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Michigan Pedal Pubs Are About to Hit the Water

Like paddle boats but better

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A pedal boat in Florida.
Cascade Cycleboats
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

The cycle pub tourism industry in Michigan over the last year has exploded as a result of loosened state and municipal regulations on multi-passenger bikes and now one metro Detroit company is taking that idea out for a spin on the water. WXYZ reports that the state’s first water-powered cycle pub dubbed Detroit Cycle Boat will launch this spring right around the time when Michiganders traditionally take to the water for their own boozy boating excursions.

Cycle boats are essentially a waterwheel-powered craft with a pedal pub attached to the top. Customers push the bicycle pedals on the pub to power the boats (think paddle boating but with more beer).

With the rise of the pedal pub these types of aquatic booze tours have been popping up across the country. Oregon-based manufacturer Cascade Cycleboats, which is manufacturing Detroit Cycle Boat, lists about 18 locations in the U.S. where the tours are on the way or available including sites in Florida, Tennessee, and Ohio. The jump to Michigan with its many lakes and waterways suggests that more of these specialized boats will probably be heading this way soon.

Detroit Cycle Boat, which is operated by downtown’s Detroit Cycle Pub, is expected to debut its first 16-seat tour craft on May 20. The boat will have a captain and a deckhand to navigate. The tours will launch at the WaterMark Bar & Grille in St. Claire Shores.

The cycle boats will be BYOB similar to regular pedal pubs. The cost is $450 for two hours Monday through Thursday and $525 Friday through Saturday, which doesn’t sound cheap unless you account for the fact that each individual might be paying their own way. Eater has reached out for more information from Detroit Cycle Pub. In the meantime, the company recently debuted a promotional video, which provides a look at how the pedal boats operate. Check it our below.

Update, 1/12, 12:50 p.m.: Reached by Eater, Detroit Cycle Boat co-owner Nick Blaszczyk says he and partners Jody Blaszczyk and Tina Marie Mighion are excited by the prospect of bring Michigan’s first pedal boat to the Detroit area. “The amount of bookings is incredible already,” he says. “We would have never imagined the amount of popularity.”

Nick says that he found the process of gaining approvals for and launching the cycle boat business to be smoother than what he initially faced launching a pedal pub business in the City of Detroit. “You didn’t have to deal with anybody accept for the Coast Guard,” he says. “Bike [pubs] are just so new for the city of Detroit and people are on the water every day, so I think there was just more openness.”

Like other watercraft, pedal boats undergo Coast Guard inspections and must abide by boating regulations. The Detroit Cycle Boat will be outfitted with enough life vests for everyone on board and glass and kegs will be prohibited. In contrast with the Detroit Cycle Pubs which took more than 16,000 people to some 13 area bars last year, the Detroit Cycle Boats will likely make only one to-be-determined bar or restaurant stop, Nick adds.

Asked why the Detroit-based company chose a suburban setting to launch the new business, Nick says, “Right now I don’t think the waterfront is built up enough in the city of Detroit.” However, “in the next couple of years, we hope the city of Detroit will build up its marinas.”

While this may be the first pedal boat to hit Michigan’s waterways, it won’t be the last. The company is already planning an expansion, bringing the specialized boats to Traverse City in 2018 and hopes to have a second metro Detroit boat by next year. Meanwhile, Detroit Cycle Pub’s partners are plotting moves beyond the Michigan though they don’t want to give away too much yet.

Detroit Cycle Pub Launching Michigan's First Cycle Boat in May [WXYZ]

Detroit Cycle Boat Facebook [Official]

Detroit Lifts Booze Ban on Pedal Pubs [ED]

All Booze News Coverage [ED]