In the craft beer capital of Colorado, a small brewery sits in the heart of old town Fort Collins. When we heard about their very unique keg delivery system, we knew we had to do some intrepid investigative reporting. Equinox Brewing’s owner Colin Westcott showed up next to the beer garden with what has to be the most unique bike design to ever hit the city's bike-happy streets. The custom-designed trike is the primary keg delivery vehicle for the brewery, which has endeavored to keep its suds as local and sustainable as possible. Ironically, the forward-thinking design of the bike and its mission is informed by the traditional craft of brewing, where ingredients and patrons were always local.
Before prohibition there were corner breweries in most cities where locals would go to take a load off at the end of the day. Those breweries had to use local ingredients, which created a quilt of one-of-a-kind beers across the nation. After a long period of big breweries making light beer made from corn and rice, the local brewery has come back in a big way. This history lesson came complimentary with pints of Remi’s Saison IPA as we spoke with Colin, whose vision is to only serve kegs to places they can deliver by foot or pedal.
The Bootlegger tricycle is the brainchild of Colin and Zach Yendra, co-founder of Panda Bikes. The challenge was to enable a single person to deliver a 160 lb keg by bike. The solution was to build a very low platform set between two wheels. The rider sits back, steering by turning the front wheels with connected handles that reach a few feet forward to the wheels. The frame sweeps back to a 36″ tire which is actually made for unicycles.
The platform for the keg has a brilliant spring suspension that dampens the load both up and down. The trike’s brakes consist of two front disks that are controlled by the left hand. The brake handle on the right locks the back tire with a small spring-loaded peg set in the handle, so that kegs can be unloaded without hassle.
Taking the bike on a test drive on a closed course, I found its turning radius to be pretty wide, which is good — even the low-set weight can make the trike tippy. The single gear can easily get a heavy load in motion, which also makes backing up easy. The prototype still needs some finishing touches to improve turning before being painted, but for being the first of its kind it’s a very productive and elegant design.
Looking to the future, Colin envisions turning the parking lot next to the brewery into a large bike depot – the first of its kind downtown – to encourage residences to abandon their cars and hop onto some pedals.