02

Blog

Detroit Bikes: made in the USA

It is common knowledge that most bicycles are made in Taiwan or China these days. However, the craft of making bikes has seen a rebirth in Detroit. In the last several years, a number of small frame builders have opened their doors in Detroit, including Motorless City Bicycle Co., Detroit Bicycle Company, Shinola, and 313 Bicycle Works. These companies offer something different than the mass produced Taiwanese and Chinese manufacturers – unique, handmade and custom bicycles. However, one Motown based company, Detroit Bikes has decided to compete with the Taiwanese and Chinese at their own game.

In 2012, Zak Pashak founded Detroit Bikes with the goal of mass producing quality commuter bicycles. He invested in a 50,000 square foot plant on the west side of Detroit and the company is now cranking out the perfect bike for those looking for a simple and relatively affordable bike with a little Motown style.

Last Thursday, I took a number of depositions in Dearborn, a suburb that borders Detroit’s western boundary. When the depositions were over, I decided to take a short drive to see for myself if they really were mass producing bicycles in The D.

When I arrived at the address listed for the company, I initially thought I might be in the wrong place. There was little evidence that Detroit Bikes was open for business. Fortunately, when I pulled around the building, I could see there were cars parked in a side lot, but no indication that they were making bikes. Still, I decided to peek inside, half expecting to see a tool and die shop. When I walked in the door, the first thing I saw was a big sign that read, “Detroit Bikes – Finally, A Bike That’s Mass Produced in the US.” This was it! I peered around the corner and a large man with a friendly smile waived me in. He told me his name was Henry and that it was his job to perform the final assembly of the bikes manufactured at the plant.

Detroit Bikes photo2

After a brief introduction, Henry offered to take me on a tour of the Detroit Bikes factory. He walked me through the entire process from the cutting of the steel tubes, to the welding of the frames; painting, wheel building, and final assembly process. Although bicycles were being mass produced, there were clearly skilled craftsmen at work. It was a truly amazing operation. The company currently makes two models – the A-Type, which is a standard commuter bike with a matte black finish and the B-type, which is painted white and has a step-through frame. Both models are made with chromoly steel tubing; come with a Shimano 3-speed internal rear hub, a rear coaster brake, a front hand brake, and a rear rack that sports the Detroit Bikes logo and carries up to 35 lbs.

Just as impressive as the bikes and assembly process, was the enthusiasm displayed by Henry and the other employees at Detroit Bikes. It was clear they understood they were building more than just bicycles – they were building beautiful machines that would make a difference in the lives of people, and maybe a community. They talked with me about their desire to help make Detroit more bicycle friendly and their active involvement in the cycling community including Slow Roll Detroit, a weekly ride that has routinely has thousands of participants!

John, Amanda, and Henry proud of their Detroit Bike.

 

In short, I had a great time at Detroit Bikes. I will definitely be visiting the factory again to share the experience with friends and family. In keeping with the “n + 1” rule of bicycle ownership, I am also strongly considering adding a Type-A to my stable!

Comments

bike law ambassador
Ann Groninger Sep 19, 2020

Guest post by Bike Law Ambassador Nicole Van Baelen The pandemic has affected our lives in many different ways. For me, working from home has provided both the opportunity, and the need, to spend more time than usual riding my bike. While riding the 3500 miles I have logged so far in the saddle this […]

Read More
Georgia Bikes Keynote Speaker
Bruce Hagen Sep 17, 2020

Elliott Caldwell, the Executive Director of the statewide advocacy group Georgia Bikes! is filled with both excitement and enthusiasm at the thought of having the 11th Annual Georgia Bikes Summit to be a completely virtual event for 2020.   While he’ll miss the opportunity for camaraderie that is a staple of prior Summits, as well […]

Read More
Bike Coalition Randy 1
Joe Piscitello Sep 16, 2020

Bike Law PA‘s Joe Piscitello sits down with Randy LaBasso to learn more about his work promoting better and safer biking for all. JOE:  Randy, can you tell us about your role at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia? RANDY:   Sure. I am the Policy Director for the Coalition which is an advocacy group that […]

Read More
Diversity in Cycling Heidi
Danny Feldman Sep 15, 2020

Diversity in cycling is a long overdue and very welcomed trend.  The face of cycling is changing, for the better. In Birmingham, Alabama, that face is Heidi Saul.  Active in multiple groups diversifying recreational cycling, Heidi is known for her cycling outfits, her passion for the bike, and her belief that cycling makes Birmingham (and […]

Read More
Virtual Bike Race
Charlie Thomas Sep 02, 2020

This article follows Part 1 about virtual bike racing in a time of COVID.   How the Tour of the Gila went virtual. For the past 33 years, the small southwestern New Mexico town of Silver City transforms into a bicycling bonanza during the final weekend of April. That’s when bicyclists from across the U.S. and internationally […]

Read More
TriDot Podcast Rachael of Bike Law
Rachael Maney Aug 31, 2020

I am honored to have been interviewed on the TriDot Podcast, discussing bicycle safety and the work of the Bike Law Network, our Foundation, and our Ambassador community. Whether you commute by bike, are a weekend warrior, slow roll with family and friends on your favorite trails, love or hate the pavement, or live for […]

Read More
Load More