Quarantine: Coronavirus v2.0

May 18, 2020

Usually this time of year, we’re posting about shows, travel, meetups, and our recently completed Mosko team ride.

This year is different because of COVID. We’re holed up at home, abiding by stay-at-home orders in Washington and Oregon, and keeping busy with work, home improvements, and bike projects, while hatching plans for all the things we’ll do when the restrictions finally lift. We see each other in person occasionally, when we overlap in the office or meet up for a ride, but most of our communication is happening over video chat.

Back in March and April there was a rush of collective anxiety caused by shocking headlines, exponentially rising infections and deaths, a crashing stock market, disappearing toilet paper, and an awkward lurch into isolation and distancing. Now, two months later, the initial shock and awe has  been replaced by a much-less-exciting sense of bland acceptance. Things like working from home and avoiding crowds seem normal, whereas when people hug and shake hands in movies or on TV, THAT looks weird.

Business-wise, things are picking up. People are still riding, or planning to ride. Where we live, the percentage of motorcycles on the road has never been higher. People from Portland – which is about an hour west – must be taking day-rides from the city. A few days ago our local gas station was mobbed by a huge crew of sport bikes, they were all just hanging out in the parking lot and talking, responsibly staying 6′ apart. We’ve seen lots of cruiser groups coming through as well, and the usual smattering of smaller ADV groups and/or individual dualsporters here and there. Plus lots and lots of dirt bikes in/on trucks and trailers.

Despite the chaos surrounding the government stimulus efforts, those efforts do seem to be having an effect. People don’t necessarily tell us that they’re spending their stimulus checks, but we saw a distinct uptick in sales when those started hitting bank accounts a few weeks ago. Mosko applied for and received a PPP loan – which enabled us to bring everyone on the team back to full employment. If that’s indicative of what other companies are experiencing right now, that’s got to be a positive sign.

Nevertheless, for business planning purposes, we don’t expect things to rebound anytime soon. We expect to be in this for a while, both in terms of the public health challenges and also the resulting economic challenges. If we’re wrong about that, we can always change direction later, but for now it’s safer to be conservative.

Nomad > Ranger > Nomax

Back in March, we got a cease and desist letter from a company in the Netherlands called ‘Nomad,’ saying we had infringed on their trademark with our Nomad tank bag. It’s a bit of stretch, since ‘Nomad’ is a name used on everything from travel gear to insurance, and we sell motorcycle bags whereas this other company sells backpacking bags. I can only imagine what a pain in the ass it is to run around the world enforcing a trademark on such a commonly used English word.

Nevertheless, their trademark looks valid, and while it’s tempting to stand our ground and escalate the argument, we decided not to (after consulting with our attorney). We like the name Nomad but we’re not all that attached to it, partly because it’s so common.

After briefly considering the name ‘Ranger’ – another common word – we found out USWE already has a pack called the Ranger, so that killed that idea, but not before we tried it out on this prototype.

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Of all the naming ideas that came up, this was my personal favorite (Andrew’s idea). The only problem was how to say it in videos or write it in product descriptions.

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In the end, we decided the cease and desist letter is now part of the story, and we want that story to continue rather than reset with an entirely new name. We started adding letters to Nomad – like ‘Nomad-X’ – which then got shortened to ‘Nomax,’ which is derived from Nomad, but different enough to avoid confusion with our new penpals in the Netherlands. If you’re already used to saying ‘Nomad,’ ‘Nomax’ rolls off the tongue pretty easily.

Here are a few things we’ve learned about naming: 1) good names always sound weird at first (Google – Amazon – Starbucks – Safeway), 2) the best names have a unique story and reason for being, 3) choosing names by committee results in a boring/generic/sterile outcome – too many cooks spoils the broth, and 4) in the end, names don’t actually matter very much.

In addition to a new name, the bag-formerly-known-as-Nomad is getting a few design revisions as well. This is more of a face lift than a full redesign. First, we replaced the webbing MOLLE panel with die cut hypalon, which is something we’re doing on all our bags across the board.

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We switched the interior of the beavertail from liner material to PU.

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There’s a new gated clip.

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The fleece lined glasses is bigger, to accommodate larger glasses.

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There’s a SIM card removal tool and holder in this zipper pull.

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The change pocket takes over the real estate previously occupied by the hydration pocket opening.

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The reservoir now slides in from the top, making it a lot easier to load when full.

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Mini Nomax?

Since we introduced the Nomax a few years ago, we’ve received many requests for a smaller version for dualsports and dirt bikes. The original Nomax was based on a hydration backpack, like the ones we use for mountain biking. For inspiration on a smaller version, we’re looking at cycling hip sacks rather than backpacks. The orientation on the tank would be horizontal – perpendicular to the bike – not vertical and parallel like the Nomax.

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We’re wondering whether to make it hydration capable or not. We love having water on the tank, but a 1L hydration reservoir implies a certain size, which may be too big for the intended mission of this bag. There are also some issues with water flow, when the reservoir is sideways on the tank. Still, we were impressed with how this evoc hip sack fits when we draped it over the tank.

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Could be a cool tail bag too?

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Another idea Andrew has been playing with, is a very small/simple tank-mounted MOLLE panel with no bag underneath. It can hold different MOLLE accessories, or the Navigator cell phone case.

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Backcountry 35 Speed Pin

We got the first production samples of the new speed pin latch from our molding factory. They look fantastic. We have several hundred sewn pannier sets sitting in Vietnam right now, waiting for these to arrive after COVID-related delays. The injection molding happens in China, so once these are done and assembled, we’ll ship them to Vietnam, where they’ll be combined with the sewn bags, assembled into a finished product, and shipped to our warehouses in Portland and Amsterdam.

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New Jerseys

Scott is working on some new jersey designs. One challenge we face with jerseys, is that the minimum order quantity with our jersey factory is nearly double what it is for more expensive items like jackets and pants. We have to order at least 1,200 at a time, which is a lot. We want to change the graphics frequently to keep the designs interesting, but that’s hard to do when we’re only selling maybe 500-600 per year.

Scott found a US sewing factory that makes small production runs of fully sublimated jerseys for sports teams. Sublimation is a process for transferring dye from a printer, to paper, and then to fabric. With sublimation you can create a seam-to-seam design that doesn’t change the way the fabric feels or wears. The dye is directly infused into the fabric, not printed on top. With sublimation, we can create relatively complex ‘all-over’ digital designs, and have them transferred directly to the jerseys, with no minimum quantity per print. If we ordered 500 jerseys, we could theoretically have them in 500 different designs.

The jerseys themselves aren’t anything fancy with respect to fabrics or technical features. They’re simple. comfortable, and functional, they look cool, and they have our brand. We just got these samples and we like them. There are a few fit issues, and we already got feedback via Facebook that the bird design is uncomfortably close to some World War 2 iconography, so that is currently being reworked.

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The same company that makes the jerseys is also making some simple, single-layer, sublimated facemasks. Maybe we’ll get some of these made too, just for fun.

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Marmot Colab

Sarah, our Sales Manager, used to work at the outdoor company Marmot. Marmot wants to develop a moto-specific camping tent for ADV, and we would love to see them do that. We had a kick-off meeting on Zoom with Emilee at Marmot a few weeks ago.

For this tent, we want to go minimalist and light, but not quite to the level of bikepacking or ultralight backpacking minimalist. We’re picturing a 1.5 person size, with two doors, two large vestibules, and a freestanding pole structure, that’s designed to pack small in multiple compression sacks, with a separate tent pole bag and extra sturdy ground stakes.

If anyone wants to chime in with ideas on their version of the ultimate ADV/EDV tent, please do (on our advrider.com thread). We and Marmot will both be listening!

Thanks for including us in the process, Emilee!

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Staying Connected

It’s been about two months since we closed the Mosko shop. Since then, we rarely go to the office. The one exception is our support team – Jenn, Paulina, and Sarah – who take turns in the office, sometimes together and sometimes not. Also Andrew, who sometimes works downstairs when he needs the extra space. Everyone else is working from home. It’s hard to say how long that will continue. Probably a while.

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When we do have meetings in the conference room, they look something like this, oriented around our speakerphone and laptops.

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Pre-COVID, we had a staff meeting on Wednesdays every week, with a relaxed and flexible format, where each person takes a few minutes to describe what they’re working on and answer questions. During COVID, we’ve replicated that format on Zoom, except that now there’s much less banter on Zoom, because it gets too chaotic over video chat and the meeting stretches on forever. Because of that, we added a second recurring meeting  on Thursdays, which is a lot more casual and conversational.

Our staff meetings during COVID, look a bit like the Brady Bunch.

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Occasionally we get cameos from other family members, like Ros (Scottie’s daughter, below) and Luca (Andrew’s son, upper left above).

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A few weeks ago, Roel did in the entire hour+ staff meeting on his bike in the Netherlands, from a cell phone mounted on the handlebars. Which actually worked out great

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Our physical office is an open format – with no walls or private offices – so we’re all used to a certain amount of casual chat throughout the day. We miss that.

On the topic of video meetings: my family is also doing weekly Zoom meetings on Sunday mornings, as I know many other families are too. Here’s my dad, quarantined in Philadelphia, showing off his new exercise bike.

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The Never Leaving Home Tour (moskomo.to/live)

When we first started quarantine, and all our in-person events and shows were canceled, Ash had the idea for a livestream tour. The idea was to have an hour-long interview/chat on Zoom with someone from Mosko, or someone we’ve met through Mosko, who we thought other people might want to hear from too.

We’ve been doing the livestreams twice a week since April, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm Pacific. We’re having a lot of fun with it, so some version of this will probably continue post-COVID.

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The livestreams themselves are a blast. However they’re also stressful, because they’re live, so technological issues are always stalking ready to pounce. We had several problem-free episodes, but then last week we had two challenging ones in a row. First with our new friends Sam & Kate (moto travelers, who were turned around by COVID), we had to end the meeting, change to a different format, and restart midstream. Then on Thursday we had Quinn Cody – 4x Baja 1000 champion, now in charge of KTM North America’s ADV R&D – and right when we went live with the stream, a Zoom glitch froze up our computer and killed Zoom, and we had to cancel the stream and reschedule.

Quinn & everyone: we are SO SORRY about that!! We are rescheduling for this coming Thursday May 21.

It’s a bummer when those things happen. We feel really bad about it. We try to remind ourselves that it’s all just part of the learning process, trying new things, and being live. Even knowing that though, it’s still embarrassing. Neither of us is all that technically savvy with this kind of stuff, plus we’re doing the stream from our home computer with a rural internet connection, which creates some special challenges.

We have two more  livestreams coming up. Join us at moskomo.to/live! These are both at 7pm pacific.

  • Tuesday May 19: Paul Guillien & Inna Thorn from Backcountry Discovery Routes
  • Thursday May 21: Quinn Cody from KTM (this is the rescheduled time)

After that we’ll take a short break and figure out how the livestreams fit into the big picture going forward. We’ll probably do them once a month rather than twice a week, and the times/dates will change around based on our travel schedule. It’s hard to do livestreams from the road, due to the need for reliable internet.

The streams we’ve done so far are posted on our YouTube channel. Here’s a list with links (in reverse chronological order):

LIVE Sam + Kate on 5 months in South America x2 DR650’s + a little COVID-19

LIVE | Who’s behind Upshift Online?

LIVE Fireside Chat w/ ADVrider Founder Chris MacAskill (aka ‘Baldy’)

LIVE Off-road Legend Destry Abbott on DA8 Training + Arizona COVID-19 Quaranteam

LIVE 2020 Apparel Sneak Peek w/ Scottie B

LIVE Let’s talk ADV w/ Jeremy McGrath

LIVE Virtual Mosko Meetup (w/surprise guest appearance… it’s Tim Burke)

LIVE Product Development Meeting w/ Wildcat

LIVE Never Leaving Home LIVE Tour ’20 Kickoff with Mosko Sales Manager Sarah Miller!

New House, Tent Campers Welcome

Back in March, Ash and I moved into a new house a few miles outside of White Salmon. This happened a week before the Oregon/Washington stay-at-home orders were implemented. On the one hand our timing was terrible, because the economy has subsequently crashed at the same time as our personal housing expenses have doubled. On the other hand the timing was perfect, because it’s a great place to be stuck at home, and we have tons of projects to keep us busy.

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One of the main reasons we moved was to have space for moto-campers. 20 years ago there were lots of free car/tent camping pull-offs in the Gorge, but things are different now. Camping is limited. There’s an RV park by the Bingen bridge, which offers tent space, but you’re sleeping right next to the train tracks. On the Oregon side there are some nice state/county campgrounds, but they’re full to capacity all summer. Aside from that, you’ll end up on a dirt road pull-off 45+ minutes from town, or maybe you’ll end up at our house 🙂

Eventually we’ll have a shade/shelter with couches, music, a BBQ, a fire pit, showers, and stuff like that. We have to save up some $$ before that happens. In the meantime, we’ll soon (this week) have some leveled space for tents, a hose for water, and a rented porta-potty. If you’re coming through the gorge this summer and you need somewhere to setup camp, please let us know (by contacting the main Mosko email/phone).

Back in March, when we first moved in, JC rented an excavator and expanded the driveway, built a trailer turnaround loop, and spread a bunch of gravel around to cover up our mudpit of a parking area, all of which made the property – which is located on a steep hill – much more accessible.

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While quarantined, Ash and I have been building bike/moto singletrack around the property to keep ourselves busy when the local trails were closed. Five acres is not a ton of land, but our little loop is a little over a quarter mile so far, with more to come. It’s been a great way to get some quick exercise for us and the dogs during quarantine. The process of making the trails has been fun too.

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There is a detached shop on the property, which we recently insulated and finished. There’s a motorcycle lift in there, and also a TV and wifi, which travelers are welcome to use when they come through town.

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As part of the move, we closed out the original Mosko shop on Wyers street, which we’ve been renting since 2014. Here’s the blog post from when we first moved in. It seemed like a lot of space at the time! When Mosko needed more space a few years ago, Ash and I took over renting the old shop personally, to use as a garage and workspace. We have many good memories from there, and we’ve become friends with many of the neighbors. We were feeling sentimental as we did the final cleaning and said goodbye. Now it’s rented to a new tenant, and is being used for hot tub repairs.

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To Ride or Not To Ride?

A few weeks ago, our friends Josh and Alex from MotoDiscovery were passing through town, and we took them for a quick loop around the Gorge. About 20 miles from White Salmon, on a road he’s ridden dozens of times before, Lee lost traction and went into the ditch. His foot snagged on the embankment and twisted, breaking his tibia and fibula in multiple spots. He spent three nights in the hospital in The Dalles, had surgery to add a bunch of hardware, and now he’s recovering at home.

We’re super bummed to have Lee grounded, but we’re glad it wasn’t worse. Sometimes these things happen at the times and places where we least expect. We were lucky to be close to home, and lucky that we live in an area where COVID hasn’t stretched the hospitals and first responders to capacity. Huge thanks to everyone who helped get Lee to the hospital, and also to the doctors, surgeons, nurses, and emergency response team that got him all fixed up. He will ride again soon.

This was just a normal ride on a normal road at normal speeds, showing some friends around the Gorge. We weren’t doing anything crazy. A crash like that could’ve happened to any of us. Since the accident, we’ve had plenty of introspection about whether we should be riding, with everything else going on in the world. I’m not sure we reached any definitive conclusions on that, but we’re still riding – both mountain bikes and motos – just with an extra dose of caution. It’s an awkward time to go to the hospital.

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Free Repairs

We recently started offering free product repairs. We quietly launched our new repair program a few weeks ago without really publicizing it although it’s something we (Ames especially) have been working on for a while.

It’s such a bummer when you buy something nice and then immediately screw it up. I’m not talking about warranty – warranty issues are addressed immediately at our cost – I’m talking about bad luck and operator error. Like when you purchase a new pair of sunglasses and then immediately break or lose them. You know it’s your fault, but it still sucks. You might think twice before buying nice sunglasses next time.

Our new repair program is designed to take the sting out of situations like that. If something unfortunate happens in the first two years – regardless of the cause – we’ll fix it at our cost. If we can’t fix it for less than the value of the item, then you can instead opt to replace the item at 50% of the original price.

This is an experiment. We’re doing a quiet launch while we work out the logistics and cost of repairs. Assuming it all works out, then we’ll promote this program more down the road. In the meantime, please feel free to spread the word. We don’t need a police report or insurance claim to substantiate the damage, all we need is a broken product that was recently purchased, and a customer who needs some good news.

Check out the official policy here, read the FAQ, and feel free to reach out with any questions.

Affirm Financing

There’s a new checkout option on the Mosko site. We’re offering financing through a service called Affirm. With Affirm, you can split up your payment over as many months as you want. We (the vendor) pay 5% of the purchase price to Affirm, and you (the purchaser) pay Affirm .8% to 2.5% monthly, depending on your credit. The cost of financing should be on par with what you would pay for other unsecured short term loans like credit cards, which should  be manageable if you’re only borrowing for a few months.

If you need gear for a trip but you want to spread out the payments, this can help. Obviously, please borrow responsibly. We’re trying to solve problems here, not create new ones. The main reason we chose Affirm vs the competition, even though the cost to us is higher, was this answer they gave via email when we asked them to match a competitor’s rate:

Unfortunately, we can’t offer lower pricing to match. We are always undercut by [other company name] in pricing because of their reliance on revenue from $35 customer late fees (25% of their reported revenue actually) while Affirm stands by our mission that we’ll never charge late fees or be involved in growing debt practices of any kind.”

More info is available on the Affirm website here: How It Works.

In Other News

Ames and Ashley (his wife) used their extra time in quarantine to build this killer pump track in their backyard. We tried it out last week. What a workout. The idea is to ride the entire loop repeatedly without pedaling, by pumping your legs on the downslopes to build momentum, and absorbing the inclines in the same way. It’s harder than it sounds, it takes a lot of skill and fitness to do it right.

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Stay-at-home orders are still active in Washington and Oregon. We’re not supposed to travel more than 50 miles for recreational activities. This is the longest Ash and I have ever been in one place. Several times in the last two months, we were tempted to take a multi-day trip, either on bikes or with the camper. Each time, we canceled. Not because we don’t think we can travel safely, but because whenever we see people flouting the guidelines, it reminds us that we’re accountable for ourselves. Everyone is testing the boundaries in their own small ways – us included – and the boundaries themselves are ambiguous, with nearly zero enforcement. We’re doing what we’ve been asked to do, and waiting this thing out. When the restrictions lift, we’ll travel again.

Until then: Spring is here, the trails are tacky, and in some places riding is allowed. Those are the places we’re going. Maybe we’ll see you there!

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Moskoblog: Coronavirus v1.0

March 28, 2020

By now, everyone has been affected by the virus in some way. Here’s our story.

On February 1st, Ash and I boarded a flight to Vietnam via Hong Kong to get bikes and ride around for a month. The virus situation was developing in China, and we knew it might be a factor on our trip, but at that point we weren’t too concerned. We thought it would be like SARS: slightly scary, slightly disruptive, but ultimately contained.

Even at that early stage, it was hard to ignore the virus while traveling. Leaving Portland, there were lots of masks on the plane. Every cough or sneeze got a sideways glance.

Browsing the news on the seat’s LCD, nearly every story was about the virus.

In Hong Kong and Vietnam, there were temperature checks for incoming passengers.

Once we landed in Vietnam and got on the bikes, the virus became background noise. We rode Northwest from Hanoi toward Laos, about 100 miles from the China border. The China/Laos border was closed due to the virus, so the hotels and restaurants were eerily empty. Some pics of the journey are in this blog post from 2/21.

On February 10th I broke my leg. Not knowing the best place to find a doctor, we continued riding to our destination, the small town of Phongsali, and found a hotel. That same day, Ash started coughing and sneezing. Initially we joked about it, like ‘hey maybe it’s the virus,’ but we didn’t take it very seriously since the leg seemed like a more pressing issue.

That night her cough got worse, and the next morning she had a fever and was too sick to ride. We decided to sit tight for a day and see what happened, so we stocked up on snacks and water, and booked the room for a second night. That day in the hotel with a broken leg, fever, and coughing was the nadir of the trip.

Although we figured it was just a normal traveler’s crud, given our location, it was hard not to consider the virus. It didn’t help that the news was all-virus-all-the-time, and we were stuck in a room with nothing to do but stare at our phones.

We learned that Laos had a virus hotline. We were worried that if Ash had the virus she might contribute to spreading it as we traveled, so she called the hotline and talked to someone in Vientiane (20+ hours south by road), who told her to go see the doctor in Phongsali immediately. By then it was 10pm, we were in bed about to sleep, and we planned to ride 6 hours south to a real hospital (with an Xray for the leg) in the morning. However, the hotline lady wanted Ash to go see the doctor right away, that night.

Here is Ash’s Whatsapp exchange with the hotline.

Ash followed their advice and went. We were worried she might get quarantined regardless of her virus status, because we were foreigners, the virus was all over the news, she was clearly sick, and they probably didn’t have the test in Phongsali. Here’s Ash with her bugout bag packed, leaving for the doctor alone at 10pm in the dark, hoping she’ll be coming back after. I couldn’t go due to my broken leg.

What actually happened – rather than quarantine – was that after a brief, awkward, and confusing exchange with the doctor, it became obvious that no testing would happen in Phongsali. The doctor – who put on a second face mask when he learned why she was there – was not excited to see her. She returned to the hotel an hour later, and the next day we left. Riding south to Oudomxay we were a motley crew, me with my broken leg and Ash with her fever. Here’s Ash, feverish, fully passed out on the side of the road.

This is all in our advrider.com ride report. Long story short, Ash recovered and continued south on the bike, exploring Vietnam solo. I went to Thailand for treatment, where my friend JM loaned me a car to drive around. We reconnected a few weeks later in HCMC to visit factories and fly home on March 1st. By then, virus awareness was widespread in Vietnam, and temperature checks and health questionnaires were standard everywhere we went.

Landing in Portland, it was clear the US had a different perspective. The health checks we saw at borders, hotels, and airports throughout Asia, were completely absent coming home. We showed our passports at the border and walked right through, no questions asked. Nobody had gloves or masks, and nobody seemed too concerned about the virus. I’m sure it’s different now, but that’s how it was a few weeks ago.

Back in the U.S., on March 3rd, we had an all-hands meeting with the Mosko team to discuss how the evolving situation might affect our business.

We looked at it from three angles:

  1. The health of our team, families, friends, and riders.
  2. Disruptions to our supply chain: factories, materials suppliers, and shippers.
  3. Reduced sales from canceled events and general economic malaise.

At that point it still seemed reasonable to travel, and no events had been canceled. Our first Spring event was Adventure Days at Rawhyde’s ‘Zakar’ facility in the Mojave Desert. From there we planned to go to Salt Lake City for a meetup, Odessa, WA for the Desert 100, Tennessee for March Moto Madness, Florida for a meetup, Missouri for a meetup, then home. JC packed the Mosko show trailer, I hooked up the Mosko camper, and we headed south to the Mojave with two trucks and two 40′ trailers in tow. Sarah, Ash, and Jenn flew down from Portland the next day, rented cars in LA, and met us at Zakar on March 11th.

This was our fourth year at Adventure Days, and it was as awesome as ever, despite what was happening in the rest of the world. With the virus situation evolving, there was something very appropriate about heading to a container compound in the desert, designed to survive a zombie apocalypse (Zakar = zombie apocalypse + Dakar). Maybe – hopefully – this was as close as we’ll ever get to ’28 Days Later.’

Ash and I did several presentations on fly-in trips, Mosko, and our trip through SE Asia. I was limping around on a knee crutch with my lower leg in a fiberglass cast.

Our buddy Tommy showed up with his custom overland vehicle ‘Big Momma,’ which is built on a 5 ton chassis with a KLR on the front. This rig is so badass. He built it all himself by hand, starting with just a flatbed. Check it out at Overland Expo this year (if that still happens, the dates were moved to July).

Tommy and the Mosko team went for a ride on Sunday afternoon, after packing up the booth.

While we were at Zakar, the virus situation escalated further. The Desert 100 was canceled, California banned public gatherings, and ‘social distancing’ became a thing. We canceled our SLC meetup, canceled future travel plans, and sent out the email I posted in the last blog. We were returning to a different world than the one we’d left just 5 days before.

Ash, Sarah, and Jenn flew home – the last flights anyone at Mosko will take for a while – while JC and I drove with the trailers, detouring through the desert to avoid the worst of a late season storm. At a campground in Nevada on Monday morning, with snow falling outside, we had a conference call with the team, and decided to close the Mosko office until further notice. Everyone started working from home.

Also that week: virus awareness increased massively, the stock market hit new lows, and large scale lockdowns and travel restrictions went into effect in the US and Europe. The headlines looked like this.

Back home in Washington, I was happy to finally get my cast removed, and replaced with a walking boot (no more crutch!). Vernon Wade, the x-ray tech who cut the cast off, has this killer Triumph sidecar that he showed me in the parking lot on the way out, as we practiced responsible social distancing. Check out Vern’s website here: Adventure Sidecar.

Looking at our sales so far this year, it’s pretty clear that until Sunday – the last day of Adventure Days – our sales were on one trajectory. Then starting Monday, they adjusted to a different (lower) trajectory. Now we’re adapting our business to that new trajectory, since nobody really knows how long this will last.

Some of the steps we’ve taken include reducing work hours for everyone on the team, freezing discretionary spending and travel, requesting extended terms from our major vendors, and contacting our landlords and lenders for payment deferrals while our office and vehicles sit idle. We’ve also applied for some special ‘disaster’ loans being offered by the SBA. The SBA’s website has been so overloaded with traffic, that I had to upload our application at 4am so it didn’t crash.

Andrew, Scott, and Julia are working on new designs at home. Jenn, Paulina, and Sarah are responding to calls and emails as usual, going into the office occasionally – solo or 6′ apart -when needed. Lee and Ames are in close communication with our factories, which are reporting delays and in some cases (i.e. Bangladesh) temporary shutdowns. Spencer and Ash are keeping up with social media – which is more active than ever, with so many people home-bound and/or #motodistancing – and creating new videos. Roel is laying low in the Netherlands, boxed in by the European travel restrictions. JC left Washington for his home in Colorado two days ago, and should be there by now. Everyone is hunkered down, sheltering in place.

Our warehouses in Portland and Amsterdam are fully operational. Orders are still coming in, product is still going out, and phones and emails are still being answered. When the restrictions lift, we’ll bring everyone back to full time, move back into the shop, load up the bikes & booth, and get back on the road. In the meantime, if you have any questions about anything at all, or even if you just want to chat because you’re all cooped up at home, do not hesitate to reach out.

Here’s what our home offices look like.

Spencer (Marketing)

Scott (Apparel Design)

Sarah (Sales)

Lee (Engineering & Ops)

Julia (Product Development)

Jenn (Rider Support)

Dan (Graphic Design)

Ash (Marketing)

Andrew (Bag Design)

Ames (Special Projects & Ops)

Paulina (Rider Support)

Roel (International Sales)

Me (Crash Testing)

It’s a weird moment. Normally we’d all be in the shop together, shooting the shit and comparing notes. Instead we’re hunkered down individually at home, connected by phone, text, Zoom, and Slack, doing our best to make decisions with the limited information we have. I’m sure we’ll all be telling stories about this period for many years to come.

If any travelers are stuck out there anywhere in the world, stranded by the virus situation, and we can help in any way, please contact us. We have internet, phones, resources, and time, plus a network of riders and friends around the world. Maybe we can help you.

Stay safe & healthy!

Nobody Likes a Virus!

March 12, 2020

With financial markets in freefall, a flood of digital misinformation online, the Saudis and Russians fighting over oil prices, and the media machine running in high gear, one headline really stood out this morning: Tom Hanks has the virus.

Shit just got real.

Here at little ‘ol Mosko Moto in the small mountain village of White Salmon, Washington – friendly faces everywhere, humble folks without temptation – we’re doing our best to interpret all the coronavirus news coming out of the big city.

Our priorities are twofold. First: we want to protect the health and safety of our ‘Extended Mosko Family’ which includes you, our team, and all our families, friends, and relatives. Second: we want to continue moving the business forward, making badass gear for this sport we love.

We have 42 events on the calendar for 2020 in the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe. At each of these events (aka ‘public gatherings’ in CDC talk) we meet hundreds of new people. Then we pack our trailer, move on to the next venue, and do it all again. It’s the opposite of what the medical and scientific communities are asking people to do right now.

Until things settle down, we are temporarily reducing our travel and event schedule.

– Holding off on hosting Mosko Meetups, including our next meetup that was scheduled on March 17th in Salt Lake City.

– Politely pulling back from far-away events that require air travel. Sadly, that means we will not be at March Moto Madness in Tennessee this year, which we’re really bummed about.

– Suspending overseas travel to our factories in Asia.

For previously scheduled events that we can reach by road, like ADV Days (happening now), the Desert 100 (canceled yesterday), and Overland Expo (our next big US event in May), we’re trusting the organizers to make the hard decisions about whether to cancel or proceed. We’ll support whatever they decide. If the event is proceeding as planned, we’ll try like hell to be there.

Just like when something unexpected happens on a moto trip – a breakdown, injury, road closure, or getting lost – we’re taking all this in stride, embracing the challenges it presents, and carrying on, knowing that when we look back later, this will all make for a great campfire story.

In the meantime, please remember to always cover your nose and mouth (with your helmet), keep your hands away from your face (on the handlebars), and avoid large groups of people (by heading to the mountains, woods, and desert).

The Mosko Team

Southeast Asia & Laos Crash

February 21, 2020

I’m currently in Mae Hong Son, Thailand recovering from a broken leg, and Ash is camped out with a hill tribe somewhere in central Vietnam.

We arrived in SE Asia three weeks ago to do a loop through Northern Vietnam and Laos, starting in Hanoi and ending in Saigon. Things went sideways in Laos just 10 days into the trip, when I slid on the pavement and spiral-fractured my fibula.

The medical options in Laos were limited, so I flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand to visit an orthopedic specialist at a private hospital. There was no need for both of us to go, so Ash continued the journey solo on her bike. This is Ash’s first solo trip outside the US, and although of course we both wish the accident hadn’t happened, what a great opportunity! She’s been having an absolute blast.

We’re meeting in HCMC at the end of the month to visit with factories and catch a flight home. In the meantime I found a great hospital in Chiang Mai, met some awesome new friends, and now I’m road tripping in my buddy JM’s loaner 4×4 in Northern Thailand. Yesterday I even ducked across the border into Myanmar for 30 minutes just because, why not? I’m alone and on crutches, so I can’t do much except drive around.

The fully story of the trip is posted on our (still going) ADVrider Ride Report.

Here’s a quick summary:

We rented two XR150s from Tigit Motorbikes, which has offices in both Hanoi and Saigon. The bikes were $500 for the month for a one-way trip, and they were in excellent condition. Tigit has been awesome to work with, I can’t say enough good things about them. I can see why they have so many 5 star ratings online.

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We first headed north in Vietnam, but it’s winter and it was pouring rain in the mountains, so we headed west toward Laos instead, where it’s sunny and dry this time of year. Beautiful scenery, nice little villages, friendly folks, bumpy roads, and delicious noodles.

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This is where I slid. You can see the gouges in the pavement back to the apex of the turn. The road was wet from rain the night before, and there was a big and obvious slippery patch where the rear wheel lost traction. I was going maybe 20 mph.

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First we went to the local hospital in Laos, but the non-english-speaking doctor there was not much help.  He didn’t even notice the fracture. He seemed more confused by the old injury, and by the metal hardware that was already installed in the leg.

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Gear sidenote: the Reckless 80 v3 held up well in the slide.

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The Danner leather boots saved my foot. If I’d been wearing full moto boots, would the break still have happened? Not sure. It was caused by twisting. My foot was trapped under the bike, and my body flipped over while sliding. It twisted the leg, causing the spiral fracture. A more protective boot might have helped, but twisting injuries are hard to prevent. Even in a larger boot, my foot would have been trapped and my body would have twisted. Still, I can’t help but wonder.

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The fabric on the Rak jacket prototype held up great.

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This full-face Klim helmet prevented some facial scars.

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Ash and I parted ways in Oudomxay, Laos. She continued toward Saigon on the bike, while I flew to Thailand for a hospital.

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The private Bangkok Hospital in Chiang Mai is unreal. It’s like checking into a luxury hotel. Service is lightning fast, professional, and all in English. The total cost for everything including new crutches was $400 USD.

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Huge thanks to my buddy JM who invited me to stay with him in Chiang Mai, took me to the hospital, and even loaned me a car! Dude, I owe you one!!

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There’s a large & lively ADV community in Chiang Mai. It was really cool to meet everyone!

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Mark Ritchie (aka @markinthailand on advrider) invited me to give a presentation at his cafe/school/gym in Chiang Mai, which is built almost entirely from converted shipping containers. His school, the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute (ISDSI), caters to international students spending a semester studying abroad. About 30 ADVers came for the presentation. It was great to meet everyone. Thanks for coming! And thanks for the opportunity Mark!!

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Met this cool guy Maurice, who is starting a new business called ‘Rider Buds‘ making headphones for motorcyclists. He sold out his Indiegogo campaign, and just received his first delivery. The product looks great man. Congrats! I am definitely buying a set.

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It was also neat to see riders notice the carbon fiber laptop cases my buddy Juan makes (his site: Valeo Cases). Whenever I turned around, it seemed like someone was inspecting it.

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The next morning, I headed up into the hills in this sweet Suzuki Vitara 4×4 that JM loaned me for the week. I’m just exploring a bit, catching up on work and the blog, and reading a lot. Although it’s hard to get around on crutches, things could definitely be worse 🙂

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In a few days I’ll return to Chiang Mai, the leg will get wrapped in a full cast (right now I have a half-cast until the swelling goes down), and I’ll catch a flight to HCMC to meet up with Ash and visit factories.

That’s it for now. Time to pack up and get on the road before they kick me out of this hotel!

The Mosko Mule Rides Again

January 20, 2020

Happy New year!

Most of us here at Mosko took a break over the holidays, either at home or somewhere out of town. Andrew and his family went to San Juanico Baja, Scott and his family went to Todos Santos to surf, Sarah went skiing in Montana, Ames went to Florida for a family visit (and took his first-ever kiteboard lesson), Blake went to Joshua Tree to ride motorcycles in the snow, Jenn nursed her still-broken-but-almost-better leg on Orca’s Island in Puget Sound, and Ash and I went surfing in Costa Rica. Lee, Paulina, and Julia enjoyed the holidays at home in the Gorge.

Spencer Hill: The Gear Dude

Spencer Hill is joining the Mosko team part time in 2020. You may already know Spencer as The Gear Dude, or maybe you’ve read his stories or seen his pics online. Spencer wrote one of the first-ever articles on Mosko, an ‘industry profile’ for Adventure Motorcycle Magazine back in 2016 (check it out here).

Here’s a pic from that 2016 article. That’s Spencer in the middle, with the black puffy jacket.

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Here’s Spencer on the new Yamaha Tenere 700 in a writeup for Upshift Online Magazine (issue 39) wearing his Basilisk riding kit.

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Spencer: we’re stoked to have you on the team, welcome aboard!

Speed Pin Latch Idea

We’ve been experimenting with different latching systems for the Backcountry Pannier wedge mount. The latch we currently use is an off-the-shelf design. You might have seen the same latch on metal panniers or various types of storage/shipping boxes. It works pretty well, but there are some things we’re not crazy about. For example, after a big crash the overlapping lips of the latch and keeper will sometimes bend, resulting in a lose connection between the wedge and frame. Also, because the latch is behind the bag and anodized black, it’s easy to accidentally leave it open.

Andrew came up with an idea for a spring-loaded pin that runs through the bag frame and into the wedge. Using a hand drill and some off-the-shelf hardware from Ace, he created a prototype. We sent it to Dusty at West38 in Colorado for real world testing. That went well, so we ordered real prototypes from our molding factory. Last week those prototypes finally arrived.

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We tried to break one, hammering the bag hard enough to break chips off the frame. The latch held. When it deformed, you could bend it back. It’s such a simple design that field repairs would be easy if needed. On a longer trip you could even remake the entire pin from scratch if you had to.

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Here’s a video of us – just a few minutes after cutting open the box of prototypes – screwing around with the new latch, and trying to figure out what would be the first part to break.

After that, Andrew, Lee, and Blake took the Mosko Mule for a test run. The Mule is a CB175 frame with pannier racks, no rear suspension, and a paddle tire with some paddles cut off. We load the panniers with 50 lbs of sand each, connect it to a trailer hitch, and drag it around to quickly simulate a bunch of wear. It definitely gets some attention while driving around White Salmon.

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We’re feeling good about the new latch. We like it much better than the other latch we experimented with last year (see pics of a 3D printed prototype below). That one was bulkier, creating potential clearance issues, plus it had more moving parts, meaning more things to jam or break. Also the molds were $40k. The speed pin seems like a better, simpler solution to the same problem, and without the big upfront cost.

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First Backpack Prototype

We also got a first backpack prototype, which is based on all the feedback from advrider around this time last year (thanks again for that).

First prototypes of sewn goods are always a little weird. Andrew jokingly calls it the ‘Box of Disappointments,’ because anticipation and expectations are always running high, but what comes out of the box is usually not what you expected. The fabrics, colors, zippers, and trims are all substitute materials, the sizing is never quite right, and you suddenly realize how many little things you forgot to put in the specs.

In that context, we were pretty happy with this first prototype. It fits and works, so that’s a good start. The main compartment is split into two smaller ones, with a lumbar-supported hydration reservoir in the bottom, and the beavertail tucks away when you don’t need it. It has a front chest harness – which will eventually have pockets –  and a lot of ergonomics built into the back panel. No waist belt required.

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The Blazer Insulated Shirt-Jak

This insulated combo shirt/jacket is in production for 2020. It packs small, it’s warm but not TOO warm, and it works both on and off the bike. It’s thin enough to wear under armor (not poofy and no hood), but also warm enough for 3 season use in camp. This is not one of the heated garments we’ve been working on (those are still coming, but not this year).

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The logos on this new shirt-jak will be subtle: a lizard on the back of the shoulder and two small sewn-on tags on the front.

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I’ve been wearing it nearly every day since last week, including two days on the ski hill. I’m digging it a lot.

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New York Motorcycle Show

Back in December, Ash and Blake flew to New York to meetup with JC – who drove the Mosko trailer from Colorado – and setup for the New York motorcycle show at Javits Center in Manhattan.

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I was in Philadelphia around the same time visiting my family. My Dad Charlie, my sister Nadya, her husband Frank, our friend Francie, and I all took a train to New York for the show.

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The booth was very busy when we arrived.

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Mike Hernandez from BMW stopped by. Mike originated the Atacama program with BMW, although he now works on the car side of BMW. Great to see you Mike!

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Our friends Paul and Aida – recently home from a RTW trip (check out this link) – came to help at the show. Thanks guys! Paul and Aida are the only other people I’m aware of (besides me) who have Mosko tattoos. There’s a great pic of Paul, taken by Aida, on the front page of the Mosko website right now.

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Dad doesn’t ride much anymore, but here’s one of my favorite pics of us together. This was in Oregon about 15 years ago.

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The New York show is extraordinarily expensive to attend. Not only because of the booth space, but also the cost of getting the trailer there and back, the cost of storing it in New Jersey during the show, and the cost of lodging, food, flights, and ground transport for everyone who attends. Based solely on sales, if the same show happened in Utah or Colorado it would be a slam dunk, but New York City is a special challenge. This might be a show that we end up doing every other year instead of annually.

2020 Apparel Products

We received updated apparel samples. I was most excited to see the new Rak overpant. The Rak is a heavy duty overpant with full side zips designed as a rain layer for long-distance touring in non-waterproof gear. In our line, it fits between the Basilisk (most durable, least packable) and the Deluge (most packable, least durable). I’ll be taking this overpant to SE Asia for testing in a few weeks.

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We’ll replace the sealed side zipper in the pic below with a YKK Vislon Aquaguard in the production version.

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We added an attachment loop on the back of the Basilisk, to secure it to the bike with a Voile strap when you’re not wearing it.

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Same thing on the Rak jacket.

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We’re experimenting with adding some inside panels to protect the inner tricot from abrasion caused by body armor.

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On this prototype of the Basilisk, the collar is doing something weird on top of the adam’s apple. It’s because of the internal storm flap. We can fix that.

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The Basilisk pants look good.

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No inseam extender zips on the new version, we’re introducing tall and regular lengths instead.

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Bridgestone Tires

We got a big order of tires from Bridgestone for all of our show, company, and personal bikes. Bridgestone has a new ADV tire – the Battlax Adventurecross AX41 . Stop by the Mosko booth this spring/summer to check it out. We’ll have the AX41 on our BMW R1200GS Adventure, Honda Africa Twin, KTM 790 Adventure, and Honda 450L.

How many tires does it take to fill our small shop? Enough to keep our friends at Paco’s Tire in White Salmon busy for a while.

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JC stopped by Woody’s Wheel Works in Denver with the truck and trailer, where he and Kyle changed out the tires on our show bikes. Thanks again Woody’s!!

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The Automan

In December Ash and I started a new project for the UNRally.

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Ethiopia to Southeast Asia

Last February, Ash and I bought two new Chinese-made dualsport bikes in Ethiopia, rode them for a month, and left them in Awassa with the intent to return this winter and continue the trip.

We booked flights to Ethiopia for Feb 1. As the trip got closer, the two guys who were supposed to be storing our bikes completely stopped responding to messages. At this point we don’t know if the bikes are still there, or if they’ve been stolen or sold-off or what. Maybe we never will. However with only two weeks left before the trip and no communication from them, we pulled the plug. Our friend Chad will be in Awassa in the next few weeks, so hopefully he can find out what happened. He knows the two guys and is related to one of them.

With that unexpected change of events and not much time left for a backup plan, we redirected our flights to Vietnam. We have two XR150s waiting for us in Hanoi ($500/bike for a month, reserved through Tigit Motorbikes), and we’re stoked to spend some time exploring the mountains in Northern Vietnam and Laos. Because of all the confusion over the status of our bikes in Ethiopia, it was a big relief to make a final decision to kill that plan and move on. SE Asia is one of my favorite places to ride, and Ash has never been there. I have a feeling it’s going to be epic.

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Our Vietnam visas arrived with this neat little tourist brochure, including a pic illustrating the correct way to dress for two-wheeled travel in Asia: short sleeves and a dress 🙂

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Other News

Foghorn Visit

Ash, Blake, and I went to Portland a few weeks ago to meet with our digital marketing firm Foghorn Labs. One of the cool things about digital marketing is that we can trace engagement, conversions, and sales vs spend. It’s not a perfect system – Google and Facebook take credit for a lot of orders that probably would have come anyway – but it’s more than we get from other types of marketing. We weren’t doing any digital marketing for most of 2019, we only turned it on at the end of the year. So far so good.

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Cruz Tools

We want to add a fully stocked tool kit from Cruz Tools kit as an option for our Fatty and Pinner tool rolls. Ames and Lee are deciding what to include.

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Tie-Down Straps

We’re developing our own Mosko cam buckle tie-down, and maybe a ratchet strap too. An approval sample arrived last week.

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Side Release Buckles

One of the most frequent repair requests we get, whether for warranty or crash repair, is a broken side release buckle. Our current buckle is the Duraflex Ghost Eye, with the female side sewn-on. We want to change that to a removable buckle for easier field repairs. The only problem is that Duraflex doesn’t make a 1″ version, so we’ll start with the 3/4″ and 1.5″ versions now, then introduce a 1″ later when it’s available.

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Basilisk in the Wild

We love seeing our friends wear the Basilisk riding kit, even when they’re not on their bikes. Here’s Tom Medema from Rally for Rangers on the ski hill in Michigan.

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Here’s Chris and Mariel from Rottweiler Performance out for drinks in California.

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Christmas Party

We held the Mosko Christmas party at 6th Street Bistro in Hood River. Chris, the owner of 6th street, is also a rider. This year we were joined by Dan Cox (our graphic designer), Karl Golts (our web developer), and Alistair Nichols (who helps with marketing). Plus Spencer Hill came all the way down to the gorge from Seattle.

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Blake brought the Christmas tree.

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Dave Wachs Paintings

Our friend Dave Wachs makes amazing landscape paintings. In December he called and said he had the perfect painting of Beatty’s Butte, a prominent visual landmark for travelers in the Eastern Oregon desert, for the Mosko shop. However it was actually two paintings not one, and they should really stay together. Long story short we now have two awesome Dave Wachs paintings in the Mosko shop. Thanks Dave!! And thanks Geoff, for framing and bringing them to the Gorge.

Dave is a local legend here in the Pacific Northwest riding community. To learn more about him, here’s a recent article from Bend Magazine. Many of his paintings are based on the landscapes he encounters while exploring the Oregon backcountry on two wheels. Check out some of his recent paintings on Instagram.

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Markus’ Bikes

Our friend Markus Wimmer in Austria did this, and now we all have decal envy. Markus this looks SO cool man. Nice work. Thanks for rocking the Mosko logo!

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Wes’ New Bike

Pic of the Month goes to Ames’ son Wes on his brand new Oset electric trials bike. Mosko’s first rider of the next generation. Go Wes!

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San Francisco to Long Beach – and Paulina, Welcome Aboard!

December 7, 2019

We have another new addition to the team to announce. Paulina joined Mosko last week from See See Motorcycles in Portland. Before that she worked at the outdoor gear company Poler, also in Portland. Paulina rides a KTM 200 XCW on the trails, and she’s interested in getting her first dualsport soon. She’ll be working with Sarah & Jenn in Customer Service.

Here’s Paulina, 20 seconds into her first day at Mosko.

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Here she is a little later that same day, training with Jenn.

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Paulina: welcome aboard!

New Scout 30 Duffle

We received a final prototype of the revised Scout 30 duffle, which will replace the Scout 25 duffle sometime next year. We added 5L of capacity, changed the beavertail design, beefed up the backpack straps, and made the straps detachable. I’m really digging the look and feel, can’t wait to use it on a trip. Lee has been riding with a prototype of this bag all summer and he loves it. 

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Voile Straps

Our new Voile straps arrived a few weeks ago. You can find them on our website here.

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This is how I’ve been using Voile straps to connect a Basilisk Jacket to the MOLLE panel on the Reckless 80 beavertail. Right below it, the Fatty Tool Roll is also connected to my BDCW luggage rack with Voile straps as well.

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On a trip last week, I used the MOLLE panel behind the Backcountry 35 v2 beavertail to connect a Deluge rain suit with a Voile strap. The jacket fits on one side, pants fit on the other. There are pass-throughs on the Deluge stuff sack specifically for this purpose. With the beavertail cinched down, you’ll barely even notice it’s there.

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Show Bike Builds

Big thanks to Daryl and the team at Cyclops Adventure Sports for traveling all the way down to little ‘ol White Salmon and installing lights on our show bikes. So cool!

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These things are BRIGHT!!

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Also: big thanks to Woody’s Wheel Works for these awesome rims on our BMW R1200GSA, KTM 790 Adventure, and Honda Africa Twin. This might be the most excited I’ve ever been about rims. Woody’s Wheels are tougher and lighter than OEM wheels, and the anodized hubs looks totally bad-ass.

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In addition to Cyclops and Woody’s, our 5 show bikes now feature parts from Black Dog Cycle Works, Adventure Spec, Outback Motortek, Doubletake Mirror, IMS Tanks, Seat Concepts, Bark Busters, and Hippo Hands. We’re also talking to Bridgestone about tires and Trail-Tech about GPS. These are going to be some very well equipped bikes. We’ll do a more detailed writeup when they’re done.

While Cyclops was working on the show bikes, JC pulled up outside with our newly wrapped show trailer, and we (and Kade) got our first look.

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San Francisco Meetup

With the show bikes done and the trailer loaded, JC left for San Francisco by road, while Sarah, Andrew, Ash, and I flew down to meet him for a Mosko Meetup at Moto Guild on Treasure Island, cosponsored by our friends at advrider.com.

Moto Guild is a DIY repair shop with dozens of lifts and tools for doing just about anything you can imagine to your bike. They offer classes on bike repair and mechanics, consignment gear sales, and bike storage. I wish we had something like this in White Salmon.

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We had about 125-150 people come through from 2-8pm. We polished off 20+ pizzas and two kegs of beer.

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Chris MacAskill (aka ‘Baldy’), the founder of advrider.com, gave a presentation on the history and founding of the site. Chris was originally a geophysicist, who got into the tech industry working for Steve Jobs at NeXT Computer. He later started an online bookseller called fatbrain.com, which was acquired by Barnes & Noble in 2000, and which eventually became barnesandnoble.com.

Chris started advrider.com as a community gathering point and online forum for moto travelers. At that time there wasn’t an easy way to share photos, so he created a second and separate site called smugmug.com,  which is now one of the leading photo sharing sites on the internet. Smugmug is still a family owned business run by Chris’ son, with over 200 employees. Meanwhile advrider.com – always a side hobby – has grown into one of the largest forums on the internet. I mean not just in the motorcycle space, but the entire internet. With more than 350,000 registered members, 30 million posts, and millions of monthly visitors, if you google nearly any topic related to adventure riding, advrider.com invariably floats to the top.

Chris is a great storyteller, a great public speaker, and also a great photographer, which is not surprising for the founder of an online photo site. He shared old pics from the early days. He also told us about an injury he recently sustained while riding off-road with hard luggage. You can see his broken fibula on the screen below.

Thank you Chris!

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Attendance was great, the presentation was awesome, and sales were enough to cover our costs. Big thanks to everyone who braved the traffic and came to Treasure Island to hang for a bit! Especially Ray and Abe for coming early and staying late to setup and tear down.

By the way, Sarah Miller, you’re crushing it with the meetups! Thank you.

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Long Beach IMS

The International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach, CA is always the busiest of our winter shows. This year we had a 20×30 island instead of the 20×10 inline booth we’ve had in the past. We also had new displays, flooring, and lights, but we didn’t really have a plan for how to lay it all out when we arrived. We got there two days early so we’d have lots of time to tinker. Scott Bryan from Mosko and Wade Olsen, our friend from So Cal, joined us at the show. Thanks for the hard work and help guys!!

Here’s our little truck and trailer lined up with the big boys.

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Here’s the Michelin man telling Kade about tires. Kade’s like, ‘cool story bro.’

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With the larger trailer, there’s no getting around the Teamsters Union at the loading dock. Our stuff is forklifted, weighed, and charged by the pound on it’s way in, plus there’s a roll-in fee for each bike. We’re also required to use Decorator’s Union labor for setup and tear down. It’s hard to figure out how much you’ll be charged, I asked the lady at the service desk and she had no idea. There’s a hectic negotiation when you arrive at the door about how much help you’re going to get, which has more to do with how busy they are/aren’t than how much you need. From reading the exhibitor pack, I think setup labor was $110/hour, tear down labor was $220/hour, and the forklift was $80 per hundred pounds. Our booth was right inside the door and we have our own carts for everything, so we didn’t actually need any help, but that is not how it works.

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These new flooring tiles not only make the booth look better, they’re also a hell of a lot more comfortable to stand on all day. Or maybe I am just getting old.

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At first we were worried about our backdrops being only 20′ whereas the booth was 30′, but this ended up working fine. It actually works better to block one of the short ends instead of the long end.

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We used the backdrops from our outdoor shows to make a little storage room in the middle of the booth, displaying three of our four mannequins.

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JC built this storage box to hold our bag samples in the trailer. It also makes a great display table for tool rolls at the front of the booth. Ash found a local printer who made the white lizard decal that afternoon.

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Here are some pics of the finished booth.

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Brett Tckas from PSSOR gave a presentation in the “Adventure Out’ section of the show directly across from our booth, in which Mosko bags were prominently featured. Thanks Bret!

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The new Harley adventure bike was on display. In a box, which was weird.

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We had a great show. We were just $100 shy of our all time record (set at the BMW Rally in TN). Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

New KTM 1290s

The day after returning from Long Beach, Ash and I picked up KTM 1290 Super Adventure R’s from our friends at Fun Country Powersports in the Dalles. We set them up that night, and left for the Oregon coast the next day.

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It’s hard to tell in this pic, but Ash is doing her happy dance.

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The first step was to install some new Outback Motortek racks and Backcountry v2 panniers. Ash used the 25L, I took the 35L. The racks were super easy to install and our Mosko wedges mounted seamlessly. These are the ‘Standard Frame’ racks, not the ‘X-Frame’ racks that are also made by Outback Motortek. OM is now our go-to recommendation when people ask what racks to buy.

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Ash and I both tested the new Rak anorak jacket, a prototype of our new heated jacket, and some heated pants from Venture Heat. Temps were low to mid 30s with mixed rain and snow, and we were quite warm throughout. It was like riding in a sauna, except for our feet, which were cold.

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Armor-over-insulation is more comfortable than under, because the fabric isn’t stretched tight over the armor, and it’s also warmer because the heat is closer to your skin. However the heated pants are noticeably bulkier than long underwear, which made everything feel pretty snug on my bottom half. The upside is that you can ride comfortably all day long in freezing temps and rain, be completely warm and dry, and not have to add a ridiculous number of layers.

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The idea for this brief 4-day trip was to go surfing. A few years ago our friend Richard Siberell turned us on to ‘surf mats’ as a practical way to surf from a motorbike. A surf mat is a small inflatable raft that you ride like a boogie board with fins, but which packs down small so you can store it on a bike. They are made from heavy duty welded-seam materials with a rough side (which faces up and sticks to your body) and a smooth side (which faces down and slides across the water). They are absolutely the kookiest things in the surf lineup, but you can paddle out in pretty much any kind of surf and have a blast. Plus they fold small and fit easily on your bike.

Here’s a couple videos of surf mats in action:

 

Here’s the company I got mine from:

Fourth Gear Fliers Fatty Surf Mat: http://surfmats.com/the-fatty.html

I can fit the surf mat, fins, 5/4 wetsuit, booties, gloves, and a hooded rashguard in a Stinger 22l drybag duffle. This I mounted over the passenger seat of the bike.

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Water and air temps were both in the 40s, which made for chilly fingers and numb hands. They sting like crazy when they come back to life.

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At a restaurant we found a simple cheapo stylus that someone had left behind on the table. Our buddy Juan suggested using it to operate a cell phone with gloves on. That’s one of the main difficulties I’ve encountered with my cell phone as a navigational tool. Screen-friendly gloves are too clunky to type with. Is a stylus the answer? I’ll try it.

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That night I ordered this ‘tactical pen’ with stylus from Smith & Wesson. It is also a weapon, apparently.

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The Super Adventure comes with a robust OEM tool kit. I integrated this into my existing tool kit and Fatty Tool Roll, which now covers all six of our bikes.

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Coming back from the trip we arrived at the house to find two new boxes of 1290 accessories from Black Dog Cycle Works: skid plates, foot pegs, and luggage racks. Stoked to get this stuff installed.

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I’ve been using the Nomad tank bag for the last few years. This trip – on a big ADV bike with lots of rain – was a perfect opportunity to ride with the Hood. I love that the Hood is waterproof without a rain cover, and it’s so easy to get in and out of. Something that could use improvement is the internal organizer wallets. Coming from the nomad – which has tons of internal storage pockets – it is a little awkward to find a spot for things in the Hood, especially charging cables. When we got back to the office on Monday, Andrew, Scott, and I brainstormed ideas for additional internal organizational in a future version of the Hood.

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Social Media Advertising

Blake has been working on new social media ads. You might see them in your news feed on Facebook and Instagram. This is totally new for us. We just started doing social media ads for the first time a few months ago, and the first round were just simple images with some copy. The new ads are mostly video or animated. Let us know what you think? They’ll be updated monthly, so it’s easy to make changes.

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Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Black Friday & Cyber Monday came and went while we were on our trip. The chart below shows sales (in $$, but with the numbers removed) by day through the month of November at our US store. The one-day spike on Dec 18th was our San Francisco meetup. The three-day spike on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th is the Long Beach Show. The huge spike you see on the 28th and 29th is Black Friday. So that gives a sense of the scale of Black Friday versus our other winter sales efforts. It’s massive.

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Aside from Black Friday, November and December are extraordinarily quiet. BFCM is basically two months of demand packed into 4 days. Because the demand is so spiky, I worry about picking errors and lost packages, because our warehouse and the shipping companies (UPS, Fedex, USPS, & DHL) are all working tons of overtime and using temps. We’ll see what happens with customer service calls over the next few weeks.

Despite the challenges presented by Black Friday, it’s really fun to see all the orders roll in, and it always generates a lot of excitement both inside and outside Mosko. On Friday we had visitors from 92 different countries, which is almost half the countries in the world. Amazing!

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who ordered!

In Other News

We got color swatches for the new Woodsman Pant. One colorway is the tan/black on the left (a sportier look), the other is the solid greenish grey on the right (more of a ‘travel’ look).

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We also brainstormed ideas for 2021 including a possible update to the Basilisk and Deluge, heated gear, more insulating layers, and an update to the Signal Jersey and base layer. We’re also looking at the possibility of custom private label armor, ideally in partnership with Forcefield or Leatt.

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The showroom is coming along well. We don’t get many visitors this time of year, but I’m really looking forward to this project being done.

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Jenn had surgery on her broken ankle. She expects to have her leg back by the holidays, just in time for ski season.

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Our buddy Juan, who joined us with his Africa Twin on our desert trip and also on this more recent trip to the coast, has been working on a carbon fiber laptop case called the “Valeo Case.” You can check out his website here. He sent this video testing his new case by driving over it with a car. In a Mosko Imbricate Base Layer no less.

For anyone carrying a laptop on longer trips: how do you protect it? It would be great to pass your input along to Juan as he gets this new business rolling.

 

Ash and I are currently on the East Coast. She’s in New York setting up for the IMS at Javits Center in Manhattan, while I’m in Philly visiting my folks. We’re meeting up at the show in New York today.

Happy Holidays!

Blake, Jenn, & Julia: Welcome Aboard!

November 13, 2019

It has been a great fall here at Mosko. We’re settling into an annual cycle, with spring/fall packed with riding and gear testing, the summers a blur of shows, meetups, sales, and service, and winters focused on product design and infrastructure. Soon the rain & snow will come, the trails will close, the shows will move indoors, and we’ll hunker down till spring. In the meantime we’re taking full advantage of the extended riding season we’re experiencing here in the Pacific Northwest.

Growing Team

We have three new team members at Mosko HQ.

Jennifer Harrington recently joined the Mosko team in customer service. She previously spent 4 years at the Black Tux, an online formal wear rental company, in a variety of project management and service roles. She has a BS in Fashion Merchandising & Design from George Fox University. Jenn rides a Royal Enfield Himalayan. She was in an offroad training session last week, and she unfortunately slipped on some icy mud, resulting in a fractured ankle.

Jenn: welcome to the team, so sorry that happened, and we look forward to skiing with you at Mt Hood before the New Year.

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Julia Austin joined our team several months ago as a part-time contractor – a position which quickly grew to nearly full time – helping Scott and Andrew with product development, fitment, and specs. Previously Julia was at DaKine in Hood River, where she worked on design, fitment, and speccing for the snow, mountain bike, surf, and lifestyle categories. Julia has a BFA in apparel design from the Art Institute of Portland. She recently got her motorcycle license, and she’s in the market for a bike. Welcome to the team Julia!

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Blake Draguesku joined the Mosko team a few weeks ago to manage our media content, advrider.com thread, social media presence, and many other marketing-related things. Previously Blake worked as a marketing/communications contractor in the motorcycle industry, and he also did a variety of freelance writing and photography. Blake has a BMW R1200GS Adventure for touring, a Husky 701 setup with a full rally kit, and a Husky 450 for trails & track. Check out this recent article he wrote for Road & Track (that’s Blake on the Ducati).

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With all the new faces, we’ve also increased our office space. In addition to new offices for service/sales, we added a conference room and a soon-to-be retail product showroom.

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At the moment, the showroom kind of looks like an adult shop.

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Pico Tank Bag v2.0 & MOLLE Cell Phone Case

If you’ve tried to purchase a Pico recently, you may have noticed it’s sold out. After collecting feedback and using it ourselves for nearly a year, we want to make a couple changes before reordering.

First: we’re changing the zipper. The sealed YKK zipper we used in v1.0 is pretty standard on tank bags, but they’re quick to jam in dusty conditions. A little chapstick or silicone spray fixes that, but it’s still annoying. In v2.0 we’re using a waterproof apparel zipper like the one we used on the Basilisk. It’s more expensive and they’re not commonly used on bags, but it should solve the jamming issue.

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The second change is to remove the cell phone pocket and replace it with MOLLE webbing. You can mount our (also new) MOLLE-compatible cell phone case on the pico, which works better than the built-in pocket. With the existing design, it’s hard to get your phone out of the cell pocket quickly, for example if you want to take a pic. Also, the clear vinyl panel becomes a greenhouse on a sunny day, overheating the phone. In Colorado a few weeks ago, Ames created this homemade sun cover to keep his phone from overheating.

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Here’s what the current prototype of the v2 looks like with the MOLLE panel on top.

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Here’s what it looks like with our new MOLLE cell phone case. The cell case is vented not waterproof, since most phones are already waterproof, and it has a sun cover that rolls up and tucks behind the case when it’s not in use, to protect your phone from overheating.

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The cell phone case attaches to a velcro MOLLE panel, so it fits on top of any of our tank bags. I’ve been using this plus my iphone as my primary navigational tool all year, including in Ethiopia and several US trips, and it works awesome. It eliminates the pesky handlebar vibration issues that kill phone cameras, it stores your phone in a protected spot where it’s less likely to be damaged when the bike flips, and it eliminates the problem of having to pull your phone out of your pocket at every intersection.

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The Woodsman Enduro Pant

Oh how I love this pant, let me count the ways.

The Woodsman project started with Scotty’s idea to make an enduro pant from modern, stretchy, soft-shell materials. We tested in-boot and over-boot designs, waterproof and not, vented and not, using an array of different materials. We tested them on trails and on multi-day camping trips. We even wore them around the office.

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In the end we decided the Woodsman should be an in-boot pant with lots of vents, with a waterproof-windproof-breathable layer in the knees, thighs, and butt (black in the pics above), and a stretchy DWR-treated work-pant material everywhere else (brown in the pics above). They’re tough, breathable, and very comfortable. This is a pant you can wear off the bike as well, around camp (like Scott in the pics below) or on your way to the trailhead.

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Since we got the latest protos, this has been my go-to pant for trail riding. I’m not in a big hurry to take it off when the riding is over, which I love.

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The waterproof materials in the knee, thigh, and butt protect against moisture from dew, fog, water crossings, wet seats, and light rain. They’re also windproof, so they reduce the chill on the front-facing (aka wind-facing) parts of your leg.

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For the Woodsman – and for all our 2020 apparel – we’re in the process of selecting colors. We want to add more color overall (reds, blues, greens), which is atypical in motorcycle gear, and we’re digging the earth tones (also atypical). We want our color choices to align with backcountry travel more than speed and racing, and to reflect our perspective that ADV is as much a nature sport as it is also a motorsport.

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Backpacks

Thanks again for all the feedback on backpacks. It has been received and digested, and work has started. Andrew is experimenting with patterns and concepts for at least two different packs. More to come on that.

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We won’t actually use this buckle, it’s just a placeholder.

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Here’s Ash testing a magnetic quick release buckle.

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Overland Expo East

After the KTM Rally in Colorado, J.C. hauled the Mosko Roadshow trailer all the way across the country to Arrington, Virginia for Overland Expo East. This year, OXE was held at Infinity Downs racetrack, where we had plenty of space (40′) to setup the full booth with all the backdrops, bikes, and mannequins.

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We got some new accessories from our friends at Black Dog Cycle Works to mount on our 5 new show bikes. On the KTM 790, we removed the large/clunky grab handle assembly and replaced it with a much more functional BDCW rear luggage plate. This makes for a perfect fit on the 790 with our Reckless 80.

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We also replaced the stock footpegs on the 790 (left) with the larger and grippier Black Dog version (right). We also have a new Black Dog skidplate for the 790, but we didn’t have it there in Arrington for the show.

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Carl Parker from ADVMoto Magazine let Ash & I take his Royal Enfield Himalayan out for a spin. What’s not to love about a 400cc $4,500 adventure bike?

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Carl just embarked on a new project for an ADV comic book. They’re raising money to get it launched. Check out the video on their Kickstarter page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/advmoto/far-rider-moto-adventures-comic-new-beginnings. If you like what you see, please contribute (we did)!

At OXE, we fitted a couple scramblers with Reckless 80s and Nomad tank bags. We’re seeing more and more scramblers opting for soft luggage. The two fitment challenges we see on these bikes are 1) finding rear mounting points for the straps and 2) interference with the low exhaust. Both issues are manageable, but it’s not automatic, and it’s different on every bike.