Been avoiding cruisers because you think bikes should be built for speed? So was Iuntil the Electra Hellbilly lured me in with its swooping lines and blaze of metallic-red flames. Built of aluminum (rather than the standard hefty steel) and equipped with three grip-shift-driven, internal-hub gears, the Hellbilly tears up the pavement. Unlike typical cruisers, which forsake performance for comfort, this bike feels lively on the hills and agile through corners yet still maintains that easy-on-the-back, "don't even think about hurrying me" ethos. Plus the fatty tires and one-handed steering make it a breeze to ride while carrying a steaming mug of coffee. But I like the Hellbilly most because it's slowly changing my whole bike sensibility: More than once, I've found myself stepping on the coaster brakes when there was no need, slowing down, taking my time, and letting everyone on the roadside soak up my laid-back, leather-tasseled vibe.
Electra Hellbilly $570 www.electrabike.com