Bicycle Smithy’s beloved Lincoln Park bike store to shut in September after 49 years


Lincoln Park – Bicycle Smithy’s has been serving to Chicagoans discover the proper bikes for 49 years – however the store will shut in September.

Proprietor Mark Mattei, 71, mentioned it was time for him to retire. He’s 2468 1/2 N. Clark St.’s enterprise, in the meantime, is 30 p.c off the whole lot, “and I will in all probability throw what’s left within the lake,” Mattei mentioned.

Staff this week taped the indicators and made a small chalk drawing of Mattei, his white hair, flying in all instructions, on the board exterior the store. It is a comparatively quiet finish to a store that is lengthy been beloved for its classic bikes—and for hooking up Chicago children with their first bicycles.

“Most individuals began using as a child,” Mattei mentioned Monday. “You possibly can experience across the block away out of your mother and father and go to a neighborhood you have by no means visited.”

Mattei proceeded to seize an interior tube.

“Bikes are freedom. What’s to not love?” They mentioned.

The greater than 40 classic bicycles on show contained in the Mattei – a historical past lesson in biking from the 1800s – will not be and by no means will probably be on the market.

“I can spend all day speaking about how these will not be bullshit,” Mattei mentioned. “Each bike has a narrative.”

Credit score: Colin Boyle/Block Membership Chicago
Proprietor Mark Mattei appears at his bicycles a number of months earlier than closing on July 25, 2022 at Bicycle Smithy, 2468 1/2 N Clark St.

Mattei has a Frejus Italian bike pushed by American Jim Murphy on the 1960 Olympics – Murphy’s water bottle continues to be within the heart holder.

is a tandem racing bike from the late 60s, chrome-plated and designed by Sant Pogliaghi, an Italian craftsman identified for making his personal lugs.

Credit score: Colin Boyle/Block Membership Chicago
Cycle Smithy, 2468 N.J. on July 25, 2022, a number of months earlier than closing. An Italian tandem racing bike on show at Clark St.

Bicycle Smithy owns a gas-engined bike by Caproni, an Italian producer that was banned from manufacturing fighter planes after helping Benito Mussolini in World Battle II.

An American bike from the early ’50s has a heavy inexperienced exterior, “ornate to seem like an imaginary child’s motorbike,” Mattei mentioned.

Mattei additionally bought a purple Paramount bike, which was utilized by Chicago biking pioneer Frank Schwinn Sr., who “re-branded biking as an grownup leisure relatively than a laughing kid’s toy,” Mattei mentioned. In a car-focused America, Schwinn made Paramount a success, hiring “nearly each Hollywood star” from Clark Gable to Bob Hope to present the bicycle a extra subtle look, Mattei mentioned.

Credit score: Colin Boyle/Block Membership Chicago
Proprietor Mark Mattei Bicycle Smithy, 2468 N. Pointed to a classic Italian Caproni bike a number of months earlier than it was shut down on July 25, 2022 in Clark St.

Within the early ’70s, biking was booming amongst younger folks, and Mattei was “popping out of the Northwest,” he mentioned. Beginning a motorbike store there was “a low barrier to entry from this flooring”, and Mattei established its first location in 1973 at 2441 1/2 N Clark St.

Cycle Smithy 1978 at 2468 1/2 N. Clarke St. and offered slot automotive races on its first flooring. The store’s identify got here from Mattei’s buddy, “who had an excellent bang within the ‘identify’ however made a contemporary begin as a blacksmith, he mentioned.

The enterprise grew “with the continual evolution of the product, from mountain bikes with entrance suspension, to rear suspension, with entrance and rear suspension and disc brakes; mountain bikes manufactured from aluminum versus metal, then manufactured from carbon fiber,” says Mattei he mentioned.

Mattei bumps up a 1985 Bridgestone Blausen bike by supercar designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, its modern body hanging from the ceiling.

Credit score: Colin Boyle/Block Membership Chicago
Cycle Smithy, 2468 N.J. on July 25, 2022, a number of months earlier than closing. A Nineteen Eighties Bridgestone Blausen bike on show at Clark St.

Within the mid-80s, the son of an government from Bridgestone, Japan, hit Bicycle Smithy with a bicycle. “His father wished him to earn his chops in the actual world,” Mattei mentioned.

Mattei flipped by the catalog and requested the well-connected child if he may pair the store with the Bluson—a Japanese bike that hadn’t been supplied within the U.S. market, Mattei mentioned.

When a photographer for Playboy journal handed by, there was a Bridgestone Blauson within the window of Mattei’s retailer.

“They had been taking pictures the Christmas challenge, which all the time featured the ‘cool stuff’ {that a} younger man on the town can buy as his stuff,” Mattei mentioned. “5 Phrases From Playboy Journal That Modified My Life.”

A full-page unfold of the shop’s window at Playboy—”Bridgestone Blauson, Bicycle Smithy, Chicago”—helped Mattei promote bikes as quickly as the shop closed.

Earl Russell, a repairman who labored for Mattei for almost 50 years, mentioned Bicycle Smithy set the pattern for state-of-the-art bicycles, however by no means gave up on a nasty bicycle.

“The bike has stored us busy,” Russell mentioned.

Credit score: Colin Boyle/Block Membership Chicago
Proprietor Mark Mattei appears at his bicycles a number of months earlier than closing on July 25, 2022 at Bicycle Smithy, 2468 1/2 N Clark St.

In recent times, electrical bikes have modified, whereas the know-how for handbook ones has “cooled down after a lot progress,” Mattei mentioned.

Mattei created a Beeline from 1898 for a motorbike with laborious rubber tires—and a body “within the type you and I nonetheless experience immediately.”

“Bikes will all the time be a good looking machine. They’re uniquely tailored to the power and geometry of our our bodies,” mentioned Mattei. “The size of our legs, arms, torso, the way in which we bend and flex, the quantity of horsepower we put into it. The bicycle, in its final type, maximizes our potential to journey.”

Mattei pointed to a biker crossing the street with a bicycle smithy.

“They’re designed to work for us,” Mattei mentioned.

Credit score: Colin Boyle/Block Membership Chicago
Cycle Smithy, 2468 N.J. on July 25, 2022, a number of months earlier than closing. Cannondale bikes on the market on Clark St.
Credit score: Colin Boyle/Block Membership Chicago
A classic bike from Jim Murphy at Bicycle Smithy, 2468 N. A number of months earlier than closing on Clark St., July 25, 2022.
Credit score: Colin Boyle/Block Membership Chicago
Cycle Smithy, 2468 N.J. on July 25, 2022, a number of months earlier than closing. A classic deluxe displayed at Clark St.
Credit score: Colin Boyle/Block Membership Chicago
Cycle Smithy, 2468 N.J. on July 25, 2022, a number of months earlier than closing. Proprietor Mark Mattei posing on the entrance to Clark St.

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