The year was 1994. Three friends were burning trails on the beautiful hills that pockmark the city’s landscape on machines the modern rider would probably term sad excuses for mountain bikes. Good bikes were hard to come by in India then and essential parts breaking or losing shape just after a casual trail was the norm. These bikes were barely capable of enduring basic trails, let alone the extreme mountain trails they were exploring. Nonetheless, ardent mountain biking enthusiasts Praveen Prabhakaran, Sameer Dharmadhikiri and Abhijeet Nikhalje made do with what was available.
Two years on, in 1996, Praveen started designing and fabricating parts for this pioneering coterie of cyclists. Internet then was not the force that it is today and international trends on cycles and their components were sourced through second hand bicycle magazines from local bookstores. Most pictures in these magazines were of hardtails (term for bicycles with front suspension only) and then there were a few full suspension models that are primarily used for downhill biking.
The latter completely caught Praveen’s imagination and spurred him to design a few prototypes of his own on paper, which evolved into scale drawings. Despite being refused by multiple fabricators, on his sojourns to the MIDC factory hub of Pune, who cited reasons like lack of time, less quantity or even his age, Praveen persisted till eventually a few folks agreed. Knowing the significance of lightness and strength, Praveen designed and developed some ultra durable prototypes until life caught up with him and he started working in the animation industry.
His sphere of work faced a slump in 2008 and Praveen jumped at this opportunity to answer his calling. He decided to build his first full custom performance bicycle frame and decided to name the project Caffeine. The perfectionist that is Praveen, started with the absolute basics. He studied diverse subjects like metallurgy, 3D modeling, bicycle frame design, welding and brazing procedures. He also made his own notching tools and jigs for integral parts such as the frame, the fork and the chainstay. The capital for the project was sourced through friends and family. Caffeine was finally completed after 3 years of committed hard work. Once the bike was ready, Praveen shared his work with bicycling communities like Bikeszone. The response was extremely encouraging and helped him get his first few customers!
Praveen has now been in the custom bike business for around a decade and has impressed athletes and avid cyclists with his precision, high standards of quality, creativity and eye for detail. In fact Praveen’s company, Psynyde Bikes, is the only custom bike builder in India! He engages with customers from all over the country and abroad to build them bikes that fit them like well-tailored suits. This labour of love which starts from procuring material, from Europe or the States based on the customer’s requirements, to cutting tubes with unbelievable precision, welding, painting and a lot more is not only challenging but is also expensive in terms of time and money.
Today, Praveen through Psynyde wants his expertise from years of experience to reach the masses in the shape of an affordable, rider focused and world-class mountain terrain bike. He wants customers to truly experience the improvement in handling and control from other bikes available in the market. Forming team Psynyde with Praveen is Vinay Menon, one of India’s leading names in freeride mountain biking and Sudeep Mane, a passionate road cyclist and statistician, lured to the world of Psynyde after getting a custom road frame build by Praveen! Vinay and Sudeep bring real field know-how, planning and structure respectively to Psynyde.
Psynyde has designed, tested and is now launching a mountain bike that is a different geometry and class from any other available in the Indian market – by an Indian or an international manufacturer. The prototype has evolved over a period of 18 months and has been tested by some of the top professional riders in the country. Details about this new bike they call Furan can be found on their crowd funding campaign page and on their website. What started off on the hills of Pune is now on the verge of taking the Indian cycling community by storm!