This week I visited Detroit for Further with Ford, where I had the pleasure of listening to Ford’s top brass tell us about their vision of a future where far fewer people choose to own cars. It was great to see the automaker still working toward becoming a mobility provider, and not merely an auto manufacturer. While in town, I had to visit the Shinola store and take one of their gorgeous machines for a spin.
I took the ladies Bixby for a spin through Midtown Detroit. After years of people telling me steel absorbs bumps better than aluminum, you’d think I’d have listened. But it took actually riding the Cadillac of bicycles to truly understand. The bike has no suspension components, and the tires aren’t that much fatter than the tires on my aluminum hybrid. Yet it felt smooth as silk. I took it over bumps I’d generally avoid on a city bike, even down a rather chewed up alley. And it rode as smoothly as you’d expect a luxury vehicle to perform.
Of course the bikes they build are as delightful to look at as they are to ride. Just like their gorgeous watches and luggage and accessories. I finally saw the backpack I’ve been looking for- something made for adults with good jobs and things they want to hang onto. The shopping experience in the Shinola store was as luxurious as shopping at Bergdorf-Goodman, complete with friendly staff offering me free mineral water.
Getting back onto the klunker I’d rented from Wheelhouse was a bit sad, but at least I don’t have to worry about where I park it.
It’s great to see a company focused on creating good jobs where they’re most needed. Unfortunately, Shinola has been a victim of the FTC’s draconian requirements for the “made in USA” designation. Many of the parts & materials that go into the products they build here can’t be found in this country. After decades of manufacturing being exported, it’s a shame to punish one of the companies bringing it back. Plenty of apparel made from imported fabric is labeled “made in USA”. Like the steel industry, the textile industry has also been decimated. And we never could weave silk, for example, as well as Chinese mills anyway. So why set watchmakers, bicycle builders, and other craftspeople to a higher standard than apparel companies?