Detroit Bikes founder Zak Pashak started manufacturing bicycles in 2011 to revive the bike industry in the United States using American materials.
He was always interested in alternative transportation, but in Calgary when Pashak looked into buying a bike, he was disappointed by the cheap array of options. The bikes he saw were either too flashy and poorly-made or chic racing models for serious cyclists. After moving to Detroit, he came up with the idea to manufacture his own in the city where the whole industry started.
Known as “Motor City,” Detroit is historically known as the birthplace of the automotive industry, having introduced assembly lines and mass production. Manufacturers like Henry Ford and the Dodge brothers were connected to Detroit’s cycling scene while starting their own automotive manufacturing companies.
Inspired by Detroit’s rich history of manufacturing using raw materials and its roots in bicycle manufacturing, Pashak decided to start his own business in the city. Though he didn’t know much about bikes, within two years, he assembled a group of people who knew about machines and started building no-nonsense, high-quality frames for the purpose of urban cycling and ethical consumerism in a city that represents resilience.
Pashak finds the history of Detroit just as representative of what he wants his bikes to represent. The city was once the manufacturing capital but is now depressed, having lost almost 25% of its residents in the last several years.
However, it has proved resilient and symbolizes the American economy, a unique story supplementing Pashak’s desire to revitalize American bicycle manufacturing in response to the resurging cycling culture.
Our Favorite Detroit Bikes Made in the USA
A-Type: One of the best bikes for city rides and commuting, the U.S. Chromoly A-Type is classy and lightweight. It has an old-school look with careful attention to detail in every component to make this bike suitable for both style and comfort. It comes with either a 3-shift or 8-shift gear setup and is made of premium American Chromoly steel, making the bike both sturdy and lightweight.
B-Type: A similar look and feel to the A-Type, the U.S. Chromoly B-Type is the A-Type’s step-through companion. Making it much easier to get on and off the bike, ideal for commuters, older cyclists, or those that need to stop and start regularly on their bike. Also made from American Chromoly, this is a super lightweight bike, designed to last a lifetime.
Cortello: The U.S. Chromoly Cortello has been designed out of frustrating cycling experiences to perform just as well on a trail as in the city. Featuring the classic lightweight and durable US Chromoly frame, it also has a 1×10 drive train, providing the full range of typical 21 gear speed, but without the frustrating cross gearing. It also has hydraulic disk brakes for maximum stopping power in all conditions. If you’re looking for a trail bike that can handle a little bit of rough road if needed, the Cortello is the bike for you.
All American-made Detroit Bikes are able to have some customizations too, including colors and components, and come with a lifetime frame warranty.
Detroit Bikes is incredibly open and transparent about the manufacturing process and where its materials are sourced from. They also take huge pride in the fact that the majority of their products are USA-made and that everything is manufactured in their Detroit factory, with factory tours being encouraged.
As the only bicycle manufacturer in the city, Detroit Bikes has grown to be the largest bicycle frame producer in the United States. Operating out of their 50,000 square-foot factory, they’re capable of producing up to 150 bikes a day and assembling up to 400 bikes a day. All of their US Chromoly-made bikes are cut, coped, bent, welded, painted, assembled, and packaged in-house.
In a time when 99.5% of bikes sold in the United States are sourced already assembled and packaged from Asia, Detroit Bikes builds most of its frames from American Chromoly steel, a material so strong, it’s often used to make race car roll cages. It also results in a much thinner frame that is strong, lightweight, and responsive, meaning it absorbs more of the little bumps on roads than bikes made from aluminum or high tensile steel.
However, despite their best efforts to source a 100% USA-made bike with all American components, they’ve admitted this is impossible and some elements are sourced from overseas, such as the seat, brakes, and hubs. Though this also means they are able to offer both types of production, domestically. Customers can either choose an entry-level bike with frames made in China with assembly, wheel building, and packaging done in-house or customers can buy the American Chromoly-made bikes. This allows them to have more American content than the majority of other bikes sold in the US, whilst offering prices equally as competitive as ones made 100% overseas.
Though some elements of their bikes are not made in the USA, Detroit Bikes are clearly dedicated to economical manufacturing and supporting their community by using American materials as much as possible. Their pride in their city and standing out from the crowd by creating USA-made bikes is evident. If you’re in the market for a sturdy, lightweight, city bike designed to last a lifetime, then be sure to check out Detroit Bikes.