KOGA Worldtraveller Signature Review
Review is based on 4 months use from new
Firstly let’s get the customer service/support side of it out of the way. In my own opinion, as it's my own review, from my recent experience with KOGA, it really stinks!
You're reading this review from an ordinary consumers point of view. Not a bike review website or someone receiving sponsorship or perks from KOGA, just a regular consumer.
Never in my
life have I experienced such poor customer service/support from any company or
retailer I have ever bought anything at all from, ever. But hey, that’s my own
experience and your own experience might be very different, and of course I hope it is if you choose KOGA.
Not just really poor from KOGA themselves, but also from a KOGA dealership in the La Rochelle France - Ecovelo Bikes - which I called into to get some help. I wrongly presumed that as the KOGA was under warranty, and this was a KOGA dealership, that I would get treated well.
It was simply shameful the way I was treated by that KOGA dealership, for which I made KOGA fully aware. I have been told that Ecovelo Bikes is under review for the way I have been treated, but I don't know how far that will go, given the treatment I feel I have received from KOGA themselves.
Maybe if I had been famous or a little well known, or provided a bike through sponsorship, or been given a bike at a reduced rate or for review, I may have been treated differently, who knows. If I review anything at all, it will always be an honest review, so I'm obviously not expecting to be given anything from anyone to review.
Recently, I have people tell me that they have had good support from KOGA, but this support has been in basically selling the bike or the dealership giving a service. It's easy for someone to sell you something, but giving real support is another matter.
I haven't heard from anyone not affiliated to KOGA who may have been stuck on the other side of the world needing help and receiving it, but I did hear from one guy who had a broken frame and he said KOGA refused to replace or fix it, but these comments are just their say so, and I can only vouch for my own review here.
The bike started playing up (more details at the end of the review) just weeks into my world tour attempt and with the bike being less than a month old at the time. Eventually though, the bike was unusable and I had to return back to the UK with it, just 3 months into my charity world cycle.
I was given no help from KOGA with regard to the bike being repaired on route while I was now in Southern France, or even an offer of transporting the bike back to the dealership, heck, they didn't even email or text me an apology, and still haven't. I was simply abandoned, so I contacted Trading Standards while I was still in France to find out where I stand in this diabolical situation.
Trading Standards believed that based on my report to them, I had been treated very badly and I needed to return the bike to the KOGA dealership where I purchased it. Trading Standards advised me to stop my ride due to possible safety issues and the fact the bike was still under warranty.
If I had limped on a bit, knowing there was an issue and after reporting to my dealership the problem while in Southern France, I would have been condoning and accepting the issue and void my warranty. Now, if the bike had been a year old or so, I wouldn't have bothered to much about the warranty, but as it was just 4 months old and very expensive, and I was so close still to home, I had to try to protect that warranty.
I managed to get the bike back to the dealership in Leeds, where I dropped it off with a demand for a full refund due to the bike not being fit for purpose. I'm aware that going through the courts would be difficult and could set me back a very long time, but this was my demand as I felt I wasn't getting the help and support I needed. Demanding a full refund shook things up and put pressure on so that I could get the bike fixed and get back on the road.
After phone calls and emails, a solution was agreed. The solution didn't provide me with compensation or money I had lost in having to get the bike back to the UK or in losing my window to clear Europe's winter, but it was a solution I expected all the same.
Summing it up, before continuing
Would I buy another KOGA? Not on your Nelly!
Would I recommend a KOGA bike to anyone else? Not a chance.
How do I rate customer service/support? The worst I have ever experienced.
What is best about the bike? If looks great.
What’s good about the bike, there must be something good right?
The colour is really nice. I chose Forrest Green and it really is beautiful.
The style of the bike is nice, it looks strong and it feels steady and sure. I got a lot of comments from people liking the look of it.
The wheels, which are not made by KOGA I believe, are super strong and I have put them over all sorts of terrain and they held up great, even with all the bags and the hulk that I am.
Schwalbe Marathon Evolution tyres. Not a single puncture in 3300 km’s, and they roll really nicely. Although, they are bit too slick for dirt or sandy uphill tracks and trails. A little more traction would be ideal, but of course there are other Schwalbe tyres for that.
Brooks B17 Imperial saddle, which I actually purchased elsewhere. I love this saddle. Really hard at first, but now fits my butt perfectly.
Rohloff hub. This really is an amazing bit of kit. Fully loaded and heading up a hill, it’s great to be able to just stop, then turn the gearing without having to turn the pedals in order to continue up the hill. The same at lights, just stop, turn the gearing to a lower gear without having to turn the pedals, and just move off when ready. It’s really quiet too and has put me right off derailleur gearing. That said, if this bike packs up big time again, I may have to box it and send it home and buy a cheaper bike where I might be.
The butterfly handle bars are great for me because of my spine disabilities. I can change hand positions and even body position to help avoid pins and needles. I’m more upright and there is loads of space on the bars for bags and gadgets.
The bags made by Ortlieb are awesome. 12 days of rain day and night when I first set out from Cheshire, and not a drop of water in my gear.
Thankfully, most of the parts are made by a mix of manufacturers, so I will be able to get parts and repairs as I go, all being well.
We will see how much farther I get on the thing. Asked if I had a name for my bike, and yes I do, but I couldn't write it here :)
So what exactly went wrong with the bike?
A small percentage of bikes have been experiencing issues with the marriage of the new splined carrier and the carbon belt. The older carrier that fits to the Rohloff hub was a threaded type and was very reliable, but really tricky to remove if worn or in need of replacing, so the idea of a splined carrier/component with a clip was born. It is said to be much easier to replace and no special tools are needed to do this, making it much easier for people to replace on the road. It was thought by Rohloff at first to be this problem, but it now turns out, according to my dealership in Leeds, to be something else.
On returning the bike to the dealership in Leeds, the
dealer expressed to me that the problem was actually a loose carrier/component that due to being so loose, it hard warn very badly. I
was told by the dealership that they must have received it from KOGA with a loose part
and the dealership overlooked it because it wasn't something they would need to
look for anyway.
The dealership took a video of a very loose and worn-out part, then sent the wheel over to Rohloff. I had a great telephone conversation with 2 members of Rohloff's management and we together came up with what seemed like the best plan for me, given my requirements and that I was planning to be away for years.
The Rohloff main hub was in perfect condition, it was the parts that connect to the hub that were the problem and an issue related to the marriage of the Gates Carbondrive and Hub, but Rohloff gave the hub a full service while it was with them anyway. They then had the gearing converted from belt to chain.
Supplying front and rear sprockets, a Campagnola chain, new splined carrier and clip, spare carrier and clip, tools, a chain glider to keep things clean and last longer too. Gates supplied a new threaded carrier in case I wanted to use that, as well as a new rear belt sprocket in case I ever wanted to go back to a belt at any time. All of the above at no charge.
The chain drive is really quiet and smooth, and the chain glider works a treat and is quite an amazing bit of kit in itself. I have loads of spares and looking forward to continuing on my travels on the 5th March 2018.
So although I still never received so much as an apology from KOGA, Rohloff on the other hand have been really great.
Remember to always look for reviews from people like myself who are not given the products free to test I'm not saying they will all not give their full honest review if it is likely a bad one, but...
The image here is of my bike with a belt, and now with a chain setup.