BMW, Billings, & Back

August 1, 2015

Just got back from a trip to Montana for the BMW Motorcycle Owners Association event in Billings.  Long solo road trip, and another awesome event for Mosko.  It felt kind of weird to leave the office for a week when we have so much going on back home, but because of our direct sales model, these events are even more important for us than they are for other vendors.  And it’s better when we can drive instead of fly, because we can take a show bike (key for doing demos) plus bring inventory to sell cash & carry.

Billings BMWMOA

Got the trailer all loaded up with inventory and a bike.

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Man when it rains in Montana it really rains.

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Loved having a corner booth for once.

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This customer brought in the bag on the left after a 65 mph pavement slide.  She was fine.  The outer bag took a beating but the inside liner was 100% in tact, no holes at all, and the mounts were fine.  She rode to BMWMOA with the bag.  We took off the mounts, hooked them up to a new bag, and got her back on the road for $100.  This was about as good of a crash test as we could ever ask for and now we have a cool bag to show off when people ask about crash testing.  Replacing a $100 outer bag is a lot better than replacing a $600 hard bag.

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Another customer brought in these cool MOLLE side release D-Rings to show us.  She found them on a tactical website.  Love these things.  They enable you to turn any MOLLE panel into an tie-down point for straps so, for example, you could tie down a thermarest or tent to the top MOLLE panel on a Backcountry Duffle.  In the future it would be cool to research what other stuff like this is out there and maybe offer it for sale on our website.

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Also experimented with the new Backcountry 30L duffle as a pannier topper on the BMW hard cases.

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And then back on the road home!

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I was totally exhausted after this show.  Setting up, tearing down, and working the show solo all day doing demos really took it out of me (John Murakami, THANK YOU for your help tearing down and also for manning the booth so I could run out and grab food).  Plus I was getting up early in the morning to go running before the show and I got a week-long membership at a local gym, so I was working out in the evenings too.  Really long days.   Stopped on the way home to spend a night on this river, read, and just generally chill out.

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Richard Siberell Visit

On the way to Billings, I stopped in Bozeman to visit with Richard Siberell, an independent outerwear designer we’ve been in touch with over the last 6 months.  Richard is a moto guy, he was one of our first customers.  He has a killer apparel design shop with all kinds of sewing, seam sealing, and welding equipment, and is by far the most knowledgeable person I’ve ever met when it comes to cutting-edge outerwear design.  As we’ve been out researching and talking to people about apparel design and fabric development his name comes up constantly. He’s worked for some of the world’s most respected outdoor gear companies and is currently splitting his time between Patagonia and Sitka Gear.  He is an awesome host: I learned a ton and even got to eat some of the elk he shot for dinner.  Richard: thank you!!  I’d love to return the favor if you ever come west.

Richard’s shop.

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Checking out our jacket prototype under a microscope.

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Some light reading…

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I love that so many people from the outdoor industry are into moto.  It’s a trip.  Motorsports are surprisingly well represented in the management and design teams at major backpacking and outdoor product companies.  I just found out that the founder of arcteryx is currently on a round-the-world dualsport trip of indeterminate length.

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Here’s a cool version of the Reckless 80 that Richard sewed himself.

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Complete with MOLLE bags.

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S Group

Back in the Northwest we went into Portland to meet with the S-Group, a product development company in Portland that is helping us take the apparel project through completion. Andrew and I have been tapped-out time-wise, so we reached out to S Group for help.  They work with two other outdoor apparel companies we know well.  There’s going to be a lot more about the S Group in future posts.

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Frame/Wedge Redesign

Lee has been working hard in the background to redesign our mounting frame and wedge as injection molded pieces instead of milled.  This week we got back our rapid prototypes and they look really, really good.  These were 3D printed in glass-filled nylon, which is the same material we’ll use in production.  The 3D printed proto’s strength is only about 1/3rd of what it will be in production, but it gives us a chance to test them before we pay for an expensive mold.  If you’ve never seen 3D printing technology, I highly recommend googling it… it’s amazing.  This was my first experience with it and I’m totally blown away by these prototypes.

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We’re adding some thickness in the redesign.  The beveled part in the pic below is the same as on the current wedge, the flat part is the additional width.

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Tool Bag

We also got another round of prototypes on our tool bag and tool roll.  We added these tire iron storage spots on the outside of the roll.

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The tool bag will have a hook on top so it can hang off the beavertail like this.

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Added this expandable storage on the outside for large tools and/or tire irons.

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Also these pockets on the outside for tube patches and other flat stuff like that.

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We’re working on a drybag MOLLE bag that the tool rolls will fit into.  This also works as a standalone bag as well.

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Reckless Revisions & Videos

We’re currently working on Reckless 80 revisions for the next production run (these will not available until sometime next year, we’re going to stock out on the R80 for 4-6 months starting soon).  The buckles and straps on the center harness will become removable/replaceable, connected using aluminum stiffeners just like the cam buckle straps on the legs currently are. We’re also experimenting with an open hole of some kind to accommodate rear-fueling bikes, and daisy chains so you can strap down anything you want in this area if you’d prefer to use a different type of center bag.  We’re also looking for a new welding company to make the drybags with molds instead of the hand-feed welding on the current drybags.  The molded seams will give more consistent, stronger, cleaner looking welds.

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Also we want to change these corners on the beavertail.  This is a potential failure point on thin-profile bikes, where this part of the bag can accidentally become semi-load-bearing.  Plus it just looks kind of weird.

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Thinking we’ll replace it with webbing and a sliding buckle so it can be adjusted to the specific bike.  Kind of like the stabilizing straps at the top of a backpacking pack shoulder strap.

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Assembly

Lee has been spending a lot of time in Portland overseeing the assembly of panniers from our most recent shipment.   We’re currently about half way through.  Big job!

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I’m back for a few more days, then off for my first-ever visit to the huge Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City next week.  That should be interesting.  I’m just there to walk the show, look at fabrics, and learn.  Stoked for that.

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6 thoughts on “BMW, Billings, & Back

  1. John Murakami

    Pete,
    It was great seeing you in Billings and to be able to help you out! Looking forward to the new products in development!!!

    Reply
  2. Brian Young

    Pete- Glad to see things are going well with company. I will be at the OR show for the last two days and then headed out with another friend for a motorcycle trip around UT. You are welcome to join or at least grab a beer with us.

    Reply

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