If you weren't aware, the New Belgium Brewing Company has been releasing limited edition beach cruisers yearly since 1999. They're referred to as Fat Tire Bikes, a nod to their flagship beer Fat Tire Amber Ale, which put New Belgium Brewing on the map, and helped to start a micro brew revolution in Colorado and quite likely across the nation With every passing year comes a new model of beach cruiser, entirely different from the last, and unique unto itself.
The bikes are reserved as gifts for New Belgium employees when they reach their one year anniversary with the company. However, they are also offered to the general public via fund raising auctions, raffles, and the occasional promotional giveaway. Needless to say, it's not very easy to get your hands on one. Sure you've got the secondary market with auctions on eBay, and bikes for sale on Craigslist, but you're going to pay a pretty penny for them.
A sea of Fat Tire Bikes at New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO.
Living so close to the New Belgium headquarters in Fort Collins Colorado has afforded me opportunities to see many a Fat Tire bike in the wild. Several local restaurants and bars display them and work them into their decor, and taking a stroll in old Town Fort Collins almost always yields sightings of Fat Tire bikes parked about town and secured to bicycle racks.
A Fat Tire Bike located in Beau Jo's Pizza in Old Town Fort Collins
Being a bonafide beach cruiser aficionado, a huge fan of New Belgium Brewing, and Fat Tire Amber Ale being one of my favorite beers of all time, it probably comes as no surprise that I've always always had my heart set on owning one of these beach cruisers. I'm happy to say that last year, my wish came true.
My bike as it sat for the better part of ten years
The Fat Tire Cruiser pictured above, hung from the ceiling as part of the restaurant decor at a local Old Chicago restaurant for quite some time. I actually snapped this picture above one Sunday afternoon in 2008 as some friends an I watched football and feasted on hot wings.
Due to a recent remodel, the bike came down a few months back and I was sure I'd never see it again. However, it appeared once again last year's "Movember" fund raiser Old Chicago was throwing. It went on the block for a silent auction to raise money for prostate cancer research. I originally had plans to join my buddies for an evening of fun filled events, but had to attend a choir concert at my kids school.
My friend Matt got a hold of me and said that the bike was up for auction, and asked me if I wanted him to bid on it for me. I responded with a resounding yes, and notified him of the price I could afford to pay. Whether folks didn't know exactly what kind of treasure they were bidding on, or there was simply a lack of retro bike enthusiasts in the house remains to be seen, but my buddy only had to bid once, and the bike was mine.
The same Fat Tire model, as it hangs in the New Belgium Brewing facility
After my kids choir concert had finished, I met up with my friends at Old Chicago and took a gander at the newest addition to my retro bicycle collection. The bike is a 2000 model made by the Electra Bicycle Company, and was the second year these New Belgium Fat Tire bikes were produced.
Matt stated there was one condition to me taking possession of the bike. He said I needed to ride the bike across the snow and ice covered parking lot to my car. Riding a bike in snow and ice is something I haven't done since I was a teenager, but to the bikes credit.. the Electra brand tires gripped perfectly and kept me from making a fool out of, and or injuring myself.
I'm quite happy with the bike, and don't plan on changing anything, apart from adding a New Belgium bike bell and valve stem caps, both of which are available for purchase at the New Belgium Brewery.
I've always had an immense amount of respect for the New Belgium Brewing Company. Their never ending efforts in becoming a more sustainable and green company are both impressive and admirable, especially when it's much easier and affordable to go the opposite way. For me, a Fat Tire bike.. any model of Fat Tire bike is certainly an honor to own, and I'll always cherish this bike.