Schiller Water Bike

Think of two of the most exhilarating breakthroughs of childhood: learning to ride a bike and learning to swim. With the former you use balance to defy gravity and provide yourself with a potent form of transportation. The latter conquers fear of drowning and overcomes the watery impediments nature might throw in your way. Now combine them, but eliminate any learning curve whatsoever and you get an idea of the ease and freedom of the Schiller water bike.

Think again, if you're envisioning one of those tandem, fat-wheeled pedal boats that you rent at a seaside resort and then trudge along in, never really getting any place while expending a whole lot of energy. The Schiller sets you high above the water and lets you pedal along at a pretty fair clip (about five miles an hour). After all, the inventor, Judah Schiller, conceived of it to best his automobile commute across San Francisco Bay. It sits on a pair of inflatable pontoons to give you stability and the freedom to ride hands-free. In fact you could smoke a cigar and drink a Manhattan as you slide through the water. Yes, other human-powered hydrofoil devices are available that are faster, but most have one big drawback: they sink once you stop pedaling or pumping, and your cigar goes out, your cocktail spills and your nice office clothes get soaked.

Made of hard anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum, the X1 weighs about 50 pounds and collapses (or assembles) in minutes to fit in a car trunk or closet (three-cubic-feet footprint). The pedaling mechanism (8:1 gear ratio) turns a pair of propellers underneath with its Gates carbon drive belts. The steering is similar to the handlebars on a bicycle, but moves the propellers instead of a wheel. To brake you simply stop pedaling or pedal backwards. The X1 also runs in reverse (unlike earthbound bicycles), which makes for easy maneuvering when you want to park it dockside. Its high profile keeps you dry as you're riding and makes you more visible to other vessels. The X1 is also stable in swells of up to six feet, and unlike platform kits to which you affix your bike, they have a very sturdy build.

The X1 comes in a variety of colors and includes LED lighting. But before you start to calculate how much you'll be saving on your daily commute, consider that it costs $6,495.