We Indians love our motorcycles. For the majority, they serve as a cost-effective means of transportation, while for some they embody a sense of freedom that you can’t feel in an enclosed four-wheeled space. Reaffirming the fact, the many “Wanderlust” stickers we come across on the back of Enfields. But there is a disturbing commonality between the two. While we love to ride, we also hate wearing any kind of protection that could save us from any potential harm.
Fortunately, things are changing. Indian cyclists realize that a helmet is not the only protection you need on the road. Which, in turn, prompted companies like Royal Enfield to start venturing more seriously than before into the riding apparel segment. Their new venture is the result of a collaboration with the famous Italian brand Alpinestars. But how did this collaboration come about? We sat down with Puneet Sood, global head of apparel at Royal Enfield, to get some answers.
Edited excerpts from the interview
1) How was the collaboration? And why Alpinestars?
To improve the driving experience in India, our goal is to create products that meet global safety standards and make them accessible, both in terms of price and availability. Keeping this in mind, at Royal Enfield we are constantly updating our product range and trying to bring an enviable collection through our collaborations with the best global brands. In this case, Royal Enfield and Alpinestars have a rich heritage in the motorcycling world and symbolize a fusion of authenticity and safety. Through this collaboration, we aim to provide our cycling community with the essential tools needed to elevate the standard of riding with high safety, performance and comfort.
2) What kind of expertise did Alpinestars bring to the table?
Alpinestars is the world’s leading manufacturer of professional racing products, motorcycle airbag protectors, performance apparel and technical footwear. Alpinestars’ rich heritage and experience, combined with Royal Enfield’s strong understanding of the Indian market, have helped create the product line that meets the needs of the motorcycling community in India.
The collection includes armor-infused riding jackets, gloves and riding pants that meet global safety standards. All riding jackets and riding pants in this range are CE certified with Class A protection in accordance with Personal Protective Equipment regulations and come with Alpinestars Nucleon flex pro CE level 2 armor. In addition, the products are also feature Alpinestars patented Drystar technology. The Drystar membrane makes the gear waterproof, yet breathable and allows riders to withstand all weather conditions while keeping the rider dry and comfortable.
The range also includes 3 gloves, all of which are CE certified to Level 1 EN13594:2015, KP and have been developed with the best features such as knuckle protection, palm protection, padding, cuff adjusters, screen compatible fingertips, accordion stretch panels and constructed with high quality abrasion resistant goat nappa leather, Polyester Air mesh and waterproof Drystar membrane among others.
3) In India, where cycling safety is often overlooked, how do you plan to raise awareness?
Our first task is to understand the unique needs of motorcyclists in the Indian market. Customer expectations are changing and they are looking for comfort and style in addition to the safety of riding gear. These are the pillars on which we build our range. To increase the adoption of horse safety, we must build a range that is relevant, versatile and at the same time accessible both in terms of price and availability. To solve the availability problem, Royal Enfield Apparel’s range of riding gear is not only available at dealerships, but also online through our website and other e-commerce stores.
While building a relevant range, we also want to ensure that we provide our riders with the best safety products globally, hence the partnerships with brands like D30, Knox, TCX, Alpinestars. We hope we can evolve the riding equipment market in India by pushing the benchmark higher. With this intention, Royal Enfield Apparel has launched a full range of CE certified riding gear as well as a full range of women’s riding gear.
To help raise awareness of safety, responsible riding, and proper riding gear, the company focused on creating the right communication in addition to creating the right product. It is important to educate consumers about the need for riding gear and how gear can enhance a rider’s riding experience.
4) Have you noticed any changes in buyer behavior? Are customers/cyclists slowly becoming aware of the safety equipment on offer?
Motorcycling has become a mainstream culture and a way of life for enthusiasts. Today’s cyclists are more aware, responsible and educated and realize the importance of wearing the right riding gear. Customers are now looking for safety, comfort and style in the riding gear they wear. With the rise of recreational motorcycling, more and more bikers are investing in large capacity motorbikes coupled with an increasing number of motorcycle clubs in India, resulting in increased usage of riding equipment.
Although there are multiple offerings in the market, the larger Indian market has for a very long time been underserved in terms of products that are accessible in terms of price and distribution and designed for the Indian climate and terrain.
Motorcycle owners are also increasingly aware that the use of riding gear should be independent of travel distance or destination. To achieve this, Royal Enfield has focused on specially designed riding gear, such as a lightweight full mesh jacket or lifestyle jackets with a pocket for pull-on armor, to make it easy to use and comfortable.
From an industry perspective, we see a lot of potential in the overall riding apparel and equipment segment. With more and more riders understanding the need for safe and protective riding gear, the industry is set to thrive and grow and we are pleased to be at the forefront of this growth and change.
5) Some of the products offered are more expensive, at least in terms of Indian prices. What were some of the challenges you faced when developing a line of motorcycle safety clothing for a cost-conscious country like India?
At Royal Enfield, our priority is to put rider safety first. The idea behind the development of our clothing and equipment portfolio was to offer a relevant range for our cyclists, whatever the terrain, weather conditions and destination. To drive adoption of riding gear, the company has focused on building an affordable range without compromising on safety, style or comfort. Our range of riding jackets start at Rs. 4950 while helmets start at Rs. 1750 making them accessible for the Indian market.
6) Can you tell us more about the “Art of the Motorcycle” campaign? What was the response to the campaign?
ArtOfMotorcycling has been a unique and engaging initiative and the brand has seen customer engagement and brand interaction achieve exemplary results. It also allowed the brand to reach a new audience and spread the message of “pure motorcycling”. The campaign has brought together a diverse audience from Tier 2 and 3 cities as well as the Royal Enfield community, ranging from avid and aspiring pilots to artists, illustrators and graphic designers under one common umbrella through our ongoing digital campaign. Our plan is to keep #ArtofMotorcycling as a recurring event and as a next step we will look at its global expansion.
7) What are some of the milestones that Royal Enfield clothing has set itself?
We measure ourselves in terms of impact, not just revenue. When we started, our first benchmark was to create a full line of clothing with an emphasis on safety, comfort and style. We aim to continue on this path and engage deeply and meaningfully with the community to continue to evolve our apparel line. We want to not only evolve the range, but also partner with our cycling community and help them understand the importance of the right riding gear to them, helping to evolve the market as well.
(Image credits: Royal Enfield)