Who are your favorites? Why?
I must admit, coming to D.C., I haven't found a local bike shop I'm super comfy with yet which made me think - if I was new to Chicago, I'd be in the same boat. So let's make it easy on people by sharing our thoughts on Chicago's local bike shops (I may be biased, but I think they are some of the best and most welcoming IMO).
Yasmeen, in DC I have used District Hardware several times and had a positive experience each time. But, I just saw on Yelp that they moved locations to south of the Mall. Could be worth a shot if the location is convenient!
Thanks Alex! It'll be a hike but that hasn't stopped me yet. I've thought about tying my purchases into trips back home. Since there's roll-on service for Amtrak between Chicago and D.C., that may actually be a good option for me.
Whoa, last I knew you could only box your bike between DC and Chicago. I didn't realize you could roll on. That's awesome.
Don't forget about the C&O/GAP trail between DC and Pittsburgh! Then you can take the train the rest of the way from Pittsburgh to Chicago.
Open shop Tuesday nights and all day Saturday really are the best.
Bikefix in Oak Park! Both the guys at this shop are very helpful and I always feel right at home. I love their no nonsense approach and honesty.
I live in Avondale and the following shops, in no particular order, are ones that I use frequently and have always had a great experience with. In addition to their expertise and great service they also contribute to their neighborhoods and support the local cycling scene. I am riding more than ever and racing solely based on the interactions I’ve had with the lovely people at these shops and relationships I’ve made with other riders who I’ve met through them.
I'm a big fan of Roscoe Village Bikes. I always get fast, friendly, excellent service there. I bought one of my bikes there and have been getting it tuned up by them faithfully ever since, as well as getting the odd repair here and there.
I also like Cosmic Bikes. Again, super friendly service and an excellent job every time. They had a great time tuning up my vintage Schwinn, which was pretty fun for me as well.
Uptown Bikes is the best bike shop this side of the Mississippi. They are at 4653 N Broadway and are diverse, female owned and do not try to upsell you. I ride a recumbent trike which is a very difficult ride to service, and Maria, Norma and Pete treat my trike as an interesting challenge. They are fun, easy to talk to and know their stuff. I have never been disappointed.
I'm going to give a shout-out to Lets Roast Cycles. It may be a silly reason why I absolutely prefer them above any other shop that I've been to downtown, but it's rather important to me. As someone who is fairly new to the city, I appreciate walking into a bike shop and getting some intel from the locals. Being treated with respect and as a fellow cyclists is also a point in favor. I would have thought this last one is a given, but most bike shops downtown treat you like you are wasting their time and they are doing you a favor. Not to mention, they assume you know nothing about bikes.
I may not look the part but I've been riding for over 15 years and I know my way around a bike. I can probably do most of the work myself. But as a finance consultant, I lack the time. Not to mention, I appreciate stepping away to talk bikes with fellow cyclists for a second. I like bike shops like I like bookshops. I like the smell, the crowd, and the opportunity to be around like minded people. It's like therapy when you spend 90% of your day around squares. I have no issue bringing business to a place that does that for me. Unfortunately, Lets Roast is the only shop downtown where I find some peace.
I think I first went in there twice just to talk with them about local trails and bikes for 30 minutes each time. No one pressed me to buy something or questioned me being there. After that, I obviously have been there on repeated occasions for services, gear, and to drop off some beer. Hands down, favorite shop. Full disclosure, I have no affiliation with them and they certainly don't know me on a first name basis. Just a happy customer.
I'm fortunate to have six great shops along my commuting route. All help me out in some way or another each year. All provide excellent service and will go all out to get you going again. Consistent excellent customer service can not be beat.