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A Guide to Locally Made Winter Gear and Gifts for Cyclists

The Heritage Chief bike is made in Chicago.

I prepared this list for another Chicago publication, but since they didn't wind up having space for it in print, I thought I'd share it with SBC readers. One thing I learned from researching the piece is that, not counting the local cycling components giant (and Streetsblog sponsor) SRAM Corporation, there are a surprisingly small number of homegrown bike products in Chicago nowadays. Whether that's due to higher commercial rents than other bike gear Meccas (hello Minneapolis), excessive city bureaucracy for small businesses, or other factors, it would be great to see more bike product businesses here in the future.

If you're looking for more transportation-related holiday gift ideas, check out the guides I did for Newcity magazine in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Some of the makers mentioned in those articles are now defunct (R.I.P. Kozie Prery bike caps) but others, such as South Side bike builder Legacy Frameworks, are still going strong.

Bike Lane Uprising t-shirt
Bike Lane Uprising t-shirt
Bike Lane Uprising t-shirt

And -- this just in -- Bike Lane Uprising, a Chicago-based website for reporting bikeway blockages, is doing a two-week online pop-up shop, where you can buy shirts, patches and more with their nifty logo.

Heritage Chief City Edition bike

Sealed bearing, stainless-steel spokes, and optional internal-gear three-speed hub and fenders, make this a solid choice for winter commuting ($999 stock, $1,250 fully loaded, heritagebicycles.com.)

Po Campo Kinga handlebar bag

Designed in Chicago, this stylish, weatherproof bike purse attaches to your handlebar with Velcro straps, and also fits well in a Divvy front rack ($44.99, pocampo.com.)

The Po Campo Kinga bag.
The Po Campo Kinga bag.
The Po Campo Kinga bag.

Soap Distillery’s Limoncello Sugar Scrub

TheChainlink.org owner Yasmeen Schuller swears by this treatment, from ex-SRAM employee and bike mechanic Danielle Martin, and a hot shower to warm up after cold riding ($14, soapdistillery.com.)

limonscrub
Soap Distillery's Limocello Sugar Scrub
Soap Distillery Limocello Scrub

Do-it-yourself Balaclava

You can buy this useful facemask at any bike shop, but if you’re feeling crafty, the local Bike Winter website has DIY instructions. (bikewinter.org/fleece.) West Town Bikes will also be hosting a winter gear craft night, including balaclava construction, as part of their Women and Trans Night series later this month, tentatively on Wednesday, December 12, from 7-10 p.m. -- keep an eye on their social media for confirmation.

Homemade balaclava. Photo: Gin Kilgore
Homemade balaclava. Photo: Gin Kilgore
Homemade balaclava. Photo: Gin Kilgore

Are there any local sources for great biking, walking, and transit gear and gifts that aren't mentioned in any of these guides? Let us know in the comments section.

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