Shinola city commuter bicycle made by waterford in wisconsin and assembled in detroit michigan

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.


  1. Made in USA- this is awesome. But how many people are going to fork over $2500-3500 for this type of bike? This is the dilemma that the bike industry is in. Products made in Asia are high quality, but there is a large environmental and human rights price being paid which no one wants to talk about.

  2. What happened to America? You used to be able buy a US made Cannondale, Trek, Lemond, Gary Fisher, etc. for $1,200 with 105 or LX componentry 5 years ago. Now you need to pay $2,500 for a Nexus / Altus bike if you want it made here. Also, how are they bringing manufacturing back to Detroit by having Waterford build a bike in Wisconsin? If they wanted to do some good they would try to compete with Workman Cycles on price. … We don’t need another Bunditz we need another Workman Cycles. Waterford has plenty of work, all the artisan makers are busy. The people of Detroit are the ones that need jobs. There have to be a couple un-employed people in Detroit who know how to tig-weld….


  3. FredZor: you did read that the company makes other things in addition to bikes, right? It was in the article.

    As for manufacturing bicycles in the US. Simple economics is putting the price on bikes made here in the US. In other words, the price is being set by what people are willing to pay, and for the most part people buying US made bikes are buying bikes from smaller manufacturers, with significant number of those bikes being custom. It’s not just the manufacturer setting the price. It’s the manufacturer and the customer in conjunction determining the price.

  4. Psi… I was just talking about the bike part of their business (this is, not )

    Cannondale’s new owners and Trek can have a higher margin by making things overseas, and they sure as heck aren’t passing the savings along to the consumer, end of story.

    Simple economics? Who is willing to pay $2,500 for a (stock geometry) town bike?

    I love custom bike builders, especially Waterford. But again, they have plenty of work, which is great but it means that maybe Shinola should have hired someone local to make their bikes.

    If Shinola wanted my money they would need to hire someone from Detroit to tig-weld some straight gauge tubing to make a “town” bike that cost under 500 bucks. If I could afford a $2,500 bike I sure as heck wouldn’t feel comfortable locking it up outside in the city….

  5. the look of these bikes are great, but the price is going to put off most of the riders and is a deal-breaker. not many people want to lock up a $3,500 city bike. the high price tag may put off riders who are just getting into the sport and need a bike for transportation. Public bikes and Electra make their bikes so much more accessible and helping get more people on more bikes. i would buy a bike like this for $1,500, but at these prices, i’m going to have to pass, which is really sad because the bikes are beautiful…props to them for doing USA mfg, but I think using Waterford is rather over the top and not needed for a bike of this caliber. i wish them success and hope they can find a way to produce bikes at a lower cost..

  6. Let’s think of it this way, if someone is looking to replace their car or are needed a bike for everyday or nearly everyday transportation, the $2,500 doesn’t compare to how much it takes to maintain and fuel a vehicle. I know there are a lot of people who don’t have this mindset yet, but that’s the direction the bike industry is looking to go, at least for the high end commuter market.

    I can say that I noticed that customers in my old shop that moved to the US from Europe were way more willing to drop serious money on a high end commuter bike, but that’s because they have built an entire industry around just commuting. If we started following that model, a $2500 USA handmade/built bike wouldn’t be something to scoff at.

  7. This isn’t specifically HIGH END, it’s just not a pile of (deleted).

    $2500 for a reliable bike that will work year in and year out is great.

  8. Well, Fredzor, the customers have been paying the prices for bikes made overseas. As you say, end of story. See that the economics, again, coming into play. No one is holding a gun to your head forcing you to spend $XXXX.XX.

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