A Note From Our Founder
I learned to ride a bike at an early age when the BMX craze started to hit with the Schwinn team in 1978. My first bike was a yellow Schwinn Scrambler. I thought I was the coolest kid on the block. We lived in a cul-de-sac, and I can remember riding down the street and trying to mimic the rear wheel brake slides that I saw all the kids doing. I also can’t forget watching them pulling wheelies for an entire block in complete control of their machines as if it was an extension of their bodies. Five houses down from our house lived a pilot. I was friends with his kids and I can remember him telling tales of being a pilot, and thinking how cool that job sounded. When I would ride my bike, I remember then, and still to this day, thinking that riding a bike was the closest thing to flying. That crystal clear point when everything is working right, the mechanics of the bicycle, the fit, the style of the bicycle that mirrored my identity, which all culminated into that feeling of a pair of eyes flying through space; I fell in love and I was hooked forever.
I then graduated to a Schwinn Predator in 1985. That year was special to me because that was my first drive-in movie experience, ‘Back to the Future’. My friends and I rode our bikes all the time. We had a field behind my house that we turned into a little BMX track to hone our craft. Around that same time, came the movie that would solidify my destiny for the next 32 years, Rad. My Dad bought me the movie, on Beta video, and my friends and I would watch snippets of the movie almost every day. We would pause the movie (which was an advanced feature at the time) and go out into our cul-de-sac and attempt the moves that the riders were flawlessly executing. My fantasy to this day is to do a 360 degree flip off of a giant Kix bowl spoon.
After watching Rad more times than I have done miles on a bike, I decided it was time to take up B.M.X racing. My neighbor across the street was my hero. He was the one who got me excited about racing, and incidentally introduced me to the Rolling Stones & AC/DC. My Mom hated him because he turned me on to the Highway to Hell album, which of course, meant to her that we were devil worshippers.
My neighbor across the street was a BMX racer. One day, I was out attempting some bunny hops and my neighbor yelled to me that I should try BMX racing. Now remember, he was my hero, so of course I wanted to try BMX racing. Friday came and I loaded up my Schwinn Predator into his car and we drove to the BMX track in Itasca, IL. When we got there, I unloaded my Schwinn Predator, and my buddy said to me, “I want you to ride my bike.” Now this kid had a Kuwahara; in my mind, this bike was the Ferarri of BMX. “Are you kidding me?” So, I put on my gloves and helmet, and rolled to the start line. When I slammed my front wheel into the wood boards, I thought I was the coolest kid in the world. I adjusted my gloves like Patrick Kane does on the ice. I scanned the meek competition, and wanted them to submit to the power of the Kuwahara. One of the regular racers saw my glare and said to me, “Hey nice E.T. bike.” Do you remember the Flintstones cartoon where Fred shrank to the size of a pea in a chair? That was me shrinking smaller than the dice caps on the valve stems of my tubes. The boards fell, and needless to say, I finished dead last in that race. Maybe if Sugar Ray was popular then, I would have learned to fly. Although I finished dead last in the race, I will forever be grateful to have had the opportunity to develop a love and passion for this wonderful sport.
I have worked in the bicycle industry my entire ‘working life’. I started in 1990 at Village Cycle Center, for Dave Wilson. For the next decade, I moved from floor sweeper, to mechanic, to sales person and eventually to store manager for Ron Kozy at Kozy’s Cyclery. I learned a tremendous amount of the bicycle business from those two gentlemen, who frankly, are legends in the bicycle industry. I owe them for the experiences and wisdom they shared with me.
In the fall of 2000, I sold my car, took the $12,000 proceeds of that sale, and started Get a Grip Cycles. Having worked at high selling volume stores like Village and Kozy’s, I wanted Get a Grip to be differentiated by providing a more personal touch for our clients. Early on, I saw a clear need to develop a new model for the bicycle industry; a model that delivered high quality and thoughtful service, coupled with best-in-class product offerings, and has a team that is super knowledgeable.
In 2002, I received a call from a person whom I had never met, but would not only help change the course of Get a Grip, but would become my best friend. Adam called me up and it was just one of those special kismet moments. We not only instantly knew that we would be brothers for life, but he was also interested in building a brand that had the foundational principals that I wanted for Get a Grip. It was a complete melding of the minds for us. We then set out and sculptured our new Get a Grip Cycles’ model and established a best-in-class benchmark for a bicycle fitting process that changed the way high-end bicycles are sold and purchased, still to this day, throughout the country.
Get a Grip has become a globally recognized brand for our fitting services, impeccable bespoke builds and bicycle mechanics. Our clients travel from all parts of the world to seek out our offerings and services. I say that humbly, and from a lens of great respect to the other shops throughout the globe, as there are a handful of shops that are at top-notch levels too.
Get a Grip Cycles has earned numerous 'Best Of' awards over the last 17 years, most recently named Best Bicycle Shop by Chicago Magazine and Competitor Magazine. I am proud of the company that Get a Grip Cycles has become, and am forever indebted to my team, mentors, and of course, our outrageously loyal clientele. In fact, I would never have the wonderful and supportive family that I have now: my wife Beth and our gorgeous 3 girls, Aurelia, Adrianna and Ava if it wasn’t for the bicycle industry. Beth was doing the Chicago Triathlon in 2003, and she called 10 shops in Chicago to rent a triathlon bicycle, but none of the shops offered that service. Well, you guessed it, she called Get a Grip, I answered the phone, and truth be told, we didn’t offer that service either, but she sounded cute. We then went on to date, get married, have kids and live in a beautiful home in Wheaton. These are the people that have allowed me to build Get a Grip Cycles and live out a dream that I have had since the late 70’s when I was forever hooked on the love and passion for cycling. I invite you to come in, say “hi” and give us the opportunity to earn your business.
Kevin Corsello Founder/CEO