When Dieren-based postal manager, Willem Kölling, decided to go into the bicycle trade in 1892 everyone thought he was crazy. However, he was one of the very first to see the possibilities of this new mode of transport. He started out very cautiously and ordered, all told, one solitary bicycle in England. Strong trade growth soon led him into partnership with smith Rudolf Arentsen.
The two men first used the name Gazelle in 1902. In the summer of that year, during a walk in the woods surrounding Dieren and Laag Soeren, Willem Kölling suddenly saw a roebuck pass in front of him. The animal’s speed and grace of movement gave him the idea of using the name Gazelle, one of the quickest species of antelope.
Gazelle has grown over the past 119 years from a small two–man operation into a leading international business. From precisely three bicycle sales in 1892 to the biggest bicycle brand in the Netherlands with annual production at 350,000 bicycles. The number of bicycle sales has continued to increase over the past few years. It took 62 years to register the first million sales. The second million followed 12 years later in 1966. Willem Kölling appeared to have chosen the right name as Gazelle really took off.
The centenary celebrations in 1992 coincided with the production of the eight millionth bicycle. Furthermore, Princess Margriet awarded the “Royal” title to Gazelle in honour of the company’s centenary celebrations. At that time one million bicycles were being produced every 3 to 4 years. A high point for Gazelle came on 7 April 1999. On this particular date Prince Willem Alexander put the finishing touches to the 10 millionth Gazelle.
Gazelle kept going and on 31 October 2005 the 12 millionth Gazelle left the production line. Minister Karla Peijs from the Public Works and Water Management was in attendance to lend a hand with the Gazelle Easy Glider: the first Gazelle E-Bike. What’s more, the 13 millionth Gazelle rolled off the production line in 2008. And we will continue to make safe, comfortable, sustainable and beautiful bicycles in the way we know how.