Cruisers like the Avenger and Yamaha’s Enticer have always been on my must-ride bucket list, and this past Monday, I finally bit the bullet (sorry about the pun there!) and decided to rent a bike for a few hours to see if it lived up to the hype within my head.
A quick search on Google gave me options such as Wheelstreet, Rentmojo, WickedRide, RentOnGo, MetroBikes, Royal Brothers and Ziphop. At short notice, the closest one with an Avenger available at nominal rates (Rs.30/hr) was WheelStreet. No deposit, a painless registration and booking process and, five minutes later, I’d booked a pickup from their Marathahalli location. (I just tried their website again, and turns out only the booking form on the home page works well. The ones on the location pages are buggy to the point of uselessness)
This was the part I least enjoyed about WheelStreet. For one, they give their location as Star Mall, Marathahalli. This is idiotic since their actual location, right opposite Lightspro on Gulmohar Enclave, is just as easily a searchable landmark, and if you have a vehicle of your own (as I did), you don’t have an option but to park it in Star Mall and walk back. Why not give people the actual pickup location itself?
I booked a bike for 9 AM. All pre-paid, so I figured the bike should be ready by the time I arrive. Thanks to Bengaluru Monday Morning traffic, I actually get there by 10. The WheelStreet location manager (LM) started calling me by 9.40 or so. You’d imagine that, since he knew I was coming for and since it was already paid for (I can’t stress this enough), the bike would be ready.
Uh huh. It wasn’t. Worse, it hadn’t even been tested. Cobwebs hung off its grill, unmistakably obvious. If I hadn’t committed the time and effort to get there, I would have been tempted to call it off right then and demand a refund.
The bike refuses to self-start. Kicking doesn’t really help either. The LM tells me it is because it was out in the cold. Tries and fails to start it. Finally, takes it out on the road and gives it a running start. Brings it back telling me, “Now it will work.” And I am wondering, what if it stops on a main road and refuses to start? What will I, an amateur biker at best, do then?
Then we notice the smoke coming out of the engine. And no, not through the exhaust.
The bike is dusty too. I ask him if he shouldn’t have kept it ready by 9 itself. His reply? “Sir, you are late.” The logic is irrefutable, you see. If I had been on time, the bike would have been ready – but since I was late, the bike wasn’t ready on time. Wheelstreet, if you’re reading this, you might want to retrain him on certain matters of logic, reasoning and customer handling.
I had had enough. I tell him I am not going to accept that bike.
To be fair, he agreed without argument (a sad commentary on Indian companies’ attitudes towards the customer – I half-expected him to put up a spirited defense on why the smoke was merely the evaporation of water vapor from last night’s chill) and gave me another bike.
Time from arrival to kick off, almost 30 mins. I kid you not.
- Replaced defective vehicle.
- Ease of booking
- No deposit!
- LM did not brief me on fuel, choke, gear, etc. Assumed I knew.
- I had to submit an original ID card. Thankfully, I always carry at least 2 on my person at all times. But this wasn’t mentioned anywhere, I think. Certainly nowhere prominent.
- Vehicle wasn’t ready at the appointed time.
Rating: 1/5. And that one point is for giving me another Avenger 150 without fighting over it. Otherwise, -2/5.
The bike was an absolute beaut to ride on. Only 292 kms on the odo when I started, and everything worked as it should. Once I grew comfortable with the gear system, it became even easier. Riding the Avenger was everything I imagined it to be, and then some more. I’m sold on it, in fact – my next 2W has to be an Avenger.
No issues anywhere. I do wish, however, that their pickup point had been closer to a petrol station. With the fuel gauge on the wrong side of E (and despite the LM’s assurances that there would be enough fuel to get me to the nearest petrol bunk on the other side of the Marathahalli junction), I kept worrying that the crawling traffic – it took me half an hour to cross 1 km – would drain what little fuel there was.
Despite the delay in pickup (not the 1 hour that I was late, but the half an hour that was occasioned by WheelStreet’s own carelessness), I was asked to bring the vehicle back by 2 PM sharp or face penalties. Not really an endearing memory as far as dealing with the LM was concerned. The process was painless, however, because I returned it at 1.50 PM and took my ID card back and was on my way a couple of minutes later.
Overall: 3/5. The second bike saved it for WheelStreet. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really create a USP for WS. With competitors offering similar rates and promising the same (or, given the first bike I was assigned, better) quality of bikes, I am not really sure WS currently has what it takes to develop a loyal clientele. My first – and perhaps only? – experience with them will always be defined by, “Sir, you are late… that is why bike is not ready.“