“Within this year we will start supplies on several leading OE platforms,” Reise Moto’s Founder & MD, Yogesh Mahansaria on whether Reise Moto will become an OEM supplier

In an exclusive interview with Yogesh Mahansaria, Founder & MD, Reise Moto, we talked about the brand’s tyre business, manufacturing, apparel business, and much more
Reise Moto runs the trailR Academy which teaches riders off-road riding skills.
Reise Moto runs the trailR Academy which teaches riders off-road riding skills.Reise Moto

In this in-depth interview, Yogesh Mahansaria, founder of Reise Moto, discusses the company’s mission to transform the Indian motorcycle market by introducing cutting-edge global trends and technologies. Mahansaria delves into the evolution from a commuting-centric market to one driven by passion and leisure. He shares insights on Reise Moto's collaboration with European partner Mitas for tyre technology, their strategic expansion into riding gear and accessories, and the company’s active involvement in motorsports to engage and support the enthusiast community.

As told to Karan Ramgopal

Yogesh Mahansaria: In Reise Moto, we are very passionate about riding and our whole goal or our whole reason for being as a company is to bring the latest global trends and technologies to the Indian riders, especially as the market in India is evolving from a pure commuting market to more and more leisure based activities. And a lot of this transformation is being driven by greater bike choices now available to consumers. It started more than a decade ago with Royal Enfield. In recent years you've seen a lot of activity with brands like Triumph, BMW and Harley coming to India and I think they all recognised that India as a young country has people who want to explore riding as a passion, as leisure beyond just daily commute. Our goal is to certainly enable these passionate and enthusiastic users by bringing them the latest global trends and technologies, we started down that path a little over 18 months ago with tyres, where we are bringing successful latest European technology products to the Indian consumer, and I must mention here that on the tyre side, we are already by far the largest exporter of tyres from India to the developed countries like Europe and the US. We brought the same technology, and quality level to the Indian market under our Reise brand and motivated by the success of that we thought we should explore other categories which are adjacent to this and that's why we decided to look at the whole riding gear and accessories. To start, we've tied up with four leading European brands which we bought in India and we hope we can continue to develop and grow in this area. We are very excited by the possibilities.

Karan Ramgopal (KR): What level of research and development happens in India and what of that happens in your facilities abroad?

Yogesh Mahansaria (YM): So as far as the tyres are concerned, the base technology, the base research, all of that is being done by our partners, Mitas, who are very well known and have been doing this for decades in the European market and as you would know, they are OEM with some of the leading manufacturers like KTM and Piaggio and so on. When we get those tyres to the Indian market, we have to make sure that they are suitable for the Indian vehicles, Indian roads and Indian climatic conditions so for that, the team in India then takes those base technologies and tests them and adapts them to the Indian conditions. The core of what we do certainly relies on all the experience, knowledge, research and development of our partners in Europe. But you have to do some localisation and customisation because the types of vehicles, roads, and climate in India are somewhat different. So we need to make sure that we do that last bit of adaptation and that is how the teams have been working and very successful.

KR: You said you have been exporting to several countries. Are you exporting as Reise Moto itself, or under the Mitas brand?

YM: Yeah, under the Mitas brand. All the sales outside of South Asia go back to our partners, Mitas and they in turn market it around the world. And today, when I just look at the volume of tyres, and we export to the developed countries via our partners, it is multifold of what the rest of the Indian tyre companies are doing. And of course, there is no doubt that it is due to leveraging the strength and network of our partner Mitas.

KR: Apart from research and development, does Mitas have any other involvement in Reise Moto’s tyre projects in India?

YM: Mitas is an equity shareholder, and equity partner in the tyre factory and therefore the manufacturing side of the business is a joint venture between Reise and Mitas. In fact, the manufacturing company itself is now called Reise Mitas Tyres. Then the factory sells to Mitas for sales in the international market and sells to Reise for sales in the Indian market.

KR: Do you have plans to become an OEM for any bikes in India?

YM: Absolutely. We are talking to all the leading players on various projects and we expect that within this year we will start supplies on several leading OE platforms. Due to confidentiality agreements, I cannot get more into details, but rest assured, we will see ourselves as OE suppliers this year.

KR: The majority of your tyres are leaning towards off-road use. Do you plan to get more road-focused tyres and then subsequently get into road-focused motorsport events?

A; We have one of the widest portfolios of tyres. On the off-road side, there was a vacuum in the market, which is why those tyres became very well-known and popular immediately, but we do have a full program across the road going tyres and off-road tyres. We make a spectrum of products from purely on-road all the way up to 50:50 off-road/on-road. So we do have application-specific tyres but yes, we do have on-road tyres and we will be shortly coming up with our steel radial tyres for on-road applications within the next couple of months. As regards the motorsport on the on-road side, yes, we have been waiting for our radial product to launch and once that launches, we will certainly look at how we can get involved in the on-road side as well.

KR: Are you also looking at providing tyres for big displacement bikes?

YM: Yeah, we do plan to have the full spectrum of tyres. Our partners, Mitas already make tyres of the biggest sizes for motorcycles and we are leveraging that we do anticipate in the coming months that we will have a complete portfolio including for the bigger bikes.

KR: There are many tyre manufacturers in India, some pretty established as well. How are you looking at differentiating yourselves from the rest of the herd?

YM: Definitely there are some very large and reputable manufacturers of two-wheeler tyres in India. I think our whole approach has been to differentiate ourselves from the get-go. Therefore if you look at the variety of patterns we offer, the type of applications we cover, and our entire approach to getting our brand known amongst the enthusiast and leisure biking community, we've taken a fairly differentiated approach. We think that our target consumers are more digital and therefore a lot of our marketing activities are also digital to connect with them. We do a lot of work on the ground in terms of experiential marketing, in terms of arranging the trailR Academy, rides, participation in motorsport events and so on. So our whole focus is very digital, very experiential as opposed to a high-pitch ATL type of marketing. We are very focused and targeted in our approach, that our consumer is young at heart and a passionate biker, or for whom biking is a way of leisure as opposed to a daily commute. Of course, we make the full range of products across leisure and commute, but we believe our core consumer is somebody who appreciates the latest technologies, highest quality, application-specific tyres and understands that all of this costs a little bit more than the average tyre out there. Of course, our goal is to bring all of this at an affordable price point. And I think that's where our brand has resonated as a marriage of the highest technology, application specific, highest quality, yet at a sensible price point. And that's where we feel our brand plays well and our focus is to continue building on that sort of core premise.

KR: Speaking of the on-ground activities that you carry out, trailR Academy is one of them. Do you have any other activities planned for the year?

YM: Our goal is to do multiple such events every year. In the first year, we did two of these and we plan to continue this on an ongoing basis. I think it is important to bring that blend of international expertise together with really experienced Indian riders. So that is something beyond what is normally available in India. So if we do what is already widely available, then I don't think we are adding much value. So always our goal is to see what more we can do and how we can do something a little bit more value added.

KR: In terms of motorsport right now, you are participating in ISRL (Indian Supercross Racing League) as a team and you also are sponsors for multiple other racing events across the country. Could you expand a little more on that?

YM: As you rightly said, we participate in Motorsports in two formats. First is what we have done right from our inception. We support a lot of riders who ride in other events. We support them with tyres, with other assistance, etc. Our riders in the first year got 100 podiums across practically every format of racing across India. And that is something we feel is our way of supporting the enthusiast community and the passionate bikers. So we have been doing that from the get-go and our goal is to continue to support as many riders as we can in various formats, to go out there and do their best. In addition to that, when Supercross came up, we felt it's a very interesting format, it's very successful in the US and so we thought it would be good for us to participate not just by supporting riders but by having our own team. And, I must say, the organisers did a very good job in season one despite all the challenges that come with the first season of anything and we are very enthusiastically looking forward to the second season which should be in early 2025. I think it's a good way for us to learn and to further develop our product to support the sport, and also to expose that then to the Community at large.

KR: Would you perceive the first round of the ISRL as a success?

YM: I personally view it as a big success. The turnouts at every event were far beyond my expectations. In all the three races, there were 10,000 or more spectators. Frankly, most hadn’t anticipated that sort of enthusiasm and the level of racing we saw. I was in the US ten days ago and had the opportunity to attend the Foxborough Supercross, and when I compare, of course, the level of organisation in the US is much more mature because they've been doing it for 50 years. But I can tell you the level of racing we saw in India was very advanced compared to even what we saw in the US. Somehow I thought that we'd see a very different level of racing because the US is the sort of birthplace of Supercross. And then when I compared it to the level of racing we saw in India, I would say it was a positive surprise for me that we had such good racing in India. Both, from the turnouts and the enthusiasm and the level of racing we saw, I think it was definitely a big positive. It also shows us the gap that we need to fill in racing in India because there was a definitive difference between the level of racing we saw from the Indian riders versus the international riders. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the support for the sport outside India is very much more structured, children start racing at a much younger age and over time that gives a big advantage. So I hope it encourages us all to start working in motorsport at a much more grass-roots level.

KR: What else can we expect from Reise Moto on the motorsport front?

YM: Although we are supporting a large number of riders across age groups and formats, we must think about how to get more involved at the grass root levels and play our role in helping to bridge this gap and of course, it's not the effort of one person or one company that can change the culture. So I certainly hope that the whole industry, all ecosystem participants, will play their role so that we can support motorsports in India over the coming years. We continue to explore other avenues, and how we can get more involved on the motorsports side. And as we have something more tangible, we'll be happy to share it with you. But for the moment, you might say a lot of ideas, a lot of work in progress. But, I can't say anything tangible at the moment.

KR: Motorsports is actually a very niche field in India and as you yourself said, the same structure that you see abroad doesn't exist over here. What was the decision behind using motorsports as one of the major driving forces for your brand's identity?

YM: As I told you, our target consumer is somebody who's very passionate about riding, and very enthusiastic about motorcycles and we feel that for this part of the market, motorsports is an area of high interest. So we felt that this was an important consideration factor for our target consumer. I think motorsports is something that is also niche today because as a young country, we are continuously evolving. As we have gone down the path of rising affluence, more and more people have looked at riding, as a hobby or a passion versus just commuting. So the whole space itself is evolving. And ten years out hopefully it'll be at a very different level. So far, we have only one circuit in India, now there's been a lot of activity happening for another circuit, and so on and so forth. So I think all of this will evolve over time. I think we are at the beginning and it will not remain a niche. It certainly is a niche today, but I think it will evolve significantly in the coming years. 

KR: Could you expand a little on your whole apparel direction as well, how that came to be and what the decision behind that was?

YM: As I told you, we defined who our target consumers are, which is the passionate biker and we started off by addressing the need gap in the two-wheeler tyre space and what more we can do. Our thinking is very consumer-centric. So we're not thinking of ourselves as a tyre company or a glove company or a battery company or anything else. We’re looking at who our user is, and what the pinpoints of this user that we can sort of address or what are the gaps in the market around the user that we can address. So starting from that thinking, we started with tyres, then we went into the trailR Academy and motorsport. We also realised that the passionate riders are also investing a lot in making sure they have the right apparel and accessories because it's important. Globally people view these apparel and accessories as a safety requirement and not optional. Now that culture is slowly and steadily coming in India, where people are saying that, yes I definitely need a good quality helmet, but beyond that, I need a good jacket, I need good gloves, I need good boots and we felt that the way that trade has evolved in India on that front is very fragmented, very unorganised and we felt that it was important for there to be an organised channel to bring the best European trends and technologies in there as well. And then as we looked around in the market, we identified these four brands as brands whose service is very strong and their vision for the future was very much aligned to our vision. They all saw India as a large market over time, but understood that it's a very specific market where the consumer is very demanding and they have themselves been continuously investing in their products, and designs and are considered trendsetters. So it was a natural marriage of a desire to address our consumers’ evolving needs and find the right partners for the Indian market. It's been only a couple of months since we started offering these products actively to the market, but I must say we've had a very positive and enthusiastic response among the deserving riders

KR: When you say partners, do you mean you have collaborated directly with these companies or suppliers in Europe to help get these products?

YM: We work directly with each of these companies. We have visited them, spent time with them, and aligned them with our vision, several of them have visited us in India and also, seen the market's first step, so we work only directly with the manufacturers and that is very important because there has to be a close and continuous dialogue where we can explain to them what the market needs. Just to give you an example, if I take jackets, in India by nature of the climate, a mesh jacket is far more important than it would be in Europe where the Indian temperatures are much colder. So explaining all these nuances, and developing that understanding, all these things can only happen when you work directly with the brands. So, we work directly with all the four brands. We spent 12 to 18 months engaging with these brands, explaining our vision, understanding their vision, and making sure there was a good alignment before we signed up with them and got them to India.

KR: Is there a likelihood of specifically developed gear for India and Indian conditions?

YM: Yes, absolutely. So when we started, we certainly started with the selections from their existing product portfolio. But our goal is, as we understand each other and the markets better, we will have tailor-made products for India in the coming several months which would solve India-specific problems yet still ensure international design and international quality.

KR: Are you also looking at exploring and expanding your gear division to stock helmets and boots because that in recent times has become really expensive and difficult to come by in India with the laws being the way they are?

YM: I can tell you that for helmets, we are at an advanced stage of working with international partners, and in the coming months we should have them in the market. Boots are also something we will be working on, but that's a little bit further away. So our goal is that the more we can meet the needs of our target consumer, the better it is. But what is very important for us is to make sure that whatever we end up doing does bring in that international quality, technology and design at a sensible price.

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