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Detroit Bikes ramps up production in west side factory

Detroit Bikes is now offering its first bicycles for sale online this month, but the company's founder would prefer his customers bought them somewhere else.

The firm is allowing its first customers to buy the bike (at $550 a pop) as part of a pre-sale. Once production is ramped up the company is going to push to have its sales done through local bike shops.

"The preference for us is for customers to be able to ride them that day," says Zak Pashak, president of Detroit Bikes. "We want them to be assembled when they buy them."

Pashak is a Calgary native who moved to Detroit from Vancouver a few years ago, buying a home in Boston-Edison and looking to launch Detroit Bikes. The company aims to create a classic American bicycle manufactured in Detroit. It has one model right now, the "A-Type", that takes pride in its streamlined design.

The bicycle has tires that are thinner and smoother than a mountain bike and thicker than a road bike. It has only three speeds and larger wheels. The frame is made of chromoly steel. The underlying theme is to create a bicycle made for riding in urban America.

"This bike will make city cycling as easy as possible," Pashak says. He adds that bikes "have sort of morphed into these gnarly beasts. We wanted to bring it back to that simple purpose. It doesn't have all those sorts of bells and whistles that doesn't help."

Detroit Bikes has already 60 prototypes that it is letting a select group of locals test out. They were built at the company's 50,000-square-foot facility on Elmira Street near Schaefer Highway on the city's far west side. Pashak and his team of 15 people are building out the factory for full production this summer. The company has hired eight people over the last year and Pashak expect to add even more soon.

"We need to get to the point where we can build 100 a day," Pashak says. "It takes quite a lot to get a factory at that level of production."

Unlike other startups in Detroit, Pashak is not making the strength of the Detroit brand a major part of his business plan. He moved here with the idea that entry costs were low enough in a place with a skilled manufacturing workforce that will help produce a product that will go up in demand.

"I believe in the city," Pashak says. "The city can produce a superior product. It's not just branding. It's the truth."

Source: Zak Pashak, president of Detroit Bikes
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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