Chicago Bike Shop Mini-Tour

Yesterday I set out to visit various bike shops. I visited four total, just the tip of the iceberg in these parts. Two were a pleasure, two were highly annoying, and none led to a bike discovery. On the positive side, I enjoyed spending a few hours cycling around the city. This pic was taken in my “backyard.” Yes, I do live that close to the el tracks, but the noise is not an issue. I prefer to be close to public transit, although I rarely take it nowadays.

My Backyard

My Backyard

Good thing I spent all day riding around, because the physical activity balanced out my brunch: fried chicken and waffles!!

Fried Chicken and Waffles

Fried Chicken and Waffles

Maybe it’s the residual Southern in me, hard to shake off after 25 years in North Carolina and Tennessee, even with Yankee parents, but I LOVE fried chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes, etc. So, yeah, good to get some physical activity every day – without ever having to step into a creepy gym :)

The first shop I visited was A Nearly New Shop, overflowing with vintage frames. Lots of Schwinn cruisers. The owner plucked a couple of steel mixtes out of the piles, but one was too small and the other already sold. He said to call on Monday and in the meantime he would go through the bikes in storage to see if he could find a bigger one.

A Nearly New Shop (not my original photo)

A Nearly New Shop (not my original photo)

The second and third shops I will not name to protect the guilty. They both sold new bikes, not that far from Nearly New. The first had a lifeless corporate feel and not one person offered assistance, including the sales guy chatting on his cell phone in front of us. The second oozed poorly disguised snobbishness. They had a 3-speed of a particular bike and I asked if they also had the 8-speed. The guy’s response was, “No, but they ride the same, except the 8-speed has a few more gears.” No, really?? Wow, I’m so lucky you were here to tell me that. Never could have figured that one out.

The final shop is a gem, Rapid Transit (they of the Chicago Bike Blog). 2-15-rapid-transit2 The shop had a welcoming vibe and comfortable seating area in front. Though it was by far the busiest, I got great service from a helpful woman and my husband struck up a geeky conversation with one of the guys. I decided to test ride the Jamis Commuter, the same that was stolen from me except one step up, with internal gears. It was light and fast enough, but the ride on the aluminum was so bumpy! I could feel every little pebble. I’d forgotten how bad Chicago roads could feel after months of riding my Oma.

They had beautiful steel bikes (in the picture above, you can sort of see the bikes in the window), their new RT (Rapid Transit) bikes, I was told, made by a company in Minnesota. Unfortunately, for now they come only in single speed and diamond frame. But they reminded me of the type of bike I really want. They also had a totally kick-ass black German (I think) bike similar to my Oma with a huge black milk crate on the front rack. Hot! Somebody needs to go buy that bike.

After such a trying expedition, I definitely deserved some beer and chips! I must say, I got a few smiles from strangers with this set-up.

The Beermobile

The Beermobile

Today I am going to TATI Cycles. I have a very good feeling about this trip. Hope so, since it’s a 30 mile round trip.

The search continues…

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