Reno Brew Bike pedals forward
Visitors roaming the streets of Reno are likely to do a double-take when they see Reno Brew Bike.
Part bar, part tour shuttle, Reno Brew Bike is a 15-seat, pedal-powered cycle encompassed with a built-in counter that tours the streets of Reno, offering passengers the opportunity to check out local drinking establishments.
Passenger interest determines which bars they will visit.
“If there’s a mixed group on the bike, the driver tries to a get a feel for what everyone is looking for,” said SarahFaye Flick, general manager of Reno Brew Bike, who doubles as one of the drivers. “It’s up to them where they go. If it’s just one group, we can go wherever they want.”
Reno Brew Bike so far has partnered with 23 establishments as tour stops in downtown Reno and the surrounding area. Flick said they’ve recently added Bundox Bocce and Mill Street Still & Brew as tour stops.
Reno Brew Bike offers two, two-and-a-half, and three-hour tour rides at individual and group rates. Price packages also vary depending on length of a ride.
Tours can be available seven days a week, even during inclement weather, and start as early as 11:30 a.m. to as late as 7:30 p.m. with a potential to do up to seven tours a day.
For a group of more than 15 people, a second Brew Bike can accommodate the large gathering.
“We run the bikes rain or shine. This last year we ran the whole year, although I’m not sure if we will do that again this year,” Flick said.
Heavy precipitation last winter presented some difficulties for Reno Brew Bike, even though the bikes are equipped with overhead canopies.
“Last year, we had a lot of cold rides,” said Flick with a chuckle.
Spring and summer months are typicallly the busiest seasons, hands down, for Reno Brew Bike. The cycle usually can go to speeds of 5 mph with the ability to get up to 7 mph.
Passengers meet up at Reno Brew Bikes’ facility at 401 E. Fourth St., next to Lead Dog Brewing Co.
Reno Brew Bike passengers must sign a waiver prior to a tour, and follow a few simple rules that include no alcoholic drinks, food or smoking on the bike while in operation.
“It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure everybody is safe,” Flick said. “We always go over the rules with passengers before a ride begins.”
Flick explained that no drinks are allowed on the bike because it falls under Washoe County’s open container law.
“It’s a common misconception,” Flick said. “But we might start a conversation with the county after the busy season to see if there’s a way we can work around that.”
Aside from a few restrictions, Flick said tours are always relaxed and fun. Music and other activities are encouraged during a tour.
“Interaction with people on the street is super fun. People wave at us and they take pictures as well,” Flick said. “At times, we’ll in turn ask them to do silly things of their own, like doing jumping jacks or an impromptu Kiss Cam, as we’re going down the street.”
Ventures like Reno Brew Bike have begun popping up in metropolitan areas all around the United States.
Duke Bristow was the original driving force behind Reno Brew Bike. He’s been good friends with the owners of Sac (Sacramento) Brew Bike and San Jose Brew Bike, and figured a similar venture could gain traction in Northern Nevada.
“We will forever be the little sister in the brew bike family,” Flick said. “With Sacramento and San Jose having already been in business for a while, they have been such a huge resource for this business.”
Bristow purchased one pedal bike and ran the business by himself early on, doing everything from driving to marketing and fielding inquiries. He added Flick as a primary second driver about a year-and-a-half ago.
He soon added a second bike to meet demand.
Bristow has since taken a back seat with the operation, handing over day-to-day managerial duties to Flick last November. He now splits his time between Reno Brew Bike and a landscaping company, Heirloom Gardens.
The two bikes, which are affectionately nicknamed Bertha and Bowen, came fully assembled from a manufacturer on the East Coast, and are stored at a facility on East Fourth Street rented from Record Street Brewing.
Flick explained the bikes undergo maintenance from a local bicycle mechanic, Bicycleray, once a month in the warmer, busier seasons, and usually every other month in slower seasons.
“When we see something wrong we just take it from there,” Flick said. “We just had to replace the roof on Bertha earlier this year, although it wasn’t cheap.”
Aside from Bristow and Flick, Reno Brew Bike also employs two other part-time drivers and may look to add another on-call driver.
Flick said Reno Brew Bike has been a boost to its local partners who serve as tour stops. Participating establishments also give passengers discounts on drinks.
“We introduce many people to a lot of new bars that otherwise they may not have thought of before,” Flick said.
Tour signups are available at http://www.renobrewbike.com, by mobile phone app, or by calling 775-771-0164.