Kelby Groff, general manager of world-famous Rim Cyclery, was ten years old when his father, Bill Groff, his brother Robin, and their father John built a bicycle shop. It was 1983, and the uranium boom had just gone bust, leaving Moab in a deep recession. The mountain bike craze had not yet arrived; this shop was designed for regular road bikes and outdoor gear. It was an unheard-of business for a small town in rural America, yet both brothers really enjoyed riding and Bill visited bike shops where ever he traveled. He thought he could do better than what he had seen, but he and Robin had no idea of the amazing success that was just around the corner for them and their business.
They were introduced to mountain bikes by a customer who was riding a modified 5 speed Ross, a precursor to the modern mountain bike. They quickly became Ross dealers, and then obtained a more advanced design, the “Stumpjumper” from Specialized, which Robin actually rode helping a friend herd cattle in the hills. This led to an initial ride on the Slickrock trail, and then a new world opened up.
The Slickrock bike trail officially opened in 1969; the bikes that rode it were primarily motorized Honda Trail 90’s. However, by 1984 the Groffs and John Groo had created Rim Tours, and were guiding bicycle tours on Slickrock when a National Geographic photographer took some shots of them. These photos were seen by Hank Barlow, publisher of a new magazine, Mountain Bike for the Adventure. Wowed by what he found on a visit to Moab, he did a full color article on Slickrock in his very first issue. That was 1985. Articles in other publications (even Time Magazine) followed; Moab was on the map and the mountain bikers came.
Fat tire festivals were coming on, and encouraged by publisher Hank Barlow, Bill and Robin put one together for Moab in 1986. The new popularity of Slickrock and the fun events planned for the festival made it very attractive, and Moab was inundated with riders and top mountain bike fabricators. It became a wildly successful yearly event, and for the bike designers it became a testing ground for their latest models and components.
The great popularity of mountain biking solidly established Moab as a destination for recreational tourism, and the town began to recover economically. Bicycling in spring and fall lengthened the town’s business season and increased business activity overall. In 2013, because of Rim Cyclery’s part in bringing about this economic recovery through mountain biking, Bill and Robin Groff were elected to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.
The business focus of Rim Cyclery has gone through many changes over the years, from a bicycle repair shop to a full outdoor recreation supply store. At one time it was the only place in Moab that carried water bottles! Exercising the family business acumen when he took over management about 15 years ago, Kelby streamlined the inventory to focus primarily on bicycles and riding equipment, including first class helmets, gloves, clothing, glasses, maintenance supplies, a happy array of Frisbees, and more. The business not only sells but rents new high-quality mountain bikes, and its very large shop is normally so busy that four to five full-time mechanics are needed to keep up with the work.
Rim Cyclery, part of Moab’s historical legacy, is a family business, and about as local as a business can be. Working with Kelby are two of his cousins, Sarah Groff Hopkins and Jessica Lawley, who handle accounts and bookkeeping. Other family members kick in as needed. Going strong in its 37th year, it is still located in its original building at 94 West 100 North. For sales, rentals, and service, and to appreciate a fascinating piece of Moab’s history, come check it out! Reach Rim Cyclery by phone at 435-259-5333. For an advance view of inventory and services, visit rimcyclery.com