After exploring Polaris Offroad track off Sarjapur road in Bangalore earlier this month, we paid a visit to Offroad sports-another Polaris Franchisee near Mahabalipuram, ECR, Chennai.
This post is a quick review of our experience, observations and information about Offroad Sports ECR.
What's good at ECR offroad track (compared to our Bangalore experience):
- More vehicles. Offroad sports ECR has a bunch of Chinese ATVs, besides a large fleet of Polaris ATVs, including Polaris Ranger Crew.
- Longer track option- 7 and 10km rides available, which go close to ocean and go inside woods.
- Family ride in Ranger Crew, seats 5 people and costs Rs 4500 for 10km ride. (I can rent Mahindra Scorpio for 2 days in that amount)
What's not good at Polaris Offroad Sports ECR:
- Poor attitude towards Safety. No body protection offered, few helmets available but staff don't encourage/mandate customers to use them
- Expensive rides, compared to what Bangalore track was charging.
- Too many restrictions-like we should take photos with only those vehicles in which we've paid for a ride, photos of other vehicles should not be taken, bike should not be parked in a shaded area (which was meant for cars) even when we were the only customers in their campus and so on.
- A rather plain sand track. No ups and downs, no rocks, no water dip, so the ride gets boring within minutes. A ramp like section was closed down and when asked, I was told "people went on them, toppled and injured themselves"
- No Self drive option in Ranger Crew.
- Bangalore franchiese allowed us to enjoy the ride first and then make final payment. But here in Chennai payment should be made before each ride.
- Staff was saying "drive slowly and carefully, if it gets damaged you've to pay". If I can't have some fun, what is the point paying 500 Rs for 1km ride? Why should I pay for their dakota vehicles?
Polaris Ranger Crew is one of the most expensive ATVs on offer by Polaris. The 900+ cc Ranger Crew ATV costs 14k US $ in US. In India, after 120% tax, would cost about 20 lakhs on road. These are not street legal and should be driven on private roads only. Doesn't make any practical sense to buy this. A second hand Mahindra jeep would do equally well.
Offroad ECR offers family ride (upto 5 people) in this ATV. A 10 km ride costs Rs 4500. No self drive allowed, only their staff will drive. Looks great and very inviting, but No value for money at all. Because of high price of ride and the fact that I am not allowed to drive, we didn't bother trying this.
Offroad sports ECR ATV ride rate card
How is the track at offroad ECR?
It is very plain with sand. No ups and downs, no water pits, nothing much exciting. Even couple of small ramps that existed are closed. The track is little longer than Bangalore one but not half as fun.
The beach/wood ride:
This is the most exciting ride at Polaris Offroad sports. A 7km ride by the ocean, into the woods costs Rs 2500 in Polaris ATV and Rs 1500 in Chinese ATV. The 10km package costs Rs 3000 and 2000 respectively. These ATVs with thumb operated accelerators are not good for long rides. Finger starts aching after a while, as rider needs to keep the thumb operated accelerator pressed for long time. A staff sits behind and forces us through a pre-determined track, without any flexibility whatsoever.
Go kart is another option where 2 people can sit
Problem with ATV business in India is the high cost. The owners would have invested 10 to 20 lakhs on each vehicle and to recover the same, they are charging Rs 400 onwards for a ride. This reminds me if 1990s, where one hour internet surfing would cost close to Rs 100 in cyber cafes. If Polaris franchisees had the volume (i.e. lots of customers) they can reduce per ride cost, but to get high volume, they should reduce the charges first. So this is like a chicken or egg first situation.
However, bulk deals (like say for team outing) could be cheaper if you can negotiate hard (their facility remains by and large idle during week days).
At least if Polaris can manufacture/assemble these machines locally, they can sell more machines and rides will become cheaper
Also unless the tracks are made a bit adventurous, the experience will be dull.