Courtesy of Dayna Wymer
Ohio State students know how to party. They gather in the streets, they take a “drunk bus,” they ride in cabs to get to the best bars and now they can pedal their way through the Short North while sitting on a barstool.
Cycle Tavern is a 16-person bicycle-like vehicle, featuring a designated driver and barstools on which the operators sit. Of the 12 barstools on its sides, 10 are positioned above pedals used to power the vehicle. The bike also includes a bar running down the center, with a tap for a keg, and a canopy to keep patrons dry during Ohio’s frequent showers.
Owners Dayna and Dusty Wymer found the bike in Minnesota and said it is the only one of its kind in Ohio. Because the contraption is so uncommon, Dayna Wymer said law enforcement doesn’t know what permits to issue or how to classify the bike.
“We don’t classify as a bicycle because it has four wheels, we’re not a motorized bike because there’s no helper motor,” Dayna Wymer said. “It’s really like this is the first of its kind so nobody knows what to do with us.”
Until the city decides what permit to issue, Cycle Tavern is allowed to run as is. Although that does include driving a bar around, Columbus open container laws prohibit any alcohol to be served while the bike is being used to bar hop. This hasn’t kept riders from enjoying their time on the bike.
“It was awesome, we loved it so much,” said Columbus resident Natalie Hanna of her time with friends on Cycle Tavern. “It hit a lot of different people. Being in such a big group, we had a lot of different people who like a lot of different things, but everybody really, really enjoyed it.”
The bike was built in the Netherlands, where Dayna Wymer said the open container laws do not apply, and it is embraced because “It’s a big biking country.” She said she will attempt to gain permission to drink on the bike, but for now there isn’t much of a need.
“Once you leave one bar, you’re at the next bar within five minutes and that’s parked and walking into the bar,” Dayna Wymer said. “So, you wouldn’t even really have time to drink a beer.”
She said Cycle Tavern has garnered plenty of attention, starting with its debut trip during the Gallery Hop on Aug. 6.
“People were like ‘What is this thing?’ and there were smart phones taking photos and videos, it was just crazy,” Dayna Wymer said.
Her cousin, Jason Helm recently studied at OSU for his Bar Exam and is Cycle Tavern’s designated driver while he waits for results. Helm said the biggest problem he encounters is drivers being dumbstruck by the vehicle’s odd nature.
“We were driving up High Street and a guy was driving in a car directly in front of us. He was completely turned around, not looking at the road, shooting video with his cell phone,” Helm said. “I was nervous then.”
Helm said he has no problems with customers getting too drunk and that his encounters with excessively drunk people usually happen while the riders are in the bar and he stays with the parked bike.
“I’ve had women of various ages dance on me,” Helm said. “I’ve had people offer me incredible things to get on the bike, but I have to tell them no.”
Because Helm steers and brakes the bike and has the ability to disengage the pedals at any time, Cycle Tavern is able to avoid any OVI/DUI laws.
Pedaling the tavern through the Short North isn’t overly difficult, despite the bike’s weight of roughly 2,300 pounds, said Dayna Wymer. She said they avoid hills, and once the bike gets going it’s not hard to move at about five to eight miles per hour.
“You’re going drinking, you know, you could burn a little calories, too,” Dayna Wymer said. “Maybe you won’t feel so bad when you wake up the next morning.”
She said they haven’t had a noticeable amount of student interest because of classes having just started. Students, however, think it may be for other reasons.
Daniel Schilling, a second-year in plant health management, said the concept may be too specific to appeal to a broad audience.
“I think it’s kind of a bit too much of a niche to people who either like bikes or the eco-alternative people, or specifically a team-building exercise,” Schilling said.
Dayna Wymer said the bike has been used for team-building exercises, corporate events, and trips to galleries and ice cream shops, not just for drinking. Schilling said he didn’t think he would use the bike for these things unless it was free.
Pricing for the bike varies for weekdays and weekends. Friday and Saturday it’s $190 per hour and the rest of the week it’s $160 per hour. With 12 people pedaling, two stools without pedals, three people on the rear bench seat, and one in the center of the bar, a group can be up to 16 people, which Dayna Wymer said helps bring the cost down to a “reasonable” per-person rate.
For riders to effectively pedal, Dayna Wymer said they should be at least 5-feet-4, but if group members are shorter than that she said they can take one of the six non-pedaling seats. She also said customers can decorate the bike for special events however they choose, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the driver’s visibility.
Although cold weather is coming up, Dayna Wymer said as long as there isn’t salt or snow on the ground Cycle Tavern will be going out.
“You want to ride in the cold and get bundled up, we’ll take it out.”