Tuesday, March 11, 2008

An Interview with Kogswell's Matthew Grimm

Matthew Grimm founded Kogswell Cycles in 2001. Since then, Kogswell has earned the devotion of a highly-enthusiastic fan base who love the functionality and beauty of the frames, forks and components Kogswell has designed and imported. This interview deals primarily with new developments in Kogswell's product line. If you are looking for the "full story" on Kogswell, please visit their website, www.kogswell.com.

Q: Tell me a bit about the history of Kogswell.

A: Kogswell is the manifestation of a dream that I first had as a young man. And the dream came from meeting Spence Wolf of the Cupertino Bike shop at the time when he was running it in his garage.

I was taken by the idea of connecting interesting bikes to the people who appreciated them.

I'm part shopkeeper and part frame junkie.

So I'm just following my instincts. Staying true to my heart.

Q: What do you see as the role of the bicycle in "modern" society?

A: At this point (March, 2008) there is a global bike BOOM happening the likes of which we haven't seen since the oil embargo of the 1970s.

And I think that this new boom is also a reaction to the cost of oil.

People, bless their hearts, are embracing cycling and I see that as a good thing. And it makes me very happy because I have a deep-seated dislike of the automobile and what it has done to our American culture.

Two wheels good, four wheels bad.

Q: Tell me a bit about the continuing development of the Porteur/Randonneur, a bicycle Kogswell developed to "do everything." It is notable for many things, including its ability to carry large loads mounted over the front wheel.

A: The big news is that the racks will be here this year. I think that's interesting for a couple of reasons: fork geometry and integration.

Let me explain.

Up to now most racks have been add-ons. But our research showed that in order to carry weight on a front rack you had to use the proper fork geometry and construction. There's a dependency in the system: if you want the rack to work, you need to match it to a fork.

And that's what we're on the brink of doing. We took a couple of years and worked out the details and now we have an integrated package that's going to be very compelling.

That's the design story.

The fabrication story is interesting as well. The more we thought about it the more it became apparent that the shop that makes our forks should also be the shop that makes the racks (think integration). So we approached the fork shop and, as is typical of those guys, they immediately saw the sense of it and got on board.

The other interesting part of the fork/rack combination is that the frame becomes an accessory. If your fork and rack is right, you can bolt an existing frame on and you'll be good.

Q: Who should be riding a Kogswell?

A: I think of the P/R as a replacement for an automobile. Safety, speed, comfort and utility are what it does.

If you need to get around and you're tired of burning oil then have a look at a P/R.

Q: Who should not be riding a Kogswell?

A: Many people.

Q: At the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS), 2008, there seemed to be a lot of bikes with big front racks and full fenders. Do you think the success of the P/R might have had something to do with that?

A: There -are- a lot of handmade builders who are now jumping into the market for -integrated- bikes. I think A.N.T and Kogswell both lead the way. Mike is great at integration and I think Kogswell should be credited with doing a lot of the work that went into resurrecting front-loading geometry.

Q: What's the scoop on wheel size options on the P/R?

A: The front center on a 64cm frame is big enough to allow for 622 (700C) wheels. By big enough I mean big enough to erase toe clip overlap.

Below that 584 (650b) wheels make sense. Down to about a 50cm frame. And below that 559 (26") wheels make sense.

The exception is that I like 559 wheels and so one day we're going to make a some super groovy 559 bikes.

Q: Whatchu' got up your sleeve? What might we be seeing from Kogswell in the near(ish) future?

A: The most interesting new development at Kogswell is the web site that we've been working on. Over the course of a year we've pushed it closer and closer to completion and there only about 80 more hours of work that needs to be done.

When we roll it out I think that lots of folks will be happy.

Q: What are your thoughts on aluminum frames these days?

A: Aluminum is a completely legitimate material for frames. I personally like steel better but that's just me.

Q: Any news on the Kogswell components biz? Are you still doing cranks? What other components are you doing/might you do in the future?

A: We found a couple of good 110 BCD cranks sets. The problem is Sugino cranks are such a superb value that there's no point to trying to compete with them.

I wish we had more time and money to develop/market more components. But for now we don't.

Q: What else would you like to say?

A: Hang on to your dreams and let your heart lead your head.

Q: What do you like for breakfast?

A: Cold cereal, fruit and tea. And a hug and a kiss.


Jeff Potter said...

Thanks for the interview! What a neat new bike blog and mission. Bike culture---it's a big tent.

Al Asarnov said...

Well done! This is a flying start to a blog that encompasses those who enjoy the nuts-and-bolts of cycling as well as the pure joy of just riding.

I'm wondering what is in store now for Kogswell's website. Will it go boutique, like the old Momovelo? Or involve us even deeper into the design process?
Al Asarnov

Anonymous said...

Thanks to both parties for making this interview available. I've had my eye on Kogswell for a while. Wondering what happened to the single-speed frame (with track dropouts)? Didn't see that on the website but maybe I missed it. Anyway, full speed ahead...on two wheels.