Outspokin’ on Wheelhouse: ‘Riding a Renaissance’

Wheelhouse Detroit bike shop on the Detroit RiverWalk.

Wheelhouse Detroit bike shop on the Detroit RiverWalk.

We are so honored and thrilled that the industry magazine “Outspokin’” recently wrote a wonderful article on Wheelhouse, entitled “Riding a Renaissance.”

Writer Peter Koch eloquently captures what Wheelhouse is about: bikes for everyone, and everyone on bikes in Detroit. We thought we would share a few excerpts from the article here.

On beating the odds:

“We all know the relatively long odds of succeeding in this industry—how 70 percent of new retail shops close within three years and roughly 1,000 shut their doors every single year. But when Wheelhouse Detroit first opened its doors back in June of 2008, the odds seemed stacked even higher. After all, here was a seasonal business setting up shop in an unheated, uninsulated 500-square-foot shed in an Upper Midwest city that also happened to be the poorest in America. To make matters worse, the Detroit economy was in free fall, weighed down by sweeping layoffs in the local auto industry, doubledigit unemployment and one of the nation’s highest home foreclosure rates. But none of that stopped Kelli Kavanaugh and then-business partner Karen Gage (who sold her half of the business to Kavanaugh last winter)—both industry outsiders working in community development—from seeing opportunity. As passionate lifelong cyclists who were intimately familiar with community needs, they were confident of one thing: cycling was on the rise in Detroit, and downtown was in desperate need of a shop.”

On the mission:

But this wouldn’t be a high-end boutique peddling carbon frames and Tour de France dreams. From the start, Wheelhouse Detroit was organized around the singular goal of getting more city people on bikes through sales of reliable workhorse bikes, rentals and—an unusual offering—guided bike tours, then keeping them rolling with top-notch service.

On our future:

Today the shop’s future looks much brighter. Not only is it open year-round and thriving relative to those bleak early days, but a second, larger location is in the works. And out on the streets of Detroit, the number of cyclists is exploding, ushering in a sort of two-wheeled revolution in Motor City.

On the Riverwalk

This is where locals get their fresh air, and where tourists come to see signs of the city’s burgeoning renaissance. And Wheelhouse is ready to facilitate, with its well-maintained rental fleet and, improbably for a bike shop, guided tours.

On the Wheelhouse mission and philosophy:

“I think there’s a little bit of attitude around cycling—‘I’m cool because I cycle, I’m really fit because I cycle, I’m smarter than you because I cycle’—that permeates the industry and cyclists,” she says. She tries to combat that image with the tours, where virtually anybody can get on a bike, ride a dozen miles, learn about Detroit and have fun. “You don’t have to wear spandex, you don’t have to ride a fancy bike. And I think that serves as a gateway drug to becoming a regular cyclist.” In other words, the tours are a great way for newbies to gain confidence and learn the rules of the road in a small group.

“We’re emphatically not about performance here. We’re about making people comfortable, and hopefully turning them from very occasional riders to very regular riders.”

On the city’s growing bike culture:

“It’s funny to see the change that’s happened in Detroit in eight years,” Kavanaugh says. “It’s gone from people saying, ‘You’re insane to ride a bike in Detroit’ to people being really interested in it.” Three bike shops opened in the first half of 2015, and at least a couple more are slated to. “Detroit is this super desirable place to do business right now. It’s super hip.”

On the future of Wheelhouse

Now that growth appears to be snowballing. This summer, Kavanaugh opened a tiny Wheelhouse rental outpost downtown in a converted shipping container. She’s hoping to open another in the autumn near Eastern Market. … By the end of the year, Kavanaugh plans to open a second full-size retail location of Wheelhouse Detroit. “It will focus more on retail and service, and I’ll keep the rentals and tours at our current location.” There will be a small amount of overlap in either direction, though, so customers can rent a bike from the new shop, or get their ride repaired at the old one.

On biking Detroit:

“Whether they’re buying their first bike, upgrading from a beater—inherited or from Wal-Mart—renting or going out on one of our tours, we get people on bikes,” says Kavanaugh. “We’re a portal into cycling in Detroit.”

Thanks again to Peter and “Outspokin’”! You can read the entire article here.

Movement + Wheelhouse 2015 = Bike Parking & Rental Discount

One of our favorite weekends of the year is the Movement Electronic Music Festival held over Memorial Day weekend. We love to get as many visitors onto a bike as possible, as we truly believe it is the best way to see the city.


For the first time evemovement map 2015_PROGRAM_FINAL-01r, we are thrilled to be offering complimentary bike valet at the festival this year. So you can enjoy the festival knowing that your bike is secure and safe!

We will be located at 170 E. Jefferson, just east of the festival entrance in front of Mariner’s Church — #7 on the Movement festival map.

Hours of operation are 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. each day.


We are offering rental discounts to anyone wearing a Movement festival wristband all weekend long. So whether you are looking for a quick ride to Eastern Market for lunch, a trip to Belle Isle for a swim, or want a bike for transportation the entire weekend, we’ve gotcha covered!

MOVEMENT FESTIVAL-GOER RENTAL RATES (CRUISERS)
$10/2 hours (reg. $15)
$18/half-day/4 hours (reg. $25)
$25/full day (reg. $35)
$40/2 days (reg. $50)
$60/3 days (reg. $75)
$75/full week (reg. $99)

You can call 313-656-2453 to reserve a bike at these rates. We’ve even developed a self-guided tour you can ride on your own! Check it out on the Movement Blog HERE.


Looking forward to seeing you at the Wheelhouse — and the festival — over Memorial Day weekend!

Job Posting: Cadillac Square Rental Operator

Job Title: Cadillac Square Rental Operator
Pay Rate: $9/hour to start w/ $1/hr raise in 30 days w/adequate performance
Hours: 42/week (Tuesday-Saturday) There is some flexibility with days/hours, but a regular set schedule is a must.

Duties: Wheelhouse Detroit will be operating bicycle rentals at Cadillac Square this summer and we’re looking for someone who loves bikes, people and Detroit to rent bikes for us! The Operator will be responsible to collect payment and signed waivers as well as adjust seat heights for customers to ensure they are comfortable. Helmets and locks will be provided as well.

Skills: Scared to talk to strangers? Need not apply. This job will require cash management, so some retail experience is preferred. Minor mechanical skills, including the ability to change a flat tire is preferred. Must have weekend and holiday availability.

The ideal candidate will be comfortable with diverse clientele and the ability to provide basic recommendations on cycling in Detroit. The ideal candidate will be willing to commit to working 5 days a week through August 31. (Planned vacations/days off not-withstanding, of course!)

No uniform is required, although we will provide you with a couple of t-shirts. Open-toed shoes and fancy clothes are not recommended.

There will also be opportunities to pick up Bike Parking shifts, which pays $8/hour and sometimes comes with free event tickets (ie, Movement Festival, Detroit City FC matches). It’s probably the most fun you can have working.

This job is at-will, part-time and seasonal.

Send resume and three references to info@wheelhousedetroit.com. No calls, please.

8th Anniversary: 8 Great Detroit Rides

430457_10150603923188773_688806249_nIt is Wheelhouse’s 8th Anniversary (can you believe it?!?!?!?). So in honor of eight great years of bringing bike sales, service, rentals and tours to the Detroit Riverfront, Kelli put together a list of her eight favorite city rides.

Get out there and enjoy this fabulous weather and our fascinating city. And, Happy Birthday to Us!

  1. Grand River. From Downtown all the way out to Brightmoor and Old Redford. Sites along the way include the Albert Kahn-designed Cadillac Building and the Grande Ballroom. Head south on Oakman for go-cart racing at Doll’s. Just west of the Southfield Freeway, the lovely neighborhoods of Rosedale Park and North Rosedale are worth some meandering.
  2. Del Ray/Woodmere/Southwest. Head west on W. Jefferson past Livernois to explore the supremely fascinating neighborhood of Del Ray. Plan your visit on a Saturday or Sunday so you can swing through Fort Wayne. Head up Dearborn Street where, at Fort Street, you can enter the gently rolling Woodmere Cemetery. Notable graves include James Vernor, Detroit soda superstar, and Eddie Slovick, the last U.S. soldier to be executed for desertion. Jump onto Vernor to hit up a taco truck.
  3. Creekside/Conner Creek Greenway/Mt. Olivet. The Eastside is a great place to ride. Hit up the tony Villages on the way out to the Jefferson/Chalmers area and scope out marinas, canals, and the Fisher Mansion. Then head up St. Jean and Conner all the way to 8 Mile, with City Airport and Mt. Olivet Cemetery as scenic points along the way. Rest Stop at Two-Way Inn, pay a visit to the Dorais Velodrome and turn-around at the charming Milbank Trail, just south of the border.
  4. Hamtramck. So. Many. Bars. Plus the Power House, Juxtapoz houses, Ride It Skate Park, Hamtramck Disneyland, Veteran’s Park and Hamtramck Stadium. All this and good food make Hamtramck a dream destination.
  5. Dequindre Cut/Riverwalk. This might be a “duh” entry, but riding along the Detroit River and up The Cut never gets old.
  6. Belle Isle. Yep, another “duh,” but it’s just a great place to ride (Penske Infrastructure [TM] notwithstanding). Heading out to the Lighthouse for a most-excellent view of Lake St. Clair is always a pleasure, and stops at the Aquarium, Beach, Conservatory and Dossin Museum are great bonuses.
  7. Rouge Park/Hines Drive. Head west on Warren to reach Rouge Park which, being even larger than Belle Isle, is worth spending some time exploring. Feeling ambitious? Keep heading west to hit up Hines Drive, a 17-mile parkway that’ll take you all the way to Northville. Bonus: 6 miles are closed to vehicular traffic on Saturdays.
  8. Palmer Park and surrounding neighborhoods. Kelli’s a University of Detroit Mercy grad and lived in the University District in the 90’s, so she is definitely biased, but riding through the woods in Palmer Park is inarguably an amazing experience. The neighborhoods in this sector of NW Detroit are spectacular: the afore-mentioned University, Green Acres, Palmer Woods and Sherwood Forest. Plus you can pop over to Dutch Girl Donuts for sustenance. Oh – Marygrove College is not that far and is simply stunning. People for Palmer Park has a group ride every Thursday evening led by the inimitable Henry Ford ii (Wheelhouse’s Belle Isle tour guide!) if you’re interested in an insider-led ride in the area.

47948_428949163772_7919227_nSpeaking of tours, check our tour schedule and let us guide you on your next ride through the city. We can also hook you up with a bike if you need a set of wheels.

However you ride, come join us and explore Detroit on a bike!

Job Posting: General Shop Help

Job Title: Shop Helper
Pay Rate: $8/hour
Hours: 10-20/week

Duties: A shop helper at Wheelhouse Detroit is an integral part of a busy, multi-faceted bike shop that services a diverse clientele with a strong focus on customer service. S/he will assist with renting bikes; general inquiries; minor mechanical issues such as changing a flat tire; restocking inventory; cleaning…and whatever else needs to get done!

Skills: The most important thing necessary for this job is the willingness to jump in and get your hands dirty! Scared to talk to strangers? Need not apply. This job can be high-energy and it can be fun. It can be stressful and it can be quiet. A successful candidate will be quick on their feet and nimble of mind. Must have weekend and holiday availability.

This job is the starting position at the Wheelhouse and, depending on your skill-set, can lead to another position at a higher wage fairly quickly (ie, Tour Sweeper, Mechanic or Retailer). Most shifts are 5-6 hours a stretch. No uniform is required, although we will provide you with a couple of t-shirts. No open-toed shoes and fancy clothes are not recommended.

There will also be opportunities to pick up Bike Parking shifts, which also pays $8/hour and sometimes comes with free event tickets (ie, Movement Festival, Detroit City FC matches). It’s probably the most fun you can have working.

This job is at-will, part-time and seasonal. Season is May-September.

Send resume and three references to info@wheelhousedetroit.com.

Job Posting – Shop Helper

Job Title: Shop Helper
Pay Rate: $8/hour
Hours: 15/week
Duties: A shop helper at Wheelhouse Detroit is an integral part of a busy, multi-faceted bike shop. S/he will assist with renting bikes; customer service; minor mechanical issues such as changing a flat tire; restocking inventory; cleaning…and whatever else needs to get done!
Skills: The most important thing necessary for this job is the willingness to jump in and get your hands dirty! Scared to talk to strangers? Need not apply. This job can be high-energy and it can be fun. It can be stressful and it can be quiet. A successful candidate will be quick on their feet and nimble of mind. Must have weekend availability.
Send resume and three references to info@wheelhousedetroit.com.

Mid-May Musings

It’s mid-May, and we already have a couple of updates to our E-Blast so, rather than clog your mailbox, we’ll make use of this bloggage thingie.

This Friday, May 16, is Bike to Work Day! The routes and timings are mapped out HERE. There will be a leader and sweepers on each route provided by Wheelhouse along with other event supporters. After the ride, there will be swag galore in Grand Circus Park from 7 to 9 a.m.

The annual 10341466_10152206678918773_5762428024845601814_nRide of Silence is set for Wednesday, May 21 at 7 p.m. We are meeting up at Shelter 2, and this year there is a new route. More info HERE.

We continue to add more tours to our summer schedule. Stay up-to-date on our Tours Page.

10307236_10152220628963773_4103842951264233798_nNEW BIKE IN STOCK! The Origin 8 Intersect is a sleek city steed of 7 speeds. Deep V rims, 700×28 tires. $429.

We got s a nice write -up in BLAC Magazine recently. Here’s a link to a PDF of the article: BLAC0514

That’s all for now – hope to see you soon!

Movement + Wheelhouse 2014

One of our favorite weekends of the year is theMovement Electronic Music Festival held over Memorial Day weekend. We love to get as many visitors onto a bike as possible, as we truly believe it is the best way to see the city.

To that end, we are offering discounts to anyone wearing a Movement festival wristband all weekend long. So whether you are looking for a quick ride to Eastern Market for lunch, a trip to Belle Isle for a swim, or want a bike for transportation the entire weekend, we’ve gotcha covered!

MOVEMENT FESTIVAL-GOER RENTAL RATES (CRUISERS)
$10/2 hours (reg. $15)
$18/half-day/4 hours (reg. $25)
$25/full day (reg. $35)
$40/2 days (reg. $50)
$60/3 days (reg. $75)
$75/full week (reg. $99)

You can call 313-656-2453 to reserve a bike at these rates. We’ve even developed a self-guided tour you can ride on your own! Check it out on the Movement Blog HERE.

We also offer a techno-themed tour that delves into Detroit’s epic electronic music history.

The tour will be on Monday, May 26 from Noon until 4 p.m. It’s about 16 miles, and takes riders past historic electronic music sites like The Music Institute, Underground Resistance HQ, and the Packard Plant. The tour price is $30; with bike rental, it’s $40. This “long” tour is recommended for more experienced riders.

If you are on Facebook, you can check out a great album of photos taken on one of previous Long Tours. As you can see, the stop at Underground Resistance HQ is pretty amazing.

We are also offering a Music Heritage tour on Saturday at noon that will cover not just techno, but Motown, punk, soul, rock and many of the city’s historic venues.

If you are looking for a break from music altogether, we are offering our popular Auto Heritage Tour on Saturday at noon. It includes a stop at the Packard Plant and the Model T-Plex, and offers a great overview of the industry.

You can register for any of of these tours at wheelhousedetroit.com/tours. Most of our tours sell out, so don’t wait too long!

Looking forward to seeing you at the Wheelhouse over Memorial Day weekend!

WH @ North American Bicycle Week

There’s so much biking goodness planned for the next four days here in Detroit, courtesy of the First Annual North American Bicycle Week. Here’s a little post to let everyone know some of the happenings over the next few days.

Thursday, March 26

ImageHead up to Palmer Park at 6pm for People for Palmer Park‘s inaugural ride of the year. Or head to the Boll Family YMCA at 7pm for the NoAm Launch, with speakers that include Todd Scott from the Detroit Greenways Coalition and Beth Savan from the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank.

 Friday, March 27

ImageWheelhouse will be open on the RiverFront 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Our friends at People to Educate All Cyclists (PEAC) are hosting a ride that takes off from the YMCA at 9am and American Cycle & Fitness will be hosting demos at Eastern Market from 1 to 5pm. Back Alley Bikes has a basic mechanic class at 3:30pm.

Saturday, March 28

ImageWheelhouse will be open at Eastern Market from 8am to 4pm and the RiverFront from 11am to 7pm.

Plus, we’ll have a booth at the Detroit Bike City EXPO at COBO Hall from 10am to 6pm. Wheelhouse will be offering an extra-special discount opportunity: Buy a $50 gift certificate for just $40. Buy a $100 gift certificate for $80. This can be used for service, retail, rentals or tours so, if you’re thinking of booking a large group or buying a bike this year, well, this is simply an excellent opportunity!

Sunday, March 29

ImageWheelhouse is open from noon to 5pm at the RiverFront and we will be raffling off one Detroit Bikes A-Type bicycle! Entry can be gained to the raffle by making any purchase of $25 or more through March 28. Note: Gift certificate purchases made at the EXPO on Saturday are eligible for raffle entries. One entry for $50; 2 for $100.

And, we’re looking forward to the Alley Cat Race! It’s at 4:30 and the meet-up is at Eastern Market Shed 5. More info here.

Monday, March 31

Wheelhouse is open from 11am to 7 pm at the RiverFront. Last day to drop off your bike for a $35 spring tune-up special.

Have a great weekend in Detroit! Any questions? Ping us at FB or Twitter or email info@wheelhousedetroit.com.

March E-Blast

Spring is springing!

March may indeed be the cruelest month, but it has the potential to be the kindest. Just picture the daffodils bloom, hear the birdies chirp and feel the sweet breeze on your face whilst pedaling. No wonder so many poems reference The Ides.

We have so much coming up in this early spring, here’s just a tantalizing taste.

268234_10151013157243773_603849617_n (2)

First things first: Our Riverfront location reopens on March 21. We will be open four days a week, Friday through Monday, until it gets a bit warmer.

We will continue to carry the following brands and products: the locally manufactured Detroit Bikes; Sun cruisers, comfort hybrids & adult trikes; Origin 8 urban commuters; Kona hybrids; and the classically-styled Brooklyn Cruiser. Plus, tires, helmets, auto racks, bike racks, frame & floor pumps, tools, lights, water bottles & bottle cages, bags, locks, pedals, bells, handlebar grips & tape, tubes, baskets…and if we don’t have what you are seeking, we have a wide range of distributors that we work with, and a quick turn-around on special orders.

We are proud to feature American-made brands, including Wald baskets (KY); King Cage bottle cages, flask cages and bells (CO); Kabeltek lock cables (AZ); Wilson Bohannan padlocks (OH); Greenfield kickstands (NY); Walnut Studiolo leather accessories (OR); Detroit Cargo bicycle luggage (MI); Jogalite lights (NH); Park Tool bicycle-specific tools (MN); Trixie & Milo Fine Flasks (OR); panniers from Ironweed Bicycle Products (OR); Green Guru upcycled panniers and pouches (CO); and embroidered wool Walz Caps (CA). We are also carrying t-shirts (Wheelhouse, Detroit Bikes & Tour de Troit) and even pedal-powered natural soaps!

GROUP RENTALS & TOURS

Beautiful weather might seem a million years away, but you can prepare for your warm-weather fun now by booking a group rental or tour for your school, work or church group; pre-wedding excursion; or team.

Group rentals start at just $10 per bike for two-hours with advanced reservations, and we do offer even more of a discount for schools and Scouts.

Our tours start at $180, all-inclusive, for six people. Popular options include Eastern Market, Architecture, Belle Isle and the Near East Side, which takes in Lafayette Park, the Heidelberg Project, and the whole of the RiverWalk.

More info on group tours here and rentals here. We can even arrange to deliver groups of bikes to your event location. Email bookings@wheelhousedetroit.com for options, procedures and rates.

SPRING SPECIALS

Tuneup Time! ‘Tis the season to get your beloved bicycle in tiptop shape. Bring ‘er in by March 31 and receive a tune-up for just $35 (Reg. $50). Word to the wise: Don’t wait ’til May to get your Spring tune-up. Do it now so you’ll be ready to ride on the first supremely beautiful day. Better yet, start your daily riding now so you’ll be bathing-suit ready come summer!

Spring Tours All tours in March and April are 5 bucks less than normal. That’s $20 per person or $30 with a rental bike. (Yes, we are trying to bribe you onto a bike.) We have Eastern Market, Architecture, Corktown and Belle Isle on the early season roster. Find out more and register at wheelhousedetroit.com/tours. It doesn’t hurt to check back regularly, as we are gradually adding the entirety of the season’s tours.

Detroit Bikes Raffle This is your last weekend to be entered into a raffle for a Detroit Bikes A-Type. How do you land such a golden ticket? Simple: Any in-store purchase of $25 or more gets you an entry. We will announce the winner the weekend of March 29.

So Many Reasons to Ride…

We can’t even hardly keep up with all the Detroit bike action. But we try. Here’s a handful of things on the docket…

March 27-30 – North American International Bike Week: Wheelhouse is excited to be part of the 1st Annual NABW. On Saturday, we’ll have a booth at Cobo Hall for Detroit Bike City and we’re kicking off our tour season that morning. The whole weekend is jam-packed with rides, shows, demos and more.

Cycle Into Spring: Explore the exciting Conner Creek Greenway with Tour de Troit and Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative. Third Annual.

June 15, July 20, August 17 & September 7 – Bicycle to the Ballpark with the Detroit Tigers: Yes, there are four dates this year!

September 20, 2014 – 13th Annual Tour de Troit!

There’s so much more in the works — and we’ll always do our best to let you know. Can’t wait to see you ride up to the shop with rosy cheeks and an enormous smile.

 See you soon!
Kelli, Karen, Tatiana, Dave, Joan & the Wheelhouse crew