“Welcome to the Kinfolk Life” says someone as we climb up to a mezzanine where Kinfolk Bikes are located. Yes, welcome to Kinfolk everything, because to get to the bikes, we had to walk through the agitated kitchen of the Kinfolk Cafe & Restaurant, a must-stop on the Wythe avenue. It’s this combination of disciplines, design and lifestyle that originally led to the creation of Kinfolk Studios. But hey, lets focus on the bikes here.
Kinfolk Bikes produce custom-made steel bicycle frames that are built one-by-one by 73-year-old master craftsman Kusaka. This quest for quality could only be originally met by the makers of the Keirin racing bikes in Japan.
“Back in the days, if you wanted to buy these steel frames, you had to hope and wait for a race crash and then salvage a damaged one.”
It is because there is so much money involved in these races (and a lot of gambling) that all the attention is focused on supplying those racers and there’s no time left to craft these bikes for recreational purpose. But out on the street, these quality frames could endure a lot.
“These chrome plated tubes and thick structures don’t rust. You’ll see 30 years old frames in perfect condition. ”
On his computer, Shawn shows us his template and customization options. He then sends the curated model to his liaison in Japan, who then deals with Kusaka. This liaison operates the bike shop Nice! Your Bike in Tokyo.
With the capacity to produce only about 100 bikes a year, the Kinfolk Bikes appeal to a connoisseur crowd with a price tag that can go to 3000$ a piece. But you have to see this like owning an expensive watch that you care for and hold on to for the next generation. This passion for quality craftsmanship and exclusivity can be felt in everything these guys are doing, from the clothes they make to the coffee they brew during the day.
Next time you’re in Brooklyn, you definitely have to add Kinfolk Studios to you itinerary.