“We wanted to build something that’s an experience, not just another activity,” said Jax Rides co-owner Katie Derringer as she launches the fat-tire e-bike tour service in Jacksonville's urban core with her wife, Amy.
The tour's electric vehicles are probably unlike any others you’ve seen on the First Coast.
They look like a cross between a scooter, a bicycle and a motorcycle, and that’s intentional.
“They are modeled to look like an old fashioned Harley, and the reason we picked them is because we want that really hip, edgy, cool vibe that you can’t get on the back of a Segway – no offense Segway riders,” said Amy.
Segway e-scooters have become popular in cities around the country, including Miami, as an easy way to get around.
The Derringers’ venture isn't rent-a-ride service, but rather an urban core touring service.
The tours, which last between 90 minutes and 2 hours, begin in Springfield and continue through Downtown and the Southbank.
Tour narration includes facts about Jacksonville’s history and pop culture, along with recommendations like the best places to eat.
The bikes can hit speeds up to 20 mph, according to the Derringers, with a range of about 30 miles per charge.
To keep the tours fun and unique to Duval, each e-bike has a name, all of which will make sense to anyone who’s lived in Jacksonville for a while. Names include Minshew, Lynyrd, Duuval, Skynyrd and Ritz.
Of course, Ritz is named for the Ritz Theatre and Museum in LaVilla.
“I love showing people LaVilla. I think a lot of people don’t recognize or appreciate the musical history that Jacksonville has and where the origins of the blues came from and how integral we [Jacksonville] were to starting that, and I love sharing that information and upping Jacksonville’s cool factor,” said Amy.
The Derringers said one of the biggest challenges they discovered along the way was their business was unique enough that insurance companies didn’t have an existing policy model.
“We actually shopped probably about seven different insurance agencies,” said Katie, adding they also had to seek legal advice to make sure they were in compliance with Florida law.
The tours are meant to be fun and family friendly. Although the driver must be at least 16 years old, parents can bring along their kids as passengers.
“It’s great if you’re a family of four. One parent takes one bike, one parent takes the other bike and they each have a kid, and now you have a family activity for the afternoon,” said Katie.
Art also lends to the tour’s vibe.
“A part of the cool factor for me is a lot of the modern art murals. Largely that’s facilitated by Art Republic and all sorts of different independent artists and groups,” said Amy.
The tours operate on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. The cost is $55 per bike with a safety briefing and practice session included.
Each paying adult rider can include a passenger at no additional charge. Passengers must be a minimum of 48 inches tall.
Tours can be booked by date and time at JaxRides.com.