Review: Shinola Runwell Porteur – Made in the USA

Detroit has a long tradition of US manufacturing and it’s this very tradition that Shinola is looking to continue with their brand. The company began with watches, a common, everyday object that hasn’t been mass produced in the United States for decades. But Shinola knew that in order to bring that industry back to Detroit, they’d have to enlist in the help of true craftsmen. Ronda AG, a Lausen, Switzerland-based movement manufacturer is working with Shinola on their Argonite 1069 watch movement assemblage and that’s only the beginning.

Similarly, when Shinola began to design their bicycles, they looked to Wisconsin and the Waterford facilities for fabrication. Inspired by French porteurs and light tourers, the Shinola Runwell is an ideal city bike and you don’t need any fancy Swiss movement to get these bikes rolling. An 11-speed Alfine hub effortlessly shifts this mid-trail bike through your city or countryside. Load up the front rack with groceries, post office runs, beer, or what have you and just go! If you need to stop on a dime, the mechanical disk brakes will do the trick.

The Runwell has details. Waterford’s simple and classy lugwork, along with a bright Cherokee red paint job (it’s really bright!) really compliments the mostly chrome components. Even the gusset on the non-drive fork leg resolves any stress riser issue you might have with disk tabs on a mid-trail ride. Shinola went the extra mile with their branded saddle and grips and the 32c Continental Contact tires will roll without getting flats from thorns or glass.

Check out more below.

So enough of the copy, what do I think of it? Let me start off by saying that I’m not much of a porteur guy. If it were mine, I’d have it running on some bigger tires, take off the fenders and front rack, change the bars to something a little sportier like an Ahearne bar and put a pair of low-rider racks on the front. That said, as it is equipped, the Runwell will meet over 90% of the potential customer’s needs. It’s really well spec’d.

The overall feel of the bike is quite nice. I love the ride of a mid-trail bike. The 11-speed Alfine hub is so quite and once you get over the “cushy” feel of the drivetrain, you kind of just cruise away. I let Lauren ride it this weekend and her only complaint was that she couldn’t “feel” the internal hub and it was too quiet. She’s also riding a White Industries freewheel, so I think the notion of a quiet bike is foreign to her. I feel like the no-worries and hassle-free maintenance of a Alfine would be ideal for a commuter like her.

I’ll be holding onto the Runwell for a few weeks. It’s a bit small on me but will fit a lot better with a new bar. Until my touring bike is finished, I’ll be using this as an around town bike. So far, everywhere I take it, people stop me and ask about it. Some balk at the price, others don’t seem so surprised. The Runwell is a great looking machine and even someone like me, in head to toe black and a metal shirt makes it look classy. But I do have a few concerns. I wouldn’t call the following critiques as much as personal preference. The Runwell would benefit from a stabilizer for the front end, a kickstand and swap out the MKS touring pedals for MKS Lambdas. But that’s about it and all said, you could add those post-purchase.

The main question on everyone’s mind is pricepoint. Expect to pay around $2,950 as pictured. The Runwell comes in three sizes and two colors, this is the 57cm. Check the geometry here. Bike shops will be carrying these shortly and you can contact Shinola directly for ordering information at 1-888-304-2534, or simply email info@shinola.com.

I’ll put some more miles on it and do a follow up post in the future.

  • ol’grumpy

    Looks good, but looking at the geo, it’s not what I would classify as “low trail”.  Always good to see more US made products. It would be sweet to see a more affordable or accessible US made and assembled city bike that is not pushing custom or small production batch prices.  Small steps though in a very complicated economic environment.

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Mid-trail. Sorry. Off a few mm’s there. ;-)

      The only way I could see to make this more affordable is tig-welding the frame and changing to a 1×9 or 1×10 drivetrain with barcons. But you’re not saving much.

      Bottom line is, US Made frames are expensive. Waterford makes all of Milwaukee Bicycle Co’s frames and they’re one of the only affordable US-made road / cross frames on the market ($695 frame only). Even then, a build like this would be around $2500. I don’t think you can get more accessible than that for US made.

      Even when a majority of bikes were being made in the US, they were far from affordable for the average consumer. Inflation is mostly to blame but as a builder, the cost of silver, paint and just about everything else is on the rise. 

      • ol’grumpy

        While it is a few mm that I was quibbling about, from my experience 10mm+/- of mechanical trail actually affects the handling a noticeable amount.  “Low trail” is now a fairly loaded marketing term and one that my business is personally invested in so it is frustrating when bikes that are not technically X are described or marketed as such.  I need to loosen up a bit.  ;-)

        As for US costs of production and fabrication, I agree and am also completely aware of the factors leading to those costs.  My business designs and sells a US made randonneur frameset.  Getting almost anything made in the US is not “cheap”, nor should it be “cheap”.  It would be interesting to see if the bike industry could work towards producing US goods that are more accessible/affordable, and not just producing boutique goods.  This would be a long term goal with many structural changes that need to occur first. Both on the industry and manufacturing side, but also in the customer base as well.  Just a side comment really and I appreciate the irony of my saying this. 

         

      • http://twitter.com/jaredjerome Jared Jerome

        Yea, people seem to like to pretend that the value of everything stays the same. I don’t think most people understand how much all the goods/consumables cost, let alone actually paying some dude to make it.

        That said, I guess it can become more like the BMX industry and make pennies on each frame…

        • http://twitter.com/jaredjerome Jared Jerome

          Double posted! oops.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joeseph.blow.58 Joeseph Blow

    please tell me you’re not building *another* bike!?! if yes, who’s making it?

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      When my touring bike was stolen, I wanted Geekhouse to make another. It’ll be different though.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jake-Ricker/760362430 Jake Ricker

        You might get it back in 4 years… :)

  • James Sawyer

    Off topic, but how does the lady like her Fabric Horse utility belt? I have been thinking about snagging one fo awhile now. 
    But the bike looks like a blast. And plus, with all the nice things that come on it stock, its well worth the price. 

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      She LOVES it. Best purchase she’s made when it comes to bike gear.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=754639578 Alex Rains

    I like it, as far as a modern frame with vintage aesthetics goes they’ve hit the mark. Keep the fork crown and rear dropout details but they could lose the saddle (stick with brooks/gilles berthoud) and the chainstay badge is naff. 

  • http://twitter.com/wadestevens Wade Stevens

    Very nice bike, and WOW, do these photos POP!  #12 (close-up of seat cluster against blue) is exceptional.  Even that Golden Shower Cycling bottle is the same blue – SWEET!  The too bad the pink on the blue Hsuper bottle would clash with the red.

  • Thumpner

    If they think this will save Detroit then think again. As usual overpriced to pay for “living wages” for the under classes and uneducated.

    Not flying.

    • Plaid

      3k for a well-built, reliable means of transportation or 30k for a car that costs 9k per year to operate (thanks AAA). Free transportation is the only thing that will save the “under classes” and uneducated.

      High flying to you sir, and tailwinds!!

      • parnassus

        You realize you can purchase a well-built Surly or hell, Soma for $300 right?

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          For a frame and it’s made in Taiwan, not in the USA (which is the whole point of Shinola). I’m not telling you to buy one and I’m not saying everything overseas is shit, I’m just showing options for American-made products to people who care about that sort of thing.

          You can get Novatek hubs for $40 a pair, or Phil Wood / Chris King / Paul / White Industries for $400. Same thing.

          All it’d take would be a trip to Taiwan to see what these factories are doing to the landscape to sway you even the slightest bit…

        • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

          For a frame and it’s made in Taiwan, not in the USA (which is the whole point of Shinola). I’m not telling you to buy one and I’m not saying everything overseas is shit, I’m just showing options for American-made products to people who care about that sort of thing.

          You can get Novatek hubs for $40 a pair, or Phil Wood / Chris King / Paul / White Industries for $400. Same thing.

          All it’d take would be a trip to Taiwan to see what these factories are doing to the landscape to sway you even the slightest bit…

          • parnassus

            Agreed; but this is where cost-vs-utility comes into play. As a med student with 6 figure debt, my bike purchases have been constrained by finance for years. It’s not as if I wouldn’t prefer to purchase a US-made Rivendell with US components…it’s just that I can’t afford it, and probably won’t be able to for a while.

          • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

            Totally understand. I couldn’t afford anything until I moved out of NYC. Even then, I have to save for months before making a big purchase.

  • Charly

    there’s a lot to like about this bike. but a few concerns, nice to haves:

    1) what’s max tire width? would have really liked 650b. 42mm hetres would be ideal on this

    2) little concerned that loads on rack will be in front of axle and impair handling. could address with less trail, redesign of the rack (this is a general issue with the velo-orange rack)

    3) horizontal dropouts not a good choice with fenders

    4) generator light would be nice option

    -Charly