The business of biking is picking up in Colorado Springs.
That is, now that Colorado Springs has a My Handle Bar bike.
My Handle Bar is a different type of bike. It’s a party bicycle operated by 16 people at one time.
Its purpose is to give the riders a unique experience – riding en masse from bar to bar or riding to a dinner destination and, from there, to the ice cream shop for dessert. It’s also just to ride around town.
In July it was introduced to the Colorado Springs market by Theresa Preston. Her introduction made Colorado Springs the 10th city in the nation to have a party bike trolling city streets, she said.
“It’s a great way to see downtown and to get out and do something fun with friends,” said Michelle Lamers. Lamers, her husband Corbin and kids Makenzie, 5, and Eli, 18 months, spent an enjoyable time riding in the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Parade this past summer.
“My husband wasn’t sure if he would enjoy doing that,” Lamers said. “But he enjoyed riding the bike.
“It was so much fun.”
For $360, a group of 16 friends purchases two hours on the bike. They start on Pikes Peak Avenue and peddle around downtown, primarily on Nevada Avenue and Tejon Street.
The bike owner does not supply alcohol for the party. Instead, the groups pay for the experience of riding the bike, Preston said.
For groups that want to drink and ride, Preston has negotiated drink deals for party-bikers at various downtown taverns.
At Jose Muldoon’s, the specials are for margaritas and Coronitas; Jack Quinn’s offers $3 Jameson’s, and Phantom Canyon gives happy hour specials to party-bikers during non-happy-hour times.
After her opening season, though brief, she said business has met her expectations.
“It’s been great,” she said.
In July, fresh to the Colorado Springs marketplace, Preston marketed a one-day Groupon coupon for a half-priced tour.
Using Groupon, the business owner targets residents who sign up for various desired activities in pinpointed geographic regions. The business owner must offer her product at half-price, and then she splits the proceeds with Groupon.
“It really cuts into a business’ profit margin in the beginning, which is huge,” Preston said. “You’re only making 25 percent of your normal price. It’s difficult to stomach at first.”
Still, “we sold a lot that day,” Preston said of the 22 tours sold through Groupon. In all, her first day sold 50 tours here.
Groupon marketing put the bike into the public’s eye, and that, Preston said, perpetuates more marketing.
“The bike really markets itself,” she said.
Once it fills with riders, “you have 16 engaged people, so they may want it for their husband’s birthday, their company party” or other events, Preston said.
When the bike is in storage, for example on snowy days, it’s not selling itself, she said.
One common misconception about the bike is that the average rider is a college student. Not so, she said. The average age for a person booking a tour is between 30 and 55 years old.
Typically they’re women because “females from 30-55 are really great at organizing their friends. They have that great organizational skill,” Preston said.
Also, she said, “It’s not a $5 experience; it is $360, and you have to have a job” to earn the money to pay for it. “Not all college students have that at this point in their lives.”
The bike owner does not supply alcohol for the party. Instead, the groups pay for the experience of riding the bike.
Preston’s business acumen goes beyond trolling around downtown Colorado Springs streets. She also operates party bikes in Boulder and Fort Collins, and has had one party bike in each of those towns since 2011.
She chose Fort Collins for her first party bike because she went to Colorado State University there and she was “familiar with the downtown area and bar scene. I wanted one other city close to it, so I picked Boulder.”
She said she “always” wanted one in Colorado Springs, because she owns another business here, Plato’s Closet on North Academy Boulevard.
“I had Plato’s Closet for nine years, but I didn’t go out much” to acquaint herself with the bar scene, she said. “After those two cities were open for two years, I wanted to see where else I could expand to.”
She targeted Colorado Springs next because of its larger population and the convenience of already operating a business here.
Considering the demographics for Colorado Springs, “I should be able to have two bikes,” she said.
She heard about the party bike business in Entrepreneur Magazine. Years after owning Plato’s Closet, another Plato’s Closet in Littleton and a clothing store in Boulder, she read the article during a time she wanted to do something new and different, she said.
“I was too afraid to have all my eggs in one basket,” Preston said.
My Handle Bar
Contact info: 720-431-0119
Years in business: 2
Number of employees: 5