Bikes , ExpoCoverage

KHS DH-300 Downhill Bike At Sea Otter

I stopped by the KHS booth at Sea Otter this year. The KHS gravity team has been kicking ass lately, with Logan Binggelli throwing down in a big way at the 2010 Red Bull Rampage and Melissa Buhl has been dominating in women’s DH and slalom for a few years now. KHS also has a really exciting new downhill bike, the DH-300. It was announced last year at Interbike where they showed off a prototype. Then I heard Dave Weagel was suing them for infringing on his DW-Link patent. At Sea Otter I talked to team member and manager, Quinton Spaulding, and got more details on the patent issues as well as an update on the new bike.

So what’s the big deal about the new KHS downhill linkage, you ask? Take a look at the photo of the non-drive-side linkage here and you’ll note the “concentric bottom bracket.” The bottom bracket goes right through the main pivot point forming a “neutral link.” According to Quinton, the new linkage does a much better job of absorbing impacts. He said he has far less leg fatigue on the DH-300. Normally, the suspension absorbs some of the hit and the rider absorbs some with his or her legs. But Quinton says the new linkage is so effective it’s taking most of the impact, allowing him to just pilot the bike. And less fatigue means a stronger, faster, more controlled rider.

Quinton and the rest of the KHS team are really excited about the new bike and Logan Bingelli’s first place finish at Fontana in February on the DH-300 bodes well for the rest of the downhill race season. The team rode 6-inch bikes at Sea Otter but they’re looking forward to racing the DH-300 at steeper, rockier venues later this season on the Pro GRT Tour. The next Pro GRT race is May 14th and 15th at Highland Bike Park in New Hampshire. We’ll see if the KHS riders can take the DH-300 to a top ten finish.

The KHS DH-300 downhill bike isn’t available yet in the US because it violated Dave Weagel’s DW-Link patent. KHS is currently testing a new swingarm that moves the “center of instance” (sorry, an engineer will have to translate that) so that it doesn’t infringe on the DW-Link patent. Complete bikes are already available in Canada for $4399 and they’re hoping to have the new linkage tested and ready for US buyers by the end of June.

www.khsbicycles.com



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  • Chris says:

    Why can’t KHS just pay Dave Weagel a fee to use the DW-links like people pay Specialized to use FSR/Horst Link suspension?

    Maybe Weagel is pissed because they didn’t ask first and won’t do it now?

  • josh says:

    they probably dont want to pay him because he wants too much. the reason everybody pays to use the specialized patent is because its cheep.

  • the-one1 says:

    Everyone is jumping on the short multi-link nowadays.

  • mhike says:

    They should just do what Chumba did to use the same design- they just came up with their own patent.

  • quinton spaulding says:

    Dave Weagel did not respond to any of our requests. KHS WANTED TO PAY TO LICENSE THE DW* LINK.

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for posting, Quinton. I couldn’t remember for sure but I thought you told me that KHS had attempted to license the DW-Link. However, if they can make it work well without the license, so much the better for them, huh?

  • JimAAY says:

    Just buy from Canada/Europe/wherever. F Dave W.
    Super nice looking machine. Even with the ‘pregnant’ downtube that’s become fashionable. I prefer flat abs.
    Looking forward to picking up one of these. I’d only want a frame. Getting rid of a Marzocchi fork is a PITA.

  • mhike says:

    khs isn’t making anything. this is an astro catalog job.

  • Photo-John says:

    mhike – that may be true. But by that standard, almost none of the bike manufacturers actually make anything. There are very few that own their own factories or make their own frame anymore. And how about the bottom bracket link? Does that come out of the factory catalog or are you just talking about the rest of the frame?

  • Dave Weagle says:

    Quinton, I don’t think that we have ever met or spoken, and I definitely don’t have any messages in my inbox or voicemail from you. I’d like to publicly thank KHS for respecting the dw-link IP. It is a tough situation when you are a very small one-man shop and have to even think about this kind of thing. That just shows how professional of an organization KHS is and I think that should be recognized.

    So to clear up one myth here, dw-link is not something that is “expensive” to license. The cost of a rear shock is 5-10X greater, the cost of a butted downtube is greater, just to put it in perspective. For what the linkage system brings in regards to performance I’d argue that there is no greater value.

    With regards to KHS or any other brand that is interested in using one of my designs I really do appreciate that interest and it is truly flattering. The reality is that I have commitments to my existing partners, and lack the time to actually work on or begin any new projects. You see, when a company “licenses” one of my designs, the get my time and engineering / testing commitment with it. I personally design the kinematics and validate all shock specs on all models for every brand that I work with. Just because a bike “looks like” a dw-link, or even falls under the scope of the patent, doesn’t mean that it will perform in the way that riders have come to expect a dw-link to perform. My job is to make sure that every bike that carries the dw-link logo meets the high level of performance that riders expect from the design. As one can imagine, that takes a huge time commitment and I want to do the best job that I possibly can for my partners. Like I said, I just don’t have the time to take on new projects like this.

    I wish KHS the best of luck moving forward and I truly appreciate the level of professionalism that they have shown with regards to IP. It seems that many companies could learn a great deal about ethics from KHS’ example.

    Dave Weagle

  • Photo-John says:

    Awesome! Thanks for posting, Dave! The comments thread on this post is excellent!

  • Dave Weagle says:

    Although I do love a good rumor, and boy we all know that the internet is fantastic for generating them, just for the record, I’m not, nor have I been “suing” anybody here. That’s total hearsay. Anytime you want a comment from me on something like this feel free to e-mail. I am always available! Also my name is spelled like Eagle with a W before it. OK back to work for me!

    Dave Weagle

  • Photo-John says:

    Dave-
    I did use the word, “heard.” But sorry about that. I appreciate you jumping in to set the record straight and make this article a better resource for everyone :-)

  • Art A says:

    It is very cool to hear Quinton and Dave speak on this matter and to nip it in the bud before it goes out of control on the internet.
    I always like to be within ear shot of hearing people talk about bike companies copieing other bike companies suspension designs when the slightest of changes makes a world of difference. Its to bad some companies go overboard with the whole IP thing.

  • Moto P B says:

    Dave, you could license the patent without letting a company brand the suspension as dw-link. Then it would be clear that this isn’t something you worked on refining.

    In any case, this seems to be a Taiwanese catalogue frame ( http://www.astroeng.com.tw/productsdetail.asp?id=51 ) , that has been spotted with several logos on it :
    http://www.ridemonkey.com/forums/showthread.php?t=237701

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for posting the link to the catalog photo, Mr. Moto. That there is pretty much proof positive that it’s not exclusive to KHS. But it doesn’t answer the question of who designed the frame. Was it the factory or was it KHS? From what I’ve heard, pretty much anything being made in Taiwan can be had from the Taiwan factories. It’s whether you can sell it in a given country that’s the question. At least that’s my understanding.

  • BootlegRandy says:

    So sounds like KHS and D.W. are on a different time frames…KHS wants to use the design on only their new DH rig, and D.W. wants to maybe re-design their whole line-up. But just like Turner, whom rec’d the DW link in 2009, yet still doesn’t have all there models available for sale…KHS isn’t interested in moving that slow, I would assume.
    Sounds like too much hassle to me, maybe they(KHS) should just pay Specialized for the FSR link again!

  • -bb- says:

    I understand completely that Dave will want to ensure that anything bearing the DW-Link name performs as well as dave intends the DW-link to perform and that may require some additional “work” on his part, for which he obviously needs to get paid.

    As far as licensing the “patent” without publishing the DW name in it, that certainly could be an option that would satisfy both parties. However, as Dave already stated he is NOT currently pursuing any litigation against KHS, nor has he stated that the current setup of the KHS does or does not infringe upon his intellectual property.

    I would also argue that the nominal cost of licensing the patent from DW-Link IS worth the money as it impacts bike performance. Does that mean bikes that don’t are “crud”? No… it just comes down to (and I hate to say it) MARKETING. Does KHS feel that they will sell significantly more bikes by licensing the design. There is a place in the market for everything. I mean just look ad DW’s efforts. He has the “Bomb” design in the DW link, yet he also has the split-pivot. There is room out there for a number of designs for different purposes… performance, performance vs cost, straignt-up cost. Heck you could even design some linkage that purports to adjust itself based on it being able to tell if you are facing UP a hill vs DOWN. Does it really do that? Maybe, maybe not. But it looks good to print in their ad.

    And is Turner “dragging their feet” in implementing DW on its bikes bc Dave is taking to long? Maybe, but I doubt it. I’m sure there is more to the story that we don’t know. Heck, there could even be some agreement that Dave has with Ibis, Turner and Pivot that states he cannot license his design to any non boutique mfg’s bc it will cheapen the image they are shooting for by implying value in the fact that they have it and you have to go to one of them to get it.

    So I guess my main point it that we should stop all the e-speculating on things. Then again, if we did stop it what else would we do while trying NOT to do real work. ;)

  • Photo-John says:

    Great post, bb. You bring up the marketing value of the DW link. That’s an interesting question. I wonder what the ROI has been for Turner, Ibis and Pivot for their DW link investment? My guess (sorry about the continued e-speculation) is that it’s got pretty good marketing value. And that might be something that KHS could use. Whether or not the new link works well, there will be doubters. And slapping a trusted brand on the new design would likely sell more bikes.

  • USArulz says:

    KHS ain’t modding the design for fun. The DW patent is getting in the way of US people buying this frame as designed. If the fee is so modest, then it won’t be a stretch for DW to let KHS sell the DH300 in the US as designed.

  • USArulz says:

    Separately. To BootlegRandy.
    We all get ‘FSR’ soon. Patents due to expire. If Horst wasn’t patented, I doubt DW would have got much traction in the marketplace. When Horst ain’t patented, DW becomes less competitive. Soon.
    Love the Horst. Nice system. Nothing against DW, but why pay more, leaving yourself with less $ and/or more debt for something that’s no better. Because it’s fashionable? Ooookaaay.
    I bet KHS will use Horst again. Everyone else will. Would be crazy not to. Great system. Free. Soon.
    These ‘taiwanese catalogue frames’ (as seems to be the derogatory terminology created and circulated by the domestic retail industry to stigmatize people away from trying them), are actually fine. May surprise some people to hear that people around the world can do math and weld. Esp at the biggest bike frame makers on the planet. Surprisingly these mega frame-corps can design and build frames.
    SHOCK!
    Almost like people are the same the world over. Almost like welding some tubes into a pair of triangles, then heat treating ain’t really that tough.
    The needless stigma created by domestic retailers who’d rather you buy a US brand for twice the price is another issue. Everyone wants to keep all the cash in their own grubby paws. Some resort to lying about relative performance, disparaging the competition and hope to make more $ through BS alone. I invite everyone to ride a ‘taiwanese catalogue frame’ with a horst, or get an import DH300 (non-modded to avoid DWs patent) and tell me the ride ain’t great.

    Someone will do the usual and post a single example of a frame failure to ‘prove’ ‘taiwanese catalogue frames’ are ‘all’ ‘junk’. All frames fail. Materials fail. Whoever designs/tempers/welds them.
    Anyone could post dozens of imgs of failures of US frames to ‘prove’ XYZ.
    This ain’t about whether they work or not. It’s about protectionism.
    Our industries saying that if it ain’t made by ‘our’ hands ‘it stinks’.
    We love equality. We love competition.
    Yet whine about being ‘unable’ to compete at biz level. Like to say other makers are not equal.
    On a personal level: Want less personal debt? Wanna pay less interest to the bank?
    Spend less for same performance. Someone else can pay more interest to the bank instead of you.
    Whether you ride an ‘overpriced US non-’catalogue’ frame’ or an ‘evil taiwanese catalogue frame’ you have to appreciate the Taiwanese frames as they keep the prices of the US frames lower. So, for the consumer, even if we don’t ride one, we still benefit from them.
    Don’t knock ‘em. Esp if you haven’t tried them.

  • Frorider says:

    Anyone interested in this topic of DW designs, IP protection, and the history of the Astro catalog frame…I encourage you to check out the DH forum on ridemonkey.com.

    Just to be clear, from what’s been posted during the past year, this so-called KHS frame is not a KHS design. It was completely designed by the taiwanese factory, and any brand can put their name on it. A catalog bike, pure and simple, that will appear under a variety of names around the world.

    I do not recall which countries Dave W has registered his patent in. In theory, this catalog bike could be available in countries where DW did not register his patent. But those are countries in which DH’ing is a small market, I imagine.

    The idea of DW licensing the patent, but not licensing the right to use the marketing name ‘DW Link’, to manufacturers that do not want the full Dave Weagle engineering package…..it’s an interesting idea, but as -bb- noted above, the high end brands that did pay for the full DW engr package may not want to see lesser versions on the market. Ultimately that’s a business decision for DW to make.

  • USArulz says:

    “It was completely designed by the taiwanese factory, and any brand can put their name on it.”

    What exactly is ‘wrong’ with that?

    “lesser versions” HA HA!

  • mhike says:

    Personally, I think Chumba’s way around the DW Link might end up killing Weagle. They don’t do things half-assed.

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