Of the 311,591,917 people who live in the United States, 128.3 million commute to work every day. More than 75 percent do it by driving alone in a car. A mere .38 percent (488,000) ride bikes. But if Joe Q. Public knew just how cool these new self-propelled commuting tools have become, perhaps those statistics would be turned on their heads. Gone are the days of rubber-banding pants to keep hems from getting gummed up in a greasy chain—some bikes don’t even have a chain anymore. And if you thought inline skates have gone the way of the mullet, think again. Herewith are five pieces of gear that will almost make you look forward to going to work in the morning.
Rollerblade Fusion 84 GM ($229)
Debuting at the end of this month is Rollerblade’s Fusion 84, so-named for the way the company incorporated recyclable and renewable plastics into its entire boot, including the shell and cuff. Beyond raising the sustainability bar, the boot is a bio-plastic molded shell with a cuff strap closure at the ankle, and a 45-degree cinchable powerstrap with laces to tighten up the foot—all of which increases comfort, responsiveness, and maneuverability, excellent traits for a fast-paced urban environment. The tough and durable aluminum chassis with a racing axis that support 84 mm wheels make the Fusion 84 not only nimble, but stable for dodging cars, dogs, garbage cans, whatever gets in your way on the way to work.
If you thought your fixie was cool, the Dualie just one-upped it—and not only in gearing. The genius of this two-speed Kick Shift is in its Gates CenterTrack belt. The carbon drive system, which replaces the chain, not only frees you from nasty grease and the chore of lubing, it also makes this ride totally silent, bringing even more class and style to your morning commute. But beyond that, what makes this bike so great to ride, especially for the utilitarian purpose of getting to work, is that the pulleys on the CenterTrack belt have a center ridge that mate to the belt with bifurcated teeth. That ridge prevents that belt from sliding off the pulleys. In turn, the pulleys don’t have any sides, which make it impossible for slush, mud, and dirt to collect, all of which make this an ultra-reliable and almost entirely maintenance-free ride.
Considering that, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Devision, wearing a bike helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent, and that more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are treated annually for bike-related injuries, this buy is a no-brainer. Plus, it looks cool. Founded by a former creative director at Nike, the Nutcase comes in whacky designs from watermelons to cerebellums, has an injection-molded ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, impact- and heat-resistant thermoplastic) shell, and Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) protective inner foam for high-impact protection. (EPS, the stuff of packing peanuts and coolers, is the foam of choice for helmets because it’s inexpensive, blunts a hard blow, and spreads the impact of a crash out over time, converting the crash energy to heat, which reduces the damage to your head.)
Ibex Reclaimed Wool Felt Commuter Bag ($130)
Straight from the Ibex factory cutting ground to you. This commuter bag, made from leftover New Zealand wool scraps, is a handsome addition to the commuting ensemble, and at 10.5″ x 14.7″ is plenty big for a laptop, a change of clothes, a phone, and whatever else you need to throw in your bag to have a productive day. Three additional organizer pockets help keep things in their place.
Fed up with all the plastic floating around the planet? Buy this, fold it up, put it in your Reclaimed Wool Felt Commuter Bag and never buy another disposable plastic bottle again. The foldable, re-usable, freezable, and washable Anti-Bottle, with a wide mouth for greater drinkability, is as versatile as it gets. Added bonus: It’s 100 percent BPA free and made entirely in the U.S.A.