One day, Class 8 student Abyudh Mamidala returned home from school with the news of his school’s upcoming science fair.
His enthusiastic father Prashanth already had an idea.
The software engineer’s job involved travelling 30 to 40 km daily, and while he had been mulling over electric bikes, the option was costly.
So for his son’s science project, he thought why not turn a bicycle into an electric vehicle?
The father-son duo took a bicycle lying around the house and analysed its various parts and their functions — how the battery works, how to fix the motor if it stopped working.
After multiple trials of turning the cycle into an electric one, the final design was ready, within weeks.
Prashanth recounts that the first time he took the cycle out for a ride, several people on the street showed interest in the bike.
This, he says, sparked the idea of a startup in him and within a month he launched ‘Mamidala E-bikes’ which now sees enthusiastic customers from across the country.
The cycle, Prashanth says, comprises a 250W motor, an electric brake system, a headlight, an electric lock, a charging port, an accelerator, a controller, a chain shaft and a freewheel.
These parts made a kit that could be attached to an ordinary bicycle to turn it into an electric vehicle.
While the initial plan was to source cycles from local garages and remodel them to create electric vehicles, just as they had done for the project, they realised it was a long-drawn-out process.
“In addition, the look and feel of the cycles weren’t as I expected,” he adds.
So Prashanth made a trip to Ludhiana in Punjab, where he could outsource the remodelling.
Soon, the first batch of 100 cycles was ready to hit the market. Although the idea was unique, Prashanth says there were several other factors to be kept in mind while designing the bikes.
“We wanted an affordable, easy-to-handle product that would cater to users who needed to travel as much as 15 km daily,” he says.
For this, once the battery runs out, users can operate the bicycle like a regular one.
The electric bicycle, which retails for Rs 25,000 to Rs 38,000, includes a 350W motor, a 36 V and a 7.5 A battery that gives a 25 km range.
There is also a model designed for women that is lightweight and costs Rs 23,000 and has a range of 25 km.The one for delivery persons has a range of 100 km and costs Rs 38,000.
Meanwhile, the idea secured first place at the science fair for Prashanth’s son, and Abyudh will now move on to the inter-school level.