Riding the waves is taking on new meaning in Florida, as several water-bike rental outlets have popped up over the past couple years. Unlike the boxy paddle boats popular in tourist areas, water bikes operate more like standard bicycles. The rider sits upright on a bike frame set atop pontoons, which keep the ride buoyant and stable. The handlebars control a front rudder, while pedaling turns a small rear propeller. The bikes travel about 5 to 10 miles per hour, depending on whether you want to kick back or kick it up a notch.
Most of the rental bikes are made by Minnesota-based Hydrobikes, a 25-year-old company that recently started marketing beyond the Midwest. However two outfitters in the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area are the only US rental outlets for the newer Schiller Bikes, based in California. Though each brand has its attributes, for the recreational renter, both will give you a fun bike ride on the water.
Hydrobike options include Tampa Bay Water Bike Co., where you can cruise the Hillsborough River along the Tampa Riverwalk; Emerald Coast Hydrobikes in the Panhandle, which has a rental outlet on the Choctawhatchee Bay in Santa Rosa Beach, gives tours, and also delivers boats; and Space Coast Hydrobikes in Melbourne, which rents on weekends under the Eau Gallie Causeway. Schiller Bikes can be rented at the Treasure Island beach outpost of Hubbard’s Marina, where you can cruise the Gulf of Mexico; and at Tampa Bay SUP, which has bayside stations in Clearwater and Safety Harbor. Both Schiller outlets will deliver bikes.