Author Topic: Thorn Vs. Koga  (Read 16834 times)

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Offline ragincajun

Thorn Vs. Koga
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2007, 09:04:53 pm »
Thanks, James.  If I get there, I'll have to take you up on that.  My plans this summer are for a short two week tour around the Grand Canyon's south rim.

It's good to hear the details of the Koga's ride.  In looking at both bikes it is fairly obvious that they would be dependable and carry bags well.  WHat you never know is which one has the better ride.  The tracking you mentioned says a lot.


Offline DownTheRoad.org

Thorn Vs. Koga
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2007, 11:56:10 pm »
I can see there is a lot of confusion with DownTheRoad.orgs relationship with Koga. Please allow me to start at the beginning.

In Nov. 2004 we purchased 2 world travelers at a discount with the agreement that we could sell the bikes on a commission basis.  The carrot dangled in front of us by the first Koga USA distributorship owner was that this relationship could lead to full sponsorship of two new bikes.  A few days later we flew to Bangkok to begin our Asian leg of our trip.  As expected, with bikes in this price range, they performed well and we had no moral conflict in endorsing and selling these bikes.  

While we were in Vietnam and China during the spring and summer of 2005 our web site moved to a faster dedicated server and we saw another wave of explosive growth in our traffic.  This was good for our Koga pages and we sold many bikes and earned a 5% commission.  

I am not certain what happened to the first Koga USA distributorship owner but it changed hands late in 2005 and we had to start our relationship over with the second owner except this time we received a box of replacement parts (chains, cassettes, chainrings, etc) and a 3% commission.  

During the spring and summer of 2006 while we were in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore our web site continued to grow and our Koga sales doubled with us earning a 3% commission.  Besides normal moving parts wearing out we continued to enjoy our bikes and could honestly recommend them to people.  Also, during this time we began receiving email from several Europeans, Japanese, and others who said that they liked the information they found on our web site about touring bicycles and bought Kogas in their respected countries.  We did not have agreements with shops outside the USA so we earned no commissions on these sales but were happy to have helped and thought Koga would notice this (we forwarded some of the emails) and these sales would increase our chances of landing a real sponsorship with them.  

While we were in Australia in early 2007 our head sets started showing signs of wearing out.  I considered this normal because we had toured on them for more than 3 continuous years and, as we all know, nothing lasts forever.  In email I brought the head sets up with the new Koga distributor who offered to send me new ones and then went into complicated instructions on how replace the head sets.  He said something about filing a notch in the side and more but I did not pay attention because I had been around bikes for decades and had years of experience working in bike shops with removing and installing the older threaded and newer threadless systems.  

This is when my problems with Koga started.  When I took the bikes to a highly recommended specialty bicycle touring shop in Melbourne to have new head sets installed they reported they had never seen a head set system like the one on our Kogas and did not want to attempt replacement for fear of damaging the bikes.  

Several months later in another high end Australian bike shop I tried again.  They refused as well because it was a head set system they were unfamiliar with and again feared damage to the bike.  This time I inspected it closer in a campground.  It seems that Koga uses a 1inch threaded fork in a 1 1/4 inch head tube. This very special headset must need the extra room or something.   I am not sure about this because I am afraid to take it apart.

When I contacted Koga USA again they sent more detailed instructions, two new head sets, and a large (for a bike tour) flat head screw driver with part of the tip filed off.  Needless to say I am confused by all this.  I keep asking myself why dont they use a standard threadless headset that can be found and installed in most bike shops around the world; this bike is called the World Traveler isnt it?  Koga Europe refused to return any of my numerous emails and only through the USA distributor they somewhat admitted the head set was tricky to install and, as a solution, offered to sell me (at a discount) 2 new frames and forks, with the head sets factory installed.  These are expensive bikes so, even with the discount; the price is way out of bounds for two international travelers living hand to mouth on the web.

Knowing that this bike, in my opinion has this huge design flaw meant that I could no longer endorse or sell these bikes.  I would have never bought any bike knowing beforehand it had this kind of head set so I consider it unethical to continue recommending them to others.  I dropped them from our website even though we were earning thousands of US$ a year from the commission sales.  Losing this income really hurt our finances, but this sacrifice is far better than selling out to gear I dislike.  We have not found replacement bikes yet.

Now that we are in Auckland, New Zealand finishing our second book I have found many excellent bike shops in town that are knowledgeable of custom equipment and stock a wide variety of touring bicycles.  Our head sets are now so worn I believe them to be dangerous and will try again at a bike shop or give it a go myself.  If this is unsuccessful I may be forced to buy 2 new threadless forks with normal head sets but this is also expensive.

To address your concerns about our endorsements.  We have 2 equipment sponsors at this time, Phil Wood and Ortlieb.  I have been a long time customer of both companies and have made several purchases in the past before I approached them, and they supported our trip with free gear.  I would use, recommend, and sell on commission their gear even without these sponsorships but the free gear saves us money and I see no need to turn it down.  It is only ethical that I work with companies that I can morally hold my head up high and recommend.  This is why I dropped Koga when I learned of the head set problems even though we were earning thousands of US$ a year from the commission arrangement.  Everything else recommended on www.DownTheRoad.org is sold on a commission basis.  Commission deals are not exclusive and I can put anything on the web site or switch items I choose and still earn the 5% commission.  

So, our endorsements are our true opinions.  They can not be bought or sold.  Like anyones opinion out there you may disagree or not pay attention to it.  Because we have been on a bicycle tour now for almost 6 years most readers of our equipment pages value our hands on experience and shop through the links on our web site as a way of saying thanks for taking the time to write up your experiences and put it out there.


Bicycle Touring Continuously Since 2002 - no plans to stop
www.DownTheRoad.org