Riding Bikes: Shinola Bixby & Runwell


Shinola is a new, Detroit-based company taking over the long history of the shoe-polish brand, in name at least, and entering the bicycle manufacturing world. Debuting last year, Shinola has three models in their stable at the moment. Two versions of the Bixby (the step-thru is seen above left), and their flagship, the Runwell (above right). A contact of mine on flickr recently shared a blog post about the 1940s Runwell Despatch Carrier bikes from England – inspiration for the updated Shinola? I’m sure.

Shinola also manufactures watches, leather goods and journals in the USA made from local, raw product – think ‘American Steel’ for instance. It’s an interesting story, one with obvious allusions – reinvigorating the once mighty ‘Motor City’ and reframing as a Bicycle City. Shinola aren’t the only ones building bikes from the bottom up in Detroit these days. Detroit Bicycle Company with their fixed-gear track bikes for certain city riders, and Detroit Bikes with their one-for-all model of smart city bike. And there are numerous handbuilders making custom bikes for discerning cyclists, high-end wheel companies, and more. It’s great to see ‘mass-produced’ bicycles being made in the USA and hopefully this trend will continue. With a strong tradition of handbuilders, especially in the Pacific Northwest, the increase in factory-produced, steel city bicycles to this country is an exciting one. More bikes made on the continent, more trained craftspeople equals a strong contribution to North American bike culture.

I’ve moseyed about on the Runwell a bit and it’s an easy riding machine with good handling, solid drive-train, comfortable riding position and bad-ass Velo Orange porteur rack to carry your stuff (essential!). A proper review will be featured in Momentum Mag down the road, but here’s a shot I took for our recent 2013 Gear Guide. Shot in Strathcona, a few blocks from Chinatown on a sunny spring afternoon.

East Vancouver, 2013.

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