Ball bearing warranties, or the lack thereof.
People ask us a lot of questions about Kogel’s Guaranteed Performance warranty. I thought this is a good moment to explain in detail why we offer this service and how we handle it.
With premium bike parts having big dollar price tags nowadays, nothing is more frustrating to me than buying parts and having them blow out before I feel I got my money’s worth out of it.
My most vivid memory is a set of mountain bike tires that I saw on Christoph Sauser’s mountain bike during a world cup event in Belgium. His team even brought a tire guy. In other words, someone who only handled tire installation and pressures for the team. How pro is that? I chatted a bit with this mechanic and walked away from the conversation, determined to find these magical tires and getting myself up to "Sauser" speed.
Of course I was not the only bike nerd watching the race, so when I went out to buy the new black gold addition to my bike, it was sold out everywhere. After finding them in an obscure web shop and paying well over MSRP, I ripped the sidewalls on both tires during the second and third ride. I don’t remember ever buying tires from the same brand again.
Stuff happens, but twice to a new set of tires does not encourage me to buy from the same brand again.
Another story involves myself using a long list of profanities in a forest in the Ardennes, 11km in one of my main races for the year. In my hand was my brand new, ultra light saddle. Or at least the top part of it. The rails were still firmly attached to my seat post. (I would like to state here, that I was well within the weight limit for said saddle. At least at time).
Point of this story is that I do not mind at all to spend my life savings on shiny bike parts, but I absolutely hate it when they do not live up to reasonable expectations. There was absolutely no form of warranty on the tires I shredded within a few hours and it took a long battle with the manufacturer to get the saddle replaced.
When I launch Kogel, I wanted it to create company where I would love being customer too. This means high quality products that actually improve performance for cyclists, but as well a company that people like to connect with. This is why we pick up the phone when you call, or we return your call if we missed it.
On a product level that means we want you to be happy with your ball bearing purchase. If that means we have to replace a product every now and then when your mechanic was a bit ham-fisted, or occasionally if a good customer was not aware that cleaning a bike with a pressure washer is a no go, so be it.
I always felt that as long as we make a top quality product, we are going to have a low number of returns and that rule holds up until today. We have calculated a small margin for error in our pricing, because we know our products are not perfect.
How can we expect everything to work flawless if you imagine the forces we send down from our quads to the tiny contact surface between our races and ceramic balls. It is an engineer’s nightmare if you think about it. That small buffer allows us to turns frowns upside down when we get warranty claims. If we do our job so well that there are no claims, we can add it to our bottom line at the end of the year. How good is that?
With that said, at Kogel Bearings we believe in the honor system. Our golden rule is: if you claim your fifth warranty and the neighbor shop has not claimed any, that’s when we start asking our ‘very few questions’.
I hope this mentality works as an inspiration for the rest of the bike industry (I am calling on you, tire, ball bearing and wheel makers!). If we all back up our products with a flexible warranty, it will be a strong motivation to build a better product.
Show me the mechanic that has never heard: "I'm telling you bro, I was just riding along and then this happened. That must be warranty for sure....."