This summer, we drove through Detroit en route from Niagara Falls to visit SRAM’s headquarters. In addition to some amazing food at Slow’s Bar-B-Q, we paid a visit to Pony Ride, a small business incubator set up in a 1930’s industrial warehouse. After peeking in a few doors, one of the resident artists/builders/entrepreneurs (who, coincidentally, was from near our HQ in North Carolina) gave us a formal tour. What struck us most was the passion the folks there had for their community and the opportunity to reinvent the city. That sort of feeling is contagious, and as we pulled out of town, past derelict buildings and unkempt open spaces, we actually thought Detroit was kinda cool.
Now, we think it’s even cooler.
Shinola (Shy-no-la) is a new company set up to bring manufacturing and industry back to Detroit Rock City. They’ve set up line equipment and machinery to make high end watches, notebooks and other leather goods and, of particular interest to us, bicycles!
The frames and forks are actually handmade in Wisconsin by Waterford. Yes, that Waterford. After construction, the double butted chromoly frames are shipped down to Shinola for finishing and assembly. The design and build is specifically for urban commuting and made to hold up to repeated abuse in any conditions. Michigan does get pretty cold and nasty in the winter, after all.
Shinola hired Sky Yeager to manage the project, who’s worked for Swobo and Bianchi in the past. The bikes were designed in part by students from the College for Creative Studies. They’re available starting this week and will be sold through a limited number of independent bike shops, as in only 10 to 12 shops. Golden Saddle in Los Angeles and American Cyclery in San Francisco are among the first.
Two models will be available. The Runwell (orange, top) is a unisex ride with Shimano Alfine 11-speed internally geared shifting. Retail is $3,500.
The Bixby comes in a men’s and women’s version and will retail for $2,500.
On the other side of the business, they’ve partnered with Horween Leather to produce cases for phones, iPads, etc. Word is they’ll introduce a line of cycling bags and accessories later in 2013.