Swarfcast Ep. 46 – Zak Pashak on Building Bikes in Detroit

By Lloyd and Noah Graff

Our guest on today’s podcast is Zak Pashak, founder of Detroit Bikes, the largest bike frame manufacturer in the United States. All bikes that the company sells are assembled in Detroit, and its high-end models have frames constructed of high quality American Chromoly steel. Zak lamented to us that he couldn’t find many companies in the U.S. to supply parts for wheels and other bike components. We told him we would take on the mission personally to find him some.

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Zak hales from Calgary, Canada, where he had success in the bar business and organizing one of Canada’s largest music festivals. He eventually developed an interest in politics and urban planning, which would inspire his next venture. In 2011, he sold all of his assets in Canada and moved to Detroit where he started Detroit Bikes in the building of an old sign company.

Zak said he chose Detroit because he saw the city as a place with rich history. He remarked that it was where cars were first mass produced, where great genres of music were invented, and a place with talent in the manufacturing field. He also said he wanted to go to a challenging place where he could be part of positive change.

Zak Pashak of Detroit Bikes

We could feel a real sense of purpose when Zak talked about his company. He takes pride in assembling bicycles in the U.S., a country where most of them are imported. He appreciates boosting the economy of a revitalizing city. But Zak said his primary mission is changing urban landscapes. He really wants to contribute to changing the paradigm of how people get around in cities, making them less congested and more environmentally friendly. He said this ultimately will be decided by governments who invest in new types of transportation infrastructure—including bike lanes.

Question: Does it make you want to buy a product more if it is made in the U.S.?

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10 thoughts on “Swarfcast Ep. 46 – Zak Pashak on Building Bikes in Detroit

  1. AvatarJoe Leslein

    YES! I’m afflicted with “economic patriotism” of some sort. From my 2 wheeler dolly that I gladly paid about $20 extra over a Chinese made, to the 2 new Fords plus a newer Harley in my driveway. Sometimes it feels like a disease? Why do I feel this way? I’ve previously resented the perception of lazy auto union workers while I bust ass in my shop… Not sure why, but a capital letter YES…

     
  2. AvatarDaniel

    Yes.

    It is easy to say “Buy American”, but more difficult to find Made in USA items and to pull more money out to pay for Made in USA. I am willing to may more to support American workers and keep the money in our country.

    I bought a can opener at Target about 10 years ago. 11 different options were available, I bought one that looked nice and sturdy, but it worked poorly. I returned it and bought a Swingline, which was the only one at Target that was Made in the USA. It is the same model my parents had, it was the lowest price, and it works great. Go USA!

     
  3. Lloyd GraffLloyd Graff

    Daniel,
    Jack Steuby in St Louis is making a can opener these days. Check it out on line. Long time advertiser on TMW.

     
  4. AvatarBen Guthrie

    I’ve been buying from Rivendell Bicycle Works for about 12 years (rivbike.com). 5 bikes, lots of parts and cool gear. They sell non-Chinese, and MUSA where possible. They “cause things to be made” using several suppliers in USA, including their own cranks, bags, clothing, etc. Zak is likely familiar with them. I sent their owner a link from Lloyd’s blog about 5yrs ago, so the circle is closing!
    Also check out Paul Components.

     

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