On Wednesday, after the sunny days we had a lucky chance to while away a very cold gray late afternoon at an almost completely empty Working Bikes Cooperative.
Our 6 year old reports:
"Wednesday is the best day to go in the winter. They let you ride around on the bikes. Wednesday I found a blue trike with big fat wheels but I didn't get it. They let me open the locks that nobody knows how to open. It is a fun place for kids who like bikes. Look in the free box. It's cold there in winter. You should keep your kids away from sharp stuff like the things that are near the window and the front forks. My bike is from Working Bikes and I think the old bikes are as good as new ones."
We love the small independent bike stores all over Chicago. Often for old used junk parts and the bikes that deserve them we love to go to Working Bikes. They have everything that's anything. All of our kids do love to go there and look through the old parts and check out the trikes and other kid bikes. Going when there isn't a crowd helps keep the fun in it. Usually the line for bikes starts a half hour or more before they open in season. Check their site for the seasonal opening times. If you are looking for a tandem or tag-a-longs they tend to get them pretty often. Ask if you want something in particular.
We only go stand in line early if we are looking for a bike for a friend and find this is not the most fun time for our smaller guys to enjoy the visit. Our oldest is a used parts fiend and he loves to poke around even if it's a crowded Saturday. Saturdays usually slow way down after the rush- most bikes are gone by 10.30 or 11.a.m.. It's a ways down Western at 2434 South Western Ave. (312) 421-5048. Lots of bike parking. The nice guys at the counter have always let our kids use the employee bathroom in back though it's officially not really open.
If you are making a trip of it Pilsen is a good spot to eat on the way. There isn't much to eat right by the Coop. Forget coffee. El Milagro is a huge favorite of ours for house made tortillas, every kind of stews and pretty good tamales (meat free chilaquiles, cheese stuffed chiles rellenos and veg tamales de raja or nopal too). It is in the heart of Pilsen at about 20th on Blue Island, 2 blocks south of 18th St. The Churro Factory at 2214 S. Wolcott is fun too for made to order hot churros, the sweet fried tubes that go well with hot chocolate. (They also have a truck at the Maxwell St. Market on Sundays). If you like meat there are a few carnitas places, and there are plenty of other restaurants with differing regional specialties throughout the area.
Just look at the options at Working Bikes!
|It's a treasure trove of Schwinn, Raleigh, Rudge and JC Higgins. |
Find a Speedster, Sport, Co-Ed, Suburban, Varsity, Super Sport
or Breeze. They've got them all, with original parts or not, from $50 to $150. Trek? Specialized? Panasonic? Nishiki? Have a close look and you'll find one.
|There's a lot of space, and this week there was a Torpado, a |
restored Schwinn Paramount, a Terry and a few other similar ones.
Road bikes, BMX and mountain bikes have their own corners.
|Take your new find for a ride, bring it back and |
try another. All day long!
|Really, would you rather put your baby in a wimpy plastic seat with a strap|
or a classic solid metal carrier like this one? (er, us either...)
EDIT 9/2011: Working Bikes has extended its hours and is now open most days a week, and they do repairs too. Call them for details.