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Riding A Shinola Bike

Shinola is a good old Detroit brand who are making a killing with their cool leather goods. They make watches, bags, sports equipment—and they even make bikes. They do! They’re pretty legit.

To mark the one year anniversary of the brand’s Silver Lake outpost, Shinola hosted a bike ride for locals to take the town en masse. The ride took place this past Sunday in conjunction with Detroit’s Slow Roll crew and was a lot of fun. Because my bike is a bit borked up, I was able to test out a Shinola bike.

The bikes are all made in America, specifically in Detroit and Wisconsin, and have a bit of a customized feel to them. Each of them have disc brakes, sleek Shinola leather seats and handles, and a little—but very loud—bell for making your presence known. Although the bikes seem large, they are impressively lightweight. My bike is a Fuji Feather and is “light” but isn’t as light as this bike. The added details of the Shinola “S” where the frame meets the cassette is nice, too. One thing, though: there are a lot of moving parts, like the housing over the chain. Good for keeping your chain safe but also the making of a noisy ride.

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There are three different bikes: there’s the initial, single speed Detroit Arrow, there’s the three speed Bixby, and the eleven speed Runwell, which is what I rode. They all look the same but there are these defining little differences like the speeds that set them apart. Also, there is more or less a thousand dollar difference between each grade. You could go slim with the $1K Arrow or go big with the $3K Runwell. Do what you gotta do, dude.

The Runwell is a super fancy bike, maybe even too fancy for me. In our Slow Roll around Silver Lake and Echo Park, it was a smooth glide on all sorts of different street styles. The eleven gears also made for a very easy ride regardless of terrain and the click-up, click-down gear shifting is hyper-intuitive once you get the hang of it. (And, believe me, you will fuck it up on a big hill and push to eleven and not understand what is going on. Then you will stop and figure your shit out and never do that again.) An added bonus is that you can switch gears whenever you want, regardless of if you are stopped or started. You know how many bikes I’ve been on where that is not true, where the gears jump clumsily and eventually break because they are such an antiquated system? Too many.

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The Shinola bikes make for a good ride. They’re also very much representative of a brand that is all about that American dream, that you can do anything and make anything because you are in the land of the free, home of the brave, etc. It suits them though, especially with their being from a place like Detroit. (Don’t overlook that city! And don’t overlook the brand. They even make fucking soda!!) The bikes are literally what you make of them: from what I heard, they are all made to order. You are getting a bike made in your image, with as many fancy or non-fancy add-ons as you want. Want a basket? You can get one! What about a different paint job? I’m sure they can do that. Want a bike made in honor of a famous boxer? Yes, that is an option too.

If you want to get yourself a fancy fashion bike or want to gift one to someone looking for a new ride, I very much would recommend a Shinola bike. I’d recommend it more than my own bike! I’ve ridden bikes that cost thousands before and they always seem too jazzy and too serious. The Shinola bikes are made with the casual rider in mind, someone who might want to get serious and ride all the time or someone who might want to ride every once in a while: this is the bike of the American people.

For more on Shinola bikes, check out their website. If you’re also by a Shinola store, they’ll probably let you test out the bike too. It’s worth it!

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