New cargo bike business wants to protect your windows


Scott Baermann cleans windows at Ipsento on a sunny September afternoon. 

Scott Baermann has been in the window cleaning business for 10 years, mostly in northern Indiana. He operated that business from afar when he moved to Chicago in 2006. Earlier this year he took on his friend Ryan Hoban as a partner. But the future didn’t lie in northern Indiana, it was here in Chicago.

I interviewed the Urban Street Window Works guys in August at their “office” in Ipsento Coffee House in Bucktown. This was the same office at which Scott and Ryan decided to try storefronts as a way to break into business in the city, an industry they said was dominated by “one bucket wonders”.

Most people already have a guy, and they don’t know who it is. He just comes around a few times and you pay him $7, $8 bucks. We want to develop a relationship, in how we want to separate ourselves. We want them to know our names.

Our first storefront was Ipsento, I know Tim, I asked, “Who does your windows?” Shoot me a quote and we’ll talk. Tim bought the equipment himself, “but as you can see I don’t do a good job”.

Ipsento became their first customer. A walk around the neighborhood netted them a few more customers. The pair got bikes on their radar after the threat of parking tickets raised its ugly head (fortunately they didn’t get one on an early work call). They looked at trailers on Craigslist and bought a single wheel trailer in Evanston. Ryan mentioned the benefits of using a bike for work, saying, “We can be a lot more efficient. I love riding my bikes. So this is like a dream come true, riding my bike every day.” Continue reading New cargo bike business wants to protect your windows

The first Chicago bike shop commercial I’ve seen


I’ve had work done on my bike The Bike Lane twice. I like this commercial for their fix a flat service. It was uploaded a year ago, but someone in my Google+ feed posted it today. I know at least one other company that fixes flats where you are: one of our sponsors, Pedal To The People. Have you seen any other commercials for Chicagoland bike shops? Continue reading The first Chicago bike shop commercial I’ve seen

Cycling and dog walking, how common is it?


This story is about cycling to the dogs, not cycling with dogs, but I thought it was a fun photo. By Kerry Lannert. 

AJ LaTrace, who writes Chiboulevards, interviewed the manager of and dog walker with Chicago Pet Sitters, Jared Honn. A lot of the interview focused on how Honn cycles to the dogs he walks. Oh, and how Honn races cyclocross and has tips for cycling in the winter. Do you think this counts as a “bike business”?

Check out Honn’s comments about owning a car and cycling. Do other people feel guilty doing both? I know several advocates of a better environment for cycling in Chicago also owns cars. I don’t think there’s a dichotomy in this situation:

I biked every day for my job for the first two years. I still bike predominantly. Only recently did I get a car, which I purchased so I could get out to bike races in the suburbs or to the velodrome in Northbrook. I’ll use it for work every once and a while when my body is feeling beat up, or if I need to transport dogs. As a cyclist, I feel plenty of guilt and mixed emotions when I’m driving.

Read the full interview. One more excerpt, though:

Biking in the correct clothes is about 99% of winter cycling, from what I’ve experienced.

I couldn’t agree more. If you’ve lived in Chicago for at least one winter, then you already have all the clothes you need.


Everyone deserves a break. Photo by Incandenzafied. It turns out there’s a group on Flickr with 441 photos featuring biking with dogs

Isaac Grigsby of WIG Bags


Photo by John; all others courtesy of WIG Bags

This is the second in a series of interviews looking into what it will take for Chicago to develop a thriving bike-related business community, focusing on messenger bags. Earlier I talked to Tia Meilinger from New York City’s Vaya Bags to learn how she launched a successful global business. Last week I caught up with Isaac Grigsby from Chicago’s WIG Bags over breakfast at the West River Café, 4400 N. Kedzie in Albany Park, a few blocks from his workshop, to discuss his business and his views on the local scene.

In the early 2000s Grigsby started WIG, Wheels in Gyration – “It means the wheels are always turning, I’m always trying to figure something out or put something together,” he says. Since then he’s made thousands of custom bags and shipped them to every corner of the globe. But he says he has no interest in having his products – messenger bags, backpacks, camera bags and more – sitting on store shelves.

We talked about the origins of his business, the features of his courier bags, how he gets the word out about his products and why he doesn’t like sewing custom images on the flaps of his bags. Grigsby also gave his opinion about why it’s difficult to launch a bike business in this city and told me what it’s like sewing carrying cases for rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Continue reading Isaac Grigsby of WIG Bags

A Dutch bike store dies, a bicycle café is born

[flickr]photo:6207956624[/flickr]Michael Salvatore, owner of Heritage Bicycles

[This article also appears in Newcity magazine.]

Chicago just lost one of its coolest bike shops, but we’re gaining one that may be even cooler. Last week Dutch Bike Co. abruptly closed its Chicago location, only three months after relocating from Lincoln Park to Wicker Park. Founded in Seattle, the company opened its only satellite store three years ago at 651 W. Armitage in a gallery-like storefront. They offered beautiful, practical European-style city bikes by brands like WorkCycles and Linus, most costing over $1,000.

Continue reading A Dutch bike store dies, a bicycle café is born

Grid Shots: Cargo biking

To help promote the Cargo Bike Roll Call, happening Monday night from 6-9 PM at West Town Bikes, 1147 N Campbell, this weekend’s edition of Grid Shots is all about cargo biking in Chicago (there aren’t any family biking photos in our Flickr group yet).


Joshua Koonce and I were riding back to my house on California Avenue from Welles Park and we encountered this man carrying several bags of aluminum cans. Here’s another photo of the rider. 

Continue reading Grid Shots: Cargo biking