let’s set off!

Epiphanies need space: Pavan found his in the great outdoors, when he went up a mountain to fetch a pail of life. While climbing with his friend in Sikkim, heading towards Kanchenjunga, he realised that he wanted more out of life.

Choice: Viktor Frankl’s simple quote (like most beautiful things in life, its simplicity staggered us).

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.”

The moral courage to use the space between stimulus and response and to choose the difficult path both came from this simple quote. It really comes down to control. The mind said, “If I have control over this set of stimuli, can I live with myself, if I don’t try to go down the path where one of my dreams is strewn?”

Management by Saint-Exupery:

Another impact was the writer-aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Better known as the author of ‘The Little Prince’. Here, we get into what helps us in full execution mode.


the sea

Pic courtesy:


Priorities –


Pic courtesy:




Pic courtesy:


Customer service


Pic courtesy:

Original thought, thanks to Daniel Pink:

Daniel Pink has been an inexhaustible supply of original thinking, more suited to our times. The man is absolutely brilliant. You read his stuff and nod your head in dawning comprehension or in vehement agreement or relieved gratitude at not being alone.

Here are some influences from his books: (not in the order we read them in)

Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us.

This book talks about the science & the building blocks of what makes us who we are. And that is always good to know.

The book says, the three aspects of our motivating forces at work are

Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives

Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something that matters

Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

We put this in our context-

Autonomy: looking back, the business is a response to the urge to direct our own lives. To evaluate our interests, say cycling, from the lens of business feasibility. Put in hours of research and ask, is there a scope for me to do something of enduring value here?

Mastery: Pavan brings his retail expertise to finding the right location, to setting up the store in record time and on a serious budget, to imbibe poetry into the process of creation. Next step, what brands can we keep, how can we have better accessories than anyone else in town, how can we improve the experience of the customer, when they come in for service. How can we introduce efficiencies we did not have in the last month. How can we learn more about everything cycling. Within the store, we have the head mechanic, 20-year old Riyaz, who is constantly googling new stuff, with the spirit of learning. Pavan and Nikhil learn from Riyaz, from videos, from Sheldon Brown… and now Pavan’s adding to that mastery at UBI in a fortnight long set of classroom sessions. The business really lives up to the parent company’s name (The Fuller Life Continuous Learning Pvt. Ltd., in case you wondered).

Purpose: Do we add to the local community? Are customers happy to interact with us? Do we do more for them? In what ways? Comprehensive collection of spares at fair costs, timeliness of service, and transparency in telling customers what their cycles will go through.  Selling the right size to customers and not try to hard sell anything to them. Give them options and leave them to make a decision. The first to offer doorstep pick & drop. The first cycle store to offer Do It Yourself classes with Park Tool. We offer to take these classes to companies. We do custom fits for cycles. Yes, we already add significant value to the Bangalorean cycling subculture.

A Whole New Mind

This book talks about using the creative side of the brain. Here’s what the book says –  the conceptual age is coming and one needs to think of…

Not just function but also design: have you seen our store? It’s a design masterpiece. Visually, we have our landlord Suraj to thank for creating Crete in the centre of Cantonment Bangalore. The design-based thinking of our offerings – we can take credit for that!

Not just argument but also story: the CFL blog is an attempt to do just that. Our social media presence tells the stories of people in the store as much as hawk our wares. Our video ‘Finally, Freewheeling’ is another way of telling our story.

Not just focus but also symphony: the way folks work here is not by way of specialization but with focus on synthesis. We all get into each other’s spaces, give ideas to make the overall business better and question status quo, irrespective of our own expertise or experience.

Not just logic but also empathy: every product here is put together with the idea of “If I was the customer”. Park Tool School, for example. We asked ourselves, “How can cyclists learn basic bike maintenance? What can we do to help? It took a break from traditional, business minded thinking, such as, “if we teach cyclists maintenance, it will take away from our cycle service revenues” And boy, is it paying us off, to think for the customer. The same goes for the pick-up and drop service. It costs us a lot of time. It earns us very little, given that we hire a van, create a safe space for picking up and dropping the cycle. But the big payout there is huge customer smiles.

Not just seriousness but also play: This is every day for us. We don’t have fab Fridays for forty minutes of fascinating fun. Every day is fun. Because we were fooling around with our own cycle frames, we got the expertise to know how to build custom bikes. And that’s serious revenue in the future.

Not just accumulation but also meaning: the question – “I have used resources in my tenure on earth. What am I doing, to give back, to leave a legacy of positivity and meaning?” The answer; 9 months; India’s cycling capital; Created one of the most engaging, transparent, happy local bike shops, that is much loved by customers.

cycle boys

So that, favoured readers, was us looking back at what brought us here. That’s a lot of introspection for one day 🙂

And with that wisdom, we look azimuth-wards and wonder.


Man that Surly!

Posted by pavan | Adventures

It’s often been said that the pendulum goes full swing before it returns. Now, this is usually said of deep, soul-searing matters, such as the state of the economy, the status of women in society, and inflation, to name a few.


Here, we are talking about single speed bikes. Specifically, A Surly Cross-Check single speed, innovatively custom built to a cost.


To rewind a little, Nikhil and I were talking – about bikes, as usual – and how the old steel frames had a beauty of their own, and how single speeds were so simple to build and maintain, and how everyone should own one steel single speed. Enter stage right, the Surly Cross-Check frame. It’s a beautiful frame – not the lightest, built field-tested to destruction, and so flexible. It can be anything you want – tourer with rack and panniers and low gearing, road bike, single speed / fixie, whatever. The steel frame and the horizontal dropouts mean you can do so much with the bike.


Remember the pendulum? Well, it’s gone full swing. After the initial excitement over 20 – plus gears, carbon fibre, electronic shifting, yada yada yada, we seem to have realised something we shouldn’t have forgotten, which is:


-          Single speeds are cheap

-          They’re easy to maintain


Oh, bu%^er all that,  they’re a hooligan to ride! On a medium-length ride, with reasonably flat or rolling terrain, they’re also shyte fast. The sheer immediacy of power delivery, routed straight from the crank to the rear cog with no rear derailleur, is addictive. You WANT to dice with traffic. You WANT to stand on the pedals and shoot for that gap. You WANT to ride hard, so hard you’re panting pleasurably after beating that auto rickshaw to the traffic light.


The build itself was simple. We removed the largest and smallest chain rings of Nikhil’s road bike drivetrain, so we had a 36-tooth single crack. We retained an 16-tooth rear cog from his cassette, and fitted it on the spline. The gaps were filled in with cassette spacers. Oh, and just in case he wanted an additional ratio, we added a smaller 14-tooth cog. Add one flat bar, V-brakes, and the Hospital Foam Surly Cross-Check SS (to give it it’s full and euphonious name) was born.


Now, I want mine.




First, find 5 differences between the two pictures below.



Did you say, “no difference”?

That is the right answer!!! You win one free trip to the Cyclists For Life store!!


All right, on now, to the story of why Monica is insisting that she be called Sherlock, from now on.


Re-imagined by Monica Pillai

It was one of those days. The day dawned chipper and bright and sunnily golden. As she woke up, her mood was murderous. She couldn’t explain it. Not even to herself. The last few days… thinking about that pestilential clue of the blood-stained boot. It just didn’t fit in. She did a lot of sleuthing around scene of crime but no telling clues turned up. She must have spent a week thinking about it. Exercised her considerable grey cells. But no go. The life of a private eye. It was full of unexpected ups and downs. The feeling of being thwarted by logic when following a train of thought is certainly a dampener and a detective’s lot in life.

Er. Open eyes. Blink. Focus. Blink. Refocus. Squint at the bright window. Ah right. I’m no private eye. I’m good old HR person. Oh well. That parallel career as a detective. It was fun while it lasted! It’s such fun to wake up in a half dream state and imagine you are who you are not. If only I’d solved that case.  Okay then. On to reality. What does my day look like? Two meetings, one hour in the embrace of an excel sheet, some preparation for the next day, one lunch by an awesome colleague and a farewell party. Okay. (Could have been “pack magnifying glasses, go over to scene of crime and hang over window ledges in a multi-storey building trying to thwart the bad guys”. But hey. Reality check)

The plan was to try and start a little early. So off I went on my bike (er. scooter. motorised. Sorry, readers!). 10 minutes later, I was disabused of all notions of early. Turns out, all of cantonment Bangalore had the same idea. I was 1km away from home and stuck in traffic. Ten minutes later, I had progressed 2km more. Groan! Near Ulsoor lake, people become suddenly reckless and daring. The spirit of Evel Knievel descends down on the average Janardhan. After narrowly missing being hit by 5 motorbikes, 7 cars, 2 vans, 2 aggressive pedestrians, 3.5 dogs,  1 tree, I managed to make it to Dickenson Road…

Hey, that’s a nifty Fuji MTB  that old man is pushing up the road.

Hm. Wait a minute. He looks like a security guard. Well, duh. He is wearing a security guard’s uniform. That cycle has

-          Disc brakes

-          Nite Rider Mako tail lamp mounted on the right seat stay.

-          Zefal bottle cage

-          Mounts for 2 things on the handlebar (headlamp – looks the same as mine – the other part of the Nite Rider Mako combo pack we sell. The other could be the Cat Eye cyclocomp that we sell

Go close, take a look, pass and stop on the shoulder of the road.


Hm. Aneesh lost his cycle 2 weeks back. Same (or similar model. I just knew it was an up there Fuji MTB. Not sure which model, now. But colour scheme was roughly the same)

He and Mehvash suspected involvement of the security agency in the heist.

Okay. When in doubt, call Pavan.

Stopped. Called. Number busy. No problem. Call Nikhil.

Nikhil answered, told me what to look out for. Is there a kick stand?


Is it mechanical disc brakes?


Okay. Colour of bike – black and yellow.

Nope this one looks black & green.

Sorry Monica, not the bike.


I pass the man on the cycle. Hang on!! That colour is yellowey-green. Greeny-yellow. Call Nikhil again.

Pretend to be looking elsewhere now, innocently calling Nikhil as old man and bike walk past again. The old man is looking quite clueless. He doesn’t suspect me yet. Good. I am so good at this sleuthing thing. Damn!

“Nikhil!! It is yellow!! Yellow!! Yes, disc brakes. Yes, all this other stuff on it. Can’t make out the model number on the top tube because the guy has a big bag and a blanket swung over the saddle”

“It sounds like it could be Aneesh’s bike. Gimme 10 and I’ll be there. I’m at Lavelle Road” said Nikhil. And rung off!


(Surreptitious photo taking. Don’t miss the finger on top)


Now I’m following the guy surreptitiously (or, as surreptitiously as I could in a big grey scooter wearing bright red pants and a helmet with at least 15 colours on it). He is walking slowly, tentatively. And he has no inkling that I am following him or acting strangely (note: acting strangely-riding 10 metres and peer curiously at old man, at cycle. Act like I’m not peering at all. Act like I am on phone with my geriatric grandma by saying, “haaaalloooo. Grandma! Aaan. Aaannn. Aaaan. Okay. Okay.” Another 10 metres, get just ahead of the man. Repeat)

You know how a person on a scooter has no hope to catch (or catch up) a person on a cycle around a traffic signal. Guess what. If the person on a cycle is wheeling it and is old, no problem. We went past 2 traffic signals. At the MG Road intersection opposite Raheja Towers, Nikhil calls back. I tell him that the cycle and the guard are at the front of the signal. Nikhil spots him. Within 5 seconds, Nikhil is standing in front of him, hand restrainingly on the guy’s shoulder, asking him, “Where did you get the cycle from?” One look at the cycle told him this was the cycle stolen from Aneesh. How did he know? It had a Trek saddle, that came from Nikhil’s own 6 year old bike. He had swapped saddles with Aneesh at Aneesh’s behest. Nikhil had sold, fitted the cycle and done one round of service for it. We had positive ID. We called Aneesh to tell him his cycle was found and asked him to turn up at MG Road pronto!

What followed was a lesson in crowd/ traffic cop/ cop management.

Nikhil asked me to roll video to record the discussion. He asked the guard where he got the bike from. Curious onlookers who stopped were all told by Nikhil to keep going. He later explained he didn’t want people deciding to take justice in their own hands and beat the old man or something such. Within two minutes, he involved the traffic cop at the signal. We learnt that the guard was given the cycle to drop off at Ulsoor by his boss, Raju. Who runs a security agency in Shanthi Nagar. He called Raju and asked him to come to the signal.


(Nikhil to the rescue)

A 15-minute wait followed, where we asked the hapless guard to sit down and wait, because by now we had realized he was absolutely innocent, very trusting and genuinely sweet. Raju arrived on the scene first. He said that he had bought the cycle for Rs. 18,500 from the city Market and he had the invoice for it and could produce it. We involved a policeman at this stage, from the MG Road kiosk – which happened to be 5 metres away, very conveniently. Aneesh and Mehvash arrived within another five minutes. Much rejoicing happened. Aneesh and Nikhil hugged and danced on the road. Nikhil extracted a promise for a party from Aneesh. Turns out, it was Aneesh’s birthday. And here is the bizarre thing –he apparently dreamt the night before that Nikhil called to tell him he found his bike! And then, as a birthday gift to Aneesh, it all comes true!


(L to R: Raju, the prime suspect. Security guard who was blameless and sweet. Cop. Nikhil)

We took the party to the police station. At this point, my contribution to the party got over and I headed off to work. I got a call from Nikhil in another hour. At the police station, after they saw the FIR that Aneesh had lodged when the cycle got lost, the invoice, Nikhil in his CFL tshirt (which he just happened to be wearing), saying he works at the store where the cycle was sold from and he was the person who sold it to this gentleman, and finally, saw a picture on Mehvash’s phone with Aneesh, the cycle and their dogs for good measure, all giving out a scene of domestic bliss… the police guys gave up doubts and said the cycle obviously belongs to them. Raju’s story kept changing, as further questions came up, clearly making him lose credibility. He caught Aneesh outside the cop station and said, “give me Rs. 5,000 and I will give up my claim.” Aneesh pulls out his wallet and his card and says, “I am a lawyer. I put people in jail for a living. Not a good idea to mess with me”. Did we mention he is a lawyer? Right. So that settled it. Raju disappeared, never to be seen again. The cops told Aneesh, since he was the only remaining claimant, he could take the bike home.

And that is how, ladies & gents, all’s well that ended well. With ice cream



(L to R: Nikhil. Chocolate ice cream. Aneesh. Superior chocolate ice cream. Monica)

Sur(e)ly this must be right !

For long, it didn’t make any sense – it was made of steel & it was expensive. Why would anybody buy an expensive steel frame when you can plonk down the same amount and get yourself an aluminum frame?

And if it’s really that good, why don’t I see it more often? The last time I saw someone riding a Surly was near the NGV gate and this was a good six months back. Was it one of those things that the whole world has agreed to agree that it’s good and if you disagree, you were wrong?

So when Nikhil got himself a Cross Check frame and built a single speed out of it, I decided to test a Surly – like once and for all and secretly hope that I would be one of those people who would disagree.

I was wrong. Like Bush Jr. on Iraq and WMD.

I have 2 bikes – a Trek 4300 & a Cervelo S1.  So it’s safe to say that I know a thing or two about frames and how a good one should respond. That was in case you were wondering why you should even read further.

One Frame Unlimited Rides – The first thing you will notice about the Cross Check frame is how versatile it is. It’s a frame that can built into multiple configurations – single speed, fixie, touring, road endurance, urban commuting – you name it, there are provisions on the frame that caters to any set up you can imagine.

It’s full of steel – like, quite literally! It’s on the heavy side but so is everything made up of steel. But on the go, it soaks up all the road vibrations. The configuration I tested was a flat bar single speed one. It behaved much like how an MTB would and should. There is patch near Austin Town where people who want to travel to Leh can go and acclimatize for road conditions. The Cross Check handled it amazingly well.

I am 5.9 and I was on 54cm frame.  It was a perfect fit for me – not too tight or too long. The advantage of running a tight geometry is that you can push it hard and feel it respond. Because it was a single speed, I had to dance on the pedals to get over inclines. When I did that, it didn’t respond, it played Beethoven’s 9th. I could feel every single Newton that my legs could deliver being converted to forward motion.  In traffic, the frame behaves like Messi on a football field – you can weave through pretty much anything without having to feel insecure. The bike felt centered and it more than made up for my unstable core.

It usually takes a good 40 minutes for me to make the 9.8 km trip back home on my 4300 during peak time traffic. The cross check got me home in 31 minutes flat! I am fairly certain that I didn’t put down the hammer on the cross check nor was the traffic any forgiving on the day I tested it. It’s just that I was riding a frame that was built for an efficient ride.

When I reach home, I go inside and close the door. Whether I ride my Cervelo or 4300, that’s what I normally do. But the ride back home on the cross check was different. It was so much fun riding it that I went up, dropped my bags, came back down and I continued my ride. It was as if reaching home was part of the journey and not the journey itself. It was as If I had discovered something new that day and I didn’t want to let go of it. It was as if the multiple choices of my life had finally found the right answer and the answer came colored in hospital foam green.

It was the most fun thing I had done in really long time and I did it on a Surly Cross Check.

In the end, it made sense

'It's amazing macha, amazing!

‘It’s amazing macha, amazing!

Contributing blogger:

Ashwin Bala. He is known by many names. Like, Barefoot Bala, in the running community, Burji Bala in the Middle East(… oh wait, that’s his name at the lunch table), Ivaney the Terrible in Russia.

Runner. Cyclist. Savant. Data Rodent. Purveyor of Social Culture. Verbal prestidigitator. Prodigious ladies’ man. Multilingual punster. Munificent Mirthful Mama. Many things to many people. One hell of a guy.

How to express yourself, CFL style.


  1. Greeting others at the start of day.


  1. Good morning everyone

Nikhil’s Nattering: Hola!


Rishabh’s Riposte: Hi..rrlgs. I am not late..ggbg. I am.. rrlll  on time.. mbgs).

Riyaz’s Repartee: Good morning. (shy smile)

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: Good morning sir!

  1. How are you?

Pavan Parlance: Spiffing morning, what? How are you, this fine Bangalore morning?

Rishabh’s Riposte: Okay, maaps?

Riyaz’s Repartee: How are you? (Not so shy smile. And if its Nikhil, some pushing and shoving.)

Nikhil Nattering: What’s up ba?

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: Fiiiine  fiiiine   fiiine.  How are you? (Answered before the question is asked)


  1. How was the weekend?

Pavan Parlance: Did you get dropped on your prefrontal cortex as a kid? We work weekends, remember?

Rishabh’s Riposte: Arglebarglemumble.

Nikhil Nattering: (each word well-enunciated) Macha, that’s a question we never ask. Because we’re all working on weekends.

Riyaz’s Repartee: Weekend pe who was working, then?

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: What weekend, boss?

  1. Do you want coffee?

Rishabh’s Riposte: errr…. Garglebroogcoffee?

Nikhil Nattering: Who wants coffee? Raise your hands. Coffeecoffeecoffecoffeecoffayyy!

Riyaz’s Repartee: Tumna ko coffee hona?

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: (Nods in disagreement even though we all know he doesn’t drink coffee)

Pavan Parlance: Coffee venuma, ungalukku? Venuma? Coffee?


  1. Where is the stapler?

Pavan Parlance: RISHABH!!

Rishabh’s Riposte: errr…. brugsslepididntdoanythingisweargrumble

Nikhil Nattering:  Rishabh. Enna macha idhu?

Riyaz’s Repartee: Rishabh. Where is the stapler, man?

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: Hey what man Rishabh. Yesterday I saw you keeping it somewhere!


  1. This is how <random cycle part/ accessory> works

Pavan Parlance: If you hear a KREEEESSSCHHHHRRR sound. You know the brake pads need replacing

Rishabh’s Riposte: (working his magic on a kid customer) Hey Dubax! This will go pssssss if you go fast  

Nikhil Nattering:  This is the Hornit. If you press it once, it goes BEEEEEEEEEEEP (falsetto). If you press it twice, it goes BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEEEEEP (falsetto)

Riyaz’s Repartee: Nikhil. You explain.

Pillai Patois: Unicorns! That is the explanation. Cycles are pulled by Unicorns. You just don’t realize it because they are invisible.

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: You want shoes means you should go to Yelahanka Police Station. They caught the robber. What all shoes man!


  1. I don’t agree with you

Pavan Parlance: Thatha! That’s hogwash of the highest order. Completely childish claptrap. Babble built on baloney. Pointless prattle indeed. I expect better of you, Sir.

Rishabh’s Riposte: No maaps. Thatisnothowitrgymbsrtworksargle

Nikhil Nattering:  (most patient tone of voice) See here. What you are saying sounds ludicrous to me. This is why.

Riyaz’s Repartee: (tries to beat up Nikhil)

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: You don’t know man. I’ll tell you.


  1. Who is that girl?

Pavan Parlance: Perchance, did you contemplate upon yon wondrous maiden with flaxen hair?

Rishabh’s Riposte: Who is Manjit? He is that wonderful dhaba owner down the road

Nikhil Nattering:  HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA (can be heard as far as Sumatra)

Riyaz’s Repartee: (Busy working on cycles)

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: Ei! Don’t say like that!


  1. Token sentence of doubtful origins in terms of cleanliness

Pavan Parlance: I’m not dirty. I shower constantly. Heyy… Macha, look at the length of the stem on that baby!

Rishabh’s Riposte: That was some good brinjal!

Nikhil Nattering:  Put her up on the stand. We need to lube that crankshaft. Oh. HA HA HA HA HA (can be heard all the way at Alice Springs)

Oh yes!   Oh Yes! Yes! (Heard this one just as this blog post was in production. And he was talking to one of our friends & suppliers about how wonderful the Timbuk2 panniers are. In case you were wondering)

Riyaz’s Repartee: (Working seriously on a bike)

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: Ei! See man. Take the brush, put like this and like that you must do. You do like this. Ah! Like that.


  1. Bye bye. See you tomorrow.


Rishabh’s Riposte: Mama. I will scam. It looks like it will rain.

Nikhil Nattering:  (Most Gallic accent) Oui arrre rready to shutdown

Riyaz’s Repartee: Jingey?

Nasir Bhai’s Blurb: I have to go for one marriage, man. All the way to Tilak Nagar.

We will be the first to admit this: we are a bunch of social trolls! Every single man, woman and child among us (quite literally). We all like our interactions with customers till about 7pm – because, hey, talking about cycles to other cycles lovers – what’s not to like? Then we like to go home, enjoy our music/ have a quiet drink/ read a book….

Now, take this group of individuals and put them in a business, in the time of social media. We are told, “Ask questions on social media. That’s what gets you most hits”. “It’s not important to only post stuff. It’s important to respond as well”. “It’s been 24 hours since the last post. You guys will look inactive”. And we are thinking, “The reason we wanted to do this was to get the hell out of computerlandia and spend more time enjoying the mechanic beauty of the bike. When did this become about facebook presence?”


                                                                                                                 Image courtesy:

We continue to walk down that slippery slope of social media constancy. And we continue to slip and fall as often as we manage to stay upright. And when we do update regularly, it is because –

  1. Semi-serious threats (“macha, I am watching you. If you don’t post regularly, I am going to have to give you feedback on your performance” to which the response is usually, “Oh, you social butterfly, you. Why don’t you post this week, then”)
  2. Motivation! As if it were the last leg of a particularly tough endurance event (“come on, you can do it, one more post and this will be a 7-post week. Ri-shabh! Ri-shabh! Ri-shabh!”)
  3. Coaxing,- “I am so proud of you for putting up posts every alternate day. And they have such wonderful responses. Trust me, one day you will be happy you did this”
  4. Bribery- Ice cream/ picking someone’s lunch tab/ quick cycle tune up are all good ways to get temporary results. When that runs out, you know what is coming up next… more bribery.

Why are we talking about all this? Well, firstly, so you can appreciate everytime a blog post or an update comes up, how much of someone’s soul it has taken to do so. And stand up and cheer wildly for us J. Secondly, so we can lament how it’s not enough to do a good job with people who you interact with and be stunning with customers. And how it is so tough to bury that self-effacing ‘aw shucks’ personality deep down and get to some shameless self-promotion, while the Anglo-Saxon side of our collective consciousness cringes.

Ahhh. Feeling good, already! With that off our chests, we will see you on facebook, folks. Please like this post!

The best part of our day is thinking about the stories of our customers. We met one customer over the weekend whose story had to be shared.

Susheel Alexander Samuel walked into the store to get his Schwinn serviced. A quiet mannered young man, he spoke about cycling from the Fraser Town area to Marathahalli to work.

He got talking… and we found out just what he has been through. Just before he started college, a ghastly motorbike accident that shattered his helmet, damaged his brain and landed him in the hospital for months.  Not just that, he had brain surgery, was in a coma, had short term memory loss, through which he managed to get through engineering entrance exams.

Not only did he come out of coma and make a full recovery, he went on to finish his engineering and a masters and is now working quite some distance away from home – and guess what – he commutes on a cycle.

We first commended him on having parents who were strong enough to not flip out, at the thought of him being out on a cycle.  We were filled with a sense of respect and appreciation for this young man. He clearly was strong willed to do everything that was needed – and then some. He says he used to play contact sports – but has put that on hold, because of the impact the brain surgery already would have taken.


Image courtesy:

There is a placidity about Susheel and also an indefinable quality similar to power… possibly something that comes out of having seen danger and difficulty and coming out of it stronger. We appreciated him multiple times for having the courage to get back on the saddle and for his commitment to fitness.

We wanted to share his story – for the people who ask us “is it safe to ride in traffic?” And for all those people who ride their cycle in traffic everyday.

All we have is today. All we know is that we are safe this day. What we do about it – do we seize the handlebar and ride (safely, with helmets and lights and with regard to traffic) is up to us. For who knows, what tomorrow might bring.

Susheel’s story inspired us immensely. We are happy to have met him and to have heard his true story of the indomitable quality of the human spirit.

Wishing all of you guys safe rides. And remember, helmets save lives.

Sometimes, you just need to get out of the store and into the outdoors or you might as well shoot yourself. Yesterday was a good day. I got out of the store, onto my beloved Kona JTS and rode to Nandi Hills in great company….thanks  A2, and Monica! A special thanks to Rishabh for actually being good to go at 4:15 in the morning, which is when he usually goes to bed.


The Cyclists for Life store is great and I can’t think of a better place to work. Hell, I’ve worked 16 – odd years in soulless offices, often doing stuff I’m embarrassed to admit to (selling coffee, anyone?), but it can be very demanding. Which means that I haven’t really used my road bike in earnest for, oh, let’s see now, 7-8 months. So when Runners for Life said they were doing a run at Nandi, we seized on that as a great opportunity to get out, get a ride, connect with the cardio community and feel virtuous about it in the bargain.


I’ve been coming to an epiphany of sorts over a period of time – doing what you love can sometimes mean you have very little time to do what you love.  Running a bike store can, if you don’t watch out, consume all your attention and leave you very little time to actually ride. Which, duh, is why you started the store in the first place. Oh, don’t get me wrong. We keep our kit at work, so you can actually take off for a half-hour ride when things are slow. And that’s gotta be a great place to work. It’s just, well, not the same as being out of town with the wind in your hair and a song on your lips.


So, as I write this, I’m squaring my shoulders, hardening my resolve, steeling my thews, knitting my brows, narrowing my eyes into slits for that purposeful look and checking out my image in the mirror hoping that all this doesn’t make me look like a smurf. All this to tell myself “Thou shalt ride more.”


So far my stint at CFL has acquainted me with the electrifying life of stall duty. Three days of repeating yourself while standing almost always, powering up on the four hours of sleep that you bargained for and meeting some of the biggest characters the city attracts. The life!

Pavan uses the stall as an excuse to get hillbilly bob (they call me bob) out of the store and out of his face. While actually it’s just him complementing my unsurpassed ‘people skills’. A couple of dos, don’ts and don’t you dare’s later, I’m packed off to face the masses armed with a futile table fan and a regular desk.

The tyre fetish

Manning the stall is the cheap man’s guide to innovation. You come up with quirky, inventive, stare worthy ways of knocking those banal moments to space. People watching (nothing to do with creepy kind) is my ten minutes of recreation. This is where the tyre fetish folk come in. It has been frequently observed that a large flock of customers are most keen on understanding the curvaceous facets of a regular rubber tyre. It starts with the demonstrative pinching of the treads which slowly evolves into two or three sharp squeezes of the sides. The wheel is then pushed into rotation and that receives the standard hand gesture which translates to superb but also the number three for very obvious reasons in some languages. A hoax if you’d call it as the hand falls down as fast as it rose and the index finger is launched with vigor to test the otherwise  obvious strength of the tyre. They are dumbfounded. The tyre is resilient and is unscathed by the efforts of their tyre’ant hands. The ornery smug nod is always the sign of conclusion. It’s fascinating that the end nod is always directed at me and that’s my cue to stand up and retort with a measured cognitive nod as to compliment the award worthy three minutes of idiocy.

Public Service Announcement 

The three individuals below are repeat offenders. Their pictures and names have come to light through confidential sources.


Sheeter ‘Na illa sir’ Govind


Sheeter Psycle Chainz Elangovan


Sheeter Freewheel Magu


Let your cycles be safe!