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    His Sunday, April 19, is Bicycle Day: a counterculture “high” day that has more to do with colourful hallucinations of bunnies and rainbows than two-wheeled boneshakers. It was on this day in 1943 that Dr Albert Hofman became the first human to try LSD, the drug that fuelled the flower power generation. The good doctor was so euphorically incapacitated that Hofman’s assistant had to wheel him home on a bicycle, as he, presumably, dissected life’s mysteries with a hookah-smoking caterpillar and a grinning cat.
    Trivia about psychotropics aside, let’s talk about actual bicycles. Over the last few years, the city has seen a steady rise in the number of people riding bicycles to work, going on long group rides, or simply using them in their fitness regimen; this, despite our haywire traffic system and road planning. Concomitantly, we’ve seen an increase in bicycle start-ups, like ProCycle and Bums On The Saddle, selling high-end bikes and fostering an ever-growing community of bicycle enthusiasts.
    I visited Crankmeister Bicycle Works recently, a start-up that embodies the original spirit of the “LBS”—the “local bike shop” movement that has been steadily gaining traction States-side and in Europe. Conceptually, the LBS breaks away from the big-retail-chain model of business, creating an independent community store with its unique character. The amiable charm that Crankmeister’s store exudes, hosted in an old re-purposed bungalow on MM Road, is undeniable.
    Nikhil Ram Mohan, who started Crankmeister along with fellow outdoor-sports aficionado Pavan Muthanna, mentioned that when they first bought their bikes a decade ago, owning and keeping a high-end bike on the road was quite an ordeal. Nobody would size up the bikes for them at the time of purchase and servicing your bike meant foraging in the blackmarket for inaccessible parts.
    Identifying that gap in the niche market, the two-year-old startup helps customers make an informed purchase of their first bike. Apart from stocking multi-brand high-end bikes, they handhold customers through the process of owning a bike, explaining the science of what bikes would suit their needs.
    They’ve built a strong reputation for their ability to service bikes (apart from their combined years of experience, Pavan also finished certification in bicycle mechanics). Crankmeister even builds custom bikes for seasoned cyclists who have a good handle on what they’d want on a new bike for a particular tour. In an era of ubiquitous cookie-cutter franchises and impersonal online shops, Crankmeister’s success shows that business innovation today can co-exist with the idea of good old fashioned local community stores.
    — pauldharamraj@gmail.com

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