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Portland-based Chris King ceases production of Cielo frames


An employee puts finishing touches on a Cielo frame at the factory in 2013.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you were waiting to order a Cielo, it’s too late.

Portland-based Chris King Precision Components (CKPC) announced yesterday that they’ve ceased production of all Cielo frames, forks and stems effective immediately.

In a statement, the company said, “After reevaluating marketing and sales goals for the coming years, Cielo unfortunately did not fit into our plans. We are quite proud of the product that the brand has produced over the years, but will be focusing our attention and resources on our core product families (headsets, bottom brackets, and hubs).”

Cielo was started by Chris King in Santa Barbara California 1978. By the mid 1980s King’s headsets had become so popular that he stopped making bikes to keep up with the demands of his fast-growing company. As his headset (and later hubset and bottom bracket) business grew he added staff and moved his business from Santa Barbara to Redding (CA) and then ultimately to Portland in 2003. Once settled into a large manufacturing facility in the northwest industrial district and with a healthy business (the company now employs over 130 people), King rekindled the Cielo brand in 2008.

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In the years since, Cielo established itself with with a well-regarded line of road, mountain and cyclocross bikes. Similar to their approach to components, the bikes were known for a meticulous aesthetic and hand-made feel that appealed to discerning customers. The bikes were made in small batches and offered the quality of a one-off custom bike with the benefit of a 60-day delivery window. In 2013 we reported during a visit to the factory that CKPC was making about 300 Cielos a year. In 2015 Cielo faced, “an explosion of demand” from around the globe and the company hired veteran framebuilders Curtis Inglis (Retrotec) and Jeremy Sycip (Sycip Designs) to help meet production deadlines.

The Cielo factory in 2013.

I count myself as a proud owner.

Cielo is named after a mountain road (Camino Cielo) in Santa Barbara, California.
A Cielo on display at the 2011 Oregon Handmade Bike Show.
The company also made its own dropouts and forks.
Chris King, shown here accepting 3rd place at the Oregon Manifest Field Test in 2011, built his first Cielo in 1978.

“It was a tough decision that was not taken lightly. Cielo is an important piece of the history and legacy of CKPC.”
— Bob Scales, sales and marketing manager

Reached for comment today, Chris King Precision Components Marketing and Sales Manager Bob Scales said, “It was a tough decision that was not taken lightly. Cielo is an important piece of the history and legacy of CKPC, but at this time we feel the need to focus on our core business of making the best components and bearings possible.”

The company’s Design Manager Jay Sycip, who was hired in September 2008 to manage the Cielo brand, offered a similar sentiment. “It was a very hard and emotional decision as a ton or work and money went into getting the brand back off the ground and moving. We also have a lot of work ahead of us here just in the CKPC component side of things.”

Scales added that the three full-time Cielo employees were let go a few months ago. One of them, Josh Kelley, dominated the local mountain bike and cyclocross racing scene for years astride his Cielos. This season Kelley will race for the Breadwinner Cycling Team.

In addition to focusing on their component business, the end of Cielo means CKPC can become a stronger partner — instead of a competitor — for the many bike builders that spec their parts. Sycip said the company wants to, “Support all the frame builders that support us in our component business,” and Scales added the move will lead to, “Expanding on existing relationships by providing a platform and voice for brands that choose to spec Chris King and our made-in-house bearings on their builds.”

If you own a Cielo, the company will continue to honor existing warranties.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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