Although many people may think of commuter bicycles as being the boring frumpy cousins to fancier road and mountain bikes, lately we've been seeing more and more models featuring all sorts of intriguing innovations for life on the streets. Recently, non-profit group Oregon Manifest invited five design firm/bike-builder teams representing five US cities to create prototypes of the ultimate such bike. Members of the public are being invited to vote for their favorite, with the winning bike getting produced commercially by Fuji Bicycles. Here's a look at the contenders.

Blackline – Chicago

Conceived by the MNML design house and built by Method Bicycles, the Blackline utilizes a
Helios handlebar that features a headlight, turn indicators, a USB charging port, plus GPS navigation and location tracking capabilities.

It additionally features a belt drive, sealed 3-speed SRAM hub transmission, and a cargo system that can be configured for a variety of scenarios.

Merge – New York City

The product of a collaboration between the Pensa design firm and Horse Cycles, the Merge's big feature is the fact that it can stay sleek and compact when you just wanna rip around, yet it sports several utilitarian features that can be pulled out from within its frame as needed. These include a spring-loaded rear rack with bungee cord, a rear fender, and a cable lock.

It also has integrated dynamo-powered head- and tail-lights, along with a USB smartphone-charging port and phone-holding pouch/U-lock holster.

Solid – Portland, Oregon

Designed by Industry and built by Ti Cycles, this model features a 3D-printed titanium frame and handlebars, along with haptic feedback. Using the accompanying "Discover My City" app, riders are taken on tours of Portland, guided by buzzes in the bars.

Other features include dynamo-powered sensor-activated lighting, electronic shifters, an embedded GPS module to track it if it gets stolen, and a detachable rack with an integrated lock and strapping system.

EVO – San Francisco

This entry comes from HUGE Design and 4130 Cycle Works. One of its big features is a frame which can quickly and easily accept various quick-release modules, such as front and rear racks, a child seat and a cargo box. The loading and unloading of cargo is made easier by a fork lock function, which keeps the front wheel from turning sideways when the bike is parked.

It also has integrated lights, a retractable cable lock, and a lugged symmetrical steel frame that should be quick and easy to assemble.

Denny – Seattle

Perhaps the most unusual-looking of the bunch, the Denny was designed by Teague and built by Sizemore Bicycle. Its features include an electric assist motor, automatic gear-shifting, an integrated front rack, and a square-shaped handlebar that comes off (or stays on) to act as a lock.

Along with an ambient light sensor that automatically turns on the head- and tail-lights, it also features a brake light, turn indicators, and safety lights that illuminate the road around the bike.

If you want to vote for your fave, you can do so up until noon PST on August 3rd via the link below – you can also read more about the bikes there, along with seeing videos of them in action. The winner will be announced on the 4th, and should begin showing up at Fuji dealers sometime next year.

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