I really wanted to title this post "Don't buy Firefox", but it hasn't come to that yet.
Firefox says that its cycles are "designed in UK and manufactured in Taiwan to the highest international standards". That seems true. So where are the flaws ? One word : Service! I was always wary of the service that I would get once I purchased the bike - and recent developments have proved that my gut feeling was right.
In a recent email to me, Vivek Sharma (of Firefox Bikes) had claimed that "our mechanics are well trained for these imported bikes". Blatant lie, that. When I purchased the bike, Hemant Shah (?), the propreitor(?) of Firefox Bike Station (CMH Road, Bangalore) had assured me that I would get spares in a week.
One thursday, about two weeks ago, I noticed that the front gears weren't shifting to my satisfaction and decided to investigate. In all these three years of cycling, I hadn't played mechanic. I disengaged the gear wire from the shifter and turned the screws a bit. When it came to connecting back the gear wire, I was at a loss. I hadn't noticed how it was fastened in the first place - a cardinal sin for a mechanic. I ended up cutting a majority of the strands of the gear wire - making it close to unusable. It was time to get a replacement...
So on saturday, I dutifully went to CMH Road (12 kms away from my home). I asked the mechanic to change the gear wire. He said it wasn't available and asked me to come on sunday. Next day, when I went there he said "did you say you will come today". I wasn't happy but told him to keep it ready as early as possible. He promised to have it ready on monday. Another futile trip!
I had other work - so I couldn't go to Firefox bikes till last friday. This time he had the gear wire ready. At 300 bucks, the gear wire was pricey. The "trained" mechanic made several futile attempts at pushing in the new gear wire. Sensing his problem, I suggested that maybe he should remove the front grip shift and try. He needed an allen key to remove the front grip shift - which he didn't have!!! The mechanic resorted to hammering the grip shift, with no results. I was shocked at this. On close examination, I found that the covering of the shifter was torn. I was livid at this. I pointed this out to Gautam (who was running the show at Firefox) and demanded a replacement for the grip shift. He didn't seem very keen to solve the problems and was concentrating on his other potential customers. He placated me saying that he would have everything ready, come tomorrow. So I rode back home. Next day, I was back. To my chagrin, they still didn't have an allen key to do the job! Gautum asked for "two minutes" to fix the issue. I pointed out that there was no way that was possible - since they didn't even have the tools for the job! I even told him that, if this state of affairs continued, I might be forced to speak to his other customers about this kind of service. He placated me saying that he would have everything ready, come tomorrow. So I retuned back home - without the cycle... Next day I came back again and the cycle was ready - but surprise - the grip shift was still torn! Not to be undone, Gautam has promised me a replacement in a few days. Don't know how many days that will take.
Overall story : 5 visits (over 5 days) to the Firefox shop to get a gear wire replacement. Gear wire replaced, grip shifter torn. Awaiting replacement for that now
I intend to approach the consumer court for further such deficiency of service occurences.
These guys sell bikes priced in the range 10k-25k and don't even have the basic tools to repair the bikes! And any fool can make out that they haven't even cared to give basic training to their mechanics. Just imagine, a mechanic at a shop selling pricey bikes who is unable to change even a gear wire! I don't even want to talk about the professionalism of the company. It is high time we consumers take note of such things.
Moral of the story : if you are planning to buy a Firefox, think again...
NB: Service is improving. Have a look at this too : http://www.shreekumar.in/?p=18