January 20, 2020
Happy New year!
Most of us here at Mosko took a break over the holidays, either at home or somewhere out of town. Andrew and his family went to San Juanico Baja, Scott and his family went to Todos Santos to surf, Sarah went skiing in Montana, Ames went to Florida for a family visit (and took his first-ever kiteboard lesson), Blake went to Joshua Tree to ride motorcycles in the snow, Jenn nursed her still-broken-but-almost-better leg on Orca’s Island in Puget Sound, and Ash and I went surfing in Costa Rica. Lee, Paulina, and Julia enjoyed the holidays at home in the Gorge.
Spencer Hill: The Gear Dude
Spencer Hill is joining the Mosko team part time in 2020. You may already know Spencer as The Gear Dude, or maybe you’ve read his stories or seen his pics online. Spencer wrote one of the first-ever articles on Mosko, an ‘industry profile’ for Adventure Motorcycle Magazine back in 2016 (check it out here).
Here’s a pic from that 2016 article. That’s Spencer in the middle, with the black puffy jacket.
Spencer: we’re stoked to have you on the team, welcome aboard!
Speed Pin Latch Idea
We’ve been experimenting with different latching systems for the Backcountry Pannier wedge mount. The latch we currently use is an off-the-shelf design. You might have seen the same latch on metal panniers or various types of storage/shipping boxes. It works pretty well, but there are some things we’re not crazy about. For example, after a big crash the overlapping lips of the latch and keeper will sometimes bend, resulting in a lose connection between the wedge and frame. Also, because the latch is behind the bag and anodized black, it’s easy to accidentally leave it open.
Andrew came up with an idea for a spring-loaded pin that runs through the bag frame and into the wedge. Using a hand drill and some off-the-shelf hardware from Ace, he created a prototype. We sent it to Dusty at West38 in Colorado for real world testing. That went well, so we ordered real prototypes from our molding factory. Last week those prototypes finally arrived.
We tried to break one, hammering the bag hard enough to break chips off the frame. The latch held. When it deformed, you could bend it back. It’s such a simple design that field repairs would be easy if needed. On a longer trip you could even remake the entire pin from scratch if you had to.
Here’s a video of us – just a few minutes after cutting open the box of prototypes – screwing around with the new latch, and trying to figure out what would be the first part to break.
After that, Andrew, Lee, and Blake took the Mosko Mule for a test run. The Mule is a CB175 frame with pannier racks, no rear suspension, and a paddle tire with some paddles cut off. We load the panniers with 50 lbs of sand each, connect it to a trailer hitch, and drag it around to quickly simulate a bunch of wear. It definitely gets some attention while driving around White Salmon.
We’re feeling good about the new latch. We like it much better than the other latch we experimented with last year (see pics of a 3D printed prototype below). That one was bulkier, creating potential clearance issues, plus it had more moving parts, meaning more things to jam or break. Also the molds were $40k. The speed pin seems like a better, simpler solution to the same problem, and without the big upfront cost.
First Backpack Prototype
We also got a first backpack prototype, which is based on all the feedback from advrider around this time last year (thanks again for that).
First prototypes of sewn goods are always a little weird. Andrew jokingly calls it the ‘Box of Disappointments,’ because anticipation and expectations are always running high, but what comes out of the box is usually not what you expected. The fabrics, colors, zippers, and trims are all substitute materials, the sizing is never quite right, and you suddenly realize how many little things you forgot to put in the specs.
In that context, we were pretty happy with this first prototype. It fits and works, so that’s a good start. The main compartment is split into two smaller ones, with a lumbar-supported hydration reservoir in the bottom, and the beavertail tucks away when you don’t need it. It has a front chest harness – which will eventually have pockets – and a lot of ergonomics built into the back panel. No waist belt required.
The Blazer Insulated Shirt-Jak
This insulated combo shirt/jacket is in production for 2020. It packs small, it’s warm but not TOO warm, and it works both on and off the bike. It’s thin enough to wear under armor (not poofy and no hood), but also warm enough for 3 season use in camp. This is not one of the heated garments we’ve been working on (those are still coming, but not this year).
The logos on this new shirt-jak will be subtle: a lizard on the back of the shoulder and two small sewn-on tags on the front.
I’ve been wearing it nearly every day since last week, including two days on the ski hill. I’m digging it a lot.
New York Motorcycle Show
Back in December, Ash and Blake flew to New York to meetup with JC – who drove the Mosko trailer from Colorado – and setup for the New York motorcycle show at Javits Center in Manhattan.
I was in Philadelphia around the same time visiting my family. My Dad Charlie, my sister Nadya, her husband Frank, our friend Francie, and I all took a train to New York for the show.
The booth was very busy when we arrived.
Mike Hernandez from BMW stopped by. Mike originated the Atacama program with BMW, although he now works on the car side of BMW. Great to see you Mike!
Our friends Paul and Aida – recently home from a RTW trip (check out this link) – came to help at the show. Thanks guys! Paul and Aida are the only other people I’m aware of (besides me) who have Mosko tattoos. There’s a great pic of Paul, taken by Aida, on the front page of the Mosko website right now.
Dad doesn’t ride much anymore, but here’s one of my favorite pics of us together. This was in Oregon about 15 years ago.
The New York show is extraordinarily expensive to attend. Not only because of the booth space, but also the cost of getting the trailer there and back, the cost of storing it in New Jersey during the show, and the cost of lodging, food, flights, and ground transport for everyone who attends. Based solely on sales, if the same show happened in Utah or Colorado it would be a slam dunk, but New York City is a special challenge. This might be a show that we end up doing every other year instead of annually.
2020 Apparel Products
We received updated apparel samples. I was most excited to see the new Rak overpant. The Rak is a heavy duty overpant with full side zips designed as a rain layer for long-distance touring in non-waterproof gear. In our line, it fits between the Basilisk (most durable, least packable) and the Deluge (most packable, least durable). I’ll be taking this overpant to SE Asia for testing in a few weeks.
We’ll replace the sealed side zipper in the pic below with a YKK Vislon Aquaguard in the production version.
We added an attachment loop on the back of the Basilisk, to secure it to the bike with a Voile strap when you’re not wearing it.
Same thing on the Rak jacket.
We’re experimenting with adding some inside panels to protect the inner tricot from abrasion caused by body armor.
On this prototype of the Basilisk, the collar is doing something weird on top of the adam’s apple. It’s because of the internal storm flap. We can fix that.
The Basilisk pants look good.
No inseam extender zips on the new version, we’re introducing tall and regular lengths instead.
We got a big order of tires from Bridgestone for all of our show, company, and personal bikes. Bridgestone has a new ADV tire – the Battlax Adventurecross AX41 . Stop by the Mosko booth this spring/summer to check it out. We’ll have the AX41 on our BMW R1200GS Adventure, Honda Africa Twin, KTM 790 Adventure, and Honda 450L.
How many tires does it take to fill our small shop? Enough to keep our friends at Paco’s Tire in White Salmon busy for a while.
JC stopped by Woody’s Wheel Works in Denver with the truck and trailer, where he and Kyle changed out the tires on our show bikes. Thanks again Woody’s!!
In December Ash and I started a new project for the UNRally.
Ethiopia to Southeast Asia
Last February, Ash and I bought two new Chinese-made dualsport bikes in Ethiopia, rode them for a month, and left them in Awassa with the intent to return this winter and continue the trip.
We booked flights to Ethiopia for Feb 1. As the trip got closer, the two guys who were supposed to be storing our bikes completely stopped responding to messages. At this point we don’t know if the bikes are still there, or if they’ve been stolen or sold-off or what. Maybe we never will. However with only two weeks left before the trip and no communication from them, we pulled the plug. Our friend Chad will be in Awassa in the next few weeks, so hopefully he can find out what happened. He knows the two guys and is related to one of them.
With that unexpected change of events and not much time left for a backup plan, we redirected our flights to Vietnam. We have two XR150s waiting for us in Hanoi ($500/bike for a month, reserved through Tigit Motorbikes), and we’re stoked to spend some time exploring the mountains in Northern Vietnam and Laos. Because of all the confusion over the status of our bikes in Ethiopia, it was a big relief to make a final decision to kill that plan and move on. SE Asia is one of my favorite places to ride, and Ash has never been there. I have a feeling it’s going to be epic.
Our Vietnam visas arrived with this neat little tourist brochure, including a pic illustrating the correct way to dress for two-wheeled travel in Asia: short sleeves and a dress 🙂
Ash, Blake, and I went to Portland a few weeks ago to meet with our digital marketing firm Foghorn Labs. One of the cool things about digital marketing is that we can trace engagement, conversions, and sales vs spend. It’s not a perfect system – Google and Facebook take credit for a lot of orders that probably would have come anyway – but it’s more than we get from other types of marketing. We weren’t doing any digital marketing for most of 2019, we only turned it on at the end of the year. So far so good.
We want to add a fully stocked tool kit from Cruz Tools kit as an option for our Fatty and Pinner tool rolls. Ames and Lee are deciding what to include.
We’re developing our own Mosko cam buckle tie-down, and maybe a ratchet strap too. An approval sample arrived last week.
Side Release Buckles
One of the most frequent repair requests we get, whether for warranty or crash repair, is a broken side release buckle. Our current buckle is the Duraflex Ghost Eye, with the female side sewn-on. We want to change that to a removable buckle for easier field repairs. The only problem is that Duraflex doesn’t make a 1″ version, so we’ll start with the 3/4″ and 1.5″ versions now, then introduce a 1″ later when it’s available.
Basilisk in the Wild
We love seeing our friends wear the Basilisk riding kit, even when they’re not on their bikes. Here’s Tom Medema from Rally for Rangers on the ski hill in Michigan.
Here’s Chris and Mariel from Rottweiler Performance out for drinks in California.
We held the Mosko Christmas party at 6th Street Bistro in Hood River. Chris, the owner of 6th street, is also a rider. This year we were joined by Dan Cox (our graphic designer), Karl Golts (our web developer), and Alistair Nichols (who helps with marketing). Plus Spencer Hill came all the way down to the gorge from Seattle.
Blake brought the Christmas tree.
Dave Wachs Paintings
Our friend Dave Wachs makes amazing landscape paintings. In December he called and said he had the perfect painting of Beatty’s Butte, a prominent visual landmark for travelers in the Eastern Oregon desert, for the Mosko shop. However it was actually two paintings not one, and they should really stay together. Long story short we now have two awesome Dave Wachs paintings in the Mosko shop. Thanks Dave!! And thanks Geoff, for framing and bringing them to the Gorge.
Dave is a local legend here in the Pacific Northwest riding community. To learn more about him, here’s a recent article from Bend Magazine. Many of his paintings are based on the landscapes he encounters while exploring the Oregon backcountry on two wheels. Check out some of his recent paintings on Instagram.
Our friend Markus Wimmer in Austria did this, and now we all have decal envy. Markus this looks SO cool man. Nice work. Thanks for rocking the Mosko logo!
Wes’ New Bike
Pic of the Month goes to Ames’ son Wes on his brand new Oset electric trials bike. Mosko’s first rider of the next generation. Go Wes!