California has a history of wheeled sports innovation: The off-road mountain bike evolved in Marin County. Laminated skateboards were born in Venice. And now a couple of Solano Beach gents have created Elliptigo, a bicycle-elliptical trainer hybrid that takes low-impact cardio into the great outdoors.

An Elliptigo looks like a bike with a stretched frame and shrunken wheels. Instead of pedals, riders put their feet on ?slide arms? that glide back and forth, and handlebars have hand brakes and speed adjustments. Elliptigos offer a way for people with injuries to get their heart rate way up without slamming their joints and major muscles against unyielding concrete. 

When we tried the Elliptigo, we were surprised by how easily it balances. Other than a wider-than-wished-for turning radius, it?s a sweet ride. In just a few blocks, we could feel our quads and glutes tightening, absorbing the stress we usually feel in our hips and knees. 

In fact, overworked joints are what inspired co-inventor Bryan Pate, a former marathoner, to begin designing the Elliptigo in 2005. The company?s now got global distribution, and in Santa Monica you can test one at Performance Bicycle or rent one at the Casa Del Mar

Pricing ranges from $1,800 for a 3-speed model to $3,500 for an 11-speed, but that?s not so much given the prospect of years of injury-free outdoor exercise.

Performance Bicycle, 501 Broadway, Santa Monica; 310-451-9977 or elliptigo.com

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