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Detroit Bikes builds domestic capacity — and Schwinn's 125th anniversary bikes

Published May 27, 2020

DETROIT (BRAIN) — While Detroit Bikes announced last week that they will build 500 Schwinn Collegiate 125th Anniversary bikes for Walmart in partnership with Pacific Cycle, owner Zak Pashak has built production capacity and momentum for almost a decade.

Pashak didn't get into cycling in the usual manner. "I wasn't from bike retail or tech love or deep knowledge of bikes, I got into it from my business and public policy background," Pashak explained.

Pashak attended the University of Alberta, previously owned music venues and started the Sled Island Music and Arts festival in Calgary. "I came into the industry from the perspective of municipal change, how cycling can make cities better."

Detroit Bikes launched in early 2011 with assistance from industry mentors. "Amy Walker from Momentum magazine was very helpful," remembered Pashak. "She kept me focused on the simplicity of the bike, the timeless technology, that I didn't need to add much to the basic wheels and frame."

While Pashak got off to a good start, with a couple local shops selling 100-plus bikes a year in the $500-600 range, his saving grace was a contract with New Belgium to build over 5,000 bikes. "That got us into a much better production mindset and forced us to develop efficiencies in the factory," said Pashak.

Another contract to assemble and package Nishiki bikes for Dick's Sporting Goods is keeping Detroit's staff of 30 hopping. "The frames come in painted from China, we procure components and build the wheels. It's a significant move by Dick's to help bring the industry back to the US," Pashak said. He chose not to disclose the quantities involved.

Pashak had been talking to Pacific Cycle about other opportunities when the Schwinn anniversary bike entered the discussion. "It's a huge honor and a feather in our cap to build these bikes," Pashak said. "We think big Schwinn fans will get a kick out of the details."

"Picking Detroit Bikes as our partner for the 125th anniversary of the Schwinn Collegiate was an easy decision," said Josh Vick, Schwinn's product director. "Our team values the effort they're putting into bringing affordable large-scale manufacturing back to the U.S. and bringing jobs back to Detroit."

Detroit Bikes will completely manufacture the Schwinns from cutting and welding tubes, painting, assembling, packing and shipping them. The bikes will be painted the venerable Campus Green, with step-through 17 and 19-inch sizes, top tube models in 18 and 20-inch.

The additional 25% tariff on bicycles and many other Chinese-made goods enacted in late 2019 gave Detroit Bikes a definite edge, and they've taken full advantage of it.

Their production is up 650% in the first two months of 2020 and is projected to be 20,000 bikes for the year. "Our goal is to build 100,000 bikes a year," concluded Pashak. "That will be a significant step toward re-establishing bike production in the US."

The new Schwinn Collegiate, built in Detroit.

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