To understand Coronado’s new Fat Woody Beach Cruiser Experience, you have to know a little about the man behind Fat Woodys – Ken McNeil. While lots of people come up with good ideas, Ken has come up with a dozen and put them all together to create a unique experience. The bicycle is one component, but Ken himself makes the experience even more special.
Ken is leading every Fat Woody tour, with his tongue in cheek humor and his infectious energy. During our entire time together, he did not stop smiling. Fat Woody is something he is proud of, and he seems pretty sure that Coronado will be proud of it too.
The idea for the Fat Woody beach cruiser came to him while he was in Key West, with his board shorts on and a beverage in hand. “For me, Fat Woody is less about the cruiser and maybe more about a relaxed lifestyle. Like Jimmy Buffett & Tommy Bahama, I guess my inspiration flows from a constant desire to be on a beach somewhere. I think one of the coolest eras in American pop culture is ’50s southern California beach and surf culture. That sense of coastal celebration is inspiring.”
Creating the Bikes
Ken is a local artisan builder and North Island Navy veteran. He shares, “I created the Fat Woody because so many bikes are made to exercise the body. I wanted a cruiser that would relax the mind and make you feel alive. Good mental health is so important! You feel like you’re on vacation every time you ride it.”
Explaining his idea to his wife, Ken described to her that he put wood on the bike for the vintage retro van look. He also detailed the importance of big, fat tires that can ride on top of sand. Another benefit is that the wider tire contact patch provides improved traction and stability on the road. He laughs as he tells the story about how he was illustrating the importance to her of these fat woodys, and she laughed back and said, “I think you just found the name of your business!”
Along with the fat tires, and the wood look, Ken took great liberties to make this a luxury, artisan bike. It has the look of classic California, elevated by the amenities. Built in each bike is an integrated blue tooth sound system, smartphone cradle, beverage holder, ultra-wide cruise saddle, and much more.
Ken began by manufacturing the bikes for sale, but after a few years he reevaluated, “instead of fabricating bikes, I want to be around people, I like talking to people.” So began the idea to move from the creation of the bikes to the creation of an experience.
Creating the Experience
The Beach Cruiser Experience is veteran owned and operated and Ken plans to keep it that way. Ken was stationed at North Island from 1981 – 1987 and by hiring on other veterans to his business he feels like he is “giving back to shipmates and brothers.”
The experience is many things wrapped into one. The tour Ken has developed leads adventures through Coronado where he can naturally talk about the history of Coronado establishments without sounding like a tour bus shouting out to look on your left and whizzing on by. He enjoys when participants stop at local shops and he can take photos of the group as a memento for them. Being a photographer, historian, and bike valet all in one, Ken makes all feel comfortable and taken care of.
What to Expect
You can pedal if you like, but Fat Woody’s powerful electric drive system will easily push you along with the breeze at a gentle cruising speed of 8-10 mph. The ultra-wide saddle is designed for maximum comfort and the balloon beach tires provide a soft spongy ride on the beach.
Hours of Operation: Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun (Closed Mon, Tues, & Wed) Open Holidays! Check our schedule.
Four Tours Daily: 8:30am * 11:00am * 1:30pm * 4:00pm
Limited Availability: Six (6) riders max per tour
Price: 8:30am Tour: $59, All Other Tours: $79.
*Local Coronado residents and active duty/retired service members receive a 10% discount on their entire party. (I.D. Required at check-in)
Visit the Fat Woody website here.