NORTH PARK — Two years after opening in North Park, Cog Cycles Chicago has moved into a larger storefront closer to the North Shore Channel Trail.
Owners Brian Kremen and Liz Hilt reopened the store at 3217 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Oct. 16. At the new location, customers don’t have to walk their bike up and down a flight of stairs when visiting the shop, Kremen said.
“The stairs at our last place wasn’t really the best thing for a bike shop, but we did some great work there, and the neighborhood was so welcoming right from the moment we opened,” Kremen said.
Cog Cycles started out of a garage before moving to 3453 W. Foster Ave. in 2019. Kremen and Hilt married shortly after. They chose the Foster location because it was near Northeastern Illinois University, North Park University and popular bike routes that connect to the North Branch Trail and North Shore Channel Trail.
The convenience of the location and cycling community’s warm reception is why the couple made sure to stay in the area when they began looking for a larger space.
“We developed a lot of friendships over the years and knew that when we moved, we didn’t want to leave the neighborhood, which really narrowed it down to this stretch of Bryn Mawr for us,” Kremen said.
The shop specializes in tuning up and rebuilding steel-frame road bikes. While Kremen works on the bicycles, Hilt oversees the business side of the shop. At the start of the pandemic, the shop, like many across the country, benefitted from a rise in people interested in riding bikes, Kremen said.
“But even before COVID, this neighborhood needed another bike shop. As you get down into Logan Square, there are a lot more bike shops. But further north over here, the bike shops are fewer and more spread out,” Kremen said. “COVID gave us a huge boost, but I honestly think we could have still done quite well and moved into this new space regardless because of that.”
Another benefit of the Bryn Mawr location is that it is at eye level for people walking or cycling by, Hilt said. Their previous shop was below street level, and the more car-centric traffic pattern of Foster Avenue meant the location wasn’t on bicyclists’ preferred route through the neighborhood.
The larger store means the business will be able to host events, as well, Hilt said.
“We’re still mostly a rebuild shop, but we may start to bring in some new bicycles now in a very intentional way, with a focus on steel frame bicycles that we tend to prefer,” Kremen said.
Bob Kastigar, a longtime Cog Cycle customer, was riding through North Park last week when he pulled into the business’s new location for a quick tune-up and help from Kremen with a part he’d gotten in the mail for his handlebars.
It took less than 20 minutes for Kremen to install the custom handlebar. As soon as he was done, Kastigar had another tune-up request for his bike.
“I like coming here because it’s close by for me and Brian does everything right away,” Kastigar said. “What I need help with today, it could be a major job at another shop where I’d have to leave my bike because this part I have is not a standard item. But I like his quick turn around where I can get it done today.”
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