While in Chicago last weekend, I had the opportunity to stop by the Dutch Bike Company's
brand new Midwestern outpost. Having already wooed Seattlites into adopting the European city bike, founders Stephan Schier and David Schmidt were looking for a second outpost. It turned out that a majority of their special orders were going to Chicago, a city that, under multi-term Mayor Daley’s continued green agenda, is fast becoming one of the top bicycle friendly towns in the country.
Indeed, while I was walking around Chicago, both within the Loop and in neighborhoods such as Wicker Park and Lincoln Square, I was shocked at how many people were using bikes to get around. With a bourgeoning network of cycling lanes and an abundance of flat terrain, the city is an ideal proving ground for the European riding style.
Dutch Bike Chicago is located in Lincoln Park: a quaint, picturesque neighborhood replete with fancy boutiques and multi-million dollar townhouses. It is exactly the kind of location a dealer need's to sell four-figure commuter bikes. While in Lincoln Park, I test rode two of the company's more popular models: the Transport ($1,749—above right) and the Secret Service ($1,619—below). Having ridden a track bike for the past couple years, adjusting to the upright position of these bikes was somewhat difficult. Nevertheless, I found myself slowing to a casual pace and taking in the scenery.
Although both models come with Shimano Nexus eight-speed internally geared hubs and a smooth grip shift, I found little need for the gearing. The Transport, with its dual top tubes and removable front rack looked like quite a tank, and seemingly weighed as much. Chances are, when fully loaded with groceries, those eight-speeds would come in handy. The Secret Service proved to be a slightly sportier model than it's cousin, and likely, the kind of bike a roadie would enjoy.
After reviewing the features of these bikes with Stephen, I could see why they've become so popular with the commuter crowd. Both models come with a Shimano Nexus hub mounted, dynamo powering headlamp and tail lamp; a Brooks sprung saddle; and an enclosed chaincase. All of which makes for a stress-free ride to work. If the staff at Dutch Bike Chicago exhibits even half the enthusiasm as its founders, this shop is sure to win over most any skeptic. It's a must see on any visit to the Windy City, regardless of one's riding style.
Dutch Bike Chicago
651 West Armitage Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614 map
tel +1 312 265 0175