A Bus Outfitted with Indoor Cycling Bikes Is Roaming the Streets
Last summer, Eric Brodie and his wife Seema were chatting with Eric’s sister and her husband—both of whom live in the Bay Area—about their “horrific commutes” across the Bay Bridge every morning to get into San Francisco. Eric’s brother-in-law said he wished there was a gym on a truck to help him pass the time during his commute while also getting in a much-needed workout.
Brodie, who previously ran operations for a bus company and before that worked as an attorney in Downtown Boston, had just been let go at his job and was looking for a new adventure. That’s when the lightbulb switched on. In a health-minded city like Boston, putting a gym on a truck or bus would be a perfect fit. But unfortunately, there’s more to it than just throwing some weights on a flatbed.
“There a lot of stuff that goes into it,” Brodie says. “It’s not easy or safe to do.”
First, Brodie looked up the competition. “There’s a guy in Long Island who has done a gym on a small shuttle bus. But he has weights on there they had to strengthen the floor and they had to turn it into a completely different vehicle. And it doesn’t move,” he says. “He drives it, and parks it somewhere. In California, there’s a gym in an [RV] and they take it to a place and park it as well.”
Then, he realized that in order for his vision to work, it had to be mobile, and it had to be able to withstand a commute—and Boston’s pothole-filled roads.
“We thought, what about doing something that we could do while the [vehicle] was moving? Maybe a bus would work, since it already has the emergency exits, it has the right weight, and it’s designed to fit a lot of people,” Brodie says. “We figured out that the most efficient use of the space would be to put in indoor cycling bikes.”
That’s when Eric and Seema created Bike Bus. The husband and wife team are co-owners and cofounders of the company, which was formed just six months ago and is already operational.
“We paid attention to every detail,” Brodie says, “from the brackets that hold the bikes down, to whether or not they can withstand the vibrations and going over potholes.”
Bike Bus has already filed for a patent for their proprietary safety restraint system, which Brodie says is a hybrid of seat belt, rock climbing harness, and “truck pulling” technology. “We researched just about every chest harness out there and ended up designing our own,” he says. “Basically, your feet are secure and clipped in to the bike, but if the bus stops short or the driver has to slam on the breaks, we designed a chest harness that restrains the upper torso.”
Both Eric and Seema are now certified indoor cycling instructors through Schwinn, and Eric just received his bus driving license. And while Bike Bus is now operational, it is still in its infancy.
“There are two areas that we are hoping to use the bus,” he says. “The first is the original concept with regard to commuting. Our idea is to have people park in a park and ride in Newton. They leave their cars there, and while the bus is in motion to Boston, you get your workout in. Same concept in the afternoon. You get your workout in during the return commute.”
The second idea for using the bus is for private events. Brodie says he envisions corporate events, team building activities, and private parties—bachelorettes, birthdays, and more.
The Bike Bus holds eight riders and an instructor, and hopes to be fully-operational within a month or so. Currently, they are open for private and corporate charters, including companies that want to use the bus during rush hour—for now. Online reservations for people commuting from the western suburbs during rush hour will be available by early June, Brodie says.
The last piece of the puzzle is for the MBTA to get onboard. Brodie says that Bike Bus has applied for a permit through the MBTA so that they can pick up and drop off customers in an MBTA-managed lot. “There is a park and ride lot near the Mass Pike that we have our eye on,” he says. “We can squeeze in two or three trips in each direction during the morning and afternoon commutes.”
As for price, parties start around $399, and Brodie says that individual rides will cost around $35, but finalized pricing has not yet been set. That said, $35 is comparable to the price of indoor cycling classes that are in a studio, so add in tolls, gas, wear and tear on your car, and the stress of the Pike in general, and this seems like a great deal.
Sign us up.