Mumbai:Avantura Choppers, a Mumbai-based start-up for chopper motorcycles, is aiming to capture about half of India’s small but potential growth market for more than 1600cc motorcycles.

The company, which claims to make India’s first road-legal chopper motorcycles, will however face a tough challenge as the segment is dominated by iconic US brand Harley-Davidson Inc.

The chopper is a class of motorcycles originating from California and is identified by extensive customization. In addition to their larger engines, choppers generally have low seats, high handlebars and long-front forks.

Avantura began retailing its first two products—the Rudra and Pravega—on Wednesday at Bengaluru. Both are powered by a 2000cc engine and retail above 21 lakh.

The company plans to sell about 250 motorcycles in the next one year, Amitabh Biswas, founding partner and chief marketing officer, said in an interview.

India is one of the world’s top motorcycle markets but products such as those made by Avantura and Harley-Davidson have a limited customer base.

A total of 539 motorcycles with 1600cc engines and above were sold in the last financial year, with Harley-Davidson contributing 535 units, according to data provided by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam). The segment accounted for less than a percentage point of total two-wheeler sales in India.

However, sales in the segment have slowed in the past two years. Sales fell from 584 units in FY16 to 574 units in FY17 and 539 units last year. Sales however rebounded to grow three-fold to 210 units during April to July 2018, led by Harley-Davidson.

Avantura is “very positive" on the segment, with plans to start a dealer each in Hyderabad and in the national capital region before Diwali, and two in west and east India by the end of the fiscal.

“We are very happy with the way things are proceeding. As the base gets more crowded, it creates a unique niche for us as we are not looking to be a mass brand," Biswas said. He said the company has four to five more models in the pipeline.

Analysts say the market for premium motorcycles with more than 250cc engines, excluding Royal Enfield, owned by Eicher Motors Ltd, is crowded with a limited volume, which is unlikely to expand significantly in at least the next five years.

Up to five small companies are expected to exit in the next five years, said Deepesh Rathore, co-founder and director at London-based Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors.

“They will find (this segment in) India unsustainable; it’s very small and too many brands have jumped into it thinking it’s easy money. Their profitability is very doubtful," he said, given that as many as 20 companies are present in the segment. Rathore however expects the segment to expand after about five years.

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