A new fitness craze has rolled in to dozens of luxury resorts around the world—one that delivers quad-burning workouts on water and a one-of-a-kind perspective on the world below.
At the heart of this phenomenon is a sleek, stable, and lightweight water bike from a Bay Area company named Schiller Bikes. The product essentially is a spinning-caliber bicycle on inflatable pontoons; pedaling spins a propeller that sits just below the waterline and thrusts the vessel back and forth.
The company launched formally in 2014 and, since then, has sold its S1 water bikes to several luxury resorts around the world. Currently, some of the properties that have Schiller Bikes include Four Seasons Bora Bora, Atlantis Dubai, and the Fairmont Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Most of these resorts offer the bikes as self-guided rentals for $60 to $80 per hour. A few resorts even have incorporated the bikes into waterborne yoga classes.
The bikes retail for about $4,500 apiece.
For travelers, however, Schiller Bikes is all about the experience. The S1 is as easy to use as a traditional bicycle—easier, if you consider that the bikes are nearly impossible to tip and riders don’t have to worry about being hit by cars when they bike on water (boats, maybe).
In optimal conditions (read: calm seas, no waves), users can usually bike at around 8 mph. Even on bumpy days, however, most pros can get the bikes above 10 mph.
The mastermind behind the S1 and Schiller Bikes is Judah Schiller, a former advertising executive and avid cyclist. In 2013—on a dare, really—Schiller became the first person to bicycle across San Francisco Bay. Then, a few weeks later, he crossed another busy thoroughfare: the Hudson River. As a certain travel writer wrote in this recent piece for AmEx OPEN, the company took off from there.
Today, what makes the S1 unique? In a word, design. “I had this crazy notion to design the most advanced water bike ever by bringing together the foremost experts in bicycle manufacturing, hydrodynamics, and industrial design,” said Schiller.
The bike also stands out for the perspective it offers. When you’re sitting on the bicycle, just floating along, you can look straight down into the water and marvel at fish swimming below. No wonder so many tropical resorts want in.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com.