I know it’s winter time, and it took 2 hours, but it was worth it.
The showroom at Working Bikes Cooperative expanded after their move to 2434 S Western Avenue, giving my sister a lot of choices to peruse. She needed a new bicycle. Her current one had poorly working brakes, wheels in bad condition, and lacked features every urban bike should have: a way to protect the rider from puddles, snow and wet pavement; a way to carry stuff; an appropriate number of gears; a way to protect the rider’s pants from grease and getting them caught in the gear.
Over 50 bikes for sale right now, along with countless parts like seatposts, brakes, handlebars, fenders, and chain guards.
Working Bikes had road bikes, hybrid bikes, mountain bikes, and vintage cruiser bikes from Huffy, Schwinn, Miyata, Nishiki, Trek, and Schwinn. It’s no wonder Schwinn dominates – their bikes were made in Chicago for decades after the company started here. Bikes are still made under that name, and even though the quality may not be the same, the brand still has power and relevancy.
After walking around the showroom several times where I pointed out my preferred bikes for her (3-speed cruisers) and asking her questions, she selected, on her own, a Schwinn 3-speed cruiser that had been spray painted black. I supported the choice as it also had fenders (this helps keep the bike and the rider free of snow) and a chain guard (yay).
She talked to a staff member about test riding the bike and went off down 24th Place. She said of the ride, “I felt like I was cheating on Big Blue but it felt soo right.”
She bought a black Schwinn – not pictured. The day’s rain didn’t stop us.
I test rode the bike to ensure it was in working order. After more than twenty years, the internal gear hub still works – but I completely expected this.
I found a used Wald quick release basket and after showing my sister how easily it attached and detached, she was sold. The manager priced it on the spot at $10. When new it costs about $19. I pointed out the oddly short rear fender so my sister picked out a long blue one from a parts bin that the manager priced at $5. The blue was for flare. And finally, we found a slightly longer seatpost for $1. After tax, my sister’s new urban-appropriate bicycle came out to $119.
Our journey took two hours because it first took us longer than 30 minutes to get there as we yubered there on my Mundo. After she test rode the black one, I wanted her to test ride another Schwinn that came with an already long rear fender and had different gear ratios. I don’t remember how long it took us to get home, but we enjoyed some pan fried veggies and pasta when we arrived.
Related: Working Bikes Cooperative, which uses profits to send rebuilt bicycles to poorer countries, blended with West Town Bikes, a learning bike shop, gives you B.I.C.A.S. in Tucson, Arizona.
About Steven Can Plan
I started this blog in 2007 as the writing assignment for an introductory urban planning class at UIC. It's about cities (mainly Chicago), GIS oftentimes, and transportation (mainly bicycling). Learn more about me, Steven Vance. I also write for Streetsblog Chicago.
Steven Can Plan is hosted on Dreamhost.
Chicago Bike Map App
The Chicago Bike Map app is a bike and street map stored entirely in your iOS device – no data connection required. The map is designed to look much like the City of Chicago's official printed and online bike map. The app works on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Highly Recommended Bike Products
So far my longest trip was 40 miles on this saddle. It molds to your butt like Birkenstock sandals mold to your feet. The springs make the bike ride a little more comfortable and more fun (weird, because you bounce up and down on them). It also looks gorgeous. Comes in 3 colors - I got black.
The best value taillight. It has three red LEDs that alternate and provide extreme brightness. I have two of these.
Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS by John Krygier PhD, Denis Wood PhD
If you are going to make a map, whether it be hand drawn or digital, you should really give this book a read. Then read it every time you make a map. It will help make sure your maps are laid out sensibly, in a way that others can easily read, and that it doesn't include fluff or unnecessary data.
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt
As someone who doesn't like driving, but believes that cars can be efficient in moving groups of people and goods, this is my favorite book.
The Practice of Local Government Planning (Municipal Management Series) by
You could basically design and administer a new town kind of effectively after reading this huge and boring textbook.
Joyride: Pedaling Toward A Healthier Planet by Mia Birk, With Joe (Metal Cowboy) Kurmaskie, Joe Kurmaskie, Jim Moore
I met Mia Birk in October 2011.