Our Bicycles Are In Progress

BY Taylor Rebhan

At the height of the bicycle boom in the late 19th century, when Ignaz Schwinn began production at his factory on the corner of Lake and Peoria streets in Chicago, there were over 300 bicycle factories and assembly shops in the USA. Not only did domestic manufacturers produce their own frames and forks, they also made all the components needed to assemble a complete bicycle. 

View our bicycles here, or click “Read more” for greater detail about our bicycle production.

Saddles, tires, handlebars, cranks, rims, spokes, grips, pedals, kickstands, baskets—the list goes on, all made here in the USA.

Fast forward to 2012 and there are no factories dedicated to making complete bicycles in the USA. What remains are artisanal frame-builders who craft each frame, one at a time, usually custom-built for each customer. The well-known USA-based bicycle companies design their frames and components here, but virtually all their production has moved to Asia. Some of the eponymous, iconic names of the past live on, such as Schwinn, Raleigh and Bianchi—all over 120 years old, but their frames are made in China and Taiwan.

Component production has also moved off-shore, with a handful of small machine shops still here in the USA making very fine high-end single-speed hubs, cranks and brakes, but there are no multiple-gear hubs, derailleurs or shifters made in the USA.

Such was the landscape when, in 2011, Shinola made the decision to produce our bikes in the USA. Ignoring the conventional wisdom that says it can’t be done, we’ve committed our people and our resources to overcoming the challenges of making our frames in the USA, with wheel-building and complete bicycle assembly in Detroit. Where it makes sense to buy components in the USA, we will do it. The reality of component manufacturing dictates that we buy some parts from Asia, simply because they are not available from any other source. But the heart and soul of a bike is the frame; the sweetness of the ride is dictated by the frame, and we like to think Ignaz would be proud—not only of our bikes and how they ride, but of where we are making them.


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