Beers and gears haven’t always been a dynamic duo. In fact, until recently, the idea of combining the two for a spin around town might have even seemed farfetched. Not so for Chris Brown, co-owner and founder of Chattanooga’s Pints and Pedals. “I’d ridden a similar bike in a few other cities. Then I saw one in Savannah last summer and said to myself ‘How awesome would it be to bring this to Chattanooga?’” Last November, he did just that.
By Candice Graham
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What It Is
The bike Brown is referring to is an American-made 15 seater, equipped with adjustable seats, flashing colored lights, a surround sound system, headlights, turn signals, and all the necessary safety features. It steers like a car, but that’s left up to the tour guide – as a passenger, your only job is to pedal at a leisurely pace of 5 mph and enjoy the company, entertainment, and scenery of downtown Chattanooga.
You may have already seen the Pints and Pedals tour cruising around town or parked outside your favorite watering hole. Traveling through the streets of Chattanooga, the bike pulls up at bars and restaurants where passengers hop off and spend time inside before pedaling on to the next stop.
Brown says that Chattanooga’s booming bar scene and support for local businesses makes it the perfect city for an experience like this. “Our bike is completely owned by us and not franchised. The Chattanooga community is great about supporting new local businesses, and the restaurant and bar scene offers so many places that make this a really unique way to see our city.”
What It’s Like
Pints and Pedals patrons begin the experience by choosing one of two different routes—either the Southside route or the downtown route. The tour, in either case, lasts two hours in length. Each stop offers special discounts and freebies to Pints & Pedals tour groups, and Brown says the partnerships have been great. “Bars and restaurants work with us and we have parking spots right out front, so it’s a premier experience for customers.”
Once your tour is booked and the pedaling begins, be prepared for a fully customized, engaging experience. “Whether the group is into country music or ‘80s music, we make it fit for them. If the group asks the driver to wear beads, he’ll do that. The tour guides are a huge part of the experience. They have to understand the local restaurant and bar scene and make the experience fun and unique for each group.”
While large parties of up to 15 can fill the bike, individuals, pairs, and smaller groups can be matched with others to fill the seats. “It’s so much fun to see people come together. Tourists have stuck around afterward and have gone out with local people they met on the tour,” Brown explains. “A couple of groups have even asked their tour guide to continue hanging out at the bars with them when the tour is over.”
How It Started
A former Oscar Mayer Wienermobile driver, Brown says he’s always had a spirit of entrepreneurship and a flair for fun, but one of his biggest inspirations for Pints & Pedals was to provide financial support to his family. “My brother is sick with RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy) – a pain disorder in which nerves fire pain signals to the brain 24 hours a day. I wanted to find a way to support my brother emotionally and financially to get the treatment he needs. What’s really driving me, and my passion to do this, is to help my family.”