PEDALING THROUGH THE STREETS OF DHAKA IN A SWISS MADE TWO WHEELER

Although cycles have always proved to be an efficient and sustainable means of transport but the current road conditions of Dhaka have made using a human powered two wheeler as the primary means of transport all the more necessary than ever before.

Team Turbine sat with Prince Mohammad Araf for an interview about his cycling experience in Bangladesh and a brief discussion about the cycles he’s owned till date.

 When did you first learn to ride a bike?

I’ve been cycling for over a decade now. I first learned how to balance myself on a two wheeler way back in 2007 and I’ve been pedaling my way through ever since.

My first ever proper two wheeler bike was made by Giant and I was only five back then when my father got me the bike.

Which one is your favorite among the bikes you currently own?

I currently own three different bikes. All of them are made by Scott- an American cycle maker. The oldest cycle from my collection is the Scott Aspect 710 2010 which I purchased about ten years ago. It was an amazing bike for its time with very good components such as Shimano XT RD-M781 SGS Shadow Type 30 speed gear in the rear, Shimano Deore FD-M610/ 34.9mm in the front, a 6061 Alloy frame, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and 27.5” Schwalbe Rapid Rob tyres.

I still have the Aspect 710 with me but my favorite one is the red Scott Spark 750 2015. It is the most comfortable bike I’ve owned and ridden till date in my opinion. Specification wise its way ahead of the 710. Also with a 6061 alloy frame but newer generation Shimano Deore FD-M615-E2 / DM used as the derailleur in the front while Shimano XT RD-M781 SGS in the back. Weighing only 12.70kg and having a FOX 32 Float Evolution CTD Air adjustable suspension in the front and FOX Float CTD adjustable shock in the rear, the Aspect 750 has always provided me with the maximum ‘smiles per pedals’ and comfort compared to any other bike I’ve ridden till date

 I have several memories with the Aspect 750 as well. I took the Aspect 750 to Bangkok with me once upon a time. It has been through a lot over the years but still rides and shifts smoothly like new to this date. It also managed to save my life once. I remember getting hit by a car from the back while I was cycling in Dhaka one day. However, thanks to the amazingly smooth and responsive rear shock which absorbed most of the impact, I was able to control the bike and not fall over.

The third bike I have is the newest one and it is the Scott Spark 960 2019 (Green). It undoubtedly has even better components such as Shimano SLX in the front along with Shimano Deore 27 speed in the rear and Rock Shox XC30 TK Solo Air suspension which ensures the smoothest possible journey despite the uneven Dhaka roads as it pairs with the X-Fusion O2 RL rear air shock. But I still like the 750 more. Perhaps I’m a bit biased towards that bike or maybe the fact that my front suspension gave up only after doing 12km with the new Scott doesn’t allow my mind to fully accept the 960 yet.

Why Scott?

I’ve been using Scott cycles for over ten years now. No other bike will be able to provide the experience I want. I have owned over 7 Scott bikes till date Using Scott cycles, I have always been able to push myself and also my bike to its absolute limit. None of the bikes have ever let me down (unless you consider the breaking down of the 960’s suspension as a complete failure).

Difficulties faced while cycling in Bangladesh?

The first and most important issue is the lack of proper cycling lanes in Bangladesh. Also there’s the risk of running into a pedestrian as people are randomly crossing roads all the time. Moreover, neither the bus, trucks and cars nor the motorcycles and CNG rickshaws care about cyclists. Not to mention the insanely poor air quality which makes cycling in this country all the more difficult.

Any dream bike you may want to buy in the future?

My dream bike is the Trek Rail 9.9. It is a long travel electric mountain bike. Built for the ultimate trail performance, the Rail 9.9 comes with a carbon frame and RockShox suspension setup along with a wireless electronic drivetrain. I’m moving to hybrid cycles soon and I’ve already ordered the Scott Contessa Genius eRide 910. Hopefully someday I might be the first in Bangladesh to bring the Rail 9.9.