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Kelly Bike Company offers brand for sale

Published June 14, 2018

NEVADA CITY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Chris Kelly, who founded Kelly Bike Company in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s, is putting the company and its brand up for sale. He said he's hoping an investor will take the brand and run with it, whether he remains involved or not.

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The brand is known for its custom steel frames and forks, as well as innovative items like the Kelly Take Offs, which allow use of downtube shifters adjacent to road brake levers. 

"I think the brand still has a lot of potential," Kelly told BRAIN on Thursday.

Kelly moved the company from Oakland to Nevada City in 2004. At the time, the company had a silent partner investor; that partnership was dissolved in 2006 and the brand was nearly dormant for a couple seasons, before being revived in 2009. 

To his dismay, Kelly has dealt with some consumer and industry confusion since the launch of the Kellys — with an S — bike brand in Europe several decades ago. The European brand, based in Slovakia, cannot be sold in the U.S. market because of the trademark. Kelly notes that he launched “kellybike.com” in 1995. It was one of the first bike company websites and has remained in continuous use ever since. He said the domain is valuable as the two keywords “kelly” and “bike” appear in over 500 million searches per year.

"I will entertain any reasonable offer so long as it has nothing to do with goats, chickens or chicken manure. That said, it all depends on the deal," Kelly wrote on the company's website this week. "In the meantime I plan to continue operating within my means, producing one-off custom orders, limited production runs of frames and forks, frame repair and powdercoating service."

Besides making bikes, Kelly hosts a monthly local radio show on KVMR. On the show, he has interviewed bike world celebrities including Greg LeMond, Inga Thompson, Tom Ritchey and the mountain bike historian and author (and no relation) Charlie Kelly. 

 

 

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