The Chainlink

Bike & Roll Serves Local Cyclists with Bike Share Program, Rentals and Tours

By Brett Ratner

Over the years, Bike & Roll has enabled countless people to explore and enjoy Chicago from the seat of a bicycle.

Bike & Roll's fleet of Trek hybrids, adorned with their distinctive blue and black handlebar bags, are a ubiquitous site along the lakefront during summer months.

While many of Bike & Roll's services cater to tourists, they have a wide variety of offerings that promise to enhance the two-wheeled existence of local cyclists, too. If you're not familiar with what Bike & Roll does, they could be worth a look.

"We're much more than a bike rental company for out-of-towners," said Bike & Roll's Adriana Mendez. "Just like skis, golf clubs and cars, a lot of times it makes more sense to rent than to own. This is especially true if you don't have a ton of storage space, or you only use a piece of gear a few times per year." 

For starters, Bike & Roll offers two bike share programs: "Bikes@Work" and "Bikes@Play."

Bikes@Work costs $10 per month. For that cost, you get to borrow a comfort bike for two hours at a time, every Monday through Friday. You're allowed one use over a six-hour time period. If you exceed the two-hour time limit, you're charged $5 per hour, maxing out at $25 per day.

Bikes@Play costs $15 per month. It's essentially the same program as Bikes@Work but also includes Saturday and Sunday.

One of the advantages of Bike & Roll's programs over Divvy's bike share, Mendez says, is that their two-hour time window negates the need to change bikes every 30 minutes to avoid extra charges. Depending on how you use a bike, Mendez said, Bikes@Work and Bikes@Play will likely offer increased cost savings and convenience.

"Our bike share programs let you expand your recreational or transportation opportunities," Mendez said. "Maybe you have limited space to store a bike at home. Or maybe you'd rather not subject your personal bike to the wear and tear of city use. In either case, these are great options."

Mendez said other thing that sets Bike & Roll apart is their selection of rental offerings for parents and children. Bike Roll's rental fleet includes children's bikes, bike trailers, baby seats and "trail-a-bikes" (a one-wheeled bike for children that attaches to the back of an adult bike).  

"If you have small kids," renting these items a few times a year will be much less expensive than buying them," Mendez said. "Plus you don't have to store them, or deal with the hassle of selling them when your children gets bigger."

Another fun rental item of note is Bike & Roll's fleet of tandems.

"These are great for times when one person is a more experienced rider than the other. No matter who is pedaling harder, you always stay together," Mendez said. "A tandem isn't something a lot of people would buy necessarily, but they are so much fun to ride. That's why our tandem rentals are perfect for a sunny afternoon."

Bike & Roll's "Bike the Preserves" bike share program let's people explore the North Branch Trail. Bike rentals are also available at Dan Ryan Woods.

Mendez added that Bike & Roll is expanding their bike rentals to the Forest Preserves of Cook County with the "Bike the Preserves" bike share program.

Currently, there are five bike share kiosks set up along the North Branch Trail from Caldwell Woods to the Chicago Botanic Garden (a longtime favorite ride of The Chainlink). The bikes cost $7 per hour or $28 per day. A really nice feature of the bikes are their integrated locks. These make it easy and convenient to stop for a bite to eat or explore some of the preserves on foot. Riders can sign up through any mobile device at chicago.smoovebike.com to receive rental instructions.

One of five bike share kiosks along the North Branch Trail.

Bike and Roll has also set up a manned rental station in the Dan Ryan Woods across from "Grove 2." This location has a selection of comfort bikes, cruisers, kids equipment, plus quadcycles available for rent.

"The rentals will be a nice option if you don't feel like going through the trouble of hauling bikes to the Forest Preserves with you," Mendez said.

If you'd rather stay in the city, Bike & Roll suggests giving one of their Chicago bike tours a try. Popular tours include "Bikes at Night," "Bike & Yoga," and the "Lincoln Park Adventure."

Chainlink head honcho Yasmeen Schuller recently went on Bike & Roll's "Bike & Brewery Tour" and wound up having a great time.

Bike & Roll's "Bike & Brewery" tour was highlighted by delicious food and beer, distinctive architecture, plus many interesting historical facts, compliments of the knowledgeable tour guide.

Schuller said the tour featured a fun mix of Chicago history, delicious food stops, and finally a finish at Lagunitas Brewery for a tasting and tour.

Tour highlights, she said, included a stop in Chinatown for an ice cold mango freeze with tapioca.

Then, while pedaling through Pilsen, tour participants were served Cuban-Mexican fusion tamales and Carnitas, which they enjoyed - picnic style - in a neighborhood park.

The Bike & Brewery Tour winds up at the Lagunitas tasting room.

The Lagunitas tasting room and brewery tour wrapped up the ride. Schuller described the tasting room as "...lively and fun with games, comfy couches and the general feeling of being in a rec room with lots of tasty brews."

Along the way, the highly knowledgeable tour guide offered up dozens of interesting historic tidbits.

"Overall, I was really impressed," Schuller said.

Mendez also encourages locals to keep Bike & Roll's rentals and selection of bike tours in mind when entertaining out-of-town guests who are looking for fun activities. You'll create a memorable trip for them, plus it's a perfect excuse to enjoy a tour yourself. There's also a $10 discount if you want to bring your own bike on a Bike and Roll tour.

Stephane and Katrina Guerin from Ottawa, Canada enjoying the stop in Chinatown.

"Chicago is such a great city with so many attractions," Mendez said. "It's okay to be a tourist once in awhile."

Email info@bikechicago.com or visit www.bikechicago.com to learn more.

About the Author

Brett Ratner (brett@thechainlink.org) began commuting by bike in 2005. Shortly thereafter, his interest in cycling expanded to century rides, bike camping and trail riding. The competition bug bit in 2012 and nowadays he races cyclocross, track, mountain bikes, criteriums and gravel for The Bonebell.

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Comment by Paul Rotatori on August 13, 2015 at 3:04pm

In years past Chainlinkers have received an extra discount when Bike &Roll sells their fleet of bikes around this time. Is that happening again this year?

Good article, by the way. I didn't know they did all of that.

Comment by Lisa Curcio on August 13, 2015 at 3:03pm

Bike & Roll has also generously supported many Slow Roll rides by donating bikes for use by participants who do not own their own bikes.

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