The Butterfly Effect: The Dawes Karakum, The Koga World Traveller And The Koga Grand Tourer

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’ ยฃ699.99 on a touring bike. When I bought my Ridgeback Panorama World back in 2010, I paid around ยฃ1,200. To replace it with the current model I would need to fork out ยฃ1,349.99 – ‘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:

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 ยฃ1,999 and the for the Grand Tourer ยฃ1,649. Apart from the ยฃ350 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 ยฃ350 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, 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:

screenshot 2019-01-20 at 11.41.32

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… ยฃ3,791. 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.) ๐Ÿ™‚

screenshot 2019-01-20 at 12.08.11

Categories: Cycling

10 replies »

  1. About 10 years ago I paid ยฃ300 for a Dawes Kalahari. It has taken me from Worcester to Istanbul 1ยพ times (I ran out of time in Macedonia on the first trip), both times carrying 4 well-stuffed panniers and a tent. Naming their bikes after deserts implies suitability for travel and having ridden it for years I don’t see that a more expensive bike could be an improvement. IMHO, of course.

  2. I have three bikes I use for touring, each with a different style bar – drop, butterfly, flat. When selecting which one to use for a trip, the prospective feel of each on the likely surfaces is definitely as much a part of the decision process as other factors such as suspension, tyre width etc.

    Butterfly bars are much more common on touring bikes on the continent than here; in the UK we’re keener on drop bars. So it seems to me, any road. Anyone know why the difference? Is it just a cultural thing?

    • Thanks Rob. For me it’s a back thing! I’m not as bendy as I used to be… ๐Ÿ™‚ Butterfly bars win hands down (and back relatively upright…)

  3. Hi Andrew
    You have acknowledged that you’re open to criticism for discounting the Dawes. Here goes…

    My own bike is a Surly Ogre and I love it, but about 10 years ago I found a female Dawes town bike which had been dumped in a lay by. I took it to the police and after the required 28 day period collected it for my wife. It has served both my wife and my daughter, for commuting and touring and has never cost a penny.

    Ann Wilson, who you will know from the Cycle Touring festival had her hand built Roberts bike stolen when travelling round the World. She bought a cheap replacement and continued with that bike and has travelled extensively since with the cheaper model.

    Tom Allen has written a few articles about people doing amazing journeys on bikes that have been picked up at the tip.

    Its all personal choice at the end of the day, but I certainly wouldn’t discount the Dawes.

    Have you considered Jones bars? I have them on my Surly and a Salsa Timberjack which I use for bike packing. I can honestly say they are the best thing I’ve ever fitted to my bikes.

    • Hi John. Yes, I don’t doubt there are lots of people who have completed long rides on old, probably cheap, bikes. But you don’t tend to hear about the people who decided upon such an approach and then failed to get further than the next town. In any way, for there to be old, cheap bikes, there also needs to be new, more expensive ones. The chances of me ever being able to spend ยฃ4,000 on a bike are almost nil but I do like the look of those off-the-peg Kogas. Time will tell… Not used Jones bars. I think I’m now too wedded to the butterfly ones. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. We have the world traveller e-bikes. Bought in the summer . I was disappointed in not being able to have the butterfly bars but they couldn’t be changed due to the electrical components. Ring and talk to Dave at Cyclesense. Ask if he can offer a discount and mention my name. It may help. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say

What do you think?