A women-focused shop inspires more girls in the bike lane
by Erin Wethern | Photography by Lynn Millspaugh
Best friends Vanessa Buccella and Annie Byrne are after world domination. They are the owners of Chicago’s new women-focused cycling shop, BFF Bikes. Located at 2113 Armitage in Bucktown, BFF Bikes is more than just another bike shop—it’s poised to become a hub of female cyclist activity, encouraging women of all levels to get more involved in the biking community. In addition to selling bikes and gear, and offering tune-ups and repairs, this bicycle boutique hosts a racing team, regular group rides, and lots of classes for all levels of riders.
BFF Bikes is more than just another bike shop—it’s poised to become a hub of female cyclist activity, encouraging women of all levels to get more involved in the biking community.
Before opening the store last March, Vanessa was actively trying to get more women involved in biking. Her vision for BFF was to create “a cycling community geared for women.” Translated into practice, the boutique is warm and inviting with bright colors, cute and practical gear, and soul music pumping through the speakers—plus, it’s cleaner than any bike shop you’ve ever seen.
Why a women-focused bike shop? “The stereotypical bike shop can be an intimidating place for a lot of women,” says Annie. “It took a few years for me to love going to the bike shop.” She and Vanessa aim to make BFF Bikes an accessible space for bikers of all skills. “We can take time with each customer,” says Vanessa. They provide personalized customer service, even taking potential buyers for test rides around the neighborhood.
“The stereotypical bike shop can be an intimidating place for a lot of women.It took a few years for me to love going to the bike shop.”
The store’s racing team—BFF Racing—is also a passion of both Annie and Vanessa’s. BFF Racing boasts a roster of between 25 and 30 racers at any time, riders who range from state champions to amateurs. United by their love of cycling and their dedication to bringing more girls to the sport, BFF Racing is the first all-women team that focuses on bike education and community building.
Part of BFF’s social mission is getting more women involved at all levels of biking—from commuting to racing. “Everybody should have the benefits that comes with having a bike,” says Annie. To help others nurture their love of biking, whether newfound or long-standing, the shop welcomes city ladies to a host of classes and workshops, as well as early weekend training rides. Bring your bike by for Bike Maintenance 101 and learn the ropes of fixing a flat and performing basic tune-ups on your ride. Or, attend a Bike Fitting workshop to ensure your positioning is just right so that you avoid discomfort or injury. Then, when you’re ready, pedal over to the shop on Sunday mornings to traverse the city on a group ride, some of which include scenic tours of Chicago neighborhoods.
Take a look inside this Chicago bicycle shop below—and be sure to visit BFF Bikes online through Facebook and Twitter: