Though bicycles are mostly used by a single rider, bikes built for multiple riders have been popular since before the year 1892, when a British songwriter composed “Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built for Two)”, which goes:
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do
I’m half crazy, all for the love of you
It won’t be a stylish marriage
I can’t afford a carriage
But you’ll look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two
The tandem has remained the most common multi-person bike, for the obvious reason that it’s hard enough to get two people to agree on which way to go and when to stop and who steers. Imagine, then, the difficulty of cycling with three or more on a single bike. That hasn’t stopped people from building bikes for lots of people, sometimes for no other reason than why not.
The Dutch company Van Raam, for example, which also builds wheelchair bikes and other special-needs two wheelers, produces a side-by-side tandem trike. That can be turned into what the company calls a Fun Train, by attaching two double-rider cycle trailers so that you have one driver and five co-cyclists.
This is the Surrey Stretch Limousine Deluxe, for nine adults and two children, the top of the range of four-wheel bikes sold by the International Surrey Company. The single-speed model sells now for $4,995, a saving of $1,000 off the list price.
If you’re interested, the company offers cheaper models for fewer people as well as models with seven speeds, which cost more.
For people who like to conduct meetings while on the move, the circular conference bike is just the thing. It is produced by a company called (what else?) Conference Bike. It seats seven people in a circle. One person steers and the other six pedal (or not), and it looks and works like this:
The conference bike was designed by artist Eric Staller and is reportedly used by Google employees. It is 8 feet long and weighs a hefty 400 pounds. The company also builds a five-person bike, the Quinette, which boasts hydraulic brakes and steering, spoked wheels and “cool colours”. It’s intended for family use and “team-building,” fits most bike paths and can even climb hills. Conference Bike sells for $12,750. The Quinette costs $9,000.
The pedal pub is a party on wheels. It seats 17, comes equipped with a working beer keg and cupholders for drinks and includes a special seat for the driver, who should be encouraged not to party along. It sells for $40,000 and there are currently more than 200 of the movable hangovers on the road. If you want one for your next birthday party or want to franchise, find out more here.
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Finally, there is the longest bike ever built, which theoretically seats dozens of riders, but in reality can be ridden (or has been) by only seven at most. It measures 41.42 metres in length and was built for the 2015 Tour Down Under in Australia by the gas and oil company Santos and the University of South Australia, to enter the Guinness Book of Records.
Guinness demanded that the bike must travel 100 metres without the riders touching the ground. The seven riders fell on the first try but made it on the second. Balancing the monstrous two-wheeler was a real challenge, so don’t try this at home.