Fred Mikes established Mikes Bike Shop in 1959. After high school, he trained as a car mechanic, and during WWII, he trained as an aircraft mechanic. Eventually, Fred’s mechanical abilities and the “American Dream” led him to open a bike shop. Fred planned to open his own bike shop in Bensenville where he lived. Then he met Gil Smith who owned a bike shop in Palatine. Gil was looking to sell his shop and Fred was looking to buy a shop. Fred bought the shop and opened the first Mikes Bike Shop located at 55 W. Wood Street.
The name Mikes Bike Shop was a three-fold concept. First, Mikes is the family’s last name. Since Mikes rhymes with bikes, it fit naturally. Also, Fred’s wife Harriet always called Fred “Mike”. Harriet’s father and brother were both named Fred which caused quite a bit of confusion when all three were together.
By 1965 the bike business improved and Fred decided to move his family from Bensenville to Palatine. Luck would have it that a building was for sale around the corner from the first shop and Mikes’ second location opened at 36 W. Wilson Street. This new location had an apartment upstairs, where the Mikes family would live.
Fred’s son Wayne found bikes to be his passion. Wayne bought the business from his father in 1979. Wayne moved Mikes Bike Shop to 155 N. Northwest Highway in November 1987 to increase the visibility of Mikes Bikes Shop. You can stop by and see Wayne, his son Matthew or both if you’re lucky. Through the 1990’s Mikes Bike Shop watched as Palatine grew along with the surrounding areas. Wayne noticed the needs of people changing as the amount of traffic keeps increasing on our roadways: people looking to commute to work by bike, people wanting safer places to ride bikes, public health concerns regarding the environment. All of these paved Wayne’s way into cycling advocacy. Once the bicycle industry got politically active, they started lobbying for separate federal funding for bicycle accommodations. This is how all bike paths became federally funded.
Keeping the community in-mind and a listening to comments from shop patrons, Wayne began a Bicycle Donation Program in 2002, “Bikes for Needy Kids”. This is an off-season annual event that refurbishes donated bikes and channels them to needy recipients. Mikes Bike Shop averages between 100-200 recycled bikes each year to local charities. While most bikes stay in the Palatine area, some have traveled as far as Mongolia.
In 2004 Wayne had an opportunity to become politically active. When the ISTEA bill was up for a vote, he journeyed to Washington DC. ISTEA is/was a funding bill for bicycle accommodations. Since then Wayne has focused himself closer to home, chairing the Palatine Bicycle Task Force which has a goal to make Palatine a “Bicycle Friendly Community”. Interested in becoming an advocate for bicycle accommodations in and around Palatine? Check out and join the NWMC Bike Pedestrian Committee.
Customer service was Fred’s main priority from the start and continues to be for the Mikes Bike Shop. When Fred bought the business, people were amazed that Fred was going to have regular business hours. Today we’re open 7 days a week in-season and we change our hours to suit the seasons. Our service is what continually amazes people.