Detroit has some interesting bike history due in part to the strong connection between bicycles and early automobile manufacturing.
One interesting connection is the Dodge Brothers Company, second only to Ford in car sales during the 1920s and now a brand of the Chrysler Corporation.
But before the Dodge Brothers made cars, they made bicycles.
From the book, The City of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922 by Clarence Monroe Burton, William Stocking, Gordon K. Miller:
The Dodge motor car stands as a tribute to the work of two brothers – John F. and Horace E. Dodge. As young men they learned the machinist’s trade in their father’s shop at Niles, Michigan, which was their home town.
In 1894 they went to Windsor, Ontario, where they became machinists for the Dominion Typograph Company. Their ability to produce excellent machine work and tools brought them to the attention of Fred S. Evans, a Detroit manufacturer.
About this time the brothers invented the first ball bearing bicycle, and after this accomplishment they joined Mr. Evans in organizing the Evans & Dodge Bicycle Company in 1897 and leased the plant of the Dominion Typograph Company at Windsor, carried on the business for two years, then sold out to a Canadian bicycle concern.
With their plant equipment, the machinery and the cash received in the deal, they came to Detroit and in 1901 opened a machine shop in the Boydell Building on Beaubien Street.
When, in 1903, Henry Ford began the manufacture of his motor car, he asked the Dodge brothers to undertake the manufacture of engines, transmissions and steering gears in quantity production. This they did and so rapidly did their business grow in connection with the development of the Ford car, that when they abandoned the Hastings Street plant in 1910 it was the largest and best equipped machine plant in Detroit.
Continue reading about the Dodge Brothers…