Attention, gym rats: For anyone dying to pedal his or her elliptical out the window and into the fresh air, ElliptiGO is a dream come true. Santa Barbarans can now take to the streets on the world’s first elliptical bicycle—a cross between the classic gym apparatus and a lightweight road bike, designed to bring fitness buffs the best of both worlds. The brainchild of former Ironman triathletes Bryan Pate and Brent Teal, ElliptiGO delivers the cardio-intense perks of outdoor running and cycling, but without the associated aches and pains: no joint impact, no uncomfortable waddle as you dismount. Runners looking to prolong the life of their cartilage, injured athletes, and outdoorsy types alike all praise ElliptiGO as the next wave in fitness technology—and Santa Barbara is the second city after San Diego to find out just what it can do.
When a lifetime of running caught up with his hips and knees in 2005, Pate knew his days of high-impact athletics were over. Unwilling to accept his gym-bound fate, he and Teal began working on a way to bring the elliptical machine outdoors; and five years later, they had ElliptiGO. Weighing in at 37 pounds, the ElliptiGO 8S—currently on the market for $2,200—is a two-wheeled, eight-speed contraption designed to mimic the gliding motion of running. Though similar to a bike in handling and speed, ElliptiGO riders remain standing, allowing for better visibility and more resistance. The aluminum alloys and carbon fiber place it at the top of the line, and adjustable stride length and height make the bike popular with athletes looking to individualize their experience. Despite its leggy appearance—praying mantis-like in both shape and color—ElliptiGO is collapsible and can easily fit in the back of a car. Local sales representative Bill Strauss is giving free test rides all month, encouraging folks to bypass the intimidation factor and get rolling.
Not one to pass up a freebie, I tried one out; and during the 40-minute ride was met with everything from “Mommy, look!” to “What the f*** is that?” It’s an undeniable head-turner. Though my first moments on the ElliptiGO read closer to Bambi on ice than the graceful, 129-mile “death rides” that the pros are taking this bike on, the structure was determinedly agile. Also remarkable was the absence of joint pressure: Should ElliptiGO enter the physical-therapy world, it will undoubtedly revolutionize the rehabilitation of ailing athletes.
Our fitness-minded community is already eating it up, and Strauss expects ElliptiGO to begin nationwide expansion as early as August. It was designed to be a saving grace for runners, but the bike has staying power in competitive sports, rehabilitation, and green transportation, as well. If nothing else, it is a way for cardio hounds to break out of the gym—and get from point A to point B while they are at it. Popular Mechanics magazine has already named ElliptiGO one of the “10 Brilliant Redesigns for the Bicycle,” boosting the 60-day money-back guarantee that Strauss is offering locals. Not that they need it. “We’ve never had one returned,” he says. “Most people get off it smiling. I don’t expect it to fade away.”