April 18, 2014
We’re getting a lot of inquiries about when the bags will be available for sale. The answer is below (sort of).
When we first started designing we didn’t think much about ship dates. Then, as we got closer to a finished product, we realized there was a “chance” we could have a portion of the line ready for the Summer 2014 riding season. Subconsciously we started orienting our plans around that goal, even though we knew it was a stretch. Now the riding season is upon us, the customer inquiries are rolling in, and we’re feeling the pressure to get some bags in stock. In reality though, there’s only so much we can control about the timing.
Right now the main pannier/duffle production order looks like it will be ready in July. For the rackless, we can’t say yet whether it will be on the same schedule as the panniers/duffles or not, because we haven’t seen the sample yet (due April 18th). If the sample is close, then maybe we’ll order it concurrently. Otherwise the rackless may lag a few months behind the others.
Our current “hoped for” schedule is outlined below.
- May 1: Production samples arrive.
- May 5-12: Field-testing and photography trip to Moab.
- May 16-18: Overland Expo, start collecting pre-orders (with incentive).
- June 8: Pre-order’s get air-freighted, remaining inventory goes on the water.
- June 18: Pre-orders start shipping to customers.
- July 7: Main production arrives via water.
- July 14: Product unpacked, assembled, and ready-to-ship
This all depends on the factory. We’re a new client and it’s a small order, so we’re at the mercy of their capacity constraints. We’re so excited that customers are interested, and we hate to keep moving the arrival date out, but we also want to set realistic expectations.
In the midst of this, it’s also time to start on NEXT year’s designs so we can have them ready for 2015.
Mounting System Timing
The mounting hardware (i.e. the wedge and aluminum pucks) presents some special challenges of its own. That’s because, compared to other features of the bags, we think the mounts are the most likely to require tweaking down the road once we’ve experimented with a lot of different bikes, rack systems, and riding conditions.
There are two options:
Option 1: We can make the mounting system overseas for a reasonable cost, but the parts will be molded not machined, which means a) placing high volume orders (in the thousands) and b) buying expensive molds upfront. Then, if we need to make design changes later, it will be harder because we’ll have a lot of existing inventory in stock, plus we’d need to make all new molds.
Option 2: We can have these parts machined here in the US in much lower quantities (50-100 at a time) and without the need for expensive molds upfront, but the price-per-part will be 4X more than what we’d pay for the same item overseas. The US prices are so much higher that we’d barely be making any profit on the bags.
We decided on the following approach:
- Initial Testing Samples for Moab/OE: Made by Hein, in his garage.
- First Production Run: Made in the USA, we’ll eat the added cost.
- Future Orders: Made as a molded part overseas, once the design is final.
This process works from a timing perspective too, because at this point there’s no way we could design a molded part and have it ready-to-ship this summer. We won’t be making money on the initial orders, however we’ll get a lot of bags out in the field and we’ll be able to incorporate all the associated learning into future design iterations. That should result in a better product in the long run.
Quick Apparel Update
We received the Toray and Superfabric samples and we like them. So these are off to the factory to order sample yardage and start on prototypes. Their pattern-makers are already started, and we’ve had a flurry of back and forth over sizing.
We’ve been communicating with Forcefield body armor about pressure suits. Our thought is that, since we’re designing our jacket/pants to be worn over separate body armor, we want to pick a specific pressure suit as the basis for our sizing, and then also offer that same suit for sale along with the jacket (although the jacket will also fit over other brands of external armor).
There’s a lot of administrative activity happening in the background as we get closer to market. Things like learning Quickbooks, re-designing our website to accommodate a store (we’ve been learning to do this ourselves), getting promotional stickers designed and ordered, opening a bank account/credit card, etc. There will be more and more of these types of tasks, but it still feels like a distraction when we’ve been focused solely on development for the last 6 months.
Mailing List Update
The Free P-38 requests (aka mailing list subscriptions) continue to come in. Our list has nearly doubled since last week. Which means we need to restock on P-38s, again. It’s so cool to see the advrider posts of everyone receiving them around the world. We were a little worried, since we didn’t fill out US customs forms for all those international shipments, but they seem to be getting through.
– International/Domestic: running about the same as last week (26% International)
– Advrider Membership: also about the same (73% members)
– Time Zone: Still very light in Mountain, but we did get a nice influx of Colorado folks after the last post. Thanks for spreading the word!
– New countries this week:
– New states this week: Welcome aboard Alabama, Utah, and West Virginia! Remaining states where we still don’t have any subscribers:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
No pictures this week, as we’ve been stuck behind computers. In the evenings I’ve been busy rebuilding my 950SE after the accident in Honduras, and getting the bike ready for our trip to Moab in a few weeks.