Texas Essentials: David Mebane, Fat Tire Tours’ Founder & CEO

by Lisa Davis on August 30, 2019 in Lifestyle, Travels,
David Kelly Weston and Caroline Mebane at the Taj Mahal in Agra India e1567124039271

David Mebane is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, tour guide and heart attack survivor.

Since the first bike hit the proverbial pavement, Fat Tire Tours’ mission has been about providing safe, fun and unforgettable experiences to travelers around the world by helping create smiles and memories that last a lifetime. This simple mission was the brainchild of one Texas entrepreneur.

After graduating from Texas A&M University in 1999, David Mebane picked up his Texas roots and headed to the City of Lights—Paris. Mebane had fallen in love with the beauty and culture of France while working as a tour guide in Normandy and interning for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Paris during the summers between his college semesters.

A Fat Tire Tour includes guided bike rides through some of the best areas of towns like Florence, Italy.
Photo courtesy Fat Tire Tours

Mebane set his sights on launching a tourism company that would help English-speaking travelers navigate the Parisian city and Fat Tire Tours was born.

As a new entrepreneur, Mebane wore many hats — chief tour guide, head of marketing-accounting-HR-admin, and bicycle repairman. After months of planning, preparing and promoting his company, Mebane had precisely zero customers on his first tour. Fueled by a desire to stay as far away from a traditional desk job as possible, this Aggie was determined to locate customers for the 50 bikes that filled the back of his truck he would park next to the iconic Eiffel Tower

Because of Mebane’s persistence, Fat Tire Tours slowly found its way into more French cities and eventually expanded into different countries. Fat Tire Tours is now one of the leading bicycle touring companies around the world. Their goal is to ensure weary travelers are making the absolute most out of their time regardless of which continent they find themselves on.

As it grew, Fat Tire Tours introduced three sister brands specializing in Segway tours, walking tours and skip-the-line tours. As the company grew in concept it also grew in reach, eventually welcoming hundreds of thousands of guests annually. In 2015, the brands were consolidated into Fat Tire Tours. Photo courtesy Fat Tire Tours

As the tours grew in size and popularity, the company built a team obsessed with finding new ways to grow and improve. Fat Tire Tours’ focus on giving each customer a fantastic, private and personal experience quickly set them apart from their competitors.

Fat Tire Tours guides tourists around famous sites in France on itineraries that include the Paris Tour de France Route Bike TourPrivate Eiffel Tower Summit Guided Tour, Versailles Bike Tour and the Monet Gardens Bike Tour. Now, 20 years on, the once struggling start-up has grown throughout the United States and Europe to cities that include Barcelona, Berlin, Chicago, Florence, London, Milan, Munich, New Orleans, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, Washington DC and more. 

In June 2015, while in his Paris office, David Mebane, then 39, began experiencing discomfort in his chest. Within 40 minutes, he received two heart stents and by 2016, he would have a total of five stents. David Mebane and family at the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Photo courtesy Fat Tire Tour

Although he’s worn multiple hats throughout his life, Mebane’s most important and most cherished role has been as husband and father. We wanted to know what this Texas native and successful entrepreneur never leaves home without — also known as his Texas Essentials.

As a professional tour guide and owner of one of the most successful tourism companies in the world, David Mebane knows which essentials every traveler should have with them. Photo courtesy David Mebane

Multi-Plug USB Charger

Between my iPhone and iPad, and the electronics of my wife and kids, I can never have enough plugs in the room for an overnight charge.

prAna Pants

Casual and light, but can be worn to dinner as well if necessary.  

Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 

They let me to sink into my own little world on the airplane.

Global Entry Card

Skipping the line at US Customs has allowed me to make many connections that I would have otherwise missed.

Navy Sports Coat

Every gentleman should have one to dress-up at a moment’s notice.

Cover: Son, Weston Mebane, David Mebane, daughter, Caroline Mebane, and wife, Kelly Mebane at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, photo courtesy Fat Tire Tours

Lisa Davis lives in Austin and is the Editorial Assistant for Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of Concordia University Texas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Public Relations.