The exposed-brick walls of Iron Cycles speak to the straightforwardness of its employees, who prefer to focus on riding, not attitude. This judgment-free approach leads to unbiased treatment for every cycle. The staffers treat well-worn heirlooms with the same degree of care and dignity as they do snazzy titanium builds or a custom-crafted commuter. Perhaps their respect for bike diversity stems in part from their disparate cycling backgrounds: founder Brandon is an off-road racer, Ben was a bike messenger, and Steve has more than 25 years of both pedaling and mechanic experience.
Regardless of the bike brand or model, each of the shop’s services adheres to the mission of safer, savvier trips. Repairs address basic adjustments as well as complete overhauls, furnishing customers with new saddles, kickstands, and even handmade tires imported from overseas. The staffers oversee fitting sessions that fine-tune parts to suit the bike's function and the owner's body type. They can also build custom cycles that correspond to clients' goals, whether they want a frame that can hit high speeds or wheels that can store several decks of playing cards at once.
Chicago Rickshaw releases its fleet of pedal-powered, open-air cabs through the thoroughfares of the city, meandering up to three weary travelers on a one-hour jaunt of urban sightseeing. Rickshaws provide a distinct vantage point and remain an environmentally chummy mode of transportation second only to attaching one end of marionette strings to your legs and the other end to methodically flying pigeons. Up to three gallivanters, plus the driver, can fit in the motorless coach as it lopes small groups around the City of Big Shoulders and through many of its public easements, including areas not accessible to large motor-propelled carriages.
"Pump Pedals, Not Gas" goes the motto for On the Route Bicycles, a thoroughly modern bike shop committed to swift travel by eco-friendly means. Like any good bike shop, the unmistakable scent of tires drifts down thoroughfares lined with all manner of biking accessories, from lights and helmets to locks and biking bags. All of this in addition to the latest bike models from the likes of Trek, Cannondale, Bianchi, Electra, Handsome, and Raleigh, who provide a selection of city bikes, road bikes, and performance models. As a bonus to their community, On the Route even includes an air pump outside the store, where passing bikers can juice up their tires or blow those pecking birds from their head.
Star Struck is the official provider of authentic Blackhawks and Bulls apparel, and carries tons of tees, caps, and more for all Chicago sports teams. Stay warm with a Blackhawks tassel knit hat ($15), or put your Groupon toward a Bulls playbook pullover hoodie by Adidas ($45). Pass yourself off as number one with a Jay Cutler women's jersey ($65), go vintage with a faded Blackhawks zip hoodie ($65), or layer for the Chicago cold with either a Blackhawks or Bulls three-in-one T-shirt combo pack ($30). Sports apparel also makes a great gift for all your expecting friends, whose soon-to-be babies would be naked if not for the Cubs onesies ($16) you so graciously provided.
In a shop lined with more than 100 bikes models from all around the world, Upgrade Cycle Works' pro mechanics channel their love of cycling whether they are aligning the frame on an old single speed or fitting guests for a brand new road bike. During the fit process, staffers employ the same computerized system used at the Olympic training center as opposed to tracing your body outline on a large piece of construction paper. Next, they’ll help guests choose from bike brands such as Felt, Masi, and Raleigh, and an in-store selection of rides that includes road bikes, single speeds, and hybrids.
In Upgrade's workshop, pro mechanics perform comprehensive tune-ups and repairs, revitalize faded paint jobs, replace punctured wheels, and align frames. The staff also hosts repair clinics to teach cyclists how to fix flat tires and adjust brakes.
When fitting athletic shoes, the technicians at Universal Sole go above and beyond simple foot measuring. The knowledgeable staff uses Video Gate Analysis to customers find the most fitted and comfortable shoe. They watch you walk and jog on a treadmill to determine your foot's specific biomechanics, then they select which shoe will keep your feet stable and supported during workouts. The store's footwear brands, such as Nike and Adidas, are built for workouts of all kind, but Universal Sole puts particular emphasis on running. The site lists neighborhood run routes and training plans to get customers ready for their first 5K or 10K. Store hours are Mon. - Thurs. 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Free parking is available at the Village Market Place.