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Turin Bicycles to open Chicago shop, launch bike brand

Published November 30, 2012

CHICAGO, IL (BRAIN) — Denver’s Turin Bicycles returns to its roots in more ways than one as it readies a new retail location in Chicago that will sell its own brand of bicycles as well as products and accessories from Asia and Europe that currently do not have U.S. distribution.

Turin started out in the Chicagoland area in 1965, and during the ’70s partners Alan Fine and Lee Katz would bring in containers of bikes from overseas to sell under the shop’s own brand. The store, which the partners sold in 2004, also had an in-house frame shop.

Around 1980, Turin moved away from selling its own bikes and focused on developing shoes, garments and other products. “We were one of the first producing Lycra in the U.S.,” recalled Katz, whose design and sourcing business, PHX Inc., has developed products for clients including Lake, Shimano and ACT.

Katz is now eager to slow down on the design business and stay closer to home. “I found I really missed the shop,” he said. Fine still operates Turin’s Denver store, opened in 1971.

In contrast to Turin’s full-service family and performance shop in Denver — bike brands there include Specialized, Trek, Bianchi, Colnago, Look and Wilier — the Chicago store will have “a really boutique-y kind of approach to it,” said Fine. “It’ll be a little different from the mainstream.”

Or, as Katz puts it: “We’ll sell what we make, which is a full line of bikes, apparel and bags, and what our friends make and what we think is cool.”

That means bikes from small builders as well as Turin’s own fixies, high-end internal-geared 3-speeds, randonneur rigs and disc-equipped ’cross bikes sourced from Taiwan, China, Italy and the U.S. Shop-brand bikes will also be sold at the Denver store.

“We’re building bikes with a lot of functionality and hopefully high value. Back in the ’70s the idea was to offer a higher value for customers, and a higher profit for us,” Fine said.

Turin will also start bringing in apparel, accessories and “more esoteric product” from European brands not currently represented stateside, Katz said. The partners are keeping mum on those brands, however, until they launch a new website to start selling their new wares ahead of the Chicago store’s planned March 1 opening. The site is targeted to go live Jan. 1.

In the meantime, they’ve begun design and demolition on a leased space in a densely populated pocket of Chicago with a high concentration of cyclists and bike lanes running in both directions out front.

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