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These new designs get around

Original text from The Gazette

These new designs get around
St. Laurent firm creates bikes for city
MIKE KING, The Gazette
Published: Thursday, May 14, 2009

David Bowman is peddling two new bicycles geared to the growing number of city pedallers.

"There has been a huge change and acknowledgement that cycling has a role in urban transportation," noted the president of Outdoor Gear Canada, the St. Laurent designer and manufacturer of the Opus brand of bicycles.

"There's more urban infrastructure for cycling in the city core now and we're seeing an enormous increase in urban bikes," Bowman said from his $8-million building headquarters and main plant/warehouse. The recently rebuilt and expanded facility earned silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification in early March.

He cited an announcement last month by Montreal municipal officials about expanding the city's already extensive network of bike paths by 60 kilometres this summer, bringing the total length to 560 kilometres. The transportation plan adopted by Montreal in 2007 called for the city to double its bike path system to 800 kilometres by 2014.

This week, the city's short-term bicycle rental system, dubbed Bixi (short for "bicycle" and "taxi") got rolling. Named by Time magazine as one of the best inventions of 2008, Bixi plans to offer 3,000 bikes at 300 locations in central neighbourhoods.

Bowman called the rise in urban cycling "the most interesting and important development in the industry."

With that expanding market in mind, Opus in March launched its new Urbanista collection, made up of the Classico and Cervin models, both described by Bowman as based on a traditional Dutch design but built as "a safe, comfortable and attractive form of commuting."

So impressive is the design, he noted, Le Château stores in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver as well as Lululemon outlets here and in Vancouver used Urbanista bikes in their clothing display windows this spring. Pistachio, an environmentally conscious stationary shop in Toronto, did the same thing and now is interested in selling the bikes.

OGC has been distributing its bikes - there now are 48 models, all but 16 of them built here, the rest outsourced to China - through nearly 300 authorized Opus dealers across the country. More than half of sales are in Quebec, with a quarter in Ontario.

The company's pre-Urbanista urban bike sales rose 31 per cent last year from 2007; sales of the Mondano and Urbano city models were up nearly 40 per cent alone.

Opus sold more bikes in the first four months of 2008 than throughout the entire previous season, for a 40-per-cent jump, and 2009 pre-season orders were up 17 per cent, compared with 2008.

The suggested retail price for Opus bikes - which include urban, road and mountain models (a children's model is planned for next year) - range from $520 to $7,400.

On the Web: www.ogc.ca


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