Bicycle builders combine a bike and a beer bar - what's not to like?
By Ben Coxworth
December 20, 2010
Handbuilt bicycles, draught beer, pizza and music – chances are that almost everyone has a passion for at least one of these things. Now, Portland, Oregon-based Metrofiets Cargo Bikes has combined all four in an ingenious little vehicle unofficially known as the Beer Bike. The custom-built bicycle, inspired by Dutch cargo bikes, has space for two full-sized pressurized beer kegs, and features 50 feet (15 meters) of cooling coils per keg, an ice tray, an inlaid wooden bar with two beer taps, a rear rack designed for carrying pizza boxes, and a solar-powered custom wooden boom box that mounts like a pannier.
Metrofiets owners Phillip Ross and Jamie Nichols first pitched the idea for a Beer Bike to Christian Ettinger, owner of Portland’s Hopworks Urban Brewing. Being a bicycle enthusiast himself, Ettinger readily accepted, and the bike now travels to local stores and events to promote his libations. Clients will also hire Ettinger to bring his Beer Bike to their events, to supply their guests will booze and pizza.
“Jamie and I, we’re home brewers ourselves, and we were like, ‘You know what the world needs, is a bike that can carry two kegs of beer, how crazy would that be?’” Ross told Gizmag. “We started working on it, and we said ‘Well actually, I think we could do that, that’s wild. Oh and look, now we can carry some more, so let’s put a stereo on it, and hey, how about a wooden bar?’ Then when we met with Christian, the collaboration just continued.”
The Beer Bike took them six months to build, and ended up costing Ettinger US$13,000 – according to Ross, it made that amount back in less than a month, via free advertising for Hopworks. Local people and businesses pitched in to create the sound system, beer plumbing, heavy-duty wheels, and the wooden bar top and boom box shell. The bicycle parts (including the taps, which are made from wheel hubs) were donated by Shimano and Chris King components.
The frame was constructed from aircraft grade 4130 steel. “It was quite a challenge to build a frame that could handle the weight of two full kegs and rider, and still be ridden around town,” Ross told us.
Without kegs, the bicycle weighs about 120 pounds (55 kg). Although the vehicle has a 400-pound (181-kg) cargo capacity, Ross confirmed that it is indeed quite a challenge to pedal uphill with two full kegs – he recommends traveling with smaller pony kegs, and swapping in full-sized ones at the destination. As long as the kegs stay untapped while on the road, he claims that the police don’t have a problem with the Beer Bike... and as long as the kegs are kept cold, the bouncy bike trip shouldn’t cause the beer to foam up.
Ross and Nichols are currently building additional Beer Bikes for Metrofiets’ own use. There’s no word on whether or not they plan to race them against one another, but it would be pretty awesome if they did.
Photos courtesy Metrofiets/Curtis "Corky" Miller