Having introduced their Aristotle "fixed gear" bikes last year, Urban Outfitters and Republic Bikes now announce that the Plato "Dutch bike" is forthcoming. Like the Aristotle, the Plato is described as a "build your own bike", which means that the customer can choose the colour of the bike and accessories. The bicycle has a fully lugged hi-ten steel frame and crown fork. It is fitted with balloon tires, coaster brake and front Shimano rollerbrake. Fenders, front and rear racks, a dressguard, and a full vinyl chaincase are included. Retail price of $399.
I played around with the Republic Bikes website and "built my own": tusk frame, ivory skirtguard and chaincase, brown saddle and grips, and green tires. The bicycle is available in 47cm frame size only and is recommended for riders 5'2" - 5'11". The tires are 26" x 2.35" and it is not mentioned who manufactures them.
And another colour combination I like in gray and brown. Of course if you prefer flamingo pink, mint green, or candy apple red, there are those options as well.
Given how many readers email me every week asking about inexpensive bikes, I think that news of the Plato will be welcomed by the market. I cannot speak at all about the quality of this bicycle or about the feel of the ride. But the specs make me hopeful that it might actually be ridable - especially if you are on the shorter end of the recommended range. It is especially impressive that a full chaincase and a dressguard have been custom made and included in the price, when even some bicycles in the $1-2,000 price range have not been able to offer this option. Questions of manufacturing locations and practices aside - If one's budget is $400 and this is not negotiable, the Republic Plato may prove to be a good option.
If anybody has already ordered and ridden the Plato, it would be great to get your feedback. I don't think it's possible for me to to test ride this bike, as they are built to order.