By: Michael Lander
|Sprock n' Roll first rolled on to the streets of Midtown|
Memphis in June 2015. It may best be described as a
totally people pedal-powered party vehicle.
Getting around Midtown Memphis has never been quite so much fun since Ashley Coleman’s Sprock n’ Roll bicycles rolled out into Cooper-Young and Overton Square this past summer.
These bicycles could best be described as pedal-powered parties on wheels.
The Sprock n’ Roll party bicycle is one of two that Ashley Coleman owns that debuted in the heart of our city on June 19, 2015.
Multi-passenger, people-powered bicycles like Coleman’s, have been referred to by some as pedal crawlers, cycle pubs, and beer bikes, but for Coleman they are a whole lot more than just that.
“Sprock n’ Roll is all about providing a great experience,” she said.
“Most of the customers we have had so far are celebrating an occasion and our bikes are a perfect way to celebrate bachelor/bachelorette parties, birthday parties, family reunions, corporate functions and parties, progressive dinners, girls night outs, and more, but you don’t necessarily have to be celebrating something,” Coleman said.
“Sprock n’ Roll is something fun and different to do when you just want to get a large group together to hang out with some cocktails and catch up. For those with groups of less than eight people, we offer mixer tours on Wednesday and Thursday nights so that small groups can mingle with others,” she added.
|Sprock n' Roll bikes can seat up to 16 passengers on each|
one and 32 on both. The bikes currently travel in the
Cooper-Young and Overton Square areas of Midtown,
but plans are underway to expand to include the
downtown area in the fall of 2015.
Each Sprock n’ Roll bicycle is powered exclusively by those who ride it and it can seat up to 16 people on each one or 32 people on both.
When trying to come up with a name for her new business, Coleman found the inspiration from the city itself.
“Memphis is the birthplace for Rock n’ Roll and has created some of Rock n’ Roll’s biggest stars. In keeping with this theme, and using a play on words, Sprock n’ Roll was born. Sprock (for those who aren’t avid cyclists) is short for sprocket, which is a profiled wheel with teeth in which the chain of a bike engages, making the bike move forward. I thought that this was a clever play on words,” Coleman said.
The route that Sprock n’ Roll currently travels on starts in Overton Square at Madison at Dana and then down Florence, Trimble, Cooper, Peabody, Diana, Vinton, S. Rembert, Central, Cooper, Young, and then back to Cooper and ends on Madison. Where each group stops in between depends on the passengers themselves.
|The Sprock n' Roll bicycles allow people to celebrate an|
event or for friends, family or others to spend a fun
day or evening together while getting some fresh air
and a little exercise at the same time.
“Each group decides where they want to go on the ride. We usually stop at Slider Inn off of Peabody because it’s a good in-between spot. In the heat, especially, we want everyone to have ample time for some AC and rest. Once we get to Cooper Young and Overton Square, we hand each group a list of bar partners and the specials they are offering,” Coleman said.
“Our current route in Midtown is bumpin’, but I have a downtown route coming this fall,” Coleman added.
Since they opened for business in June, Sprock n’ Roll has had a lot of interest and an extremely positive response thus far.
“The response has been very positive. People are excited about these bikes and think the idea is really different and fun. The bars and restaurants have been really supportive and offer my customers discounts and specials. Those who have ridden have loved it and have been great about telling their friends about their experience,” Coleman said.
Even though most of what she has experienced has been overwhelmingly positive, she has faced some challenges along the way, especially when she was setting up her business.
|The pedal-powered bicycles, like those belonging to Sprock|
n' Roll, are new to Memphis, but other cities across the
country have had them for several years and the concept
of these are growing in popularity everywhere.
“Some of the biggest challenges that I faced at the beginning were trying to choose my routes, finding the right employees who had a fun and outgoing personality, and finding the time to do all this while trying to also be a stay-at-home mother of three children who are 2, 5, and 7 years old,” Coleman said.
Another challenge that she also faced involved the City of Memphis.
“Getting the city to allow for open containers was a big challenge, but after long discussions, Memphis City Councilman Reid Hedgepeth sponsored an ordinance to allow open containers on pedicabs and I am very thankful for his support,” Coleman said.
Sprock n’ Roll was one of two businesses that started within the last year that offer a similar experience. The other is the River City Pedalers.
“I am similar to River City Pedalers in the fact that I saw an opportunity to bring an awesome attraction to Memphis, just as they did. When I contacted the city last October, I learned there was someone else inquiring about this type of business, too. At first, I was a little discouraged as I thought I was the pioneer for this idea in Memphis; however, I decided to press on. There is nothing wrong with a little competition,” Coleman said.
|The Sprock n' Roll bicycles are available throughout the|
day, beginning at 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday -
Saturday and 12 noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
As similar as the two business might seem to be, Coleman sees some distinctive differences between them.
“Unlike the River City Pedalers, I have no motor on my bikes. Pedaling is the name of the game with mine. My bikes are also bigger in size and have a totally different look. I also have two bikes to accommodate larger parties and/or tours. I can accommodate up to 32 people altogether. My website will also allow for you to see my full schedule of availability so you can book right away instead of making an Internet inquiry or having to call,” Coleman said.
Coleman was initially inspired to start a business after attending a bachelorette party in a neighboring city.
“I attended a bachelorette party and had a blast on our ride. I hung out with 15 women sipping cocktails, listening to music, and taking in the scenery. When you have a large group of people who you want to catch up with, a bar or a long table at a restaurant isn’t always conducive to chatting with everyone. With a bike like Sprock n’ Roll has, you can swap seats and you are close enough so that it is easy to talk,” Coleman said.
|The Sprock n' Roll bicycles begin and end in Overton|
Square and are out for two hours at a time.
“The bikes also provide you with fresh air, an opportunity to have a blast, get some exercise with some friends, and have the ability to have some drinks and you can also check out local establishments, too. Who could ask for more?” she said.
The bikes that Coleman have are manufactured by Fietscafe in Holland and they are 100 percent pedal-powered.
“Some companies offer motor assists, but I wanted to stay away from that. The point is to pedal, after all,” Coleman said.
Spock n’ Roll is open Tuesday – Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 10: p.m. and 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
With a tap on board, people can bring a pony keg for their trip and Sprock n’ Roll also provides a souvenir cup for customers to take home.
You can book online at www.sprocknrollmemphis.com or by calling 901-500-7101. Reservations are required and payment is taken at the time of booking.
Coleman thinks that there may be no better time for the arrival of her bikes in Memphis than now.
“Memphis is undergoing an exciting revival. This is clear when you look at how Cooper Young and Overton Square have grown. Now, you have Bass Pro Shop in town with the hopes of bringing in even more tourists. The future is really looking bright. Announcements of major investments downtown, on the Highland Strip, and in the Pinch District are also very exciting,” Coleman said.
|Sprock n' Roll offers mixer tours on Wednesday and|
Thursday evening that allow small groups to ride
together. Many of those in this photo are from
International Paper's sales team who were visiting
Memphis on Thursday, August 28, 2015.
“Memphis is becoming more progressive and I want to be a part of that. We have a fun city and Memphians are loyal to it and to local businesses. I figured that this was the perfect time for me to start my business,” she added.
For those looking for a fun time with friends or family, or who want to meet others in a festive and party-like atmosphere while they peddle one of Sprock n’ Roll bicycles, they may not find a better way to spend a couple of hours than this.