So you’ve heard about the ice bikes, but have you been on one? These bikes, both developed and produced here, have been a hit since they first debuted in December 2014 at the Ice at Canalside. As Katie Couric said of the experience, “trust me, you need to check it out.”
Approaching the bikes last weekend for the first time, I was a little intimidated. “How do these things work?” and “Am I going to tip it over?” were among the questions running through my mind.
Thankfully Lisa Florczak, co-owner and creator of Ice Bikes of Buffalo, provided clear instructions and assured me that the bikes were perfect for those who struggle with balance, like myself.
“If you don’t know how to ice skate, if you’re afraid to fall or you have problems with balancing, you need to come and try the ice bike, because all of those problems go away,” she said.
From the moment I started pedaling, any anxiety dissipated. It didn’t take much to start having a ridiculous amount of fun, which was aided in part by the handlebar bell.
The idea for this uniquely Buffalo product and experience came from Florczak’s other Canalside business, Water Bikes of Buffalo, that rents during the summer months on the Buffalo River.
“I was like, ‘Well, if you can ride a bike on water, then you can on ice,’” Florczak said.
Manufacturing these bikes was a gamble, but looking back it’s hard to imagine that there was ever a doubt about their success. Not only have the ice bikes been featured in national publications like National Geographic and USA Today, but a simple view of the ice on a Friday night is a clear measure of their popularity. Florczak even had to bring more bikes in this season to meet demand, working with General Welding and Fabricating in nearby Elma.
I’m proud to be from the city that created the ice bike. Riding an ice bike may be a uniquely Buffalo experience, but it is something that everybody (Buffalonian or not) needs to try at least once. The success speaks for itself.
“It’s been a great ride,” Florczak said. “Pardon the pun.”