Rickshaw Types in Northern India

We have now been to Jaipur, Delhi, and Agra on this trip and the rickshaws in each stop were basically the same and came in two form factors:

  1. Simple:

    Small Indian Rickshaw

    These are smaller with a simple, short, shallow passenger area. An advantage with this configuration is that the rickshaws can also handle cargo duty. I saw multiple of these rickshaws with cargo, and though there is still a capacity hit from having the passenger-centric area, it is much more cargo usable than other designs I’ve seen. The most quirky part of these is the two wedges of wood underneith the passenger compartment which sets the seat and floorboard at an odd angle, sloping towards the rider. I thought this was a hack at first, but I saw this all over the place, and the paint matched as well.

  2. Deluxe:

    Deluxe Rickshaw

    I rode on one of these this week. They have a canopy over the passengers, the passenger area is larger than the “Simple” ones, and there is room to put luggage under the seat. Some of these have mesh seats rather than a padded one as pictured here.

The rickshaws are certainly different in India than my Chinese one. Both styles are smaller, more practical, and likely lighter. The build on the Indian ones, overall, appears to be superior as well.

Rickshaw Ride in Jaipur, India

It finally happened. I got to ride on a rickshaw in India.

I forgot my camera so there’s no footage, but here’s a picture. On the back is a fellow MBA student’s wife, Marsha Condie.

On the back with Marsha Conde

Our driver did not speak English, but he flagged a friend over from nearby to translate. We only had 15 minutes for a ride, so it was a quick loop.

It’s odd to be on the back. I am rarely there on my own Rickshaw. Then there was the whole other thing about being half a world away.

Our driver was a pro, and he negotiated traffic and got us around an back in time. Marsha got a huge kick out of the ride. I was also entertained. Everything was smaller: the driver, the rickshaw, the overall trip.

The total fare was 50 Indian Rubies (about $1 US) but I was so pleased with the ride I gladly paid double. I did pick up on the frame before I left and it was notably lighter than my Rickshaw. It was also quite a bit smaller.

It was cool to take a ride in such a different environment and with a friendly professional at the helm.

Rickshaws in Delhi and New Delhi, India

As part of the NNU MBA program, I am in India right now. This is the only time I’ve been in Asia, and it has been a rewarding journey so far. Something wonderful about being here is seeing rickshaws rolling around in a native environment. Here’s some video from the back of the tour bus:

The environment and conditions these rickshaws operate in are far removed from my own scenario in Boise. Some obvious differences are:

  • Rickshaw related:
    • The rickshaws themselves are less elaborate. No coil spring suspension or full canopies. There’s also none of the added bling we’ve added to my Rickshaw over the years such as the deluxe canopy with integrated LED lights.
    • Brakes: The brakes are often calipers on the front forks. This might be preferred.
    • Design: There seems to be two main kinds of cycle rickshaws here in Delhi/New Delhi. Both are less elaborate than my Chinese rickshaw, though they are likely lighter, more maneuverable, and are better suited for cargo. More practical.
  • Environment related:
    • These guys ride for a living. It isn’t hobby time.
    • The traffic conditions are far different. There are no designated bike lanes. There is far more traffic to contend with. There isn’t a prevalent separated bike roadway like in Boise (Greenbelt). There is a lot of road anarchy going on in the streets, and it pays to be large and powerful. The rickshaws don’t win these battle against the many kinds of vehicles them it in size (auto rickshaws, tiny cars, cars, SUVs, trucks).

I’d love to roll this city for an hour as a rickshaw operator. The traffic would be scary, and I’d be worthless in that even if I could understand where people wanted to go, I wouldn’t know how to get there. Physically, I’m up for it, though. I’m used to single speeds, these rickshaws look lighter and their passengers on average are small (it is India). Hard to say what the rolling resistance is like without hopping on one, because a variety of factor such as tire air pressure come into play.

All in all, it is interesting to see rickshaws in use in a ‘native environment’. From what I’ve seen, Boise is a much more pleasant place to roll, but far less exciting.