DETROIT—Like many new businesses, Detroit Bikes' first year ended up being a little bumpy. Last November, the company temporarily suspended production due to a surplus; the following month it announced the retail price for its inaugural A-Type model would be rising in 2014 from $550 to $699.
With the coming of the new year, though, it looks like Detroit Bikes could be gaining some new momentum.
Last week, the company announced a partnership with one of the the country's largest distributors, Bicycle Technologies International, which handles more than 20,000 different bicycle parts and represents more than 300 brands.
Though BTI generally deals with pieces of bikes, their arrangement with the Detroit-based manufacturer involves entire bicycles. Detroit Bikes owner Zak Pashak told Mode Shift he's not certain how many sales the partnership will result in, but he's optimistic.
"I don't know how many independent bike shops buy complete bikes [from BTI], but it certainly gives us added credibility and gets our name out there," he said. "BTI has over 4,000 different bike shops they work with, so even if we get one percent of that, it adds to the shelves we get and our customer base."
As for production, Pashak expects demand to rise, though he's unclear how much. Exactly how many new two-wheelers he'll let roll out of his factory this year depends on just how badly customers want to purchase bicycles with "Detroit Bikes" logos.
"We need to be ready for that number to be 10,000 bikes, if that happens," he said. "We also need to be ready for that number to be 1,000. It kind of depends on how the year goes, and what the economics look like for individual bike shop owners and how the brand catches on."
According to Pashak though, sales of his bicycles are solid with least one local distributor. During the last few months, his company has been teaming up with the Wheelhouse Detroit bike shop to sell Detroit Bikes A-Type bicycles out of a shipping container located in Shed 4 of Detroit's Eastern Market.
"It seems to be doing really well," he said. "We keep supplying the shed with more bikes."
The Eastern Market shop will continue offering the bicycles until the middle of March, when the Wheelhouse reopens its store on Detroit's RiverWalk, according to MLive.
Pashak hopes that spring will be a fruitful time for Detroit Bikes as well--and that hibernating bicycle enthusiasts will be kind to his company's bottom line after emerging from a long winter's lull.
In the meantime, Detroit Bikes is busy developing its B-Type bicycle. The new model will be a loop-frame bicycle with lowered top bar; sometimes it's referred to as a "women's bike" as the design makes it less of a fuss for a person to mount the bike in a skirt or dress. Detroit Bikes wants to have these Type-B bicycles in production by the end of this summer.
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