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Pedal Power

The price of gas and buff your body with these two-wheelers.

by Nannette Light

Last year, bryan mercier swapped his four wheels for a mountain bike and is saving thousands on gas and insurance. Mercier, who works for the U.S. Department of Treasury, in Washington, D.C., has a three-mile round-trip commute.

He not only saves money, he says, but he reduces stress: "In big cities, it is easier to get around on a bike. You don’t have to deal with parking or crowds."

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The health and environmental benefits of pedaling to work -- not to mention the savings -- have turned commuter bikes into bike shops' most popular item. Sales of California-based Breezer Bikes are up 50% this year, says company owner Joe Breeze.

For less than a grand you can invest in Breezer’s award-winning town bike, the VILLAGER ($899). Its accessories include front and rear lights, a chain guard to protect your pants from both the chain and greasy gears, a rear rack to carry clothes and office supplies, and swept-back handlebars for easy, upright riding.

If battling hilly urban terrain is a problem—think San Francisco—you could opt for an electric bike, which can be motor-powered or pedaled like a traditional bike. Most e-bikes run more than $1,000, but Currie Technologies markets several models for less under the IZIP brand.

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The IZIP HG-1000 ($899) has a front suspension, a front basket, a lockable rear trunk, a removable battery box and full fenders to help keep you clean and protect the bike from road grit.

The HG-1000 runs six to eight hours on one charge -- or about 30 to 35 miles -- and lightweight riders can reach speeds up to 15 miles per hour. Plus, it can be plugged in to an ordinary outlet for recharging.

BACK TO: What a $1,000 Can Do in 2008

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