Mosko Tour 2019

April 23, 2019

Between the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia, we attend a lot of motorcycle events. So many that I sometimes lose track of what’s next. We don’t have dealers to spread the word, so we load up the Mosko trailer, drive around the country, and do it ourselves. Like a small band with a new album: Mosko Tour ’19!

Our shop in White Salmon is overflowing with the stuff we need to support all these events: things like samples, display bikes, mannequins, flags, seating, speakers, shade structures, and displays. We need space. Last week we looked at a little warehouse just a few blocks from our shop. If we get this, we’ll keep our office where it is, and use the new space for storage and special projects like creating displays, testing fixtures, and sorting samples.

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March Moto Madness: Tellico Plains, TN

Last year Ash flew to Tennessee to check out March Moto Madness. This year we returned and worked it together. With 700+ riders, MMM is currently the largest ADV gathering in the world. It’s also one of the few large-scale events that’s not attached to a specific brand (like BMW, KTM, or Touratech) or piggy-backed on another event (like Overland Expo). The location is awesome, the people friendly, and we wrote lots of orders. MMM is now a permanent addition to our calendar.

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Here’s a cool idea for mounting a cell phone on your Nomad tank bag, at least until our new cell phone holder is ready. Take a MOLLE-mounted velcro patch (order it online, not from us), then attach some heavy-duty adhesive velcro to the back of your cell phone case. Great idea Bob!

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We ran into Jesse, one of our first customers, whose Backcountry 35 v1 panniers with the rip-stop tops and HDPE mounting frames are still going strong. There’s some sun damage on the rip-stop, but otherwise these v1 bags are in great shape.

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The ADV hill climb was entertaining. Carnage!

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There weren’t any nearby hotels, only cabins. We got this cozy little cabin with a kitchen, hot tub, and views of the Tellico river. Having a cabin was great, because we cooked our own meals, and caught up on work in the evenings. There was no cell service at the event itself.

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Ash, working on our new sell-sheets in the cabin at night.

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The Desert 100: Odessa, WA

The Desert 100 is the largest motorcycle event in the Northwest. It’s also the largest off-road motorcycle race in the US, with 1,300 racers and thousands of spectators. It’s mainly known as a dirt bike race not an ADV event, although plenty of ADVers go.

A few weeks before, Mike (one of the organizers) contacted us with the idea of creating an ‘ADV Lounge’ for tent campers who want to ride in on their ADV bikes. The D100 happens in early April, so strong wind, cold temps, and rain are common. Mike suggested that a sheltered, heated, lit space would make the event a lot more comfortable for people sleeping in their tents.

Ames, Lee, Ash, and I decided to go. On the way in we broke a spring hanger on the Mosko trailer. The first person to arrive in the tent area, Matt, was an auto mechanic, which worked out great. Thanks for the help Matt!

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For the ADV Lounge, we rented a big tent with a propane heater, and hauled in our UNRally couches. The space turned out great! There were only a few tent campers, so it didn’t get much use this year, but we see the potential and we definitely want to do it again. Next year, join us!

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We setup display bikes on vendor row with a note saying we were out riding, and to stop by the lounge after hours with any questions. In retrospect, leaving a display unattended on vendor row probably wasn’t the best idea. When people see an EZ-Up, they expect someone to be standing there with it. The day after we got back, we got a pissed-off email from a customer because we were never around. Sorry if anyone else had a similar experience. Next year we’ll skip the vendor row display and focus on the ADV Lounge and riding instead. We’re really there to ride, not to work.

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The D100 is huge! There must be at least 5-6,000 people, with thousands of toy haulers and RVs stretching as far as the eye can see. Like Burning Man, but for bikes.

On Friday we all rode the practice loop, alternating between dirt bikes and ADV bikes. On Saturday Ash & I followed Matt on the Dualsport/ADV Poker Run, which is a series of big-bike friendly singletrack loops, connected by long stretches of easy, straight, flat gravel. The smooth, tacky, high-desert singletrack was a blast.

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The ‘Odessa O’ lives on a small hill above town, at the mid-point of the dualsport route.

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If you’ve never been in a Poker Run (we hadn’t), here’s how it works. For every one of the challenges you complete (i.e. the singletrack loops on the dualsport ride), you draw a poker chip with a card on it, up to a total of 5 cards. Whoever gets the best 5 -card poker hand wins. Matt drew a flush, and won a big trophy, which must’ve made quite a sight on the ride home. Matt: we had a blast hanging out with you.

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On Sunday, Ames, Lee, Ash, and I all entered the race. Lee and Ames did the 50 mile loop, Ash did the 100 mile loop, and I did the 50 mile ADV loop on my 690.

The start of this enormous race is something special. The line of riders is nearly a mile long. Everyone stands 50 feet behind their bikes. When the starting cannon fires, they run to their bikes, start them up, and rocket into the open desert, braiding and weaving through the sagebrush. A few miles in there’s a choke point, and everyone’s jockeying for position before they reach it. It’s madness. What a rush.

I originally said I would hang back, take my time, and let everyone else go first. But when the cannon fired, I found myself running and racing with everyone else. There’s so much excitement, it’s hard to not get caught up in it.

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Everyone on the Mosko team finished what they wanted to finish, nobody broke down, and nobody got hurt. Ash rode the entire 100 miles, nearly 6 hours without a break. She finished in the top 20 women, and I finished 4th in the ADV class. We were all completely exhausted. Lots of stories, lots of smiles.

Next year is the D100s 50th anniversary. Is anyone interested in a group camping situation together? It doesn’t matter if you’re riding or driving, tenting or RVing, riding a big ADV bike or a trail bike. I think it’d be really cool if we put together a crew and all camped together, using the ADV Lounge as a communal hang-out and gear-up spot. Anyone interested? If so, send us a note at moskomoto (at) moskomoto (dot) com and let us know. We’ll keep you posted as plans develop.

As you can probably tell from this post, we really enjoyed it!! Thanks for this nice note Shane & Danielle (I think?)!

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Mosko Meetup: Bend, Oregon

Last Friday we had our second-ever Mosko Meetup at Spoken Moto in Bend, Oregon.  Spoken Moto is a really cool coffee shop, bar, and moto restoration shop with a big outdoor eating/drinking space and a bunch of food trucks. Rugged Thread came too, doing onsite sewing repairs of luggage and apparel.

We hosted an open bar, and had a steady stream of visitors from 3-7pm. We connected with a bunch of local riders, got to show off our bags, and sold more than enough to cover the bar tab and travel costs. Best of all, it was fun. Big thanks to everyone who came out to show support! We’ll be back.

Next stops: San Diego, CA (May 1) and Boulder, CO.

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Apparel On The Road

We got mannequins!

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They’re a little intimidating ha! Makes me want to work out. We’ve already gotten lots of feedback that they’re not indicative of the typical ADV body. Think of them as ‘aspirational.’ They’re for display purposes, not for fitment. They show the gear well.

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Martin is building these cool mannequin storage/display boxes to take on the road. Each fits two mannequins for shipping and transport, and they come apart to make two display stands each.

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We’re also making these folding pallet-benches, which strap to the outside of the mannequin box and ship on the same pallet.

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We want to create a mobile pop-up store, with our various products displayed out front on bikes (for the bags) and mannequins (for the apparel). Then we’ll have a full assortment of sizes for test fitting hanging on garment racks in the booth, with benches for people to hang out on while they’re waiting. We’ll have a changing room of some kind (probably a small stand-up tent) and a mirror. Overland Expo in Flagstaff (May 17-19) will be our first show with this new setup.

Mosko Moto Europe!

So excited to announce that customers in the EU can now order directly from our new EU Webstore. EU orders will be fulfilled from our warehouse in the Netherlands. There’s a flag toggle in the upper right corner of the site. Customers located outside the US and EU can decide which warehouse they want to take delivery from based on shipping costs, and their country’s duty agreements with the US/EU.

Inventory status and product availability may be different in the two warehouses. Apparel, for example, will initially be available only in the US. If an item isn’t in the EU warehouse, riders can still order from the US warehouse like before.

Big shout out to Ash for making this happen, and thanks to everyone who helped her get the website over the finish line, like Foghorn Labs, Dan Cox Design, and Karl Golts.

Click here to visit the new Mosko EU store!

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New Products

The Rak

We got our first sample of the ‘Rak,’ a pull-over riding jacket concept, a few weeks ago. We’re using a heavy-duty but packable, eVent three-layer, waterproof/breathable material, while adding as few zippers, seams, vents, pockets, and features as possible. It’s clean, minimalist, and tough enough for RTW, but small enough to stash. For a first sample, it looks pretty good. Can’t wait to test it.

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Mosko Hydration Reservoir

We’re developing a custom reservoir for the Nomad. It has a nozzle shutoff valve, a nozzle cover for dust/mud, an insulated hose, and an internal ziplock that reduces capacity from 2L to 1.5L, preventing sloshing and using up less volume.

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MOLLE Cell Phone Case

I am inordinately excited about the new MOLLE cell phone case, because it solves a major mounting problem for people (like me) who use a smartphone as their primary off-road navigational device.

I’ve broken a phone mount off my handlebars, cracked a screen when I didn’t fully engage the phone in the mount, and destroyed my camera’s stabilizer because of excessive vibration. It sucks to lose a phone in the middle of a trip, especially if you rely on it for navigation and photos. It also sucks to dig your phone out at every intersection.

Here’s a quote from an email I got last week, which pretty much sums it up.

“My experience using the cell phones is that they are not user friendly for on the fly navigation and having to stop and everyone pulling out their phones creates a cluster zone.” – Jeff

This small, simple, inexpensive bag is the answer. It mounts on a MOLLE velcro patch, so you can remove it when you’re wearing the Nomad as a backpack.

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New Reckless Mounting Cleats

Lee is developing new aluminum cleats for fender-mounting the Reckless 10/40/80. These are nearly done, he tested them at the Desert 100. They’re similar to the old cleats, but a whole lot beefier.

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UNRally Planning

The UNRally now has its own website: www.unrally.org.

It also has its own sound system. Four powered Mackie speakers, two powered JBL subs, and a small mixer. It’s a big step up from the home-audio amp last year.

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We’re building two land-boards for the UNRally, propelled by windsurfing sails. We have the sails, masts, and booms, now we just need two boards to mount them on. If anyone has an old mountain board sitting around, we’ll put it to good use!

I’m headed out for a 5-day moto trip in the desert. See ya next week 🙂

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Ames Conant: Welcome Aboard!

March 19, 2019

It’s great to be back in the office! There’s a lot to catch up on.

We’ve been on the road nearly non-stop since November, with just a few quick breaks between trips. Seven trips on four continents since last November. Winter flew by. Now the rally/show season is starting up again, with March Moto Madness in Tellico Plains, TN (March 38-31) and the Desert 100 in Odessa, WA (April 6-7).

Welcome Aboard Ames

Ames Conant joined the Mosko team six weeks ago. Rather than sending his resume via email in response to a job listing we’d posted, Ames showed up unannounced at the Mosko shop with a six pack and a bag of chips. Previously he was a project manager at AM Racing in Hood River, designing and manufacturing motorcycle parts. Before that his background included everything from finance to yacht design. He has a BS in business from Cornell, with two years of undergraduate work in engineering, and a certificate of Yacht Design from the Landing School. He recently sold his Honda Grom and bought a KTM 350 EXC-F.

Ames is currently riding in Ecuador with Sarah. Ames: welcome aboard!

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New Mosko Website

Mosko has a new website. Check it out here: https://moskomoto.com/.

Big thanks to Ash for managing this project through to completion, and also to Foghorn Labs (our digital marketing firm). Dan Cox (our graphic designer), and Karl Golts (our developer). We were long overdue for an update.

If you find any glitches or typos, please let us know.

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Europe Warehouse & Shows

The EU warehouse is up and running!

There’s a header on our website, at the very top of the homepage (you can see it in the screenshot above), with instructions for how to order. Basically: email us and we’ll take it from there. We don’t have an EU webstore yet; orders for the EU warehouse are currently being processed by hand. Email us, and we’ll email you an order form back. It’s a multi-step process – and far from ideal – but it works, for now. We’re still in the ‘soft launch’ phase.

If you’re curious: the reason we didn’t launch an EU webstore at the same time as the EU warehouse, is that we were waiting for the new US site to go live. That took a few months longer than we expected. It didn’t make sense to setup an EU store based on the old site, then launch a new site, and have to re-do the EU site too. Now the US store is live, so the EU webstore will follow soon.

Meanwhile, Roel has been busy at the EU shows. Thanks for these great pics from IMOT pics Markus Wimmer!

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This pic is of our booth at the moto show in Utrecht, Netherlands . Hi Jasper!

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This is the Mosko booth at the show in Austria.

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And my personal favorite:

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Canadian Shows: Andrew’s Take

Andrew & Sarah went to Vancouver for the motorcycle show there, then Andrew headed east for the show in Toronto. As one of our two resident Canadians here at Mosko, Andrew currently staffs all the shows in his motherland. He sent this writeup from Toronto:

“I flew into Toronto with the entire trade show in 3 large duffle bags, and picked up other supplies at Home Depot. I had to keep it lean. It was going to be $1,200, plus unknown customs delays to get it all into Canada by shipping everything. So I decided to fly with it all in checked luggage and pay the over charges. Then I sold most of it at the show. Turned out to be much cheaper and easier. The only wild card was weather, we have been having some major snow events here in the Gorge. I left my house to drive to the airport just as the highway opened after a 12 hour closure.

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Here is the booth set up with the 3 loaner bikes that Chris Trott and Brent Langman brought down for me. They are from the Simcoe County ADV riders group just north of Toronto: SCAR: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SCARriders/

Thanks so much for the bikes!

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They were a perfect set of bikes, a big brand new KTM1090, a Triumph Tiger 800XC and a new KTM 250 EXC dirtbike.

The show got off to a slower start on Friday than I was use to at the Vancouver show but then it steadily picked up. By Saturday I was slammed all day. Luckily I had Mason and Mark who generously helped me handle customers for most of the day. Mark came all the way up from Buffalo NY, and Mason came down from North of Toronto with his buddies. Mason runs MasonsADV an adventure riding youtube channel.

That’s Mason in the hat and Mark beside him. Then Melon and Mike in the front row. Thanks for all your help guys!”

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Mosko Meetup

We had our first ever ‘Mosko Meetup’ in Portland two weeks ago. This was a test run of something we’d like to start doing in other areas as well. Sarah, with the help of our friend Rick Lieberson in Portland, found a perfect venue – Two Stroke Coffee in Portland – where we hosted an open bar from 3:30 to 7:30 pm.

Here’s a pic of me loading a couple bikes to bring into pdx that morning. It snowed hard overnight. At this point I was wondering if anyone would come?

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Two Stroke Coffee is a really cool moto-themed coffee shop and bookstore on the North side of the St. John’s Bridge. There was plenty of space to setup display bikes and lay out samples.

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Lots of people came! It was great! We met a bunch of really cool riders, had some excellent chats, and sold more than enough gear to cover the cost of the event. Sales were quite a bit more than we expected, so we were happy about that. A huge THANK YOU to everyone who came out and made the first-ever Mosko Meetup a success!

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Thanks for all the help Rick Lieberson!

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The setup & tear-down crew went out for Indian food after.

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We’d love to host more of these smaller, more intimate, more frequent regional popup events, using this first one as a model. Starting here in the Pacific Northwest, but eventually across the country. It’s a neat way to connect with other riders, and it’s also a good excuse to tote our samples around so people can see & touch the gear before they make a decision.

Sarah is taking the lead on this project as soon as she gets back from Ecuador. She did a fantastic job with the first one. Stay tuned for more, and please send Sarah a note [moskomoto (at) moskomoto (dot) com] if you’d like to help host a meetup in your area. We’re looking for places with a big enough concentration of ADV riders to attract a crowd, and a cool venue (with room for bikes) where we can meet.

Adventure Days @ Zakar

Jim & Stephanie Hyde from RawHyde Adventures took their annual ADV Days gathering to a whole new level in February, opening of a dedicated facility in the Mojave Desert called ‘Zakar.’ The name comes from ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ & ‘Dakar,’ which seems about right for a compound of stacked container-dwellings around a huge fire pit in the middle of the desert. When zombies attack, this is where I’m headed. We loved it.

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This is what the inside of the container rooms looks like.

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Vendor row.

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Ash & I did a presentation on fly-in trips, like the one we just finished in Ethiopia. This is our favorite topic to present on. We’re doing it again at Overland Expo in May, so come check it out if you’re there.

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Our friends Paul & Aida came out from New York – where they were taking a short break from their multi-year round the world trip – and did an awesome, engaging, and hilarious report on the first 18 months of their trip. This was their first time presenting on their travels, and it was one of the best travel presentations I’ve ever seen. I laughed so hard I cried. Learn more about them and follow their trip here.

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ADV Days tripled in size this year, and even with the larger size, it still sold out. There’s a ton of room to expand on Jim & Stephanie’s new property. I think it’s around 100 acres. Over the next few years this could easily become the largest event of its kind for the ADV community. We’d love to see that happen. It’s the right spot and the right people. Join us there next year!

Here’s a drone shot of Zakar that was posted on the RawHyde FB page after the event.

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Sarah & Ames in Ecuador

Sarah & Ames – aka the Mosko Customer Service Team – have been on a week-long trip in Ecuador with Ecuador Freedom Bike Rentals, returning to the gorge today. With Roel & Dusty’s help, they’ve been keeping up with emails and work stuff while they travel.

Here’s a few pics from Facebook.

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Product Development & Design

There’s so much happening in product development right now. Andrew and Scott have been hard at work all winter, and the results are all over the shop in the form of new samples, with more boxes arriving every couple of days.

I spent 5 weeks living out of the new Reckless 80 Revolver this winter and I have zero additional revisions to offer. This bag is basically done. Based on our current inventory of v2.0 and our factory’s production schedule (which is full until July) we’re probably 8-9 months out from having v3.0 in stock.

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There’s a new v3.0 prototype here in the office. I love the revised look of the outer leg armor. It’s fun to see the finishing touches applied.

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We’ve been working on some new latch concepts for the Backcountry 35 pannier system. This is just a mockup, but it’s pretty cool and it works great. Instead of a latch, there’s a spring-loaded pin that connects the frame to the wedge from the back side of the pannier. Andrew’s had this idea for a while, but last week he made a quick & dirty prototype and it works well. Like, really well. It’s so much simpler than the other latch ideas and prototypes we’ve been messing with..

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The first draft of the cell phone case that our intern Jesse created last summer was amazing on our trip in Ethiopia. I interacted with this little bag more than any other single piece of gear I took. My iphone was our primary navigation tool. I loved having it protected in the bag – i.e. not exposed on the handlebars where it could break or get snatched – with a shade cover to keep it from overheating. Overheating was a recurring issue in Ethiopia, the shade really works.

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We looked at alternatives for mounting the sun cover on the side, and ultimately decided to make the cover modular so it can be mounted on either the top or bottom of the case. Mounting it on the bottom makes it easier to open, and also allows air to flow over the phone while riding, keeping it cool. Mounting it on top is more aerodynamic and allows rain water to flow over the bag. We’re not making this bag waterproof, since most modern phones are already waterproof. We’re more concerned with overheating.

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The Scout 25/60 prototypes are back on the edit table. The new Scout is SO cool looking, with big improvement to the beavertail. It’s still many months from completion, but we’re digging it so far.

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We got samples of the Basilisk replacement fabric from SuperFabric. This replaces the defective fabric we mentioned in an earlier post. These samples were approved. Basilisk production is scheduled for April, which means we should have them in stock by June assuming no more surprises.

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We got the first prototype of a midweight insulating layer for 2020. This thing is really cool for a first proto. Scott’s been wearing it to work every day. It’s light and packs tiny, but it’s also warm and comfortable, almost like a shirt. We want our insulating layers to work as crossover products both on and off the bike, so it’s the only insulating layer you need on a long distance trip. This particular layer would be for a warm weather trip, we have a heavier version underway for cold weather as well.

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We also got a first prototype of our soft-shell trail riding pant. The fabric on these samples is too light and stretchy – almost like a sweat pant – but the cut, fit, and features are great. It’s hard to believe this is a first sample. It feels close to a finished product. Which is not to say there aren’t revisions to be made, there are. But still, I remember when our first few samples of the Basilisk pants barely even looked like pants.

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With apparel getting closer to launch, Martin is creating some new displays to present apparel at shows & rallies. We also want to add some seating in our booth, so he’s taking a shot at that as well. The displays and seating have to pack up neatly into 6′ boxes so they can fit in our trailer, or be palatalized and shipped to shows.

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We’re also shopping for mannequins. There are many different kinds, I had no idea. Every size and shape imaginable, standing in all kinds of poses, with and without heads. We settled on this one. Headless, so easier to pack and ship. Ordered!

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DirtyBird Sale

Ash has been collecting all the used and/or blemished bags around the shop for an upcoming DirtyBird Sale. These will be up on the website this week, and we’ll post a link on our advrider thread when they’re ready for sale.

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UNRally Dates

The UNRally is on! Alvord Desert, Southeastern Oregon, June 20-23.

Every spring since forever ago, a group of us have met on the Alvord to camp, ride, explore, chill, and party. Three years ago we named it the ‘UNRally’ and made it official. Everyone’s invited, but you gotta’ sign up, because attendance is limited by the BLM. Be forewarned: this is not a rally. Nobody’s making money, nobody’s trying to sell you stuff, nobody’s in charge, and we each take care of ourselves. We have some core principles that we ask you to read, understand, and respect before joining. Beyond that: anything goes.

What’s the UNRally? click here

Where is it? click here

How do I signup? click here

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^ Photo Credit: @hektervision

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Other Stuff

Got this email from Andrew about blog content, I’ll just leave it here.

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Paul Stewart, aka RTWPaul, sent me some questions via email, and posted this online Q&A on advrider.com last week. Thanks for the great questions and writeup Paul. See more of RTWPaul’s advrider writings at this link.

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On our way home from ADV Days, we got stuck in northern California for a few days. A snowstorm kept us from crossing Siskiyou Pass with the trailer. With time to kill, we found a tattoo shop.

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Long post, 64 pics. Thanks for reading!

Mosko > Ethiopia

March 4, 2019

Ash and I just returned from a month-long motorbike trip in Ethiopia. There’s a full ride report here: ETHIOPIA RIDE REPORT.

We bought a couple 200cc dualsports in Addis Ababa, and rode 2,300 miles from the southern border with Kenya to the northern border with Eritrea. It was an epic trip, and technically it’s not over, because we’re returning next year.

Now we’re back in the office and getting all caught up. We’ll be back online with an updated blog post on all things Mosko in the next week or two.

Thx!

Pete

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New Year, New Gear

January 14, 2019

On behalf of the entire Mosko team: Happy New Year!

This pic is from our Mosko holiday party at Sushi Okalani in Hood River a few weeks ago. We were joined by Scott & Lauren’s new baby girl Rosland.

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Ecuador Gear Testing Trip

Ash and I spent the holidays in Ecuador with our friends Court & Sylvain at Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental. We rented a couple DR650s and went exploring in the hills around Quito. Ecuador is an absolutely breathtaking country, and what a perfect way to see it on two wheels.

Back in the old days, if you wanted to explore Ecuador on a bike, you had to quit your job and ride all the way down there. Now you can have almost the same experience, flying in for a week and returning home before anyone notices you’re gone. We did this entire trip over the holidays, missing only a single day of work. It was only 9 days, but it felt like a much longer trip. It’s almost surreal to board a plane in Atlanta and land in Ecuador less than 6 hours later – still in the same time zone – with an ADV bike all setup, waiting, and ready to go.

We had a total blast. The pics tell the story.

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Court & Sylvain have an epic location in downtown Quito, close to the action but still private and secluded. They have 50 bikes, ranging from big BMWs down to little 150cc scooters. Plus some 4×4 trucks.

It was neat to see all the rental Mosko gear on their shelves.

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I took the Reckless 80 ‘Revolver v3.0’ prototype with a Nomad tank bag. Ash took a Reckless 80 v2.0 with the Pico tank bag. The reason we’re calling the new R80 the ‘Revolver’ is that the legs can be rotated at different angles for different sizes and shapes of bikes. Setting it up on the DR650 was no problem.

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I was a little worried about the Nomad on the DR but as it turned out, no problem. When I stood up I felt the bag on my legs, but it was worth it to have my water and extra stuff on the tank. The stock DR is pretty short for me anyway, with a very tight cockpit, so I didn’t spend much time on the pegs except to stretch.

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Ash took the Pico tank bag, which fits perfectly on the DR with an aftermarket tank. We had some rain for a few days and the Pico stayed dry while riding. However one night we left the Pico on the bike overnight, it rained very heavily throughout the night, and the next morning there was some water inside. Because of the way we had it mounted (with the front propped up on the edge of the gas cap), we think the headphone port on the bottom of the bag was exposed. Water came in through the port, wicked its way through the webbing on the seam-binding of the inside pocket insert (which has sewn rather than welded seams), and into the inside of the bag. In a future version, we will modify the design to prevent this from happening. For now though, we changed the wording on the Pico product page from ‘waterproof’ to ‘ water-resistant’ just to be safe. It’s an awesome little tank bag, but don’t leave it out in the rain overnight.

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We were also riding with a bunch of apparel prototypes, including the Basilisk jacket/pant, the Deluge jacket/pant, the Signal jersey, the Imbricate base layer, and the Forcefield Adventure Harness.

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Here are some assorted pics from the trip, starting with Court’s pre-trip briefing, all the way through our return to Quito 9 days later. Ecuador is a spectacular place to visit. It’s very mountainous, with lots of dirt roads, nice people, and interesting little villages.

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This is a batter-fried guinea pig.

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We ran into our good friend Round The World Paul just outside Quito.

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0 degrees north, at the equator.

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In Ecuador there’s a tradition of dressing up in elaborate drag costumes to celebrate the New Year. Court & Sylvain took us for a nighttime ride in Quito before we headed to the airport for our flight home.

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It was a great trip, and it was over way too soon. Huge thanks to Court & Sylvain for making the week so special.

Ecuador has everything we need for gear testing – from hot & humid to dry & cold – with lots of interesting stuff to see, and plenty of rough riding in between. We’ll be back for sure.

SuperFabric Issue

When we returned to the Mosko shop in January, a sample of the Basilisk jacket/pant was waiting for our approval.

The arms, shoulders, and knees of the Basilisk use a specially engineered material called SuperFabric, which features small ceramic plates applied to a fabric under-layer, to protect you and your gear from abrasion in a slide. SuperFabric is very expensive stuff, especially when applied to a waterproof/breathable base fabric like eVent. Our designs use a lot of it. There is more SuperFabric on the Basilisk than on any other motorcycle jacket I’ve ever seen.

When our factory in Bangladesh did their QC check on the rolls of SuperFabric we received for production – which cost $30,000 and took 120 days to make – they noticed immediately that some of the ceramic plates were missing. On further investigation, they realized the plates were not adhering to the base fabric as strongly as they were in the samples.

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The blue fabric below is the sample (SuperFabric applied to eVent), the black fabric is from production. We rubbed a key on both to test the issue, using the same amount of pressure. The blue fabric didn’t lose a single ceramic plate, whereas the plates scraped off the black fabric with relative ease.

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The jacket I’d been riding with in Ecuador – the blue one, which Scott is measuring below – used the sample fabric.

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After discussing this issue at length with the factory and SuperFabric, we all agreed that we cannot move forward with production until the issue is resolved. This decision was especially disruptive for our factory, as they had several production lines scheduled for Mosko production, and all the other materials are already sitting there ready to go.

SuperFabric is replacing the damaged yardage with a rush production order, so hopefully this will set us back by only 30 days or so. It sucks, but we’re thankful the issue was identified before production started, and we’re thankful to have good partners.

Cell Phone Case

We received a prototype of a new MOLLE cell phone holder that our design intern Jesse developed last summer. Stoked to try this out in Ethiopia next week. As I mentioned in my last post, several of us have been using Quadlock mounts for our phones recently, which initially gave me some pause with respect to the need for a soft-bag cell phone case.

I dig the Quadlock on smooth surfaces, but I’ve had one spontaneous pop-off while riding on dirt (I had to ride back along the trail to find my phone, fortunately only the screen protector was broken). I also had one broken Quadlock mount when my bike flipped upside down in the sand dunes and landed on the handlebars. I also destroyed the image stabilization on the Iphone camera from too much vibration on the handlebars. So I still think there’s a good argument for a soft-bag cell-carry case. In Ethiopia, I’m planning to use the handlebar mount on pavement and the MOLLE case offroad.

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New Dirt Bike Pant

Scott is working on a new trail riding pant. I’m very stoked to see this item develop. He’s working on one in-boot style and one over-boot style. He has some really cool ideas for this item, more on that in a future post.

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Backcountry 35 v2.0 Samples

Andrew got new samples of the Backcountry 35/25 v2.0. They look great. We’re talking to the factory to see if it is possible to introduce these new revisions in 2019.

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Instead of a sewn-on rear pocket, the new BC pannier will have MOLLE panels on all three sides, along with a series of holes to bolt-on a new auxiliary pocket harness/drybag system we’re developing. The aux pocket may not be ready at the same time as the pannier, so we’re planning to introduce that at a later date.

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Here’s a rough prototype of the new aux pocket, mounted on top of a Backcountry duffle using MOLLE webbing. We designed the aux pocket to mount on the pannier, but it works great in other places too.

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Backpack Design

Thanks so much to everyone who responded to my last post, and provided feedback on riding backpacks in our advrider.com thread over the last few weeks. We were totally blown away by the amount and quality of feedback. We’ve read through everything, and now we’re processing it. We’ll be referring back to those posts a lot over the next few months as we kick off the development process. At the moment Andrew is up to his ears in new bag prototypes, so it will take a month or two to get started.

In the meantime, I’ve been particularly intrigued with various front-mounted storage options lately.

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This is a home-made custom pack that Scott uses for hunting, which has a bunch of storage on the front straps.

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This is a tactical pack I recently bought from a company called Hill People Gear, which my buddy Adam suggested in a Facebook comment after the last blog post. It’s designed for carrying a handgun, but I thought it might be handy for day rides on a dirt bike, because sometimes it’s a hassle to get stuff out of a backpack, especially when I’m wearing body armor. I’ve taken it on a few hikes so far and I love the front storage, but the side straps make it hard for my chest to expand when I’m breathing heavily.

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European Distribution

With the exception of a few last items, all the inventory we’ve been waiting for has now arrived at the warehouse in Europe, and Lee is currently in Amsterdam doing a final QC check. Roel came to Mosko HQ last week and we spent some time figuring out how to process orders from a second inventory location.

Initially, to keep things simple, we will be taking manual orders for the Europe warehouse. The longer term solution is to setup a second website for Europe using a completely separate cart, but we are currently in the middle of a website redesign, so the European website is on hold until that project is complete.

Please contact us by email at moskomoto (at) moskomoto (dot) com with the subject line “Attention Roel” if your are interested in being one of the first to order from our new European warehouse. He will send you information on pricing and product availability. For customers located in Europe, there is is a very substantial savings if your order from the Europe warehouse vs ordering from the US. Not only do you save on shipping, but you also bypass the very substantial US import duties. We’ll have pricing posted soon. In the meantime, check with Roel for more info.

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In Other News

When we returned from Ecuador, Ash had 8 hours to unpack, do laundry, re-pack, drive back to Portland, and fly to Dallas for the International Motorcycle Show. Which – as it turned out – was totally worth it, because we had the best show we’ve ever had in Dallas, by far. She also got to test out our new booth backdrop, which looks awesome. Nice work Ash!

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Here’s what the booth backdrop previously looked like at the show in Australia last month. We had an issue with the printing, so there was almost no contrast between the two different shades of blue.

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Lee is redesigning the Reckless 80/40/10 bolt-on mounting cleat. It’s almost done.

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We have some new hats! They’re not on the website yet, but they will be soon.

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We got the coolest Christmas gift from our friends at Upshift Online: goggles for the entire Mosko crew. Thanks guys!!

For anyone who isn’t already on the Upshift distribution list, I highly recommend clicking this link and subscribing. It’s free. And the best part is that you can read it while you’re sitting at your desk and looking like you’re working.

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This time next week, Ash & I will be in Ethiopia. Our buddy Chad has been helping us figure out how to find bikes there. Stoked for this trip!!

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We’ll be in Ethiopia for four weeks. I’ll try to do a quick blog update from the road.

Happy New Year!

Let’s Talk Backpacks

December 8, 2018

Backpacks are the current hot topic around the Mosko shop. Should we, shouldn’t we. And if so, how?

On longer multi-day ADV trips, I’ve been using the Nomad tank bag instead of a backpack. But I still use a hydration pack for trail riding, the same pack I use on my mountain bike. It works ok, except that like most backpacks, it’s restrictive and fatiguing on a long ride. Plus the straps fit awkwardly over my body armor, digging sharply into my shoulders in a way that they don’t when I’m cycling.

Andrew had the same issue, so he upgraded to the Klim Nac Pak, which has a chest harness instead of normal shoulder straps. He loves it. His experience with the Klim pack convinced me to get a Kriega R15 a few weeks ago. The Kriega has a chest harness too, and although I haven’t worn it riding yet, I like it so far, and I think it will solve the shoulder issues.

Since we both have new backpacks to geek out on, and since we’re also in the business of making bags, the possibility of a future Mosko backpack keeps coming up.

The problem with backpacks is that the landscape is so completely cluttered. That’s why we put it off till now. No matter what activity you’re into, there’s a pack for it, in pretty much every size, shape, and color imaginable, with all sorts of pockets, organizers, stash spots, straps, buckles, reservoirs, and harnesses. Many of them are pretty good, too.

I have my new moto pack (Kriega), two mountain bike packs (DaKine), a commuter pack (DaKine), a spearfishing pack (Beuchat), a backcountry skiing pack (DaKine), and a backpacking pack (Deuter). I have a crushable backpack (Cotopaxi), a travel backpack (ArcTeryx), and a book-bag style pack (North Face). My new roller luggage (Thule) turns into a backpack, and of course many of my Mosko bags also convert to backpacks. Even my inflatable paddleboard and kitesurf gear came packed in special backpacks.

Do I really need another backpack? No. Is there room for another? Yes of course!

We’re just starting to think about this. It’s a big project, and a big opportunity too if we can do something unique and nail it. Andrew and Scott have a ton of experience creating backpacks for DaKine and Patagonia. If we can come up with a good concept to start with, this should be a very fun project.

We need as much input as you’re willing to share. Here are a couple questions to consider:

  • What pack do you currently use?
  • What do you carry in it?
  • Things you like/dislike?
  • Who makes the best riding backpack, and what makes it the best?
  • What would your ultimate riding pack look like?
  • Also, to help put your response in context, it would be great know what kind of riding you do, and on which bike?

The best place to post responses is on our advrider.com thread, if you’re an inmate there. Otherwise, facebook or blog comments works too. I hope we get a ton of responses, the more the better. Thank you!!

For inspiration, we’ve been looking at hydration packs designed for long distance running. They’re minimalist, they mostly use some kind of chest harness, and they’re designed to stay put while you move around a lot.

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We also like the idea of a hip-mounted option. I have a personal bias against fanny packs, as someone who grew up in the 1980s. However I am trying very hard to work through that. A lot of mountain bikers are opting for waist-mounted hydration over backpacks lately, so there’s clearly something to it. Here’s an interesting one that Sarah used (and liked) on our last company ride.

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We’re thinking of starting with three different options: 1) a minimalist upper back hydration pack with a chest harness and no waist strap (i.e. the running-inspired option), 2) a hip-mounted option like the one Sarah used, and 3) a larger full size hydration pack about the size of something you’d use mountain biking (12L or so), but with a chest harness. As a fourth option for a future season, maybe we’d introduce a 20-30L ‘trail builder’ style pack for people who like to carry everything on their back.

What do you think? Please let us know.

Overland Expo East

Ash & Sarah flew out to North Carolina a few weeks ago for Overland Expo East. I wasn’t there, but they sent these pics. Apparently it was a mud-bath, with lots of stuck vehicles. Heavy rain on Thursday and Friday soaked the parking lot and made it difficult for people to move around. They even closed the gates for a while. Then weather cleared up on Sat & Sun, our new 20′ twin EZ-up display setup looked cool, and sales were up significantly over last year. Even with the rain & mud, we were happy.

Some thank you’s from Ash, who is sitting next to me while I type this: Thanks to David Mays for helping to bring the bike down at last minute in the middle of the pouring rain. Thanks to Mike & Sharon for their overwhelming hospitality and help both in and out of the booth. Big thanks to RJ and Jeff for bringing the loaner bikes! Also a shout-out to JC for always showing up at exactly the right moment. And of course, our hero Roel!

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Long Beach Moto Show

Ash and Sarah got back from Asheville Monday, and Ash & I were back on the road Tuesday morning headed to LA for the Long Beach show, a two-day drive. Sarah spent the week in the office and flew down to meet us there on Thursday.

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This year they had all the ADV vendors gathered in the same area, with several adventure bikes and lots of presentations in the middle. This layout was so much better than before, back when the ADV folks were scattered around the building, all mixed in together with the leather jackets and molded earplugs. For the first time ever, the ADV section had it’s own cool, distinct personality in this large and diverse show.

We ran into our buddy Bill Whitacre, just back from a trip in Australia.

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In the ‘Adventure Out’ area they were showing virtual reality clips from the new California Backcountry Discovery Route.

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We went to the first screening of the new California BDR film. This looks like a pretty fun new route. Maybe we’ll try it on our Mosko team ride next Spring.

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A customer brought over these cool locking zip ties. Not sure yet how to use them, but still… a very cool idea.

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Melbourne Moto Expo

We packed up the booth on Sunday night, and flew to Melbourne Australia on Monday for the Moto Expo. This is Australia’s largest motorcycle show, and it alternates between Sydney and Melbourne. It was our first show in Australia.

We flew with all our samples stuffed into 3 carry-on’s and 6 checked bags, some of which were overweight and others oversize, costing around $500 total. When we landed, our bags were held in customs until we paid another $500+ in import duties, GST, and brokerage fees. All of which took many hours to sort out. We were expecting this, but still had sticker shock at the price. It’s a good reminder of the freight and duty challenges faced by riders in Australia – and elsewhere – and why we want to establish local fulfillment in multiple spots around the world.

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Pretty happy with how the booth came out. The new backdrop looks cool, I just wish our logo was more visible. That plus a couple pallets, bikes, and flags fills out a 20′ indoor booth pretty well for a fly-in, indoor show like this. We’ll get the printing fixed on the backdrop before the IMS shows this winter.

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The show was incredible. We were so happy with the turnout, the orders, and just the overall reception to our products and company. Thanks so much to everyone who came by and made it what it was. And big thanks to Brett and Ben for the loaner bikes. We will definitely be back!!

Here’s a pic of Ash, at night, in our Melbourne hotel room, after setting up the booth. She’s entering orders from Long Beach while watching ‘Grease’ on Netflix, ha!

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Ash & I recently started using these phone mounts from an Australian company called Quadlock. It’s a pretty slick system. I didn’t even know they were Australian until we saw them at the show. They make a moto mount, a cycling mount, and a belt clip mount that fits (just barely) on MOLLE webbing.

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This is Chris Peters, one of the founders. Nice work dude.

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After the show, we spent a day driving around the outskirts of Melbourne and meeting with 3PL fulfillment centers. With a 3PL, we ship inventory straight from the factory to Australia, clear it through customs, and ship orders to Australian riders from a base in Melbourne. This is the same thing we’ll be doing soon in Europe. We’ll work out the kinks in Europe, then do the same thing in Australia once we have it sorted out. Probably in 6-8 months.

Here are pics from the three different warehouses we looked at.

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After that, we wanted to chill for a bit, so we headed up the coast to a beautiful spot called Apollo Bay in hopes of finding surf. Unfortunately, there was no surf to be found, so we bought a couple skateboards and went exploring on land instead.

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From Apollo Bay, we drove back to Melbourne on the Great Ocean Road, and after 24 hours of flights, delays, and airport floor naps, finally made it home after three weeks on the road.

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New Products

We just got a cool new prototype of a redesign for the Scout 25/60 duffle, v2.0. This is still a ways out from being ready, but it’s a good start.

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The locking latch is moving forward, but the factory is experiencing some challenges with getting all the functionality we want into a single device. They asked if we could possibly split it into two devices: one that locks it to the bike and one that locks it closed. We’re not crazy about the idea, so we’re hoping for another solution.

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The locking cable lock in the picture below, is the functionality we want to incorporate into the locking latch in the picture above.

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Now that the Basilisk riding kit, Deluge rain kit, Signal jersey, Imbricate base layer, and Autotomous belt (we went with lizard-ish names) are in production, we’re brainstorming what’s next on the apparel front. A couple things we’re considering are insulating layers and trail-riding pants. We’re wide open to additional ideas as well, so if there’s something specific you’d like us to consider, please speak up!

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Outback Motortek Racks

We’re getting a bunch of questions about Backcountry 35 fitment on Outback Motortek racks. The answer is that yes, it fits, using only three of the four supplied Mosko mounting pucks. Lorry Gombos, the founder of OM, sent us these pics to show that the connection is plenty strong with only three pucks. We’re convinced.

This seems like an interesting company with solid products & really competitive pricing. The racks are designed in Canada and made in Hungary. Check ’em out.

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Other Stuff

Jesse Felker from Jesse Felker Media & PNW Dual Sport just sent this awesome pic from UNRally 2017. Love it.

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Speaking of the UNRally, Geoff Moe texted these sketches and drawings of the party-yacht landsailer he’s building for UNRally 2019, using a converted catamaran with axles and wheels. This is gonna be cool.

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Right before Long Beach, Andrew, Lee, and I spent a three-day weekend in Central Oregon. It was an epic – albeit slightly chilly at times – way to end one of my favorite Fall riding seasons ever.

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Ash & I are headed to Ecuador for the Holidays, leaving in two weeks. We’re getting bikes from our friends at Ecuador Freedom Bike Rentals. Can’t wait!

Just a heads up: Mosko is closed for the Holidays from Dec 22 to January 2.

Mosko Rides, Product Ships

November 8, 2018

Lee is at the warehouse in Portland. Ash & Sarah are at Overland Expo in North Carolina, and Scott & Andrew are at the Outdoor Retailer show in Denver. Tiff & I are holding down the fort in White Salmon.

Company Trip

A few weeks back, we closed the office for a week and went riding. I love that everyone on our team rides. Everyone rides, everyone knows the product, and everyone contributes to development.

At least once a year – and ideally twice – we do a company trip. Past trips have included the Arizona BDR, Owyhee Canyon, Baja, and Moab. This time we wanted to cross Oregon on dirt, following some parts of the Cascade Discovery Route and Backcountry Discovery Route, but mostly navigating our own path and connecting some favorite spots. Not everyone was able to join for the whole trip due to family obligations, but four of us made it all the way. 740 miles riding south on almost all dirt, plus a very fun ride back north on mixed dirt/pavement for a total of ~1,100 miles over nine days.

In addition to the usual assortment of Mosko bags, everyone had at least one piece of our new Basilisk riding gear. We had several generations of prototypes represented, making it the largest collection of Mosko-clad riders to date, with a healthy dose of our favorite Klim gear mixed in as well.

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The Reckless 10

Oh how I love this bag. Let me count the ways.

Here’s what the R10 looks like fully packed on my KTM 300 XC-W. We’re still waiting for R10 drybags to be delivered, so I’ve been using large MOLLE bags instead.

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My minimal trail riding tool kit, mostly the stock tools that came with my KTM.

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I added two small MOLLE pouches for extra gas. Ash and I have been doing 100+ mile desert loops, so we need the gas. On one side of the bag I carry an extra tube, air pump, and food. On the other side I have a Pinner Tool Roll and tow rope. My jacket and license plate go under the beavertail, and my InReach mounts on the front of the leg.

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Here are some pics of Ash using the beavertail. The four little webbing loops hold our license plates. I’m not vouching for the legality of mounting a plate here, but it’s the only spot I’ve found where they don’t break off the bike. We’ve never been stopped, but we’ve also never been spotted.

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When we’re riding on public land, we do the Outdoor Tree 10 Piece Challenge, picking up 10 pieces of trash on every ride. Here’s Ash using the beavertail to hold an old pillow we found last weekend.

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Ash mounted her R10 with a Voile strap wrapped around the rear fender. I bolted mine directly to the fender by drilling holes. Neither of these is the ‘official’ mounting solution (which uses our rear mounting cleats), we’re just testing different ideas. The bolts work great if you don’t mind drilling and you don’t need to take the bag off easily. Voile strap works well if you don’t want to drill and need easy on/off. Although with the Voile strap, the bag does move around a bit more while riding.

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I can’t get over how awesome this little bag is. I love not carrying everything in my backpack. It works for a long-distance enduro loop, and just as well for a day messing around in the sand.

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New Backcountry 35 Pannier Latch

We’re working on a new locking latch for the Backcountry 35 panniers. We got a functioning rapid prototype from the factory, and it looks awesome. 3D printing is amazing.

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The latch is designed to lock the bag to the bike, and also lock the bag closed, in a single mechanism with a retractable cable lock.

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We try not to think too much about cost when we’re designing something. We want to make the best product we can, then figure out how to pay for it later. The new latch will test that principle. The cost per unit is reasonable, but the upfront molding cost is astronomical, nearly double what we spent to create the mounting wedge and frame. Plus, because of the high volume required to make it, the latch needs to go on every pannier we make. Offering it as an add-on upgrade is not an option. So the new latch will raise the price of every BC35 pannier we sell.

The question is: how much? It depends on our unit sales volume, how we amortize the mold cost, and the profit margin we need.  With normal margins, a zero increase in unit sales volume, and a two year cost amortization, the price of the pannier would be way too high. With lower margins, moderate growth in unit sales, and a five year amortization, it could work. But is 5 years without substantial changes realistic for a latch? What happens if we make the molds, then discover some shortcoming down the road? These are some of the questions we’re debating, with the final answer still TBD.

Bottom line: we like the latch and we want to make it work.

Riding Apparel

It seems like every week lately we have some breakthrough on apparel, or we get a new sample in the mail. We have officially placed our purchase order for the Basilisk kit, and made our deposit with the factory. The first delivery is expected by February 2019. Yay for that. I used the latest prototypes on our company ride a few weeks ago, and returned home with nothing to change.

The Deluge – our two piece rain kit – was delayed while we switched to a new higher quality fabric. We got revised samples from the factory this week with a new 3-layer eVent fabric that we love. It’s tough, waterproof, breathable, highly packable, and has a great feel to it. We want to make a few more small revisions, but nothing to hold up a PO with the factory. Exciting.

The Deluge works hand-in-hand with the Basilisk in a heavy, multi-day downpour. It also works as a standalone rain suit to wear over non-waterproof dirt bike gear or around camp. When combined with the Basilisk, the jacket becomes an ‘under’ jacket, and the pant is an ‘over’ pant.

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Scott has been developing a custom logo application for the Basilisk. We experimented with both screen printing and embroidery on past prototypes, and we didn’t like either. This new molded, reflective 3D logo looks cool, shines at night, and is nearly impossible to remove.

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In this pic Scott is doing his abrasion test, which involves grinding the hilt of his knife back & forth 50 times.

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Here’s the bag the Basilisk will be delivered in. Except that it will be grey, not white.

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The Basilisk is on order. The Deluge is about to be ordered. Belts have arrived. Jerseys are in production. Base layers are in production. And we’re about to place a PO with Forcefield for armor. That’s everything. It’s all happening.

Product Availability & Pricing

  • A delivery of Scout 25 Panniers and Tracker 10 drybags arrived this week. We are QCing those now and getting them checked into inventory. They should be available on the website next week.
  • Scout 25 & 60 duffles have shipped from the factory and should arrive at the end of November.
  • We’re expecting an air-freight delivery with a limited supply of Hood Tank Bags, Pico Tank Bags, Reckless 10 Drybags, and Pinner Tool Roll rain covers in the third week of November. The rest should arrive before the end of the year.

With all the new shipments coming in, we updated our prices to reflect higher duty rates from China. If/when duties return to historical levels, we’ll roll back the prices accordingly.

In Other News

New Dirt Bikes

Ash and I got new dirt bikes! I mean like, brand new. A KTM 300 XC-W TPI and a 250 XC-W TPI with a factory lowering kit. These are KTM’s new fuel-injected two strokes. It’s the first brand new dirt bike I’ve ever owned. I love it.

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Lee’s New Truck

Lee and his girlfriend Ashley flew out to Idaho to pickup their new Suburban conversion camper. This company – Suboverland – takes older used Suburbans and turns them into overland stealth campers. So cool. It has solar, an outdoor shower, deep cycle battery, fridge, bed, and lots of internal storage. Lee & Ashley are joining Andrew & I in the desert with their new rig this weekend.

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New Show Displays

The original Mosko EZup was getting a bit sun-faded and tired from so many shows. Plus we needed a second matching EZup to make a 20′ booth. So we upgraded our trade show displays. Ash & Sarah have the new displays at Overland Expo East, and they’re setting up today, so I’m hoping for a pic soon.

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We also got this cool folding booth backdrop for fly-in shows, like the one coming up in Australia in a few weeks. Unfortunately we were too subtle with the blue-on-blue design, so we’ll have to get a new one with more contrast. It still looks cool but it’s hard to see our logo. Whoops.