The phenomenon that is portable, pedal-powered pubs has hit Australian streets and is helping drive patrons where they have not been before.
Enormous, over-size bicycles that seat over a dozen people and serve beer have become popular in cities across Europe and the USA.
Entrepreneurs Steve Lindsay and Jason Seris have partnered to bring the vehicles to Australia, and kicked off their first tours by ‘HandleBar’ this month.
Seris says the business is “still developing routes”, but from the outset the pair have punctuated tours with stops to many of the Adelaide CBD’s bricks & mortar public houses.
Owner of the Gilbert Street Hotel, Luke Saturno, told PubTIC he was “sceptical at first” but sees the appeal of the feel-good concept.
“They approached me and asked if they could ‘bring people’ – which is great, and helps me get new customers,” said Saturno.
“We’re not really a ‘touristy’ pub, as we’re a bit out of the way. The HandleBars are good exposure for us.
“A couple of years ago South Australia changed the laws for small bar licences, which opened the flood gates and we suddenly had a hundred competitors on our doorstep.
“The HandleBars are more an experience than anything, and don’t take any business away from us.”
The ‘pedal pubs’ are very popular for small groups celebrating an occasion or even a bonding experience, as riders collectively power the bike from destination to destination. Lindsay and Seris are the designated drivers, and control steering and braking.
It has taken plenty of hurdle-jumping to get the bikes compliant and legal in Adelaide, involving consultation with Council, regulators and the AHA, and many have been surprised they made it onto the road at all.
The HandleBars operate two-hour tours Thursday through Sunday nights around the inner city, using multiple-lane roads to minimise their effect on congestion.
Pubs on the tour thus far include: