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Email:
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Phone:
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Kelly Chronology - the short version.

As many know, Chris Kelly began the whole "Kelly" thing completely by accident in the back yard of his grandmother's house in East Oakland California. While putting himself through college to become an architect, it was a means to an end that became much more than he had imagined. The plan was two years at the local junior college then on to Berkeley - but we all know, that's not what happened. The following is the last 22 years as Chris remembers it.

1985 - Kelly is founded in a tiny redwood shack in the back yard of Grandma Kelly's house in the Fruitvale district of East Oakland CA where the first 30 or so "Kelly" brand frames are born. Hundreds of non-Kelly frames were repaired and/or repainted.

1990 - Kelly grows and moves to San Lorenzo to share a shop space with D&D Cycles (which is still the largest paint shop in Nor Cal) and shifts main source of business from frame painting and repair to frame building.

1991 - Kelly attends Interbike (an international bicycle tradeshow) for the very first time in Las Vegas and is well received. Kelly begins to sell internationally. Key sales activity includes Germany and Switzerland.

1993 - Subaru Montgomery rider Glenn Winkel brings home the gold at the Masters World Championship in Minneapolis Minnesota on a Kelly track bike. This would be the first of many world championship gold medals to be won on a Kelly. Thank you Glenn!

1995 - Kelly continues to grow and moves world headquarters back to Oakland CA. Realizing the large demand, Kelly re-organizes to expand and creates a high-end production shop - focus is a larger quantity in-house frame production rather than making every frame custom, or "one off".

1995 - In October of 05, Kelly builds its first production run of 50 cyclocross frames and launches the Kelly Factory Team. The team consisted of 10 riders. Tim Par at Swobo set us up with green wool jerseys with "KELLY" silk-screened across the front in white. We were a real team! Thanks again Tim!

1996 - Realizing the demand abroad for high-end US handmade mountain bikes, Kelly displays at the Eurobike trade show in Friedricschaffen Germany. While many of the Europeans were a bit stand-offish at first, they became a lot more friendly and interested in Kelly after the celebrity race where Chris accidentally ran Keith Bontrager into the fence and won the heat. Kelly sets up new key distributors and dealers throughout Europe and sells every bike, frame, t-shirt and anything else brought.

1997 - Kelly IG full suspension is ridden to a gold medal finish at the Ireland Junior National Championships.

1999 - Realizing the need for more capital, Kelly takes on a silent partner, forms the LLC and expands operations to better suit the high-end frame production and distribution plan.

2002 - Stella wins 2002 One Speed World Championships in Downieville, CA and earns herself a nasty painful branded tattoo. Ouch! What some people will do for the love of the sport. We love you Stella!

2003 - In June of 2003, the building Kelly is located in on 5th Ave in Oakland is sold. Kelly Bike Company (along with the buildings 13 other tenants) has no choice but to relocate.

2003 - September 23, one month before the company is set to move, company founder and CEO Chris Kelly falls off a ladder and shatters his heel into 30 pieces. Surgery, screws, plates, pain, crutches, -- you get the idea.

2003 -- In late October Kelly moves the shop to Nevada City CA and work begins to set up the new shop. Thanks to family, friends, volunteers and a fantastic temporary work crew, the move is organized and complete within ten days. However, once landed in Nevada City, the set up of the new shop is a little slow paced due to the fact that CK is on crutches and has a big swollen foot.

2004 - Kelly® resumes production in the Nevada City facility and the company works hard to regain lost ground. Life is good in Nevada City, but the unexpected move has created a great financial strain for the company. Surprisingly, Kelly manages to produce more than 100 frames in 2004.

2005 - Production is in full swing and with only 2 employees (including CK) production and sales exceed previous records.

2006 - In May of 2006 irreconcilable partner issues force Kelly Bike Co LLC to dissolve. The last Nevada City Factory frame is built in June and the process of liquidating the company begins.

2006 - In August of 2006 -- despite dissolving the LLC, Sveinung Björköy of Norway decides to ride his Kelly Deluxe One Speed to another One Speed World Championship Victory. Talk about sweet irony.

2007 - First quarter -- the last bits of the LLC are sold and the company (the LLC) is dissolved. After 21+ years of hard work and sacrifice, Chris gets a little time off to reflect and unwind.

2008 - After a very much needed recharging of the old batteries for CK, a new shop space is secured in Grass Valley CA in late September - a stones throw from the Nevada City shop - and the re-opening of Kelly® Bike Company is announced in December.

2009 - Kelly® is revived! Product offering is a limited one-off "per order" production. Apparel offerings through Voler and SockGuy launch later in the year and Kelly® cruises forward to it's 25th year anniversary in 2010.

2010 - 2013 - dark times for Kelly® - while 2010 was poised to be the year to celebrate year 25 since the Kelly® brand was born, the company struggled while its founder and now sole proprietor was met with the blindsiding effects of a poor economy coupled with the textbook family issues that many face these days... while production and sales continued at a staggered rate, it was a difficult time where many did not keep thier agreements and production at Kelly® suffered the brunt of it. regardless, with the positive support and encouragement of the many faithful Kelly® fans and friends all around the world, Chris stuck to his guns and soldiered forward to land the company its new home back in Nevada City on New Mohawk Road - a well suited facilty for everything the company needed and more...

2014 - a year of "re-tooling" and figuring out the lay of the land - Kelly® kept its sights to a conservative scale as far as production and resource outlay. having been through much over the previous years, the name of the game was to simply get the company's feet firmly planted on the ground once again before initiating any sort of large scale or unrealistic production plans... as Kelly® enters its 30th year, one thing remains clear - "what doesnt kill you only makes you stronger", as company founder and visionary Chris Kelly plans to step up the production plan for outsorced and in-house production for 2015 and the many years ahead....

2015 - to be written.....

 

 
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Photos: Roman Roth