You will likely have seen them used in countless other European cities — shared bikes that allow tourists and fun-loving locals to pedal their way around town while swilling glasses of beer. As of 2022, Manchester has had its own version, cunningly christened MCR Party Bike. The brainchild of two good friends — Stuart Smith and Shane Steenson — these guys were running bars in Spain before opting to return home, and once back in the North West decided to make a go of this mobile silliness.
So, how does it work? Well, simply put, climb onto what’s best described as a kind of minibus-tandem bicycle hybrid with up to 12 people (minimum of 8), and cycle on a route that takes in some of the city’s busiest streets. Starting out in Stevenson Square, suffice to say the vehicle can’t help but get you noticed by the good people of the Northern Quarter, with crowds outside the innumerable bars, pubs, shops and restaurants you pass en route usually keen to take some photos or videos.
Unlike many continental counterparts, the MCR Party Bike doesn’t have its own taps for drinks, but customers are welcome to bring their own aboard for the 50 minute journey. Starting on Hilton Street, the trip is a loop circuit around the immediate area. Each jaunt takes place hourly between 1PM and 8PM on weekends, and both walkups and advanced bookings are available. It’s important to note that you’ll need at least six people to power the machine, and anyone considered too intoxicated can be refused a ride. Don’t worry, though, the professionals in charge take responsibility of the really important stuff, like braking and turning. The experience is also soundtracked appropriately (unless you bring your own playlist), with up tempo bangers, many of which first originated in our fair city, the order of the day when it comes to tunes.