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Jeff Perkins, a 25-year-old bike messenger for 4 Star Courier (fourstarcourier.com), spends his days dodging traffic and riding 30 to 70 miles while delivering parcels around town, including our magazines. We won’t lie: The competitive racer with the Chicago Cuttin’ Crew is easy on the eyes, but we always wondered how he manages to stay stylish while pushing pedals all day long. Turns out his “style” is really about practical, comfortable gear, which also happens to be badass. Here’s how Perkins brings new meaning to the phrase sweet ride.
iPod Shuffle “You can change the way you ride with music. Punk makes me more aggressive; jazz makes me mellow.”
Other bike messengers “You can talk to them immediately; we’re all geeked out. You have a place to stay no matter what city you visit.”
Chicago “One thing I really love about this job is the personal connection you make with your city. When I travel, I am Chicago; when people come here, they are Minneapolis or Portland or NYC or wherever. I love it. No one learns the city like we do, and it’s incredible all of the nooks and crannies this joint has.”
Inclement weather “The worst riding weather is 30 degrees with sleet. It’s slushy and slippery—I prefer snow.”
Crossing Congress Parkway “I don’t enjoy any of the intersections along Congress. You have to know what cars and pedestrians are going to do before they even know.”
Sunglasses “With the snow, sleet and rain, you have to have them. These Oakleys are just badass…the interchangeable lenses mean I can wear them after dark.” Oakley “Racing Jacket” sunglasses with Transitions, $210 at oakley.com
Jersey “This is the new jersey my racing team wears.” Champion System custom order, prices vary (champ-sys.com).
Watch “I’ve had this [Timex Ironman] since I was in high school. I just keep replacing the Velcro band when it wears out.” Timex Ironman, similar to one shown, $70 at Fleet Feet (1620 N Wells St, 312-587-3338).
Belt “This is a thrift-store pickup. I like leopard print—sometimes too much.”
Lock “You can carry this lock around your waist and you’ll hardly notice it after a while. It can wrap around telephone poles and get [your bike] locked up in areas you wouldn’t normally get to lock up.” Kryptonite New York Chain lock, $90 at Village Cycle Center (1337 N Wells St, 312-751-2488).
Key “The key around my wrist is for my lock. It saves a ton of time and stress because I have to lock and unlock about 50 times every day. The one thing that will always be a telltale of a messenger is the key around the wrist. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll sleep with it on; it’s become an extension of myself.”
Gloves “If you wipe out, you scrape up your hands and it’s a bummer for a week or so. Gloves prevent that. It’s bad to have too much padding, but these Specialized gloves have the perfect amount of gel in them to keep your hands from cramping up.” Specialized BG Pro gloves, $10 at Turin Bicycle (1027 Davis St, Evanston, 847-864-7660).
Pants “The [polyester and cotton blend] is good for all weather conditions. They’ve got double the material at the knees, which protects my legs during tiny falls. I buy them at 30-inch length and then cut them off.” Dickies Double-Knee Work Pants, $20 at Wal-Mart (locations throughout the area, walmart.com).
Shoes “I wear clip-in mountain-bike shoes because they’re easier to walk around in. Sidi is a big name, one of the best brands—I learned quickly to go higher grade so it doesn’t bust on me.” Sidi Dominators, $240 at Performance Bicycle (2720 N Halsted St, 773-248-0107).
Socks “These are made of a sweat-wicking material instead of cotton. I like that you can’t really see them, because with normal cycling socks, the tan lines get pretty bad.” Under Armour athletic socks, $5.99 at Marshalls (locations throughout the city, marshallsonline.com).