It's a new year and time once again to give a new look to this blog. New graphics and colors. Same bike writer!

This blog is created not only to track my own progress on my biking journey but it is intended to also assist others who have either osteo or rheumatoid arthritis or both like I do. I hope as you read about the progress I have made that it gives you inspiration and hope that you can overcome the dibilitating effects of these conditions.

If your doctor agrees that you should be capable of expanding your limits read on and don't be afraid, just listen to your body and give it challenges. Biking is a great non-impact form of exercise and greatly enhances flexibility and range of motion.

It's not a substitute for Doctor visits, taking your meds or otherwise getting off your health plan but it auguments what your Doctor does for you and can give you a better quality of life. Go for it!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Detroit - Bicycle Building Mecca?

All of a sudden my old hometown is getting a lot of press over bicycle building.  Not sure if this city that is trying to rise from the ashes is suddenly becoming synonymous with being hip or what but bicycle builders and manufactures are springing up like mushrooms after rain. I have to admit it does make me proud of our once great city to see this positive attention.  Or maybe I'm feeling a bit of hometown nostalgia after attending a winning Detroit Tigers game last night at their beautiful stadium at Comerica Park.

From last nights Tiger game, Andrew and me

Detroit has had it's share and then some of negative press, horrible image and infamous notoriety.  All of that was well deserved because the city has suffered a horrible slide for the last few decades. Corruption, crime, drugs, gangs, elected officials serving prison time for crimes against the city and its people have all been the instigators of the decline and the flight of the population.  Once the home of more than 1.8 million people its population has slipped to just over 750,000 people.  That's a loss of over a million persons. The last decade has been the most cruel yet for the city, having lost 25% of it's population in just those 10 years.   The city was taken over a few months ago by an Emergency Financial Manager who is now presiding over bankruptcy.  And that's the story of the decline, actually it's my story of the decline.  Volumes have been written about it but if you distill them down, this is what you get.  And this is the story of the beginnings of the rise...

The montage above of various shots from
around Detroit is from Wikipedia.  It includes our riverfront skyline,
the "Spirit of Detroit" sculpture, the Ambassador Bridge to Canada,
the Fox Theater and Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.

The manufacturers;

Detroit Bike, a link to their site is here, appears to specialize in an all purpose bicycle, with a single size three speed bicycle and following in the footsteps of Henry Ford the auto mogul, it offers only one color bike.  Of course Fords come in a rainbow of colors nowadays but when founded, the founder claimed you could get it in any color you wanted so long as it was black.  For now Detroit Bike offers one color.  The bikes are beautiful to look at in their simplicity and smooth lines, made from chromoly steel they are manufactured, assembled and packaged right in the city.  An all purpose bicycle goes against the grain of the current model of bikes for specific purpose.  You can buy BMX bikes, dirt bikes, racing bikes, time trail bikes, mountain bikes, cruiser bikes, beach cruiser bikes, fat tire bikes for snow and mud, road bikes, cross bikes and many more that I have failed to mention.  One bike for all purposes?  Seems to be unorthodox by today's standards, but it is the kind of bike we all grew up on.

Autobike, a link to their site is here, assembles their bikes in Detroit and only sells online through their website, however you can test ride the bike by filling out an online form and you'll be notified of when and where you can test one out..  They have a unique bicycle that changes gears automatically according to your cadence.  As far as I know that's unheard of in bicycling. It sounds intriguing and I may just have to schedule a test ride.  There is an electronic transmission for gear shifting but no batteries, it's powered by a dynamo on the front wheel. Here again with this bicycle you have a manufacturer that caters to the non-enthusiast, the  people who want to ride for fun or use their bicycle for transportation. They have a great video at their site and you won't see a helmet or a single piece of Lycra anywhere while there.  Adults getting back into bicycling or who have never bicycled before and are intimated by the gears and knowledge that must be applied to ride a geared bike, might find this to be to their liking for simplicity's sake and simple ease of hopping on and going.  The bikes are lightweight aluminum and come in a variety of color combos.

Shinola, a link to their site is here, has garnered the lions share of press.  A Detroit company with nation wide distribution their name comes from another Detroit product from yesteryear, shoe polish.  That's right, it's the same name that made for a famous phrase as in "you don't know (blank) from Shinola!"  Today the company enjoys an upscale image creating not only bicycles but specializing in other precision items.  They make watches, bicycles, leather goods and journals.  Each appealing to the luxury market.  The bikes aren't cheap, but gosh they are beautiful!  The bicycles are handcrafted of chromoloy steel in Wisconsin and assembled, packaged and sold in Detroit.  The watches are manufactured in Detroit, the journals in Ann Arbor and the leather goods in Wisconsin.  The company is pursuing an aggressive multi city sales plan with outlets opening in major cities across the US.  The headbadges on the bikes are particularly outstanding in looks and design.  They have three models of bicycles one is a women's specific design, all are exceedingly lovely to look at.

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