Detroit Bike City


My hometown gets a bum rap sometimes in the green community. It's that whole car thing -- I know. We have crappy public transit. True enough. But what few people outside of Detroit know is that a passion for DIY, for hacking the everyday, for tinkering, is alive and well in many of our hearts here in the D. Here's a quick look at a few of the innovative bike hacks seen around the city, courtesy of one of my favorite Detroit bloggers.Charlie from Bikes, Books, and a Little Music is an avid bike enthusiast and lover of all things Detroit. In his various rides throughout the city, he's come across some pretty fantastic, creative bike mods. He's shared them on his blog, and I had to share at least a few with you here at Treehugger, as well.

You'll see plenty of ingenuity here. You'll also see, like it or not, homage paid to our automobile roots.

John's "Motorcycle" Bike

The bike at the top of the post is the work of John, a 71 year old Eastside Detroit resident. I love the way he hacked this low-rider to look (to me, at least) like a motorcycle. According to Charlie, John told him: "All the stuff you see here, all this stuff, I put on," he said, pointing out the cow horns, tiger tail, and Cadillac badge on the back and other details.

Patriotic Bike

Photo Credit: Charlie Z., Bikes, Books, & a Little Music.

This bike is more luxurious than many cars I've seen on the road. Everything from the soft upholstered banana seat to the chrome wheel attached to the back just screams pride in ownership.

Car Bike

Photo Credit: Charlie Z., Bikes, Books & a Little Music.

Of all of the bikes he's seen around town, Charlie says this one is his favorite. After a little thought, I'd have to agree. It's not the prettiest, but it shows a ton of innovation and practicality. This bike was modded with use in mind. The windshield keeps rain, bugs, and road debris off the rider. The rear basket adds hauling capacity. The bucket seat provides comfort for those long rides. A lot of work went into it, and, according to its owner, it is still a work in progress.

This is part of who we are as Detroiters. We tweak, we do what we can to make it better. We are not satisfied with leaving things as-is. There's a reason there's a Detroit Maker-Faire, a reason more and more maker spaces are being opened up in the area. There's a creative, innovative vibe here that gets overlooked sometimes by the rest of the country. This is one small example of what you can find here. These aren't expensive European bikes, full of all of the latest lightweight, folding technology bought by some hipster with their American Express Card (no offense to hipsters. Some of my best friends and editors are hipsters...). These are works of art and function, created by the people who use them. There's beauty in that. And there's beauty like that all over this city. You just have to know what to look for to appreciate it.

To see more of Detroit's Coolest Bikes (including a slightly X-rated one I couldn't include here) check out Charlie's posts:

  • Detroit Bikes are the Coolest, Part 1

  • Detroit Bikes are the Coolest, Part 2

More About Bikes:
Scraper Bikes Save Kids' Lives
Treehugger Writers Weigh In: Best Bikes for City Riding