Al Zaleski was 16 years old when his father opened Fleet Bikes. His intention was to build a family business. But when Al's father and brother both passed away shortly after the shop opened, he kept the place running. Thirty-nine years later, he's never worked anywhere else. For a while he carried a line of new bikes, but for years now it's all been reconditioned used rides built up from donations, with occasional bikes acquired from scrap trucks. When his showroom is full in the spring, scores of bikes fill the front room. Zaleski sells about 250 a year — all priced to move in the scuffling Slavic Village neighborhood. The bulk of his business, though, is repairs — which are also priced right: Fleet pledges to fix any bike for $15, plus the cost of parts. Zaleski's line of work introduces him to no shortage of interesting old machines, but he says his favorites were built in the 1940s and '50s. "Back then steel was steel, and a bike was a bike," he says. Amen to that, Brother Al.
5002 Fleet Ave., Cleveland, 216-441-3920