In the face of traffic, the cycle is – “fast”! “It’s amazing how much time I save by commuting on a bicycle in the city,” says thirty something Rohan Kini, mentor of the cycle store Bums On The Saddle aka BOTS, adding, “You should google the video Yogurt v/s Gasoline – it really proves this point!”
Getting back to the point of going gas-free in the face of traffic, feels Kini, the cycle brings him various advantages. “There’s speed, fitness, happiness, no getting caught in traffic jams,
I save money, there’s no pollution, etc, etc,” he beams.
As a matter of fact, keeping the business of wheels alive is all about, “having a great time, providing a great experience and getting more folks to cycle,” confirms Kini.
While this young entrepreneur dreams of making BOTS one of the most socially-aware companies in the country, Rohan Kini says that the store was born with a desire to change the world. “Seriously,” he smiles, adding, “Our vision is nothing to do with bicycles – it’s all about wanting to do something awesome and making people happy. Cycling is one of the simplest ways to do this. Co-incidentally, we loved cycling and there was a vacuum in this space, which is what seeded BOTS.”
Like many transformative ideas, Kini’s too, was born out of influences - “ThoughtWorks - the company I worked at, for its people, work culture and attitude. The brands Starbucks and Patagonia for the attitude and work culture they provide. And of course, bicycles, bicycling, people, culture and the sucking Bangalore traffic,” he says.
In fact, ThoughtWorks, though his first career stop, has been a lucky intervention for Kini who studied to be an IT engineer. “ThoughtWorks is a really kick-ass IT company, which is also reason why it took me quite some determination to disentangle from it. Both BOTS and ThoughtWorks were high energy jobs and needed time and commitment,” he says. Kini juggled between the two, until there came a point when he had to choose one. “BOTS was the apparent choice. But then, it took me about a year or so to stop wanting to get back to the easy life of an IT consultant,” he explains.
Having made the choice, Kini now has the gargantuan task of mobilising Bangalore on wheels, minus the gas. “It’s easy and at the same time not that simple. It’s easy to spark off the interest but difficult to maintain it and keep people on the wheels,” he says.
Having made strides in this difficult agenda to lure more people towards a pedalling life, Kini, has opened his second BOTS outlet on Infantry Road this year – the first, started in 2006 occupies prime place of pride, across an open playground in Jayanagar. While BOTS has caught fire of the non gaseous kind, its nomenclature happened quite by chance. “We were searching for months for a good name until I read an article online, which spoke of a bike shop in the UK getting a lot of folks bums on the saddle as a term to get them riding and it just all fell in place! It was the core of what we wanted to do as a company - putting folks’ bums on the saddle!” he beams, adding, “Thereafter, it took me five minutes to check whether the domain name was available and we sealed the deal. Also, we didn’t have facebook and twitter at that time, so didn’t have to worry about important things like this.”
Kini worried about other things though. He has always been a crusader of causes of sorts – like hugging trees that were marked for slaughter. “As a crusader for all things good – yes. We had a team called The Green Force, which went about planting about 200 saplings in Jayanagar. We spent time cleaning up places, working in rural areas and wanting to be good to the world,” he reminisces.
All this for his connect with the environment. “I love being out in the wild and in the green,” he says, adding, “But I don’t think about it too much. I’m pretty sure the environment will take care of itself. I do my best not to be negative and cause more damage than I have to.”
But Rohan Kini's busy busting those myths about cycling in uphill Bangalore. “Cycling is not at all an uphill task here - a good bike and you can conquer the world, literally! A bicycle is one of the most efficient machines out there and it’s a beautiful experience when you get back onto a good bike. The problem is that most people compromise and get onto an 'ok' bike as they are unsure and are sometimes left with just an 'ok' experience. The trick is to believe that a good bicycle will change your life and you need to invest in it,” he explains.
Health wise, too, cycling is one of the least impactful exercises out there, educates Rohan. “Lots of folks use cycling as a great cross training tool even if they are active in other sports,” he says.
Uphill and downhill, there’s much to be explore. Taking us through those terrains, which Rohan Kini often travels to, in his mind and physically too, the wheels take nest at Turahalli Forest and Nandi Hills.