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What are Surrey Cycles?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

In the world of bicycles, countless variations on the two-wheeled variety have hit the market over the course of decades. Perhaps one of the most notable varieties is the Surrey Cycles four wheeled bike, a passenger-carrying, pedal-powered vehicle popular at beaches and tourist destinations. While the term surrey originally referred to a horse-drawn vehicle, the term was applied to the four-seat bicycle as well.

Surrey four wheel bikes typically have one or two steering wheels at the front of the bike and two or four seats to accommodate up to four adults. A set of pedals sit below each seat, allowing all four passengers to pedal forward--which is important, because the Surrey Cycles four-wheeled bike is much heavier than a typical bicycle and therefore requires more pedaling force to get it moving. Four-wheeled Surrey Cycles are often called quadracycles and weigh around two hundred pounds (90 kilograms) with no passengers.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

While the origins of Surrey Cycles can be traced back to Europe--most notably France and Italy--they have become a common presence in the United States since the 1970s. The International Surrey Company manufactures Surrey Cycles out of Texas today, and they have expanded the line of options from just quadracycles to tricycles and even regular two-wheeled bicycles. Lower quality copycat designs are common as well, and many of these impostors are imported from China as a cheaper alternative to the higher quality Surrey bicycles.

Surrey Cycles are popular at tourist destinations, particularly at beaches and smaller, tourist-centered communities that allow easy travel by bicycle. In a larger setting, Surrey Cycles are popular at Disney world and other large theme parks. Because they are designed for comfort, most models now feature an awning to block out excess exposure to the sun or rain. The majority of Surrey Cycles are a single speed design, but a new seven speed design was recently developed.

While the original Surrey bicycles were designed for leisure, they are taking on a new role as an alternative means of transportation to the motorized car. Vast improvements in the design and comfort level of the quadracycles have made them a slightly more popular choice in urban areas, though their presence is still somewhat rare. Many quadracycles feature disk or drum brakes, and all are chain-drive machines, just like a regular bicycle. In addition, models have been developed that feature a two-seat design and a six-seat design as alternatives to the traditional four-seat design.

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