Hundreds of people pass it every day, and many of them can’t help but stop, stare and wonder, “What is that thing?”
It looks like a bike. Or, well, something close to it. It has three seats, but they’re all at different heights. Hosing snakes around the frame, and what looks like a small cannon is perched in front of the driver’s seat. It’s about twice as big as a normal bicycle, and painted a blazing fire-engine red.
Wonderers rejoice. Todd Sellers, service manager at Ride on Bikes, is here to dispel the mystery.
“It's a fire truck bike,” he said. “It has a small reservoir on the bottom. It’s a three man bike. The front position is the gunner, the middle steers, and the third guy works the pump. And of course, everyone has to pedal.”
Sellers said that the bike was a once-in-a-lifetime discovery that the owners of the shop hauled back all the way from Colorado.
“They were just out on a bike ride, hanging out, having a good time, and they stumbled across this thing leaning against the side of a barn,” Sellers recalled.
They got in contact with the local bike shop and found out that it had been created for two brothers. They had commissioned the bike for the Burning Man festival, but now it was rusting in the wind.
Soon, it was on a trailer back to Columbus.
“We do wacky things here, we gotta have fun, so they saw it and said we had to have it. It just looked too fun not to have,” said Sellers.
“Essentially we disassembled and reassembled everything, refurbished it, painted it, powder coated it. Our head mechanic did a full restoration on it, and it’s fully operational now.”
So how’s the ride? Not easy.
“It's super fun, but it's very difficult to ride. The owner, the manager and myself have all ridden it a few times. It takes no less than five tries to get it going,” said Sellers. “We kinda use it to show that we can maintain, build, service any sort of bike.”
Even if its firefighting days are over, the bike has become something of an icon in Uptown. Sellers says that as the evening comes on and people start flowing into Broadway, they can’t stop themselves from marveling at the contraption.
“We've been told it's kind of an eyesore,” he admitted, “But the thing is, it's become kind of like a destination. You’ll never walk past it and overlook it, and I think that's a pretty cool thing.”