For many, the $1200 bicycle is simply not an option. A lot of casual riders and commuters, even those who ride every day would be just as well served with something that costs $300, as one that costs $700. Unfortunately, most of the affordable cycles available are not as aesthetically pleasing as one might hope. Craigslist and other forums for used bikes appeal to the environmentalist side of my brain, and can often offer vintage identity and personality that new bikes can’t match, but they have a tendency to fall apart under the stress of daily use.
In the end the investment in a quality bike is worth it, especially when it allows you to trade other commuting costs like public transit or driving. Certainly there is a gap in the market, that is slowly closing, for the simple, affordable and visually stimulating bike. Below are some folks that are on the right path. As innovators are able to bring the price down on even cooler varieties, this list will only grow. I’m eager for other suggestions: