By Katie Thomas EBS Contributor
BOZEMAN – As summertime urban outdoor activities go, few things beat bicycling in the warm breeze.
Now imagine a planned route, with stops at local breweries and distilleries, over the course of a few hours. Throw in a pilot and you’ve got yourself a pub bike—Bozeman’s newest and most entertaining way to brew-hop with your friends.
Gear Belly, a 14-seat bicycle that pedalers utilize to tour around to local breweries, made its shiny red debut in Bozeman this May. Offering tours seven days a week, Gear Belly takes guests around town during the bike-able months starting in May and lasting until snow or ice impairs operations.
The bike features 10 pedaling seats, two non-pedaling seats and one non-pedaling bench seat in the back, which can fit two adults. Interested customers simply need to have a party of six or more, choose or design a tour, and book in advance (it’s not a taxi, unfortunately).
Tours include a safe and sober pilot who steers and brakes, a sound system, a cooler with bottled water, and a spirited tour of your favorite destinations. Drinking alcohol on the pub bike is not allowed, but guests can bring a growler to fill at one of the 30-minute stops and store it in the cooler until the tour ends. All ages are welcome, and Gear Belly’s owners recommend dressing in layers—unless guests are in costume, which is even better.
Eric and Jami Morris were inspired to launch this innovative concept after seeing a similar outfit in Bend, Ore. “It seemed like something that was missing from Bozeman’s evolving beer culture,” Jami explains. “And ‘Gear Belly’ is a playful take on ‘beer belly.’” Both Morrises are lifelong wildfire professionals, so safety is a priority. Guests must sign a waiver to ride the pub bike, and helmets are offered, though not required.
In addition to the three main tours—Hair of the Dog (midday), One Wild Ride (late afternoon), and The Long Way Home (evening)—custom tours are available. Gear Belly can also be booked for special events: reunions, bachelor/bachelorette parties, tailgating, corporate retreats, birthday parties, and concerts are just a few other suggestions Gear Belly welcomes.
On a flat road the bike can travel approximately 6 mph. Yes, the pedaling really is powering the bike, and the more people pedal, the merrier; and the easier the ride. The Gear Belly bike of Bozeman is certainly a unique way to travel—it’s not unlike being in a parade, waving and smiling are encouraged and no one can help themselves anyway.
As the Gear Belly folks say, “Belly up and pick a gear!”