Brooklyn Bicycles owner Richie Ditta is not a fan of beach cruisers.
"People love [them] but, unless you're riding by the beach, they're not very practical. They're not very easy to ride. It's not very easy to climb hills. People like the look, and, unfortunately, that's what usually sells a bike is the looks."
Yet, during a Saturday afternoon visit to his shop, Ditta is nearly on his hands and knees trying to unscrew the bolt on a dangerously wobbly rear axle to a customized black, three-gear beach cruiser. The bike looks toast—even the chain guard has separated and hangs from the frame like a disjointed bone. But Ditta's passion is unwavering.
Since opening in 2011, he's been the face behind Brooklyn Bicycles (3437 Adams Ave. in Normal Heights) and he's earned a reputation for high accountability and honest work. His enthusiasm for fixing bikes—even for bikes he wouldn't ride—is an admirable trait, especially considering the elitism that has seeped into the hipster bike culture.
Refreshingly, Ditta values altruistic practicality over style, and it seems his primary focus is keeping everyone in his community riding. He offers lifetime service for the bikes that he sells and prides himself on his ability to fix just about anything on a bike.
"I have a niche of being able to resurrect bikes from the dead," he says. "A clapped-out bike that was unusable, I can just do a couple things and make it ride-able . If you're dead broke and this is the only way you're going to get back and forth to work, I just saved your ass until you get your next paycheck."
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