Yesterday I posed a question regarding the availability of touring bicycles that come with butterfly handlebars as standard. I had a couple of responses.
At the budget end of the spectrum there is the Dawes Karakum suggested by Paul (and also Craig via Twitter). Curious name and, actually, probably too cheap. I am certainly not a man of great riches but I would be reluctant to spend ‘only’ £699.99 on a touring bike. When I bought my Ridgeback Panorama World back in 2010, I paid around £1,200. To replace it with the current model I would need to fork out £1,349.99 – ‘refined even more for 2019‘ apparently – a price that, over 9 years, has held up well. I still see the Ridgeback Panorama’s price as my benchmark level and I would see it as a step in the wrong direction to downgrade to something cheaper, irrespective of the merits of the bike. That’s a logic that is open to easy criticism but that’s how I feel. The Ridgeback Panorama doesn’t, alas, come in a model that has butterfly bars fitted as standard.
The second suggestion was a from ‘Oighreag’ via Twitter:
Koga World Traveller pic.twitter.com/9VXRaBA8k6
— Oighreag (@raim1969) January 20, 2019
The picture you see is Oighreag’s Koga World Traveller bicycle. Now, specifications change over the years and I’m guessing that since Oighreag purchased their bike, Koga has tweaked the spec of its two main off-the-peg touring bikes, the World Traveller and the Grand Tourer. Here they are:
You’ll note that it’s actually the Grand Tourer rather than the World Traveller that has the butterfly bars. However, the main reason for not wanting to buy a bike which has drop handlebars (like the Ridgeback Panorama) and change them post-purchase to butterfly bars is somewhat less of a problem here in that the brake and gear shifters would be identical on the World Traveller’s flat bars as they would if butterfly bars had been fitted. Suggesting a change of handlebars to a dealer would, presumably, not be as big an issue as it was back in 2010 when I had to change not only the handlebars but also the entire brake and gear shifting system. I also had to compensate for the change of position of the handlebars – they were, effectively, moved back by at least 10 cm – by fitting ever-lengthening stems. It was all a bit of a palaver… (Browse some of these posts from early 2010 that detail the seemingly endless saga of changing the bars.)
All that said, why am I discounting the Koga Grand Tourer? The only Koga distributor in Yorkshire is Cyclesense in Tadcaster. The list price for the World Traveller is £1,999 and the for the Grand Tourer £1,649. Apart from the £350 price difference and the butterfly bars, there are other things that set them apart. The most obvious are the lack of both a front panier rack and a front hub dynamo on the Grand Tourer. The forks don’t have eyelets that would making the fitting of a front rack on the Grand Tourer easy. That does seem to be an oversight, or perhaps just good marketing by Koga to encourage people like me to pay an extra £350 for the World Traveller?
The Grand Tourer is a good-looking bike, but the World Traveller is beautiful:
What’s not to like? Well, apart from the compromise on the handlebars, perhaps.
The story doesn’t quite finish here as Koga have taken the humble touring bicycle to an altogether different level via Koga Signature. Below is a video of a very lucky Australian, Alee Denham. He describes himself as ‘a bike, gear & travel nerd‘ and he runs his own website, CyclingAbout.com. He’s currently somewhere in the Americas en route from southern Argentina to northern Alaska on a custom-made Koga bike that he is testing for the Dutch company:
You can have fun on the Koga Signature website and build your own bike. Earlier, I did just that and here’s what I came up with:
My own Koga World Traveller bike, complete with butterfly bars, Brooks saddle, front panier rack, carbon belt, Rohloff hub, front dynamo… Not sure about the colour but others are available (as shown in the video). Read the full spec here. It even has ‘Cycling Europe’ written on its frame. 16.4kg and, err… £3,791. Now you can understand why Alee is such a lucky guy. I need to start saving.
Just been back for a bit more customisation… Added a few things (and bumped up the price several hundred pounds.) 🙂