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.
Behind Underwater Safaris' unassuming storefront lies an ocean. Light shines down on the water's choppy surface, and a pod of dolphins leap out of the water. But, like a tank of helium you forgot to bolt to the floor, they never come back down. The dolphin mural is painted, but the water is quite real: it's part of a PADI five-star facility where students prepare to explore waters across the world.
The journey to coral reefs and shipwrecks begins with the guidance of an experienced team of fifteen instructors. The center, which has been open since 1985, has taught thousands of snorkelers and divers from Open Water through to instruction. After introductory Discover Scuba sessions, the staff branches off into more specialized areas, such as diving at night, exploring underwater wrecks, or scuba diving as a career.
Underwater Safaris also hosts annual trips to scuba destinations around the world. Guided and independent adventurers alike are welcome to stock up on gear from brands such as Aeris and Aqualung in the dive shop.
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.
Mounted on the walls of Strings Attached is a colorful array of crisp new tennis, racquetball, squash, and badminton rackets awaiting their chance to pummel their respective spheres across the court. As players peruse the equipment made by heavyweights such as Wilson, Prince, and Dunlop, a knowledgeable staff stands by, ready to dole out pro advice on which rackets best meet their size or style of play. Players can also upgrade their wardrobes by slipping into new clothes, trying on supportive shoes, and folding themselves into durable gear bags. Expert technicians, meanwhile, help customers' rackets reach their greatest potential by stabilizing grips or tightening and re-stringing down-at-the-heel equipment.
Even at the peak of Chicago’s hottest summers and meanest winters, the Johnny Sprockets team can be seen riding on the lakefront path or dodging cabs in the bike lanes. Owner Manuel Tenorio makes it clear that the staff members are cyclists and not just salespeople. They learn about their inventory first-hand, and they outfit their customers with equipment that they themselves endorse.
The team also services and repairs all types of cycles. With each visit, they perform a free, no-obligation estimate to assess cycle health and suss out any potential troubles. They can perform minor repairs on the spot, and they also accept appointments for tune-ups, overhauls, or a bike’s first haircut.
Originating as a bicycle-repair shop on Chicago's South Side in 1944, Kozy's Cyclery now consists of four store locations across Chicago, helping make it the city's premier bike store for the past 60-plus years. Along with a complete stock of bicycle clothing, accessories, parts?and, of course, bikes?the three-generation, family-owned store cares for its bicycle-riding customers by offering professional bike fittings, test rides, and two free tune-ups with every new bicycle purchase. Kozy's sells more than 250 bikes for each rider's unique needs, from mountain bikes and cruisers to fixed gears and multispeed commuter bikes to electric bikes.