1/3Photograph: Jamie KrausComrade Cycles (1908 W Chicago Ave, 773-292-2522)Opened by three guys who collectively worked everywhere from Johnny Sprockets and Blackstone Bikes to Rapid Transit and Recyclery, this Ukrainian Village shop is all about building community: Every employee has the option to buy in for ownership after two years. The equal-opportunity ethos extends to the selection of custom-made steel bikes (starting at $700) and, eschewing the stereotypical bike-shop snobbery, these guys will just as happily build a bike from scratch as they will fix up your $5 thrift-store find. As for repairs, Comrade offers the hard-to-find service of handling cracked steel frames. A limited clothing and accessories selection is available, too.
2/3Photograph: Jamie KrausHeritage Bicycles General Store (2959 N Lincoln Ave, 773-245-3005)No question, this Lakeview caf�/bike shop mash-up has one type of customer in mind: the stylish cyclist. The shop usually carries three styles of vintage-inspired commuter bikes (look for a tandem bike this fall made in collaboration with Humble Frameworks), built in-house just feet away from the coffee sipping crowd. A finely curated shop in the back of the space features mostly locally made, sleek cycling-centric gear, such as Winter Session panniers (about $200), Nonetheless clothing ($39-$200) and Po Campo bike bags ($80-$120). Bonus: Bring in your wheels for any basic service (even a flat) and enjoy a cup of coffee on the house while you wait.
3/3Dijana KadicTati Cycles (1261 N Paulina St)There�s nothing conventional about this teensy shop that recently relocated from Hyde Park to Wicker Park (including the fact that it was previously located in Obama�s old Senate office). Operating hours are typically later in the evening on weeknights and are announced last-minute via Twitter, and the listed phone number routes folks to Denmark via Skype (it does, in fact, reach Tati, just with an added long-distance phone fee). �I was afraid of having too much walk in-business, [where people] think they can get normal bike stuff done,� explains owner J. Tati, so he makes it a little harder for people to get in touch. The bulk of his business focuses on tubular tires (starting at $400), a throwback style that appeals to competitive cyclists (the majority of Tati�s customers) and which Tati makes by hand in the shop. Shelves showcase other specialty bike goods, such as the eye-catching Catlike helmets and massage oils from Italy to alleviate cycling-related soreness. That said, as the shop continues to evolve with its new digs, everyday goods such as a selection of standard tires will be available, too, along with full-service bike repairs and custom builds.