Shinola, is a relatively new company based in Detroit. They started out in 2011 making handcrafted watches-- with the belief that "there is skill at scale, presentation of craft and beauty of industry." This was successful. Suddenly people were back to work. They built more than watches. They built jobs. This was an industry ready to get back to business. That same concept was applied to several products. Now Shinola is the maker of handcrafted watches, leather goods, journals and...you guessed it, bicycles.
I met up with Benny Cruickshank at the Shinola booth out at Interbike. Benny seemed born to represent Shinola. Growing up in Detroit, he knows what the city once was and what he believes it can be again. As I listened to the story of Shinola, I admired everything at the booth. From a beautiful old jeep (paying homage to their roots of craftsmanship), to the watches and leather goods. I found myself tracing the lines of the bikes and the stitching on the supple journals. Everything has a vintage history about it that reminds you of childhood pictures of your parents.
The frames and forks are individually handcrafted by experts in the legendary Waterford Precision Cycles Factory in Wisconsin. Once the frames and forks are finished, they're shipped to the Detroit workshop for assembly.
As it says in their booklet,
"Each Shinola bicycle undergoes a precise, custom-level assembly by experts in our Detroit workshop within the College for Creative Studies. Because we believe there's only one way to properly build a bicycle, and that's one at a time, by hand, with rigorous attention to detail and using only the highest quality components available."
I could tell. They were gorgeous. Check out the video to see more and go to their website to peruse the prettiness. You might be able to cross some people off your Christmas list, while helping a city thrive--government and failed auto-industries be damned. Shinola bicycles are also available at Vecchio's in Boulder. Mmmmm. Leather stitching.
"We know there’s not just history in Detroit, there is a future."