Commuting by bike, you can burn calories instead of unleaded, saving yourself a few bucks and sparing the world a little CO². In fact, the number of bike commuters in general has increased by 32 percent since 2009, according to the L.A. Bike Coalition. The Trek Soho Deluxe ($1,320 at Helen’s Cycles) will have you pedaling in style.
1. Belt drive train
No more greasy metal chain to soil the cuffs of your slacks. This rubber carbon fiber belt drive won’t rust or break and requires minimal maintenance.
2. Internal 8-speed gear hub
The gears in the Shimano Nexus system are invisibly encased in the rear hub and switched by the shifter on the handgrip.
They may look rather Pee-wee Hermanish, but that inherent geekiness won't tarnish your image as badly as a skunk stripe of dirty puddle water up your back.
4. Rear rack
Don’t worry about what the cool kids think. A rack is a commuter’s must-have—handy for packing a laptop, a change of clothes, or a few groceries.
5. Front disc brakes
A regular feature on mountain bikes but rare on street bikes, they provide greater stopping power than standard caliper brakes, even on wet roads.
6. Puncture-proof tires
Don’t miss the morning meeting because of a flat tire. The protective layer under this Bontrager tread is impervious to sharp objects.
Sweat the Small Stuff
The brightly colored frame of a bike that costs $400 and one that costs $900 might be the same, but the components—brakes, shifters, gears—won’t be. You’ll feel the difference. “Good components make riding much easier,” says Erick Rodas, a mechanic at Helen’s Cycles. “You’ll be more comfortable and a little safer on a more expensive bike.”