Thursday, September 01, 2016

Royal Brothers bike rentals @ Mangaluru- Experience

Bike rentals are finally becoming accessible in Karnataka, at least in part of it. While Goa had bike rentals since decades, it was only a few years ago that Wicked Ride started offering premium bike rentals in Bengaluru. During initial days they also had their challenges in registering yellow on black number plates. But wickedride focused only on premium bikes (bullets, Harley Davidsons etc) and expanded to other big metros besides Bengaluru. In the meanwhile a company named RoyalBrothers started two wheeler rentals at much more affordable rates. I have listed several two wheeler rental agencies in Karnataka in an earlier post here.

Above photo clicked by Kudpi Raj

Till date, I didn’t have a need or an opportunity to try RoyalBrothers. Only recently I booked a rentals with them- at Mangaluru. The fact that they have bikes on rent at Udupi, Manipal and Mangaluru, closer to my hometown was a great news for me. (They also operate in Mysuru and Bengaluru). This post shares my rental experience.

I had to register, upload my DL and get my account approved before I could book for the first time. This process took about an hour or two (DL upload function failed, I mailed the copy to their support email). Booking was pretty smooth, got instant confirmation. Website can be enhanced a bit though- if you directly jump to enter dates without selecting location first (through button in top right corner) it may force you to begin afresh halfway through.

The confirmation email had a map location that didn’t work. There was no local contact and there was no address of the pickup location, so I had some trouble locating the pickup point. But then, it was partly my mistake too- While address said Jyoti talkies, Jyoti Circle, Mangaluru, I assumed it to be somewhere close to Jyoti talkies and not inside the talkies. But Royal Brothers had a counter right inside the talkies- Mangaluru's historic landmark- super cool!. Even Google maps showed that. After circling around a bit, I asked around, called helpline and then went inside the Jyoti talkies to meet the staff.

Pickup formalities were simple. One helmet is given with each bike.

The vehicle:
I had the option of booking an Activa 3G, Classic 350 and Thunderbird 350. I opted for Activa mainly due to cost (Bullet is 3-4 times expensive) and partly because Activa had puncture resistant tyres which the big bike missed. I will try the Thunderbird next time may be. Refer below table for rental details. Activa I got had 3828 kms on the odo, pretty new vehicle in very good condition.

RoyalBrothers Bike rental charges

They follow different pricing for weekday n weekend.
Weekday Charge
Weekend Charge
Free kms/hour
Extra charge
Speed limit
Rs 8.3/her
(Rs 200/day)
Rs 12.5/hour
(Approx 300/day)
Rs 3 per km, Rs 200 per hour
60 kmph
Rs 31.25/her
(Rs 750/day)
Rs 41.63/hour
(Approx 1000/day)
Rs 4 per km, Rs 200 per hour
90 kmph
Rs 33.4/her
(Rs 800/day)
Rs 45.8/hour
(Approx 1100/day)
Rs 4.5 per km, Rs 200 per hour
90 kmph
All information as available on Royal Brothers website at the time of preparing this post. Prices and terms are subject to change, pls check official website for latest.

Activa, Classic 350 and Thunderbird 350 are the 3 most common models in Royal brothers fleet. More popular locations like Indiranagar in Bengaluru has more options including the latest Himalayan.

Points to remember:
  • Fuel cost not included. They gave bike with empty tank and I had to fill up on my own (and return empty tank)
  • Rental permitted only between 9 AM and 8 PM. No late night/early morning pickup/drop supported.
  • For Activa, extra hour charge is as much as a day’s rental. Be on time or book for an extra day, so that you can get about 100km extra
  • For Activa, it is convenient to book for a day instead of short duration- for example, if you need for 3 hours/50 kms, you will pay about 30 Rs + 114 (I,e, Rs 3 per km* 38 kms)= Rs 144. It is cheaper to book for 13 hours at Rs 110 and get 52 km usage. Predict your usage, do the maths and optimize your booking.
Over-speed restriction:

Honda Activa has a top speed of 83 kmph (if maintained well and pressed hard.. else 75-80 is the comfortable top speed it can reach) but RB has enforced speed limit is 60 kmph. Even Govt set speed limit is 80 kmph in most cases.  Enforcing a speed limit 20 kmph slower was very irritating. I need to constantly keep an eye on speedometer, live in panic that I will be fined if I go slightly over 60, all these compromising the experience. Similarly, most bullets can’t go beyond 110 kmph and Royal Brothers have enforced a 90 kmph limit on bullets. It will be a lot peaceful if this limit can be lifted, but then, charging a fine in the name of speed limit violation is easy money for rental agencies. I am sure most people who rent a bike will end up breaching speed limit at least once during their multi day long journeys. Will be good if RB can work with manufacturer/service centre to electronically limit the vehicle to desired speed limit, so that bikes can never over-speed and need to monitor the speed and apply penalty never arises.

Update: Royal Brothers Co founder Mr. Manjunath has responded with his comment as below. Shows that they are listening and caring. Best wishes to them. I do understand how difficult it was to get clearance for yellow on black number plate registrations in Karnataka,

Drop off:
Drop off was simple. Staff checked odometer, vehicle and gave me all clear. As I left the venue, I got an SMS that Rs 455 will be refunded (I had paid Rs 1000 as deposit). I wondered what happened to Rs 545, as the staff who collected the vehicle didn’t mention anything about excess charges- leading me to believe that everything is fine. I got the detailed invoice few hours later- which said that I had been charged Rs 500 for over-speeding and Rs 45 has been charged as excess km charge (I logged 15 km more than the limit). Zoomcar sends an instant SMS/email if you cross speed limit. Royal Brothers invoice didn’t explain when n how many times speed limit of 60 kmph was breached.

Refund got credited in about 24 hours, which is pretty quick.

Summary of my Royal Brothers Experience
  1. Cheap rental amount- very affordable
  2. Relatively new vehicles in good condition
  3. Multiple locations in Karnataka
  4. Easy booking, pickup, drop off and invoice
  5. Quicker refund.
  • Low and impractical speed limit
  • Booking confirmation can include a local contact number, correct map coordinates and address & landmark to avoid confusion.
  • Per hour km usage limit is very less (given that fuel is anyway born by customers)- not viable for short duration longer distance rides
  • Inform any excess charges during vehicle return, so that customers can raise an objection if they wish to
Renting for a few days is very practical and convenient option than buying one- particularly if you need it only occasionally. Myles had opened shop in Mangaluru but they have shut shop now. Happy to have RoyalBrothers around.

RoyalBrothers vs WickedRide
WickedRide focuses on more premium bikes, their per day km allowance is higher but daily rentals are higher. Royal Brothers seem to be focusing more on affordable bikes, though I would have loved to rent more practical, economical bikes like Apache/Pulsar instead of bullets.


Manjunath T N said...

Hello Srinidhi,
Greetings of the day!
I wholeheartedly appreciate your honest critics on RB's service. I loved your beauty of writing skills.I would like to add few points here:
-As per Motor Vehicles Act allowed top speed for 2-wheelers is 60Kmph. We levy penalty only if speed crosses 70Kmph for scooters. Let me know if you need screen shot for overspeed details (80Kmph is applicable for Cars).
-Overspeed penalty is not to make money.Health of the bike will be spoilt sooner if it is ridden at top speeds. Also,scooters are difficult to regulate at top speed incase of sudden obstacle.Though we have lot of enquiries for KTM Duke, the board of directors denied its introduction to our fleet because it is unsafe for our clients.
-Client is our God.RB is client centred service provider
-RB struggled a lot to be the 1st Govt Authorised Bike Rental start up in South India(If possible meet Sri.P.Ravi Kumar, IAS, Former Additional Chief Secretary for Transport, GoK to know our strugle story)
Anyways your honest efforts to help public through your write up is highly appreciated.Kindly do come to our office and share your suggestions.
Manjunath T N
Team Royal Brothers

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Dear Manjunath

Thanks for your detailed comment. I will update the post with your response.

Appreciate your concern for safety and avoiding unsafe bikes and enforcing safety measures. If you can work with manufacturer/service centre to electronically limit the bikes to desired top speed, there will be no need to track and enforce speed limit or charge a penalty.

I will certainly drop by when I am around.

Benedict G said...

Extremely well documented Shrinidhi. I just did not realise that renting two wheelers was possible .. especially high end bikes. I need to try this sometime.

And I appreciate the quality of response from the founder too. Who wants excellent and impeccably error free service people look for honesty. The response by Manjunath is honest. May his tribe increase

Manjunath T N said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manjunath T N said...

Thanks Srinidhi and Benedict for your wishes and support

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Manjunath- I have just made my next booking :)

@Benedict: Thanks. Do try. Chennai is yet to match BLR in terms of bike rentals