As Chicagoans embrace the cycling season, custom-bike guru Michael Salvatore of Heritage Bicycles shares his favorite routes for exploring the city on two wheels.
Michael Salvatore has a knack for good timing. A former options trader, Salvatore wisely exited the market before its 2008 collapse. Then, anticipating today’s trendy artisanal movement, he married bespoke bikes and artisan coffee in his Lakeview shop, Heritage Bicycles General Store (2959 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-245-3005), whose classically cool city bikes have garnered shout-outs from the likes of Beyoncé. For Salvatore—who also owns spin-off coffee shop Heritage Outpost (1325 W. Wilson Ave., 872-806-0639) and kids’ milk and cookie bar Heritage Littles (2868 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-242-9008)—the retro-inspired bikes he fashions are a natural extension of his fifth-generation Chicago upbringing. “I grew up in an older house where traditions and family hand-me-downs were part of everyday life,” he says of the bikes’ vintage aesthetic.
Now Salvatore is preparing to open three more Heritage shops throughout the city (expect a Fulton Market outpost later this year) and possibly expand to Nashville, Tennessee. As summer kicks into high gear and cyclists zoom through the streets, Salvatore shares his favorite routes and reasons to ride.
“I bring my 4-year-old, and we ride up and down the lakeshore path.” —Michael Salvatore
“Mornings at the Lakefront are my favorite things in all of Chicago. I bring my 4-year-old boy before he goes to school, and we ride up and down the path until we find a nice beach. I’ll have my iced coffee—coldbrewed Intelligentsia—and he’ll have his apple juice. I’ll bring a speaker, and we’ll lie on the beach and jam out.
“If I’m doing something more aggressive performancewise, I’ll take my bike out to our little farmhouse in South Barrington. It has beautiful roads with rolling hills, and we have a flower farm where we work with Field & Florist (773-318-5699). It’s a great way to escape the city.
“Going out to get food on a bike is a really fun way to get around the city. Whether it’s to go to Parson’s Chicken & Fish (2952 W. Armitage Ave., 773-384-3333) for fried chicken or Antique Taco (1360 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-687-8697) for tacos, if you can get on a bike [to go] there, you’ll feel so much better eating and drinking. It changes your mood.”