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.
Janée Matteson is a little wary of technology. The more ubiquitous it becomes, she finds, it has more potential to keep kids indoors (a trend she has dubbed “acute nature deficit disorder”). Janée, whose family’s roots have been growing in Morris for nearly 200 years, basically spent her entire childhood outside, learning fur trapping and duck hunting with her father on the banks of the Illinois River. So in addition to her deep passion for the outdoors, founding Kayak Morris was largely inspired by doing whatever she could to help kids, their families, and domesticated teddy bears spend more time in nature.
Kayak Morris offers kayak and canoe lessons, and in addition, patrons can borrow their largely new fleet for leisurely trips along the Illinois River, Mazon River, or Illinois and Michigan Canal, which are home to wildlife such as great-blue herons, bald eagles, coyotes and red-tailed hawks. The staff also lead guided ecotours, which teach kids and adults about natural resources and what they can do to preserve and protect them for future generations. Family-focused private campgrounds is adjacent to the State Park along the rivers’ sandy shores invite groups to stay for monthly Glampouts (glamorous campouts) and spend their days taking advantage of potluck dinners, hiking, fishing, bike rentals, or guided kayak tours and to spend their nights watching a movie on Morris’ outdoor projection screen as campfires crackle nearby.
Since taking off the training wheels in 1972, Cycles N Sports has been a full-service bike shop, wrenching two-wheel wisdom into each bike it sells and service it renders. A staff of riding enthusiasts helps customers navigate the shop’s inventory, comprising spoked specimens from such major brands as Electra, Townie, Felt, Giant, Fly, and Stolen, as well as many specialty models. Whether you arrive looking for a bike or parts for a BMX bike, road bike, mountain bike, or the makeshift ramp from the roof of your house, the staff can happily assist and answer questions.
Inspired by a love of fitness and a passion for travel and tourism kindled within him by his late father, Jeremy Lewno founded Bobby's Bike Hike to create an interactive Chicago biking experience. He named the company after his dad, Bob, an Arkansas bus-tour operator who taught him to focus on service quality over quantity. That advice has clearly paid off, as the business's guided tours have earned a number one ranking for activities to do in Chicago on TripAdvisor and the title of Best Organized Bike Ride from the Chicago Reader in 2010.
During the tours, which include rented bicycles, guides lead groups of about 20 riders past Chicago icons in Millennium Park and on the Museum Campus, or direct them to samples of pizza, hot dogs, cupcakes, and beer in and around Wrigleyville. The crew has designed a Tike Hike tour for kids 10 and younger, a historic Hyde Park tour that pedals past the home of President Barack Obama, and a mansion-studded lakefront tour, during which riders may glimpse Oprah waving or handing out complimentary helicopters at her main residence. Patrons can also rent Schwinn, GT, and Cannondale Comfort bikes, mountain, road, cruisers, and tandem bikes to explore the city on their own.
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.
With a fleet of futuristic segways and classic beach-cruiser bicycles, Bike and Roll Chicago outfits travelers with wheeled transportation to explore the city's paved surfaces. Tour guides lead groups through Millennium Park and along the lakefront to catch the skyline when illuminated by sunrises or backlit by one of Chicago's many moons. Misty Lake Michigan breezes ruffle riders' hair peeking through helmets as they pass by sailboats swaying lazily in the harbors and fishermen casting lines for trout and perch. Bike and Roll Chicago designs routes around classic architectural landmarks such as the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum as well as popular neighborhoods home to a number of restaurants and art festivals.