Australia's Knogs are a quirky, hip, indisputably batty, and seemingly brilliant lot. Their latest catalog "12½ Stories," for lack of a suitable description, is part fantasy, part instruction manual, part ransom note (We have your attention and we're not giving it back until you buy some Knog gear). It's so engrossing it will leave you smiling like a shot fox.
When I met him at interbike, Michael Lelliot, Knog's brand director, had a twinkle in his eye as he spoke about the piece and the greatly expanded range of products for 2009. Clearly he's having fun.
18 Tools: There's an implication that 18 things can go wrong with your bike. Wrong. Billions of things can go wrong, it just so happens that this sucker can fix a lot of them. Lucky too, because a Billion Function Tool wouldn't fit in your pocket as easy as this one.
12½ Stories features street photography by cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, words by the Ugly Kids, Daniel Juhasz and James Ruhfus, design by Niki Fisher and Ben Druce and product photography by Tord Johnston. The large format 80-page catalog is printed on smooth matte stock which accentuates the photography's muted urban tones and textures. It's alternately witty, sly, sexy, irreverent and smart. All that, and I believe it still manages to sell product.
Neat Dog- Rackless Pannier: Don't be put off by the 'Neat' connotation. Sure this Dog thinks that there's a place for everything... But here's the kicker – it also packs eight bottles of vodka inside its pannier sack; and it doesn't take too long for them to empty. Then it's a three hour mission to get some black-market scotch, a dirty sunrise and, finally, falling into a hospital-cornered, freshly-laundered bed.
Michael's sense of humor is deeply ingrained in the piece. Words and imagery inhabit a surreal cinematic landscape populated by a cast of outsiders, eccentrics and nose picking bike polo players. A couple searches for their lost rabbit, Missy; a pair of aquaknogs pedal in way over their heads; and then there are the nubile ladies of the laundromat, fluffing while the wash is in the dryer.
Ride Hard Gloves: Designed for people who actually prefer it soft but have a finely tuned sense of irony and a penchant for half-cocked sarcasm. Such people will inevitably end up calling these their 'flash palmers', 'finger slicks' or even their 'shitty gloves' – there's that sarcasm kicking in. Either way, these gloves are the business.
Apparently the Knog product designers have been hard at work. There's a new line of N.E.R.D. cycle computers (9 and 12 function) that attach with the same silicon simplicity as the ubiquitous frog lights. Moving a N.E.R.D. between bikes (the settings support two) is a 30-second breeze. No zip ties, no profanity. The soft, silicon holder allows the unit's orientation to be flipped for stem or handlebar mounting. You could say these N.E.R.D.s go both ways.
The computer starts and stops automatically and has a nice backlight feature. Pressing the lower display edge cycles between functions. I've got one sitting on my bars right now... there will be a report on how it plays in traffic soon.
5 LED Toad: True Story, the guy in the bathtub of ice-cold water with the missing kidneys and the mysterious note and all that. He ended up fine. He's in the perfect health and recently started a kind of franchised karate dojo thing. His secret? The Toad. When he leapt out of his watery predicament to get stitched up, the 5-LED power-pack of Toady goodness was strapped to the front of his bke. They lit him up so bright that a couple of crappy kidneys were the last thing on his mind.
The Frogs have been joined by 2-LED Beetles (pic). These little bastards clip to your bike, your gear or if the piercing is big enough, to you. As the Northern Hemisphere's ration of daylight gets smaller in the next few weeks, I'll be adding a couple of Beetles to the commuting rig in the hope all the flashing will get me noticed. If you're constantly harassed by wheelsuckers or the police are still tailing you, Knog's new Boomer Tail Light might scare them off.
To keep you rollin' you can take your pick of: 7, 12 or 18 multi-function Tools encased in smart, stackable magnetic shells, and accessorize with matching chainTool and Shifter (wrench). PSSST. Just when you thought you had that ride licked, your tube goes soft. Knog's Porno Patch Kits (pic) are guaranteed to help you get it back up. (see I'm getting into the Ugly Kids' mode)
F*ck Off Gloves: You’ve got chocolates for saying ‘thank-you’, flowers for saying ‘sorry’ and that tight skivvy for saying ‘I’m desperate’ – well, now you’ve got some gloves for every other occasion.
Only Knog could name a pair of gloves "F*ck Off. In keeping with the sentiment I'm ordering a pair of full-finger F*ck Offs. If that's too much for you, how about "Eight Ball" (pic), "Starsky and Clutch" or "Skull Spangled Banner" models. Now for the topper, Knog is offering the EanieMynieBeanie. This is a stylish, urban lid that shouldn't be worn by anyone over 30 unless your in a band or write a blog like Sucka Pants.
If I can be serious for just a moment, all the edgy humor and cool photography in the world is not going to sell lousy products. At its core, Knog has some very talented product designers who find new ways to solve familiar problems with ingenious simplicity and style. That's why it's worth your time perusing the catalog, and giving them your business. A little patience may be in order, it looks like the Knog site is slowly incorporating the new stuff. Your best bet is to contact Andrew Wood (Woodie), Manager of the Knog store in Melbourne with any questions by email.
Virtually all of the products shown are available in a variety of colors, see the catalog.