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.

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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.

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Bye Bye 950 SE

I swallowed hard, and sold my 950 Super Enduro to Mike from The Dalles. This is the bike I took to La Moskitia, which is where ‘Mosko’ got its name. I have a hard time not getting sentimentally attached to bikes. That 950SE is an epic machine. Enjoy it Mike!

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Andrew’s Halloween Outfit

Andrew fixing butterfly wings for his Halloween outfit. (kidding, it’s for his daughter Sparrow).

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New Desks & Chairs

Sarah & Tiff assembling office chairs. Check out the new desks. Built by Tiffany’s husband Martin.

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Andrew gets back from Denver tonight. We leave tomorrow to ride in the east-side desert, returning Monday. Then Ash & I drive to California for the Long Beach Motorcycle show. From there we fly to Australia for the Melbourne Moto Expo. Then we fly back east for my Mom’s birthday in Philly, followed by 10 days of riding in Ecuador, and a month of riding in Ethiopia. We get back from Africa with barely enough time to get back to Cali for Adventure Days at the Rawhyde Ranch. Sometime in March 2019, we’ll have a couple weeks at home before the spring/summer rally season starts. This winter will pass quickly I think.

When Will Everything Be In Stock??

October 12, 2018

We are getting a lot of inquiries right now about product availability. The following items are now back in stock and shipping. So if you have been waiting for these to arrive, you can order them now on the Mosko website.

  • Reckless 80
  • Nomad Tank Bag
  • Fatty Tool Roll

We are still waiting on the following. These dates have been pushed back several times already, and it might happen again. If you’d like the full story, read on.

Existing Items (Current Est Arrival: Oct 31)

  • Scout 25 Pannier
  • Scout 25 Duffle
  • Scout 60 Duffle
  • Tracker 10 Drybag

New Items (Current Est. Arrival: Dec 31)

  • Reckless 10
  • Hood Tank Bag
  • Pico Tank Bag
  • Pinner Tool Roll

All of the above items have one or more components that come from the same factory located in China. We have orders with this particular factory that were placed back in January 2018, 9.5 months ago, and are STILL open. We normally expect 120 day lead times for these items, including 30 days for delivery.

The problems started when we switched from our old PVC drybag material (grey inside and out) to a new custom PU material (blue inside/grey outside), which we had developed with a specific supplier. The welding factory had an issue with that supplier and wanted to switch to someone else. It took several months to develop our fabric with the new supplier, causing a delay of several months.

First we ran out of Reckless 80 drybags, so we had some sent via air freight. Then we ran out of Nomad rain covers and map pockets, and Fatty rain covers too. Again, we fixed the issue by air-freighting inventory as soon as it came off the production line. We already had all the sewn and metal components for those bags in stock, we were only missing the drybags.

A bag like the Nomad, for example, involves components made from multiple substrates coming from 4 different factories in 3 different countries, not including all the sub-factories, raw component suppliers, and fabric mills. If any one factory is late, the entire bag gets delayed.

By late summer we thought the material issue was behind us. However we continued to get delay notifications from the factory. Delivery dates were pushed back again and again. Some shipments went out from the factory in September, which we thought included all the new product, but then found out later they did not, causing more confusion. Then we heard this week that production has been pushed to November. We can’t seem to get a straight answer for what is behind the delays. I suspect there’s a valid explanation, but the factory has been slow to respond, which is a problem too. It’s weird, because we’ve had a great relationship with this factory for the last 3+ years.

On top of the delays and lack of explanation/response, our tariff rate on bags from China is about to increase to a whopping 45%. The cost is still much lower than what we would pay to manufacture the same bags here in the US, even if we could find a domestic factory with the scale and quality standards we need, but it’s going to have an impact on our prices.

I’m feeling frustrated. The delays are one thing, but the lack of explanation is worse. When we return from our company ride next week, I’ll fly to China and see what I can learn. In the meantime here is the latest information I have.

  • New Items: Production is not done yet. It is scheduled to finish by November 30. We may be able to air freight small quantities as early as mid-November. Main production will not arrive until late December or early January.
  • Existing Items: Production is done. They are on the water now, and should arrive in late October.

Until the boxes arrive and we cut them open and QC the product, all dates can still change. Between materials, manufacturing, international shipping, customs clearance, and quality control, there are lots of moving parts. A delay affects everything downstream, and we’re at the very end of the stream.

In the meantime, while we wait for our production to finish, we’ve been using all the prototypes on our own personal bikes and we love them. Thank you for your patience. Can’t wait to get all this stuff in stock!

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Sarah Miller: Welcome Aboard

October 4, 2018

At the moment, I have Mosko headquarters all to myself. Andrew is in Vietnam visiting our sewing factory. Lee is in Europe working with our new fulfillment center and attending the INTERMOT show. Ashley and Sarah are on a motorcycle trip near Mt. Adams. Scott is at home with his wife Lauren expecting a new baby at any moment. And Tiffany is working from home. So it’s just me and the dogs holding down the fort. A good day for the blog!

Welcome Sarah Miller

I’m very excited to introduce Sarah Miller as the new ‘Director of Customer Experience’ at Mosko. Sarah will be in charge of all customer service and communications going forward. Her background includes seven years at Marmot and eight years at REI, plus senior customer service management positions at DaKine (where she worked with Scott before he joined Mosko) and Nau/Blackyak. In addition to riding motorcycles, Sarah is an avid backpacker and enduro mountain bike racer. She’s outgrown her current dualsport, a Honda 230, and she’s in the market for something new. Sarah brings a ton of experience managing customer service, warranty, and e-commerce for major outdoor brands. We’re SO stoked to have her on the team!

Welcome aboard Sarah!

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KTM Rally

Ash and I returned from Burning Man, had a few nights to dust off and repack the trailer, and then we were back on the road, headed to the KTM Rally in Park City, Utah.

The KTM Rally is a medium-size event – maybe 300-400 riders total – and it’s always in an awesome location. Nearly everyone at this event already uses soft luggage, so it’s always an excellent show. I saw way more Mosko bags at this event this year than I ever have before.

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We caught up with Kurt & Martha from Black Dog Cycleworks and Bill & Joan Whitacre over dinner.

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We also saw Brandon & Simon from Upshift Online. If you haven’t seen the Upshift online magazine yet, I highly recommend checking it out. The content & photography is absolutely top notch. How they manage to deliver all that original content free of charge with minimal advertising is beyond me. It’s a great read though, and I really appreciate their unique perspective on riding & travel.

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Nice to see that the Backcountry 35 can also serve as a center stand in a pinch.

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KTM does a killer job with this event. Even the food was amazing. This year they had a new event called the ‘Ultimate Race‘, with the two finalists from Park City traveling to Morocco to race.

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I saw this interesting mod to a Reckless 80 on a KTM 690. He drilled directly through the bag and mounted it to the frame of the bike using the same mounting bolts as the factory grab handles. We’re really intrigued with mounting options that combine hard and soft components. I might have to try this one on my bike.

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At the KTM Rally, everyone was out riding in the middle part of the day, and our dualsports were being used to display bags in the booth, so Ash & I explored Park City on mountain bikes instead. Big thanks to our friend Marcus for showing us around.

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On long road trips to/from events and rallies like this one, it’s awesome when we can stop somewhere interesting instead of sleeping in rest areas or truck stops. On the way home from Park City we spent a night at the Bonneville Salt Flats, which is a great place to wake up, and also a great place to see how fast your truck can go.

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The next night we lucked out again, stopping just a few miles from this neat little hot spring.

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The Dream Roll

From the KTM Rally, our next stop was Prineville, OR for an all-women’s event called the ‘Dream Roll.’ A crew came up from the Gorge to meet us there for the weekend.  Aside from this great pic of Tiff waking up in the back of her truck in sub-freezing temps, I have hardly any photos from this event, because it was women-only. The five women in our group spent their days working on dirt riding skills at the ‘Dirtastic‘ clinic.

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Since we couldn’t participate, Lee & I went riding instead.

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Everyone enjoyed themselves. The feedback on Dirtastic was awesome as well. Even from the sidelines, I could tell there was an energy and excitement at this event that was really inspiring. People were up partying around campfires late into the night, and everyone we met was super cool. There were no guys there at all, so Lee & I kept a low profile, cooking and cleaning in the camper while the women rode and partied.  If you want more info about this event, please send a note to Tiff, Sarah, or Ash.

New Apparel Samples

Back in the shop on Monday, Bill Whitacre was in town, so he stopped by to take a look at the latest apparel samples. The fact that we’ve turned around an entire sample set since my last blog post shows how things have accelerated since Scott joined the team. Sample rounds used to take a minimum of 3+ months.

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We had to make a decision with respect to the ‘Deluge’ jacket. The Deluge is the name for the secondary rain layer we want to offer in conjunction with the Basilisk outer jacket/pant. If you’ve been following our apparel development, you probably remember that we want a fully waterproof/breathable outer jacket and ALSO offer a thinner rain jacket that goes underneath for hardcore multi-day downpours when rain tends to find its way through openings and abrasion spots. We’re doing this while knowing full well that many people will think it’s totally weird to offer a second rain layer when the main jacket is already 100% waterproof. It’s a confusing marketing message, no doubt about that, but anyone who’s ever been damp or wet inside a high-quality, fully-waterproof jacket after several days of rain, will understand. At high speeds on bikes that don’t have a front fairing or windscreen, rain eventually finds a way in.

Originally we wanted to include a Deluge jacket/pant as a package deal with every Basilisk jacket/pant. We wanted it to be an inexpensive, replaceable, packable extra layer. Mainly for cost reasons, we decided to use a generic waterproof breathable membrane. However even with the generic material, the end result was still too expensive to include with every Basilisk. Especially since some riders (for example, in the Southwest) will never need a second layer like those of us here in the Northwest do. It was adding $150-200 to the price of the Basilisk. So we changed our thinking, and now we want to make the Deluge a separate, standalone item that also serves as a stashable waterproof layer for dirt biking and wearing around camp.

The trouble is, because of the generic material we originally chose, when we stood back and evaluated the Deluge as a standalone item, we all agreed it’s just not quite there. Something in the trade-off between weight, packability, durability, and price didn’t add up. It’s not as packable or light as we’d like, and it doesn’t have eVent’s breathability. Plus it’s two-layer not three-layer, and none of us really likes two-layer jackets. So we decided to make a material change, which means we won’t be able to introduce the Deluge and the Basilisk at the same time. It’s also going to make the Deluge quite a bit more expensive than we originally intended. But so be it. There are plenty of functional, cheap rain jackets on the market already, the world doesn’t need another one of those. Better to make something really cool that we can all get excited about.

In this pic we’re comparing the packed size of a Deluge (in grey) to a Patagonia rain layer (red).

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We briefly considered switching to a three-layer stretch Toray fabric – which would have been less expensive and faster – but in the end, we all want eVent.

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The current version of the jacket and pant look great. Each round of samples brings us closer and closer to a finished product.

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We added this cinch cord around the neck opening to make it adjustable.

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The internal zipper gutters are now sewn-down, providing a back-stop for any water that sneaks past the zipper opening.

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We also added an inside liner at the very bottom of the pant, where we were seeing some boot abrasion on our test samples.

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We added a small amount of articulation to the knees with these darts. In general, we’re not trying to get too crazy with articulation, opting for simplicity instead. Less pieces, less seams, less sewing, less possible failure points.

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We’re using a new material on the neckline. We were already seeing some pilling in the neckline material on our test samples, plus that material was holding moisture.

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It’s getting to the point where I come back from test rides with no major suggestions, so that’s gotta be a good sign. Yesterday I went out for 4-5 hours of jeep track riding and I came back with a few minor thoughts about sleeve size and the velcro on the cuffs, but these were really small edits. Basically, I just really love this kit. I’m looking forward to using it on our company trip here in Oregon in two weeks, and then again in Ecuador in December.

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Honda CRF450L Release

A big thanks to the crew at Honda Powersports and also Jesse Felker from PNW Dual Sport for inviting Mosko to attend the release event for the new CRF450L dualsport model in Packwood, WA. This event happened while Ash and I were en route to Park City. Andrew was able to attend, and he brought some Pico Tank Bags and Reckless 10s to test fit on the bikes. He sent these pics.

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The reports on this new bike both from Andrew and also from everyone else I know who has ridden one have been overwhelmingly positive. Can’t wait to try one myself.

This happened to Andrew. He nearly got run over. Glad everyone was OK.

Reckless 40 Singletrack Trip

Last week, Ash, Andrew, Alistair (who manages Mosko’s social media) and I headed out for a quick overnight trip on Washington singletrack. We were all on non-plated bikes, 300cc or smaller. Half two-strokes and half four-strokes. What a blast. It’s like ultralight backpacking, but on a bike. The feelings afterward were unanimous: let’s do more trips like this.

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We get a lot of questions about camping with a Reckless 40, what fits in it, etc. Here’s a video with the details of what we took, and also some pics below as well.

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In Other News

Matt from Forcefield Armor and Bill from Motonation (Forcefield’s US Distributor) stopped by the shop a few weeks ago to meet with Andrew, Scott, and Lee to discuss armor options for the new Basilisk jacket.

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Ash and our graphic designer Dan Cox have been working on a complete redesign of the Mosko website. The rest of the team got our first preview last week, and it looks really great.

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The fall riding season is ON here in the Pacific Northwest. We’re on the trails every chance we get. Big thanks to Brian at BGR Moto for lending Ash one of his modified and lowered TM 144’s. What an awesome little bike.

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Ash and I enjoyed  driving our big motorized chair around the desert at Burning Man this year, again. It was great to run into some Mosko friends out there!

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If anyone you have any questions about our bags, gear, or anything having to do with motorcycles or anything else, please post them in the blog/advrider comments below. Ash just informed me that we’ll be doing a video response. Cool!

 

 

Summer in the Gorge

August 22, 2018

For the last four weeks, since we returned from the BMW Rally in Iowa, Ash and I have been here at home in the Gorge. This is the longest uninterrupted stretch of summer we’ve had at home in several years, and it has been awesome. It ends this afternoon, when we leave for two weeks in Black Rock City, Nevada for Burning Man. After that, we’ll return to Washington for a few days to unpack, un-dust, and reload the trailer with bikes and samples for the annual KTM Rally in Park City, Utah.

New Apparel Samples

We got the latest round of apparel samples and they look really awesome. It has been so satisfying to watch Scott Bryan take over leadership of this project. Each new round of samples represents a big improvement over the last. We’re still driving toward a 2019 product launch.

For the latest round, we applied ceramic SuperFabric armor directly onto the high-abrasion waterproof/breathable eVent fabric we’re using for the main body of the jacket. In other words, everywhere you see the color blue in the samples below, is actually two overlapping layers of high-abrasion eVent fabric with SuperFabric armor dots on top. If you’re not familiar with SuperFabric, check out their website here. We originally had the SuperFabric on a 600d underlayer, but after tearing up the knee patches on some testing samples (from snagging, not abrasion), we decided it had to change.

We’re loving the new construction. It’s extremely tough in the areas that take a beating when you go down, but light and breathable everywhere else. The only problem is that it creates some major challenges on the supply side, by doubling the material lead time and nearly doubling the cost per yard. First the eVent fabric has to be made and laminated, then it has to be sent to SuperFabric to have the armor applied, and then finally it has to be sent to our sewing factory to be assembled into a garment. Plus eVent is a lot more expensive than 600d base we were using before. There’s a reason more people aren’t doing things this way. Scott is looking for a solution.

 

 

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We’ve been experimenting with different threads that have a very high breaking strength.

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I took the new gear out for a test ride up to Mount St. Helens last week. I also took the new Hood tank bag, which fits perfect on our R1200GS Adventure, and a prototype of our new MOLLE cell phone holder.

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The Basilisk pants will come with this really nice custom leather belt. You’d think belt sizing would be pretty straightforward, but it’s actually not. Belt sizes run about two inches longer than waist sizes – which is confusing when you’re trying to decide which size to buy – and there’s the question of how many holes, which holes to measure the sizing from, and what ranges of waist sizes each belt should cover. Plus the belt sizing needs need to match our pant sizing.

The belts look great. Everyone wants Scott to finish so we can fight over who gets the samples.

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The size XXL sample was enormous for some reason. There was a huge leap from XL to XXL, much bigger than the leap in our pant sizing.

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We had some issues with the placement of the knee protection. What feels right when you’re standing doesn’t necessarily feel right when you’re sitting. This is exacerbated by the leg extension zipper we added below the knee, which extends the inseam an additional two inches, all of which falls below the knee.

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The lines in the pic below represent the top position of my knee armor in a standing versus sitting position. It’s a huge difference.

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Really digging the final label artwork by Dan Cox Design. We’ve already incorporated some of this into t-shirts.

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Catalog Photo Shoot

Ken Strode from LGL Studios came to town yesterday to create new product beauty shots for our upcoming catalog. Ken is also a rider, he has a Nomad Tank Bag, Backcountry 35 Panniers, and a Backcountry 40 Duffle on his Africa Twin. Ken & Ash took over the Mosko shop from 6am until well after dark. Now Ken has the raw images he needs for post-production editing, clipping, and drop-shadowing. Product beauty shots are a lot of work.

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This shot cracks me up. Ken & Ash are photographing our new super-lightweight hi-tech poop trowel, which should be ready any day now.

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Thanks so much for all the hard work Ken. That was a long day. It was a pleasure watching you work.

Stock Status

If you’ve been trying to order a Reckless 80, Fatty Tool Roll, or Scout panniers, or if you’ve been patiently waiting on new products like the Reckless 10, Hood Tank Bag, Pico, or Pinner, then you may have noticed we’re having some supply issues.

The issues originated back in January-March. Winter sales were a lot higher than forecast, leaving us short on inventory. We saw the problem and responded by placing rush restock orders with our two main factories, one for sewing and one for fabric welding (ie for drybags). Many of our bags – like the Reckless 80 for example – have both sewn-seam and welded components in them.

The sewing order showed up on time, but not the welding order. We had a problem with  the manufacturer of our drybag fabric. This is the custom polyurethane fabric with the blue interior that we switched to last year. We had to find a new source for, which meant making and approving new samples, which takes time.

Now it’s been 7 months since we placed the ‘rush’ order – compared to a normal lead time of 4 months – and we’re still waiting. The fabric is made, and sewing should be finished around September 18th. Then the product will be in containers on the water for another 3-4 weeks, putting the expected arrival date out into October. Hopefully we will be able to get some partial deliveries via air freight before then.

With the new supplier up and running, we hope the supply issues are behind us. We also changed the way we forecast and reorder to be more responsive to changes in demand. If you’ve been affected by the stockouts, sorry! We’ll do everything we can to prevent this from happening again.

In Other News

We’ve had several great days of singletrack at Mt. Adams. This is Alistair Nicol in the pics below, he works with Ash to manage Mosko’s Facebook and Instagram. He’s riding with a Reckless 40 on his 250.

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Ash & I went to our local gas station to fill up, and ran into this group of really cool & stoked Mosko riders, at least three of whom were named Brian. Awesome to meet you guys!

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I love seeing the ways that people use their MOLLE panels.

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Dane Pedersen also stopped by last week. He’s been exploring North America and living off his R1200GS for the last three months with a Reckless 80 and Nomad.

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Speaking of the Nomad, anyone who received one recently may have noticed the new Mosko-branded hydration reservoirs from Platypus. The new ones have a wide top-opening, so you can add ice on hot days. We also added a shutoff switch on the bite valve.

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Our summer intern Jesse is returning to design school in Utah. Over the last few months, Jesse really became a part of our team. We miss him a lot. Kade, our french bulldog, has been moping around since he left, literally jumping up and sleeping on Jesse’s desk during the day. Jesse: thanks for all your contributions, good luck with school, and we hope to work with you again down the road.

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Here’s a great pic of Ash on our local rope swing.

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Andrew – who just returned from two weeks of wilderness backpacking with his family in British Columbia – has been organizing weekly ‘wim hof’s’ for the entire team. If you’re not familiar with that term, here’s a link Wikipedia. Basically, you walk slowly into freezing cold water until your nipples are underwater, while controlling your breathing, and then you stay put as long as you can. I’m usually the first one out, but Andrew and Ash can stay in for a shockingly long time. This pic is from the White Salmon River, the water temperature is in the low 40s.

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If you’re on the Black Rock Desert for Burning Man next week, come find Ash & I either out on the open playa driving around with our mutant vehicle ‘Chairman of the Bored’ or back in camp at Sunset Lounge, which is located in the vicinity of 9:15 & H near Distrikt.

We’ll be out of touch for the next two weeks. See ya on the other side!

Long Journey to the Middle

July 27, 2018

Ash and I just returned from the national BMW MOA event in Iowa. At 1,700 miles, this was the farthest we’ve ever driven for a show. Normally we fly to anything over about 1,200 miles. Flying is nearly as much of a hassle as driving though, because we can’t bring display bikes, it doesn’t save all that much travel time, and cost of the flights plus the pallet shipping is comparable to the cost of driving.

So instead of flying we loaded up the Mosko trailer and headed east, on some of the least interesting roads in the world. On the bright side though, it’s straight and flat, so we made good time and only got one $200 speeding ticket.

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We were happy to have an indoor, air-conditioned booth. It was exceptionally hot and humid. Open your car door, instantly pouring sweat. This was our first time setting up the new Mosko indoor booth.

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Here’s what the final booth setup looks like with all four bikes. Really stoked. It’s a little more work, but it looks great, packs small, and was surprisingly affordable. I feel like, because we sell direct, it’s especially important to put our best foot forward at shows and make a good first impression. It’s worth a little extra work and expense to achieve that.

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I dug up this pic of our first booth at the BMW MOA in Minnesota 5 years ago. We had only our first few samples to display. I remember running around the fairgrounds searching for pallets and extra tables/chairs to make a quick & dirty display.

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Ash painted her nails BMW rallye blue for the event.

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We ordered footpegs, a luggage rack, and a skid plate for our new Mosko R1200GS from Kurt & Martha at Black Dog Cycle Works. I installed it all the night before the show. Everything went on super easy, good instructions were included in the box. We could learn something from these guys. I’m always impressed with the quality of everything we get from BDCW.

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Check out the difference between the Black Dog and the OEM skidplate in the pic below. Man it is so much better it’s not even funny.

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Our friends at GS Giants will appreciate Bruce Sanderson’s tee, for the new BMW 310GS.

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Forrest Bault stopped by on his way west, after finishing the MABDR on a Honda Ruckus scooter. We were trying to figure out how to get our little trailer back to the campsite, and Forrest came up with this solution.

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We were busy the entire time. Three days flew by.

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Lee and Tiffany flew in on the last day to help us tear down the booth, Ash and I flew home, and Lee and Tiff towed the Mosko rig back home to Washington. It was great to split up the drive.

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Backcountry 35 v2.0

Back in the office, we got our first look at the latest sample of the new Backcountry 35 pannier v2.0. With all the incremental, inline changes we’ve made over the last 4 years, plus the injection molded plates and frames, I had previously been referring to this as v3.0. But Andrew & Lee corrected me, the new BC35 is officially v2.0.

The rear pocket on v2.0 is removable, these pics are of the pannier only.

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We’re using these custom-made molded buckles, which slide better than the stamped aluminum G clips we’re using now.

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The side compression straps that connect to the roll top will have these break away buckles, in case you forget to attach them and they get caught in your chain and break off (which is pretty common).

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We’re messing around with some different logo treatments. We were kind of ‘meh’ on this one. Scott nailed it when he said that the little dotted panels at the bottom look like ‘fake tech.’ Plus the blue color is off. We like the way the words look though.

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This embroidered patch looks cool, but the edges are a little sloppy.

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On the new version, there is MOLLE webbing behind the beavertail, and also a large-tool holder.

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We added some additional reflective material on the sides and bottom.

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The side MOLLE is made from hypalon. The bartacked holes are for attaching the removable pocket.

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On the inside of the pannier, we have these little velcro flaps to protect the inner drybag from abrasion caused by the mounting hardware on the pocket bolts.

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We’re also working with our factory to redesign the attachment latch. We want a latch that a) locks the bag closed and b) locks it to the bike with a single device.

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Reckless 80 v3.0

The most common warranty return on the Reckless 80 is seam separation on the rear seam of the leg harness. We keep beefing up our construction with every production run, but ther’s only so much we can do with the current design. Ultimately we’ll have to redesign the legs to fully eliminate it. A fully loaded (or sometimes overloaded) R80 bouncing around in rough terrain exerts a ton of force on the seam stitching.

In the next prototype, we want to experiment with making the harness as two completely separate assemblies, connected by webbing and stitching that wraps all the way around to the back of the harness, like in the mockup below.

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Cell Phone MOLLE

Jesse, who is interning at Mosko this summer while on break from studying design at Utah State, is working on this cool new vented MOLLE cell phone holder for the Nomad and Hood tank bags. It connects with a large MOLLE velcro patch, and has a sun cover, which when combined with the vents, should help prevent your phone from overheating on hot, sunny days.

We started out designing a waterproof phone bag, but then we remembered that all our modern smartphones are already waterproof from the factory, so waterproof cell cases are becoming a thing of the past. With new phones, overheating is a bigger issue.

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In Other News

Ash is working with our web designer Karl, our digital agency Foghorn Labs, and our graphic designer Dan Cox to update the Mosko website. Our site is 5 years old, and we all feel like it could benefit from a face lift.

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Jesse & Andrew snapped some quick catalog/website beauty shots of our new 2018 items, which are currently in production. Unfortunately, the delivery date for the Reckless 10, Pinner Tool Roll, and Pico/Hood tank bags keeps getting pushed back. We expect to have them in stock by late September.

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I completely dunked my dirt bike in a river up at Mt. Adams a few weeks ago. I’ve dropped bikes in water before, but I’ve never had one get fully submerged while running, let alone watched my bike actually float downstream.

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Here’s a few more pics from a fun day of Pacific Northwest riding.

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At the MOA event in Iowa, our booth was directly across from our friends at Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental. Ash and I booked a couple 650s for the holiday week between Christmas and New Year, when the Mosko shop will be closed. Can’t wait.

Man, summer is flying by!

UNRally UNBlog v2.0

June 28, 2018

A few weeks ago, a group of us met on the Alvord Desert in Southeastern Oregon to camp, ride, and chill for a weekend.

There were no fairgrounds, no group rides, no tire-changing seminars, no presentations, no vendor flags, no dualcorkers, no ride check-ins, no quiet hours, no awards, and absolutely no f-ing raffles. It was the opposite of a rally: an UNRally.

We have six UNRally principles:

  • Principles, Not Rules – We hate rules, and don’t want any.
  • Active Participation – We, the participants, are the entertainment.
  • Self Reliance – We come prepared and we take care of ourselves.
  • Leave No Trace – We pack it in and pack it out.
  • Everyone’s Invited – However, participation is capped by the BLM.
  • No Commerce – We’re not working, selling anything, or promoting anything.

Last year we had 60 people, this year there were 95. I counted 35 cars, vans, and campers Saturday morning. The rest were on bikes. It’s awesome how 95 people feels like nothing in a space as wide open and expansive as the Alvord.

When the wind picked up and scattered showers crossed the mountains on Saturday, about half the vehicles cleared out. Those who stuck around – the dusty survivors – were rewarded with awesome riding in cooler temps, a fun and intimate fire Saturday night, and pristine weather Sunday. The Alvord is a place of extremes – heat, cold, wind, water, sun, and dryness –  and this year did not disappoint.

Huge thanks to everyone who contributed to such an epic gathering. We’re already brimming with ideas for next year. Let’s take it up a notch. I seriously cannot wait.

Pics from Bryon Dorr, Exploring Elements

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Pics from Hekter Elliot, HekterVision

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