Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kogswell P/R

Kogswell sells its porteur/raddoneur (P/R) frameset, which includes the frame, fork, and fenders (painted to match the frame), headset and seatpost for $600.

Here's how Kogswell decribes the P/R:

The best all-rounder ever.

This is not a racing bike. Because you don't have a support car. And it isn't a mountain bike. But it can do everything else brilliantly. You can commute on it. You can use it as a light or loaded tourist. It handles anything that even remotely looks like a road. And it does it all with comfort, safety, speed and fun.

We didn't design it. We copied it. It's based on a French newspaper delivery bike. Porteurs, the men and women who shuttled papers, flew through the streets of Paris on bikes like these.

The tubing is ECO double-butted chromoly steel, TIG-welded, with braze-ons for pump-pegs, 3 bottle-holders, rear rack, and of course fender mounts.

Kogswell has a bit of a cult following, so you'll find plenty of info and pics on the bike blogs and elsewhere. Here's a sampling:

The Daily Randonneur: My Kogswell P/R Initial Build

Cyclofiend: Elias Grey

Cyclofiend: Nate's bike

Cycling Spokane: Alex's Kogswell P/R

Phred's Blog: Alex's Kogswell

Bike 2 Work 2 Live: Reviewing the Kogswell P/R

Cycloculture: An interview with Kogswell's Matthew Grimm

How 'bout it?


Ted said...

It's beautiful, no doubt, but I think the Trek from the previous entry pretty much keeps this bike in the boutique market and strengthens its "cult" status. More and more inexpensive bikes are announced (seemingly) month to month lately, and they do everything this Kogswell does for less money.

Sure. It's nice to own something different, but I suspect the niche brands are going to have to rely heavily on marketing speak ("The best all-rounder ever"..."it can do everything else brilliantly"..."the men and women who shuttled papers, flew through the streets of Paris on bikes like these.") to sell their products as bigger companies like Trek, Torker, Giant, Electra, Schwinn etc. continue to produce comparable bikes for less.

Again, I may be subscribing to my own definition of "bikes for the rest of us", but to me at least, "us" refers mostly to those with dollars & cents in mind. Recessions tend to do that. I'm all for supporting the "little guy", but economic realities can easily overshadow principals.

Oh, and yeah, it needs a chain guard. ;)

Freewheel said...

Ted, for those with dollars and cents in mind, I suggest looking at used bikes. There are a lot of bargains out there.

Ted said...

Freewheel, no doubt there are great used bikes out there, but when you can get a brand new city bike with fenders, rack, multiple speeds etc. for around $500 w/warranty and local bike shop support, why by used if you don't have to?

My "dollars and cents" comment was referring to the $1,000 complete (not just frame) bikes from a boutique builder vs. one that offers the same amenities at around $500. Although nothing beats the 80's Schwinn Collegiate in rideable condition I found being thrown out with someone's trash. Free rules.

Freewheel said...

It's amazing what people will toss out in the garbage!

David said...

FW, nice post on the P/R. That's a bike I'd like to have, which is saying something, because I'm actually trying to get rid of bikes at the moment.

Ted, I don't think it's marketing, so much as actual refinement and quality. A huge amount of design effort went into the P/R, and the shop that built it was not selected based purely on cost--that the results have been lauded is gravy. That said, while it is a transportation-oriented machine, I think you're right that it's not for all of the rest of us.

Honestly, no one bike could be, could it? Otherwise, someone would have figured it out by now.

E.E. said...

I'm interested in purchasing this bike. I don't think a frame, fenders, fork, headseat and seat is too bad for 600 bucks. However, I'm really trying to keep my budget under 1100. I live in Georgia and I know that the shipping price my be exorbitant. I really want a bike that will last me through the ages. I was thinking of buying used Trek, Raleigh, or Bianchi, but sense I'm purchasing this bike for my birthday I would like to splurge...a little. Would you say the consensus on this bike is that it really is practical for commuting and fully loaded touring?

I don't want to get to crazy, but for the prices they're offering for the new Trek and some of the limitations of the old Trek. I know if I purchase either I'll be somewhat dissatisfied.

I don't know. I won't be buying anything for the next 3 months so I guess I'll have to keep looking for a really good "all-purpose."

David said...


My friend just bought a "last year's model" Surly Long Haul Trucker for $1000. That, ATMO, is a deal, or perhaps a steal. It has great parts picks, and solid design in all sizes.

That said, the P/R is aces, in my opinion. I love the low-trail/high-rake front end.

E.E. said...

That is a great deal! I know at least online you can get a stock Surly for $985.00.(w/o pedals of course) But again that's just with the stock components. So, if your friend got great components then it really was a steal.

I actually called a shop about the P/R and discovered, yet again, that I was too short for something.

David said...

Of the stock-built Surlys, the LHT has far superior parts selections to the crosscheck.

Regarding small sizes, the LHT uses 26" wheels for sizes up to 52cm, and 700c for the larger sizes. The 52 is my size, and the 26" wheels are fantastic: strong, plenty zippy, low center of gravity, no toe overlap, and no whack geometry in the small sizes. More bikes should use scale wheel size with frame size.

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