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Local shop now offers hot tub rentals, delivered by bike

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 22nd, 2013 at 8:48 am

Trying out the Dutchtub-4
Wood-fired hot tub delivered by bike
and now available to rent.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland

The folks at Clever Cycles, those blessed souls that never fear a bold step into a new market, announced their Dutchtub rental program today. Remember Dutchtubs? Nine months ago when we broke the news that Clever Cycles was bringing these portable, wood-fired hot tubs to Portland, the story caused quite a buzz.

Now, after using the product for several months themselves and ironing out all the details with an insurance company, Clever Cycles is finally ready to launch a rental program. Starting today, you can order a Dutchtub and sit back and wait for a Clever Cycles "tubbist" to pedal one to your front door.

When I got word that Clever Cycles was close to launching this, I managed to get myself first in line to be a guinea pig. I knew that technically, Dutchtubs could be pedaled by bicycle; but I was eager to see how Clever Cycles co-owner Todd Fahrner would pull it off. As he pedaled his way north on Michigan Avenue, his calm smile said it all. It was a breeze to pull, and he was doing it with a Brompton!

Trying out the Dutchtub-6
Trying out the Dutchtub-1

Trying out the Dutchtub-5
Trying out the Dutchtub-7

While the Dutchtub is indeed portable, it doesn't come with any available means to tow it behind a bike. So Todd worked with local expert cargo bike fabricator Mike Cobb to develop a custom trailer and hitch system to pull the 160 pound tub. Cobb's trailer also doubles as a hand-cart. It worked beautifully as Todd and I were able to (relatively) easily maneuver the tub from the street in front of my house and into my backyard (keep in mind the tub needs a 5' 6" wide opening).

Once set on firm ground (a few pieces of scrap plywood under the tub's four legs helped), we were soon filling the tub from our garden house while stoking the fire with wood. The Dutchtub works via a very simple principle: A wood fire is wrapped by steel coils that are filled with water that constantly circulates through the tub and around the fire. As the coil draws in cooler water from deeper in the tub, the water is heated in the coils and shot into the top of the tub.

The fire was a bit finicky at first, but eventually we had it going strong and hot and the water soon followed suit. It takes a while to get the hang of how to balance the tasks of keeping the fire hot and filling up the tub. If you're not careful (like me on the second night after Todd left) and you let the fire die down, it will take much longer to heat the water. Even once I had the water pumping hot, I had to get out of the tub every twenty minutes or so to tend the fire and stir the tub to mix the hot water on top with the cooler water below.

If you're worried about getting the fire and heating process just right, Clever offers the services of their certified tubbist to stay as long as necessary on the first night.

Once I got the thing heated, and the fire was dialed-in, the Dutchtub warmed its way into my family's heart. The design is simple and welcoming. My daughters, 7 and 10, could easily step into the tub and they had a blast floating around in it. Unlike other hot tubs I've been in that have all sorts of knobs, dials, jets, curvy seats, and so on, the Dutchtub's minimalist design was quite pleasing. Inside there's just a convex circle in the middle of the tub where your feet can naturally rest. I never found myself searching for the right position. I just relaxed and enjoyed the peaceful soak and the novelty that it was happening in my own backyard.

Trying out the Dutchtub-8
Trying out the Dutchtub-9

A bonus with the Dutchtub is the open fire. Not only can you throw a wok on top of it (included in the rental) and cook up some food, but having a fire always seems to lead to good times. One night as we waited for the water to heat up (it takes several hours, so be forewarned and plan ahead!), we found ourselves chatting and having drinks around the fire with our neighbors.

When it was time for our Dutchtub to move on, Todd rolled back over (on a Surly Troll this time), hitched the tub to his seatpost and was on his way. As I watched him pull away I thought: This is pretty cool, a human-powered, wood-fired hot tub that you can use as your own for a few nights with no big commitment. I have a feeling those Clever Cycles tubbists are going to be pretty busy.


The rental rate for the Dutchtub is $400 for three nights plus a nominal refundable deposit (upon a clean return). For that fee you get the tub, all the accessories (of course), delivery and pickup, set-up, and wood fuel for one heating. The delivery area is pretty expansive as well, stretching on the east side from St. Johns up north to the Springwater down south and between the Willamette River and 82nd Ave. Clever Cycles will begin accepting reservations March 1st.

For more details on how to rent the Dutchtub for yourself, check out the full announcement on the Clever Cycles blog.

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Comments
  • daisy February 22, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Possibly the best thing I have ever heard in my whole life.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • alex February 22, 2013 at 9:35 am

    What sort of method did you use to drain the tub? and where does all that water go?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • todd February 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

    There's a capped drain at the bottom of the tub. The water goes down :-). Can also drain by siphon into garden beds, sewer system, etc.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Lex February 22, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Hmm. Am I the only one to notice the irony of using an emissions-free vehicle to deliver a wood-fired hot tub.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • todd February 22, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Lex, there might be irony if we billed it, or bicycling in general, as some kind of green/emissions-free thing. We don't, and I get a little tetchy when people assume that just because I've never owned a car, I'm holding myself up as a model of environmental virtue, eager to debate who or what is greenest.

      Recommended Thumb up 15

      • spare_wheel February 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

        "we billed it, or bicycling in general, as some kind of green/emissions-free thing"

        we are really tired of breathing bike tail pipe emissions.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Chris I February 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      Just burn branches, lumber scraps, and other scrap wood you might generate at your house. Then use the ash to fertilize your garden. It's the circle of life.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Indy February 22, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Take it one step further and allow pedaling for the heat, also.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Spiffy February 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      some older exercise bikes had a fan inside the wheel... you could pedal one of those to stoke the fire...

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • SilkySlim February 22, 2013 at 10:42 am

    About time!!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Andrew K February 22, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I think this is one of the coolest things ever. I have a perfect back yard for this with only one problem, the path to my backyard from the side of my house is only about 3 feet wide. BUMMER!

    Oh well, can't win them all I guess. This really is awesome though.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • todd February 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      The tub will fit through a 34" gap if tipped on its side and carried through by 2 strongish people.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Andrew K February 22, 2013 at 12:16 pm

        oh cool. I will have to measure the opening going to my back yard and see if that will work. Off the top of my head it just may. Thanks for the reply!

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Craig February 22, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I think the DutchTub website has crashed due to our general interest. It's only 5000 euros....... :(

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Todd Boulanger February 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Man...that was the "Superman Brompton" ...able to tow hot tubs up a single hill...[I wonder if that was a Brompton record?] Way to go Todd2!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • shirtsoff February 22, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    My friends and I were just talking about how cool it'd be to rent a hot tub the other night and then this news article appeared as if in some sort of cosmic reply.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • wilf February 22, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I have conflicting emotions of "awesome" and "naked hipsters in a hot tub"

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • HagenHammons February 23, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    This would work perfect in a bike oriented college town like down here in Eugene.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • DIO February 24, 2013 at 12:30 am

    If I didn't read the article, and just looked at the pictures, I'd have thought this was the world's largest soup pot. LOL

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Oregon Mamacita February 24, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Who has $400.00 to rent a hot tub? Just asking.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Oregon Mamacita February 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Why don't the urban bikey families buy a non-polluting tub for 2000.00 given the rent to own ratio ;)???

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • todd February 24, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      These tubs cost quite a bit more than that, for what it's worth. After insurance it's questionable whether we'll break even within a couple years, and we'll see how the tubs hold up to an itinerant life over that time. We're doing this mainly for promotion of the fact that you can carry big stuff by bike, for publicity, for fun, and also to test whether we can resell these. Besides, when you're not renting it, we get to use it :-). It's awesome.

      I don't think a hypothetical $2K tub is going to be portable, easily scooting out of the way of small urban yard/garden activities when not in use, nor particularly appealing from a maintenance, cleaning, or aesthetic POV. As for polluting, by what non-polluting means do you propose to heat this $2K tub, with its probably much higher volume of water? While open woodburning does have a negative particulate story, especially on a mass scale in built-up areas, the carbon footprint of biomass heat compares favorably to fossil fuels. Not that this is a green contest. :-)

      Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Oregon Mamacita February 25, 2013 at 8:12 am

    A web search revealed a plethora of portable hot tubs under 1000.00 and they are electric. Hey, it's a free country but I just wanted to point out the obvious. To the bike-only guy who mentioned the 9k cost of owning a car- mine costs less and I like mountain biking. Can't be a city slicker 24/7.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Alan 1.0 February 26, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Only 5 blinkies on it? Won't some drivers have a hard time seeing a hot tub in the lane in front of them?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • todd February 26, 2013 at 10:46 am

      We're working on a sign:

      ///// WIDE SLOW HOT WET LOAD \\\\\

      Recommended Thumb up 7

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