Curt Warner provides personal touch at Bikefix in Oak Park

Bikefix owner parlays lifelong love of fixing bikes into succesful business

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

Jack Crowe

Cycling Columnist

Curt Warner, the owner of Bikefix on Lake Street near Ridgeland Avenue, runs a bike shop known for its service department, custom bike and wheel builds, and an absence of attitude.

Warner was the kid who took things apart. He started with his Schwinn Stingray Apple Krate circa 1972. He dismantled it and put it back together during the Evil Knievel era when jumping off hills on Stingrays was the rage.

As a teenager, Warner put an advertisement in a local newspaper to make extra money and developed a following as a "wrench." He also became an avid cyclist, eventually logging four to six thousand miles per year.

Nearly twenty years ago, Warner started providing mobile repair service in Chicago by advertising in the Chicago Reader. When he and his wife moved to Oak Park and started a family, he became a stay-at-home dad and looked for opportunities here.

Initially, Warner connected with riders from the Lake & Harlem cycling group doing mobile bike repair. The quality of his work spread quickly via word of mouth. He also worked part time at Lickton's bike store on Lake Street.

By the time his son entered first grade, Warner wanted to return to work full time. He did not want a traditional job, so he began to plan his own bike shop.

In 2007, Bob Lickton offered to rent Warner garage space off a nearby alley. The endeavor started small. Warner was able to be flexible with his work and home duties while building the business.

After five years, Warner was ready to open a full-time retail operation.

"Living and working in a community like Oak Park is a beautiful thing," Warner said. "It's a Mayberry thing."

His two children attend school conveniently blocks from his "office."   

In 2012, Warner rented half of the retail space at Lickton's. Bikefix would focus on all street trade, while Lickton's would continue working online sales.

Greg Beard, a longtime customer and member of the Lake & Harlem cycling group, proudly cites Warner as "my guy."

 "He's the only one I really trust to work on my bikes," Beard said. Beard added that Bikefix recently rebuilt his Orbea bike including custom-built wheels.

Bill Olderr works with Warner servicing bikes. Olderr grew up in bike shops, knows the products and technology and – in his spare time – competes in endurance cyclocross events.

Beard recalls that he brought in a self-made "fixy" – a fixed gear bike – to show off, but Olderr didn't like something about the handlebars. So up on the bike stand the "fixy" went and Olderr made adjustments at no charge.

In addition to service, Bikefix sells bikes to "people who need to ride." Warner says it can take hours to understand a cyclist's needs and craft a custom solution.

Karin Evans heard about Warner through the Oak Park Cycling Club. While Evans cycles on the roads, she and her husband also take long "rails to trails" rides in Wisconsin. She needed a bike for both the streets and the gravel trails. Warner developed a solution using a Surly bike frame.

"He understands how I like to ride," Evans said. "[Bikefix] feels really personal, which is different from other shops."

Reader Comments

4 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

David Poppei from Forest Park  

Posted: July 30th, 2013 10:24 AM

Curt knows his stuff and is more than happy to pass along his knowledge. On numerous occasions Curt has taken me into his work area to demonstrate a solution for a problem at hand. While you're at Bike Fix, don't forget to say hi to Lizzy!

Kim from Oak Park  

Posted: July 29th, 2013 12:56 PM

Bill and Curt have gone above and beyond to help me get my bike ready for Ironman Wisconsin this year. Every time I go in with a question or an issue, they consistently offer top notch service/advice and I always walk out feeling more confident about the mechanics of my bike.

Greenline Wheels from Oak Park  

Posted: July 29th, 2013 11:55 AM

Greenline Wheels loves Curt and Bike Fix! We go to Curt with all our repairs and bike questions. Oak Park is fortunate to have such great array of bike businesses like Bike Fix. Keep up the great work!

Guillermo D from Oak Park  

Posted: July 29th, 2013 1:04 AM

I heart Bikefix!

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.


            
SubscribeClassifieds
Photo storeContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor