January 28, 2016
Now that the 2016 order is in production, we’re focused on new product development again. We’re aiming for a late Fall introduction on the various items that didn’t make it in time for the 2016 riding season.
Tank bags are our single most requested new item. Barely a day goes by that we don’t get a request for a tank bag. Our first post on tank bags dates back to Dec 2014 (click here).
For our initial designs, we want to avoid the traditional ‘toaster style’ bags, by which I mean an open bucket with a few dividers and zipper lid. Not that there’s anything wrong with toasters – we’ll probably do one eventually – it’s just that there’s so many already on the market, so it’s not our top priority. We want our first tank bags to be something totally different.
With tank bags, there’s a trade off between organizational features and waterproofing. To make a truly waterproof bag (as in, you can submerge the bag in a river and not worry about your stuff) it’s hard to add a lot of features, because features require seams and zippers, and those things work against the waterproofing.
We want to offer two tank bags to start: one with sewn seams and a raincover with more features, and one with welded seams that’s fully waterproof but functionally simpler.
Tank Bag 1 – Sewn Seam
This is the bag that’s been in progress for a while. It’s sewn-seam with an integrated raincover, and it easily detaches from the bike and turns into a true backpack (ie not a ‘tank bag on your back’). On this bag, because it’s sewn not welded, we can add a lot of features.
Here’s the blog post where we discuss this bag: blog post, and here’s a pic of the current prototype. This is just a first draft, still a lot of work yet to be done:
Tank Bag 2
For the welded seam waterproof tank bag, Andrew spotted a cool kayak bag online that we’ve been using for inspiration. The bag uses a small kayak hatch as the primary access point. This hatch closure has the advantage of being fully waterproof without a roll top. Roll tops are nice on panniers and duffles, but they’re kind of clumsy on a tank bag, since the whole point is to have easy ingress. The downside of this closure is the limited size of the entrance and the ‘dark cave effect,’ making it easy for things to get lost. We have some ideas for how to address that.
This would be really unique, and totally 100% waterproof; like if you drop your bike in a river crossing your cell and camera would be safe, which is not something many tank bags can claim. Maybe we could add a roll top as well, so we get the advantages of both.
In December we left two new tool rolls with the factory for prototyping. Now we have the first round prototypes.
This kit consists of a tool roll inside a hanging bag. They can be combined and packed/hung together, or separated and packed individually.
On the outside there’s an expandable pocket for up to 3 tire irons.
The bag fits great in the rear pocket of a Reckless 80 or a Backcountry 35, or in a large MOLLE pouch.
This is our take on the traditional tool roll, with some improvements. I’m taking this to Africa next week so will have more feedback after that.
External storage for tire irons.
The grey patch will be magnetized to hold loose hardware when you’re working on the bike.
Clear vinyl so you can see what’s in the two pockets
Simple Connection Strap
A few weeks ago I posted about our new heavy-duty cinch straps. Very stoked on those. We were concerned that those might be overkill (and expensive) for smaller drybags, so we’re also making some simple tiedowns to use on smaller bags like the new Tracker 10 and Tracker 20 drybags, particularly when rigged as pannier toppers. These connect with lanyard loops, have a male/female side release, and strap keepers for the tails. They’ll probably retail under $15 for a set.
We printed up pics of all the Mosko Nomads and you all are now hanging here on the wall in the shop, so we can put faces with the names when you email/call. THANK YOU for all your help and support! We have some cool new ideas for hookups for Nomads, so stay tuned for more on that.
We gathered up all the old prototypes and samples we had in the office and offered them to the Nomads this week at super low prices. Only a few items remain, and we’ll be listing them in the flea market on advrider. Tiffany’s been working the phones selling that stuff and getting it packed up and shipped.
We’re about to do our first-ever paid advertising. We’re looking at 6 full page ads in ADVmoto Magazine starting in May/June 2016. Maybe also a little catalog ‘rider’ to send along with their printed magazines. We’re also talking to some digital marketing companies about online banner ads, google adwords, etc. Standard basic stuff that most companies do, but it’s all new to us.
We’re contemplating how to present ourselves in prints ad. What exactly do we want to say? The blog/advrider thread, in-person shows/events, and word-of-mouth have been our only marketing tools up till now. When we started the blog/advrider thread, the idea was to do a ‘ride report,’ but make it about starting a business instead of riding. We just photograph and write down whatever we’re doing, post it online, and call that ‘marketing.’ It’s all very organic and non self-conscious, no strategy involved, but it doesn’t really translate into traditional ads.
We decided the main goal of advertising is to spark someone’s curiosity enough for them to either a) ask their friends about us or b) google us. So we’re thinking it’ll be simple, clean, and lifestyle-oriented (as opposed to product-oriented), and sufficiently differentiated from the standard moto-mag clutter to get someone’s attention. We have a tiny budget to accomplish this, so whatever we do it’ll be on the cheap.
Dan Cox is helping us out with this:
I’m leaving for Africa tomorrow. My buddy Josh and I are flying into Ghana with a couple Reckless 80s. We have visas for Ghana & Ivory Coast, and Togo/Benin visas are available at the border. We’ll buy a couple local bikes in Accra when we land – small used bikes for <$1,000 apiece – and explore from there. We have a month to travel. Really stoked to see this part of Africa.
“Compression sacks are like Spanx for camping gear.” Thanks for that gem of a thought Bill Whitacre 🙂