Our First Pandemic

July 8, 2020

Over the last few months, our timeline for ‘return to normalcy’ (whatever that means?) has stretched from weeks to months to years. When we’re planning travel, events, and inventory – decisions which will affect the next 12-18 months – everything now references COVID.

All our international trips, factory visits, rallies, and events have been canceled. Despite that, sales are strong. Not just for us but for the entire industry. We’ve maintained stock on most bags, even with a few COVID-related hiccups at the factory, but apparel has been more challenging. Our apparel factory was closed for 6 weeks, and when it finally reopened, it was only operating at partial capacity. Because of that, we’ve been sold out of the Basilisk for over a month, and it will be at least another month before we can get more in stock. The good news is that the first delivery of the Woodsman and Jackaloft is currently in transit.

During this wacky period – with all our shows and travel canceled and most of us working from home – we’ve had lots of time to design, ride, and test. Many good things will ultimately come from that. Plus it’s fun. That’s the silver lining. Even as we adjust to this new way of living though, I remind myself that it’s temporary. Every day I wonder if now is the moment to return to the office and get back on the road. Then I hear about ‘second waves’ and rising infections, and I realize it’s still too soon. But the next day, I’m wondering again.

Apparel

Apparel Colors

We’ve been getting questions about 2020 apparel colors. The final 2020 color palette is shown below. These are in production now. Barring any surprises, we should have everything in stock by August.

Woodsman and Jackaloft

Photo samples of the Woodsman and Jackaloft arrived last week. Everything looks/feels/fits great. I can’t wait to get one of each to ride in. The samples we have now are off limits for riding, because we need them clean for pics.

New Jerseys

Scottie is working on some jersey designs. The final versions are shown below. The last two are a co-lab with our friends at Upshift Online. If you followed some of the back and forth on social media about the ‘bird’ graphic, you’ll notice that we dropped it, and replaced it with the ‘harvester’ from our tees (the first black and white design below).

Here’s a pic of Scott and Ames – with Jenn and Sarah – from a few weeks ago, wearing the new jersey. The style Scott is wearing, with camo on the front, didn’t make the cut, but it may return in a future season.

Surveyor Pant

We received a first prototype of an over-the-boot pant made from waterproof/breathable 4-way stretch Schoeller. It’s the same fabric we’re using in the thighs of the Woodsman. I’m wearing the pants in the pic below (ignore the mannequin, those were from something else). I used them on a week-long trip in June. They’re so comfortable that I hardly felt the need to change after riding. My only complaint is that they’re a little on the hot and heavy side for warm weather riding. If we can bring the thickness down a notch, we’d really have something here. We’re calling this the ‘Surveyor’ pant.

Zip-Off Base Layer

We received a first prototype of our zip-off base pant. Sadly, the factory made this sample with the fabric upside-down (the black fleece dots should be on the inside not the outside), so we can’t test them functionally, but the fit is good.

Scottie wore a similar but lighter pant made by Kuiu on a recent trip. The idea of the zip off, is to put your base layer on/off on the side of the trail, without removing your pants and boots every time.

Zip-Off Knee Armor

Speaking of zip-offs, at Scottie’s suggestion, I ordered a set of these ION K-Pact zip off mountain bike knee pads. The main benefit of the zip off is that – with an in-boot moto pant, with narrow leg openings – you don’t have to take your pants off to remove your pads. This makes traveling and living in in-the-boot pants easier. I used them a few days ago when trail riding on my 300 and I dig it. They’re bulky and warm, I’d prefer a thinner material (unlike mountain bikers, we wear pants over our armor even when it’s hot), but overall they’re excellent. We’ll reach out to ION and see if maybe they’d be interested in a co-lab.

New Tees

Also: we have new Mosko tees! These are on the website now.

Luggage & Bags

With all the COVID challenges and our inability to visit factories, we’re sewing more of our prototypes here at home. U.S.-made samples are rough and rustic, without the polish of a factory sample, but we can turn them around in a lot less time, which is great for testing. Andrew designed this patch for our locally made prototypes.

Wildcat Pack

We’ve been through two backpack prototypes in the last month: sewing, testing, revising, and sewing again. The new backpack (we’re calling it the ‘Wildcat,’ which is Andrew’s long-standing nickname) has a 3L lumbar hydration reservoir, to keep the water weight low, and to make the top compartment more functional.

The beavertail expands to fit something bulky, like a jacket or last-stop-of-the-day groceries. You can see the zipper at the bottom of the pack in the pic below. That opens up to increase the beavertail volume, similar to what you’d see on expandable airline luggage.

It has a detachable chest rig for a phone, beacon, and snacks. We’re not sure yet if this would be included, or offered as an optional add-on.

We’ll make this pack in two sizes, with this one being the larger. The chest rig and shoulder harness would be interchangeable between both sizes.

Scout 30L Duffle

Ash and I used the new Scout 30 on our 1290s a few weeks ago. The bag is great, we’re stoked. These are in stock and shipping now. There’s a 50L version coming too, so we put the current Scout 60 on sale (40 pcs left in the U.S. as of today). Ash and I use Scout 60’s as waterproof gear haulers. We have at least 10 of them between the two of us. They’re awesome for that, and also as a large rear duffle on big ADV bikes. The new Scout 50 probably won’t work quite as well as a gear hauler, but for riding, it will fit on more bikes.

The Niko

We have three new tank bags coming. The first is a simple tank-mounted MOLLE panel that we’re calling the ‘Niko’ because it’s part Navigator and part Pico. It’s the lid of the Pico minus the bag underneath. The Niko is an easy way to mount a cell phone, multi tool, storage pouch, or other MOLLE accessory on your tank. I used it with the Navigator on my 300 last week and it worked great for my iphone. This should also appeal to some big-bike riders who generally dislike tank bags, but want to store their phone or some other small necessities in a convenient spot.

Nomini Tank Bag

Here’s the latest prototype of the Nomini on Ash’s 250 XC-W. This is a small, simple, two compartment, non-waterproof tank bag that converts to a hip sack off the bike.

Gnome Tank Bag

Here’s the latest proto of the Gnome hydration tank bag/hip sack on Scottie’s DRZ-400. This bag carries 1.5L of water, and fits well on peaky aftermarket fuel tanks. It will fit on smaller bikes, in applications where the Nomad is just a little too long.

Tank Bag Attachment

We’ve received some feedback that some riders would prefer a smaller attachment buckle on their tank bags, rather than the metal cam buckle we currently use. Andrew found this flat, simple buckle that we’re testing on the new designs. With the gated clip, this buckle could be retrofitted to an existing bag, by cutting off the cam buckle.

Andrew’s Navigator Mount

Andrew is experimenting with the Navigator mounted on an Adventure Spec mini fairing on his Honda 450L. He cut a block of foam to size, added velcro to the foam, and now his phone sits in the same spot where a hardwired GPS would normally go, but it’s insulated from vibration thanks to the foam.

Reckless 40 v3.0

A few weeks ago I spent 9 days on my 500 EXC-F with a prototype of the new Reckless 40 v3.0. This was in the desert, so we were riding long distances, and the bike was brand new, so it still had the stock tank. I could easily get one 1.5L Primus fuel bottle per side in the rear pockets, for a total of 3L of extra gas. On the new R40 you can also remove the beavertail entirely – which I did – and ride with only the side bags. This version of the R40 is a big step forward. Stoked to get these into production.

The new R40 is a three-piece design, similar to the Reckless 80, so you can increase the width for larger bikes. You can also change the angle of the legs if needed, by melting new holes in the harness.

Carbon Heat Shield

I mounted the R40 with a prototype of a new carbon heat shield we’re testing as a way to mitigate heat issues with rackless bags on large thumpers. This heat shield was designed by our friends at Upshift Online, using excess carbon material from SpaceX.

We’ll order a small number – maybe 10-15 pcs – to test them on more bikes. The only obvious downside to carbon is that it’s expensive compared to aluminum ($100 vs $20). Our friend Wade tested one on a 690 Enduro with stock exhaust and a Reckless 80 v3 – a combo we know creates heat problems – and it seemed to work fine after several hours of riding.

Mosko Lunchbox?

A bunch of us are using these Dakine insulated lunchboxes for food storage on multi-day trips. This seems like something we should do a Mosko version of. They’re pretty handy.

Backcountry 35 v2.0 & Speed Pin

Ash and I have been using the Backcountry v2.0s with the soon-to-be-released ‘speed-pin’ latch on our 1290s. Here are some observations. First, the speed pin is sweet! Easy on, easy off. We learned that in sand (i.e. the dunes) and dust (i.e. the playa) you have to physically pull the pin for the pannier to seat. If it doesn’t fully seat it’s obvious, because the pannier sits high and the pin sticks out. Maybe that’s something we can solve in a future version, by changing the angle of the tip of the pin.

Love the new tool holder. I used it to carry a folding saw for early season trail clearing. As it turned out, we didn’t actually need it, but it’s never a bad thing to have.

Water Storage

A bunch of riders are using the 4L MSR Dromedary (instead of the 2L Drom-Lite) in the Aux Pox harness. I tried it, and I can confirm that it fits and works well. The 4L is awesome because you can fit all your extra water on one side, leaving the other side open for something else. However it does make the pannier pretty heavy, so I would only recommend this to riders on 1250/1290 or 850/790 class ADV bikes. On anything smaller I’d still recommend two of the 2L Drom-Lites, spreading the weight evenly on both sides of the bike.

Scottie cut a hole for the Drom-Lite nozzle in his Aux Pox drybag. This turns the drybag into a  protective case. We all still miss the old heavy duty 2L Dromedary that MSR discontinued a few years ago. This is a good substitute, although obviously once you cut the hole there’s no going back. On a trip last fall, Ash’s Drom-Lite was punctured by a small, sharp branch while riding. The old style MSR Dromedary wouldn’t have punctured so easily. This setup that Scottie came up with would have prevented it.

On the other side of his Reckless 80, Scott slid a standard reservoir into his drybag. This is also a cool idea, since most of us have extra reservoirs from old packs. With this system, if you’re wearing a hydration pack or using the Nomad for water storage, when your main reservoir is empty you can easily exchange it for a full one.

Tent Pole Bag

Here’s a reminder of why we make an aftermarket tent pole bag. This is Ash’s and my tent, it’s only a year or two old.

Rusty Rivets?

A rider named Tonny emailed us about rusty rivets on his nearly-new Reckless 80 v3.0 after a trip to the coast. After seeing his email, we inspected our own R80s and found that, sure enough, while the rust wasn’t as noticeable as on Tonny’s, it was definitely there.

I picked up some automotive touch-up paint at Napa and dabbed a little on mine, which seems to work. Time will tell. Tonny used this product on his. Anything similar should work if the discoloration bothers you. We’re happy to reimburse the cost. In the meantime, we’re working with our factory to find a stainless rivet. Thanks for highlighting the issue Tonny.

The Bates Motel

Ash and I – with the help of many friends – are developing a little backyard campground for travelers, which we’re calling ‘The Bates Motel’ because we live on Bates Road. We’ve put in a ton of work over the last six weeks.

First, our friend Trent brought his excavator to level a field behind our house.

Trent also made 8 tent sites around the edges, which we covered in wood chips so they don’t get muddy when it rains.

Our friends Dan and Jesse were the first campers to spend the night.

Our friend Bear is here for the summer in his Overlandbulance, and has been helping to make lots of improvements to the campsite.

We picked up a 15’x21′ wall tent from Bravo! Manufacturing in Camas, WA, and our friend Glen Comeaux from Tenere Across the USA helped set it up last week. Thanks for the help Glen!

With help from Dan, Enrique, Shane, and Danielle, we added some couches and a bar – all completely covered in dust from the Alvord desert – and named the new lounge the ‘Dusty Lizard.’

With the propane burn barrel it gets nice and warm, even when it’s wet, windy, and cold outside.

Dan and Shane made this outdoor shower. Later we added a solar warming tank to it as well, since our well water is freezing.

We added a slackline, and our friend Reuben built a OneWheel track too.

Our friend Tom Medema from Rally for Rangers came through with his wife Cindy, and they made the first liquor donation to the Dusty Lizard bar. A bottle of Buffalo Trace. Thanks Tom!

Our buddy Juan found this cool ‘Bates Motel’ sign. We immediately painted over the ‘No,’ because actually, there’s vacancy 🙂

The Bates Motel is a work in progress. It’s open to any/all moto travelers, whether you’re on a multi-year round the world trip, or just passing through on the Oregon/Washington BDR. There’s ample space for bikes, 8 tent sites, and space for a limited number of full-size vehicles. If you’re passing through the Gorge and need a spot to camp, find us on Tent Space on advrider.com, or email moskomoto (at) moskomoto (dot) com.

In Other News

New Bikes

Ash and I picked up new bikes: a Honda CRF 450L for Ash and a KTM 500 EXC-F for me. We’ll be turning these into small adventure bikes.

Lee’s Broken Tib/Fib

Lee’s leg is healing. It was a bad break. He just started putting weight on it again, in a boot with crutches. He’ll gradually be increasing his weight bearing in the weeks ahead. He’s lost a lot of muscle, but the leg is working again, so that’s progress.

July 4th

Our team was rocking some patriotic colors on the trails in honor of the 4th last week.

Mosko Models??

For apparel photos, this year we’re trying something different. We want to try using real models instead of the ‘invisible mannequin’ technique we used last year. Our initial instinct was to ask our friends to be the models, but it turns out that doesn’t actually work all that well, because we need people who can fit into specific sizes, and who can show up at a specific time, at a specific place, and stick around for many hours of studio work. That’s what models do. Using friends is like herding cats. Chalk it up to our apparel business learning curve.

Here’s Ash, browsing male models online, something which I’m sure she never expected to do in her role at Mosko. She’s meeting them Thursday and the photo shoot is Friday.

Trowels & Shovels

Love this poop trowel carrying solution our buddy Danimal came up with for the Mosko Deuce using a Moto Strap.

On the subject of poops and shovels, we learned that an entrenching tool works not only to dig a hole, but also to sit and think.

  

Whoever Sent This: Thank You!

When this box arrived in the mail, it made us all smile 🙂 It’s cool how little things can brighten everyone’s day. I don’t have the person’s name here with me as I’m writing this, but whoever it was, you rock too!

Outback Motortek Visit

Roel got to visit Lorry and the team at Outback Motortek in Hungary (who make the pannier racks we sell on our site). He shared these pics from the trip.

 

Summer is Here!

Riding & Camping

We’ve been riding a ton, sometimes with the Mosko team, sometimes with friends, and sometimes on our own. Riding, it turns out, is a pandemic-friendly activity. With an open calendar and tons of things to prototype and test, we have all the excuse we need to be on our bikes. Without riding, we’d be going totally nuts right now.

Thanks for the plane ride Bryan!!

We hope everyone in our extended Mosko community is safe, healthy, and riding lots. If we can do anything for you, please reach out. And if you’re in the neighborhood this summer, stop by for a visit. Our showroom is open for personal appointments, and there’s plenty of room at the Bates Motel!

Quarantine: Coronavirus v2.0

May 18, 2020

Usually this time of year, we’re posting about shows, travel, meetups, and our recently completed Mosko team ride.

This year is different because of COVID. We’re holed up at home, abiding by stay-at-home orders in Washington and Oregon, and keeping busy with work, home improvements, and bike projects, while hatching plans for all the things we’ll do when the restrictions finally lift. We see each other in person occasionally, when we overlap in the office or meet up for a ride, but most of our communication is happening over video chat.

Back in March and April there was a rush of collective anxiety caused by shocking headlines, exponentially rising infections and deaths, a crashing stock market, disappearing toilet paper, and an awkward lurch into isolation and distancing. Now, two months later, the initial shock and awe has  been replaced by a much-less-exciting sense of bland acceptance. Things like working from home and avoiding crowds seem normal, whereas when people hug and shake hands in movies or on TV, THAT looks weird.

Business-wise, things are picking up. People are still riding, or planning to ride. Where we live, the percentage of motorcycles on the road has never been higher. People from Portland – which is about an hour west – must be taking day-rides from the city. A few days ago our local gas station was mobbed by a huge crew of sport bikes, they were all just hanging out in the parking lot and talking, responsibly staying 6′ apart. We’ve seen lots of cruiser groups coming through as well, and the usual smattering of smaller ADV groups and/or individual dualsporters here and there. Plus lots and lots of dirt bikes in/on trucks and trailers.

Despite the chaos surrounding the government stimulus efforts, those efforts do seem to be having an effect. People don’t necessarily tell us that they’re spending their stimulus checks, but we saw a distinct uptick in sales when those started hitting bank accounts a few weeks ago. Mosko applied for and received a PPP loan – which enabled us to bring everyone on the team back to full employment. If that’s indicative of what other companies are experiencing right now, that’s got to be a positive sign.

Nevertheless, for business planning purposes, we don’t expect things to rebound anytime soon. We expect to be in this for a while, both in terms of the public health challenges and also the resulting economic challenges. If we’re wrong about that, we can always change direction later, but for now it’s safer to be conservative.

Nomad > Ranger > Nomax

Back in March, we got a cease and desist letter from a company in the Netherlands called ‘Nomad,’ saying we had infringed on their trademark with our Nomad tank bag. It’s a bit of stretch, since ‘Nomad’ is a name used on everything from travel gear to insurance, and we sell motorcycle bags whereas this other company sells backpacking bags. I can only imagine what a pain in the ass it is to run around the world enforcing a trademark on such a commonly used English word.

Nevertheless, their trademark looks valid, and while it’s tempting to stand our ground and escalate the argument, we decided not to (after consulting with our attorney). We like the name Nomad but we’re not all that attached to it, partly because it’s so common.

After briefly considering the name ‘Ranger’ – another common word – we found out USWE already has a pack called the Ranger, so that killed that idea, but not before we tried it out on this prototype.

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Of all the naming ideas that came up, this was my personal favorite (Andrew’s idea). The only problem was how to say it in videos or write it in product descriptions.

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In the end, we decided the cease and desist letter is now part of the story, and we want that story to continue rather than reset with an entirely new name. We started adding letters to Nomad – like ‘Nomad-X’ – which then got shortened to ‘Nomax,’ which is derived from Nomad, but different enough to avoid confusion with our new penpals in the Netherlands. If you’re already used to saying ‘Nomad,’ ‘Nomax’ rolls off the tongue pretty easily.

Here are a few things we’ve learned about naming: 1) good names always sound weird at first (Google – Amazon – Starbucks – Safeway), 2) the best names have a unique story and reason for being, 3) choosing names by committee results in a boring/generic/sterile outcome – too many cooks spoils the broth, and 4) in the end, names don’t actually matter very much.

In addition to a new name, the bag-formerly-known-as-Nomad is getting a few design revisions as well. This is more of a face lift than a full redesign. First, we replaced the webbing MOLLE panel with die cut hypalon, which is something we’re doing on all our bags across the board.

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We switched the interior of the beavertail from liner material to PU.

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There’s a new gated clip.

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The fleece lined glasses is bigger, to accommodate larger glasses.

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There’s a SIM card removal tool and holder in this zipper pull.

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The change pocket takes over the real estate previously occupied by the hydration pocket opening.

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The reservoir now slides in from the top, making it a lot easier to load when full.

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Mini Nomax?

Since we introduced the Nomax a few years ago, we’ve received many requests for a smaller version for dualsports and dirt bikes. The original Nomax was based on a hydration backpack, like the ones we use for mountain biking. For inspiration on a smaller version, we’re looking at cycling hip sacks rather than backpacks. The orientation on the tank would be horizontal – perpendicular to the bike – not vertical and parallel like the Nomax.

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We’re wondering whether to make it hydration capable or not. We love having water on the tank, but a 1L hydration reservoir implies a certain size, which may be too big for the intended mission of this bag. There are also some issues with water flow, when the reservoir is sideways on the tank. Still, we were impressed with how this evoc hip sack fits when we draped it over the tank.

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Could be a cool tail bag too?

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Another idea Andrew has been playing with, is a very small/simple tank-mounted MOLLE panel with no bag underneath. It can hold different MOLLE accessories, or the Navigator cell phone case.

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Backcountry 35 Speed Pin

We got the first production samples of the new speed pin latch from our molding factory. They look fantastic. We have several hundred sewn pannier sets sitting in Vietnam right now, waiting for these to arrive after COVID-related delays. The injection molding happens in China, so once these are done and assembled, we’ll ship them to Vietnam, where they’ll be combined with the sewn bags, assembled into a finished product, and shipped to our warehouses in Portland and Amsterdam.

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New Jerseys

Scott is working on some new jersey designs. One challenge we face with jerseys, is that the minimum order quantity with our jersey factory is nearly double what it is for more expensive items like jackets and pants. We have to order at least 1,200 at a time, which is a lot. We want to change the graphics frequently to keep the designs interesting, but that’s hard to do when we’re only selling maybe 500-600 per year.

Scott found a US sewing factory that makes small production runs of fully sublimated jerseys for sports teams. Sublimation is a process for transferring dye from a printer, to paper, and then to fabric. With sublimation you can create a seam-to-seam design that doesn’t change the way the fabric feels or wears. The dye is directly infused into the fabric, not printed on top. With sublimation, we can create relatively complex ‘all-over’ digital designs, and have them transferred directly to the jerseys, with no minimum quantity per print. If we ordered 500 jerseys, we could theoretically have them in 500 different designs.

The jerseys themselves aren’t anything fancy with respect to fabrics or technical features. They’re simple. comfortable, and functional, they look cool, and they have our brand. We just got these samples and we like them. There are a few fit issues, and we already got feedback via Facebook that the bird design is uncomfortably close to some World War 2 iconography, so that is currently being reworked.

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The same company that makes the jerseys is also making some simple, single-layer, sublimated facemasks. Maybe we’ll get some of these made too, just for fun.

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Marmot Colab

Sarah, our Sales Manager, used to work at the outdoor company Marmot. Marmot wants to develop a moto-specific camping tent for ADV, and we would love to see them do that. We had a kick-off meeting on Zoom with Emilee at Marmot a few weeks ago.

For this tent, we want to go minimalist and light, but not quite to the level of bikepacking or ultralight backpacking minimalist. We’re picturing a 1.5 person size, with two doors, two large vestibules, and a freestanding pole structure, that’s designed to pack small in multiple compression sacks, with a separate tent pole bag and extra sturdy ground stakes.

If anyone wants to chime in with ideas on their version of the ultimate ADV/EDV tent, please do (on our advrider.com thread). We and Marmot will both be listening!

Thanks for including us in the process, Emilee!

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Staying Connected

It’s been about two months since we closed the Mosko shop. Since then, we rarely go to the office. The one exception is our support team – Jenn, Paulina, and Sarah – who take turns in the office, sometimes together and sometimes not. Also Andrew, who sometimes works downstairs when he needs the extra space. Everyone else is working from home. It’s hard to say how long that will continue. Probably a while.

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When we do have meetings in the conference room, they look something like this, oriented around our speakerphone and laptops.

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Pre-COVID, we had a staff meeting on Wednesdays every week, with a relaxed and flexible format, where each person takes a few minutes to describe what they’re working on and answer questions. During COVID, we’ve replicated that format on Zoom, except that now there’s much less banter on Zoom, because it gets too chaotic over video chat and the meeting stretches on forever. Because of that, we added a second recurring meeting  on Thursdays, which is a lot more casual and conversational.

Our staff meetings during COVID, look a bit like the Brady Bunch.

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Occasionally we get cameos from other family members, like Ros (Scottie’s daughter, below) and Luca (Andrew’s son, upper left above).

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A few weeks ago, Roel did in the entire hour+ staff meeting on his bike in the Netherlands, from a cell phone mounted on the handlebars. Which actually worked out great

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Our physical office is an open format – with no walls or private offices – so we’re all used to a certain amount of casual chat throughout the day. We miss that.

On the topic of video meetings: my family is also doing weekly Zoom meetings on Sunday mornings, as I know many other families are too. Here’s my dad, quarantined in Philadelphia, showing off his new exercise bike.

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The Never Leaving Home Tour (moskomo.to/live)

When we first started quarantine, and all our in-person events and shows were canceled, Ash had the idea for a livestream tour. The idea was to have an hour-long interview/chat on Zoom with someone from Mosko, or someone we’ve met through Mosko, who we thought other people might want to hear from too.

We’ve been doing the livestreams twice a week since April, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm Pacific. We’re having a lot of fun with it, so some version of this will probably continue post-COVID.

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The livestreams themselves are a blast. However they’re also stressful, because they’re live, so technological issues are always stalking ready to pounce. We had several problem-free episodes, but then last week we had two challenging ones in a row. First with our new friends Sam & Kate (moto travelers, who were turned around by COVID), we had to end the meeting, change to a different format, and restart midstream. Then on Thursday we had Quinn Cody – 4x Baja 1000 champion, now in charge of KTM North America’s ADV R&D – and right when we went live with the stream, a Zoom glitch froze up our computer and killed Zoom, and we had to cancel the stream and reschedule.

Quinn & everyone: we are SO SORRY about that!! We are rescheduling for this coming Thursday May 21.

It’s a bummer when those things happen. We feel really bad about it. We try to remind ourselves that it’s all just part of the learning process, trying new things, and being live. Even knowing that though, it’s still embarrassing. Neither of us is all that technically savvy with this kind of stuff, plus we’re doing the stream from our home computer with a rural internet connection, which creates some special challenges.

We have two more  livestreams coming up. Join us at moskomo.to/live! These are both at 7pm pacific.

  • Tuesday May 19: Paul Guillien & Inna Thorn from Backcountry Discovery Routes
  • Thursday May 21: Quinn Cody from KTM (this is the rescheduled time)

After that we’ll take a short break and figure out how the livestreams fit into the big picture going forward. We’ll probably do them once a month rather than twice a week, and the times/dates will change around based on our travel schedule. It’s hard to do livestreams from the road, due to the need for reliable internet.

The streams we’ve done so far are posted on our YouTube channel. Here’s a list with links (in reverse chronological order):

LIVE Sam + Kate on 5 months in South America x2 DR650’s + a little COVID-19

LIVE | Who’s behind Upshift Online?

LIVE Fireside Chat w/ ADVrider Founder Chris MacAskill (aka ‘Baldy’)

LIVE Off-road Legend Destry Abbott on DA8 Training + Arizona COVID-19 Quaranteam

LIVE 2020 Apparel Sneak Peek w/ Scottie B

LIVE Let’s talk ADV w/ Jeremy McGrath

LIVE Virtual Mosko Meetup (w/surprise guest appearance… it’s Tim Burke)

LIVE Product Development Meeting w/ Wildcat

LIVE Never Leaving Home LIVE Tour ’20 Kickoff with Mosko Sales Manager Sarah Miller!

New House, Tent Campers Welcome

Back in March, Ash and I moved into a new house a few miles outside of White Salmon. This happened a week before the Oregon/Washington stay-at-home orders were implemented. On the one hand our timing was terrible, because the economy has subsequently crashed at the same time as our personal housing expenses have doubled. On the other hand the timing was perfect, because it’s a great place to be stuck at home, and we have tons of projects to keep us busy.

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One of the main reasons we moved was to have space for moto-campers. 20 years ago there were lots of free car/tent camping pull-offs in the Gorge, but things are different now. Camping is limited. There’s an RV park by the Bingen bridge, which offers tent space, but you’re sleeping right next to the train tracks. On the Oregon side there are some nice state/county campgrounds, but they’re full to capacity all summer. Aside from that, you’ll end up on a dirt road pull-off 45+ minutes from town, or maybe you’ll end up at our house 🙂

Eventually we’ll have a shade/shelter with couches, music, a BBQ, a fire pit, showers, and stuff like that. We have to save up some $$ before that happens. In the meantime, we’ll soon (this week) have some leveled space for tents, a hose for water, and a rented porta-potty. If you’re coming through the gorge this summer and you need somewhere to setup camp, please let us know (by contacting the main Mosko email/phone).

Back in March, when we first moved in, JC rented an excavator and expanded the driveway, built a trailer turnaround loop, and spread a bunch of gravel around to cover up our mudpit of a parking area, all of which made the property – which is located on a steep hill – much more accessible.

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While quarantined, Ash and I have been building bike/moto singletrack around the property to keep ourselves busy when the local trails were closed. Five acres is not a ton of land, but our little loop is a little over a quarter mile so far, with more to come. It’s been a great way to get some quick exercise for us and the dogs during quarantine. The process of making the trails has been fun too.

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There is a detached shop on the property, which we recently insulated and finished. There’s a motorcycle lift in there, and also a TV and wifi, which travelers are welcome to use when they come through town.

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As part of the move, we closed out the original Mosko shop on Wyers street, which we’ve been renting since 2014. Here’s the blog post from when we first moved in. It seemed like a lot of space at the time! When Mosko needed more space a few years ago, Ash and I took over renting the old shop personally, to use as a garage and workspace. We have many good memories from there, and we’ve become friends with many of the neighbors. We were feeling sentimental as we did the final cleaning and said goodbye. Now it’s rented to a new tenant, and is being used for hot tub repairs.

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To Ride or Not To Ride?

A few weeks ago, our friends Josh and Alex from MotoDiscovery were passing through town, and we took them for a quick loop around the Gorge. About 20 miles from White Salmon, on a road he’s ridden dozens of times before, Lee lost traction and went into the ditch. His foot snagged on the embankment and twisted, breaking his tibia and fibula in multiple spots. He spent three nights in the hospital in The Dalles, had surgery to add a bunch of hardware, and now he’s recovering at home.

We’re super bummed to have Lee grounded, but we’re glad it wasn’t worse. Sometimes these things happen at the times and places where we least expect. We were lucky to be close to home, and lucky that we live in an area where COVID hasn’t stretched the hospitals and first responders to capacity. Huge thanks to everyone who helped get Lee to the hospital, and also to the doctors, surgeons, nurses, and emergency response team that got him all fixed up. He will ride again soon.

This was just a normal ride on a normal road at normal speeds, showing some friends around the Gorge. We weren’t doing anything crazy. A crash like that could’ve happened to any of us. Since the accident, we’ve had plenty of introspection about whether we should be riding, with everything else going on in the world. I’m not sure we reached any definitive conclusions on that, but we’re still riding – both mountain bikes and motos – just with an extra dose of caution. It’s an awkward time to go to the hospital.

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Free Repairs

We recently started offering free product repairs. We quietly launched our new repair program a few weeks ago without really publicizing it although it’s something we (Ames especially) have been working on for a while.

It’s such a bummer when you buy something nice and then immediately screw it up. I’m not talking about warranty – warranty issues are addressed immediately at our cost – I’m talking about bad luck and operator error. Like when you purchase a new pair of sunglasses and then immediately break or lose them. You know it’s your fault, but it still sucks. You might think twice before buying nice sunglasses next time.

Our new repair program is designed to take the sting out of situations like that. If something unfortunate happens in the first two years – regardless of the cause – we’ll fix it at our cost. If we can’t fix it for less than the value of the item, then you can instead opt to replace the item at 50% of the original price.

This is an experiment. We’re doing a quiet launch while we work out the logistics and cost of repairs. Assuming it all works out, then we’ll promote this program more down the road. In the meantime, please feel free to spread the word. We don’t need a police report or insurance claim to substantiate the damage, all we need is a broken product that was recently purchased, and a customer who needs some good news.

Check out the official policy here, read the FAQ, and feel free to reach out with any questions.

Affirm Financing

There’s a new checkout option on the Mosko site. We’re offering financing through a service called Affirm. With Affirm, you can split up your payment over as many months as you want. We (the vendor) pay 5% of the purchase price to Affirm, and you (the purchaser) pay Affirm .8% to 2.5% monthly, depending on your credit. The cost of financing should be on par with what you would pay for other unsecured short term loans like credit cards, which should  be manageable if you’re only borrowing for a few months.

If you need gear for a trip but you want to spread out the payments, this can help. Obviously, please borrow responsibly. We’re trying to solve problems here, not create new ones. The main reason we chose Affirm vs the competition, even though the cost to us is higher, was this answer they gave via email when we asked them to match a competitor’s rate:

Unfortunately, we can’t offer lower pricing to match. We are always undercut by [other company name] in pricing because of their reliance on revenue from $35 customer late fees (25% of their reported revenue actually) while Affirm stands by our mission that we’ll never charge late fees or be involved in growing debt practices of any kind.”

More info is available on the Affirm website here: How It Works.

In Other News

Ames and Ashley (his wife) used their extra time in quarantine to build this killer pump track in their backyard. We tried it out last week. What a workout. The idea is to ride the entire loop repeatedly without pedaling, by pumping your legs on the downslopes to build momentum, and absorbing the inclines in the same way. It’s harder than it sounds, it takes a lot of skill and fitness to do it right.

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Stay-at-home orders are still active in Washington and Oregon. We’re not supposed to travel more than 50 miles for recreational activities. This is the longest Ash and I have ever been in one place. Several times in the last two months, we were tempted to take a multi-day trip, either on bikes or with the camper. Each time, we canceled. Not because we don’t think we can travel safely, but because whenever we see people flouting the guidelines, it reminds us that we’re accountable for ourselves. Everyone is testing the boundaries in their own small ways – us included – and the boundaries themselves are ambiguous, with nearly zero enforcement. We’re doing what we’ve been asked to do, and waiting this thing out. When the restrictions lift, we’ll travel again.

Until then: Spring is here, the trails are tacky, and in some places riding is allowed. Those are the places we’re going. Maybe we’ll see you there!

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Moskoblog: Coronavirus v1.0

March 28, 2020

By now, everyone has been affected by the virus in some way. Here’s our story.

On February 1st, Ash and I boarded a flight to Vietnam via Hong Kong to get bikes and ride around for a month. The virus situation was developing in China, and we knew it might be a factor on our trip, but at that point we weren’t too concerned. We thought it would be like SARS: slightly scary, slightly disruptive, but ultimately contained.

Even at that early stage, it was hard to ignore the virus while traveling. Leaving Portland, there were lots of masks on the plane. Every cough or sneeze got a sideways glance.

Browsing the news on the seat’s LCD, nearly every story was about the virus.

In Hong Kong and Vietnam, there were temperature checks for incoming passengers.

Once we landed in Vietnam and got on the bikes, the virus became background noise. We rode Northwest from Hanoi toward Laos, about 100 miles from the China border. The China/Laos border was closed due to the virus, so the hotels and restaurants were eerily empty. Some pics of the journey are in this blog post from 2/21.

On February 10th I broke my leg. Not knowing the best place to find a doctor, we continued riding to our destination, the small town of Phongsali, and found a hotel. That same day, Ash started coughing and sneezing. Initially we joked about it, like ‘hey maybe it’s the virus,’ but we didn’t take it very seriously since the leg seemed like a more pressing issue.

That night her cough got worse, and the next morning she had a fever and was too sick to ride. We decided to sit tight for a day and see what happened, so we stocked up on snacks and water, and booked the room for a second night. That day in the hotel with a broken leg, fever, and coughing was the nadir of the trip.

Although we figured it was just a normal traveler’s crud, given our location, it was hard not to consider the virus. It didn’t help that the news was all-virus-all-the-time, and we were stuck in a room with nothing to do but stare at our phones.

We learned that Laos had a virus hotline. We were worried that if Ash had the virus she might contribute to spreading it as we traveled, so she called the hotline and talked to someone in Vientiane (20+ hours south by road), who told her to go see the doctor in Phongsali immediately. By then it was 10pm, we were in bed about to sleep, and we planned to ride 6 hours south to a real hospital (with an Xray for the leg) in the morning. However, the hotline lady wanted Ash to go see the doctor right away, that night.

Here is Ash’s Whatsapp exchange with the hotline.

Ash followed their advice and went. We were worried she might get quarantined regardless of her virus status, because we were foreigners, the virus was all over the news, she was clearly sick, and they probably didn’t have the test in Phongsali. Here’s Ash with her bugout bag packed, leaving for the doctor alone at 10pm in the dark, hoping she’ll be coming back after. I couldn’t go due to my broken leg.

What actually happened – rather than quarantine – was that after a brief, awkward, and confusing exchange with the doctor, it became obvious that no testing would happen in Phongsali. The doctor – who put on a second face mask when he learned why she was there – was not excited to see her. She returned to the hotel an hour later, and the next day we left. Riding south to Oudomxay we were a motley crew, me with my broken leg and Ash with her fever. Here’s Ash, feverish, fully passed out on the side of the road.

This is all in our advrider.com ride report. Long story short, Ash recovered and continued south on the bike, exploring Vietnam solo. I went to Thailand for treatment, where my friend JM loaned me a car to drive around. We reconnected a few weeks later in HCMC to visit factories and fly home on March 1st. By then, virus awareness was widespread in Vietnam, and temperature checks and health questionnaires were standard everywhere we went.

Landing in Portland, it was clear the US had a different perspective. The health checks we saw at borders, hotels, and airports throughout Asia, were completely absent coming home. We showed our passports at the border and walked right through, no questions asked. Nobody had gloves or masks, and nobody seemed too concerned about the virus. I’m sure it’s different now, but that’s how it was a few weeks ago.

Back in the U.S., on March 3rd, we had an all-hands meeting with the Mosko team to discuss how the evolving situation might affect our business.

We looked at it from three angles:

  1. The health of our team, families, friends, and riders.
  2. Disruptions to our supply chain: factories, materials suppliers, and shippers.
  3. Reduced sales from canceled events and general economic malaise.

At that point it still seemed reasonable to travel, and no events had been canceled. Our first Spring event was Adventure Days at Rawhyde’s ‘Zakar’ facility in the Mojave Desert. From there we planned to go to Salt Lake City for a meetup, Odessa, WA for the Desert 100, Tennessee for March Moto Madness, Florida for a meetup, Missouri for a meetup, then home. JC packed the Mosko show trailer, I hooked up the Mosko camper, and we headed south to the Mojave with two trucks and two 40′ trailers in tow. Sarah, Ash, and Jenn flew down from Portland the next day, rented cars in LA, and met us at Zakar on March 11th.

This was our fourth year at Adventure Days, and it was as awesome as ever, despite what was happening in the rest of the world. With the virus situation evolving, there was something very appropriate about heading to a container compound in the desert, designed to survive a zombie apocalypse (Zakar = zombie apocalypse + Dakar). Maybe – hopefully – this was as close as we’ll ever get to ’28 Days Later.’

Ash and I did several presentations on fly-in trips, Mosko, and our trip through SE Asia. I was limping around on a knee crutch with my lower leg in a fiberglass cast.

Our buddy Tommy showed up with his custom overland vehicle ‘Big Momma,’ which is built on a 5 ton chassis with a KLR on the front. This rig is so badass. He built it all himself by hand, starting with just a flatbed. Check it out at Overland Expo this year (if that still happens, the dates were moved to July).

Tommy and the Mosko team went for a ride on Sunday afternoon, after packing up the booth.

While we were at Zakar, the virus situation escalated further. The Desert 100 was canceled, California banned public gatherings, and ‘social distancing’ became a thing. We canceled our SLC meetup, canceled future travel plans, and sent out the email I posted in the last blog. We were returning to a different world than the one we’d left just 5 days before.

Ash, Sarah, and Jenn flew home – the last flights anyone at Mosko will take for a while – while JC and I drove with the trailers, detouring through the desert to avoid the worst of a late season storm. At a campground in Nevada on Monday morning, with snow falling outside, we had a conference call with the team, and decided to close the Mosko office until further notice. Everyone started working from home.

Also that week: virus awareness increased massively, the stock market hit new lows, and large scale lockdowns and travel restrictions went into effect in the US and Europe. The headlines looked like this.

Back home in Washington, I was happy to finally get my cast removed, and replaced with a walking boot (no more crutch!). Vernon Wade, the x-ray tech who cut the cast off, has this killer Triumph sidecar that he showed me in the parking lot on the way out, as we practiced responsible social distancing. Check out Vern’s website here: Adventure Sidecar.

Looking at our sales so far this year, it’s pretty clear that until Sunday – the last day of Adventure Days – our sales were on one trajectory. Then starting Monday, they adjusted to a different (lower) trajectory. Now we’re adapting our business to that new trajectory, since nobody really knows how long this will last.

Some of the steps we’ve taken include reducing work hours for everyone on the team, freezing discretionary spending and travel, requesting extended terms from our major vendors, and contacting our landlords and lenders for payment deferrals while our office and vehicles sit idle. We’ve also applied for some special ‘disaster’ loans being offered by the SBA. The SBA’s website has been so overloaded with traffic, that I had to upload our application at 4am so it didn’t crash.

Andrew, Scott, and Julia are working on new designs at home. Jenn, Paulina, and Sarah are responding to calls and emails as usual, going into the office occasionally – solo or 6′ apart -when needed. Lee and Ames are in close communication with our factories, which are reporting delays and in some cases (i.e. Bangladesh) temporary shutdowns. Spencer and Ash are keeping up with social media – which is more active than ever, with so many people home-bound and/or #motodistancing – and creating new videos. Roel is laying low in the Netherlands, boxed in by the European travel restrictions. JC left Washington for his home in Colorado two days ago, and should be there by now. Everyone is hunkered down, sheltering in place.

Our warehouses in Portland and Amsterdam are fully operational. Orders are still coming in, product is still going out, and phones and emails are still being answered. When the restrictions lift, we’ll bring everyone back to full time, move back into the shop, load up the bikes & booth, and get back on the road. In the meantime, if you have any questions about anything at all, or even if you just want to chat because you’re all cooped up at home, do not hesitate to reach out.

Here’s what our home offices look like.

Spencer (Marketing)

Scott (Apparel Design)

Sarah (Sales)

Lee (Engineering & Ops)

Julia (Product Development)

Jenn (Rider Support)

Dan (Graphic Design)

Ash (Marketing)

Andrew (Bag Design)

Ames (Special Projects & Ops)

Paulina (Rider Support)

Roel (International Sales)

Me (Crash Testing)

It’s a weird moment. Normally we’d all be in the shop together, shooting the shit and comparing notes. Instead we’re hunkered down individually at home, connected by phone, text, Zoom, and Slack, doing our best to make decisions with the limited information we have. I’m sure we’ll all be telling stories about this period for many years to come.

If any travelers are stuck out there anywhere in the world, stranded by the virus situation, and we can help in any way, please contact us. We have internet, phones, resources, and time, plus a network of riders and friends around the world. Maybe we can help you.

Stay safe & healthy!

Nobody Likes a Virus!

March 12, 2020

With financial markets in freefall, a flood of digital misinformation online, the Saudis and Russians fighting over oil prices, and the media machine running in high gear, one headline really stood out this morning: Tom Hanks has the virus.

Shit just got real.

Here at little ‘ol Mosko Moto in the small mountain village of White Salmon, Washington – friendly faces everywhere, humble folks without temptation – we’re doing our best to interpret all the coronavirus news coming out of the big city.

Our priorities are twofold. First: we want to protect the health and safety of our ‘Extended Mosko Family’ which includes you, our team, and all our families, friends, and relatives. Second: we want to continue moving the business forward, making badass gear for this sport we love.

We have 42 events on the calendar for 2020 in the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe. At each of these events (aka ‘public gatherings’ in CDC talk) we meet hundreds of new people. Then we pack our trailer, move on to the next venue, and do it all again. It’s the opposite of what the medical and scientific communities are asking people to do right now.

Until things settle down, we are temporarily reducing our travel and event schedule.

– Holding off on hosting Mosko Meetups, including our next meetup that was scheduled on March 17th in Salt Lake City.

– Politely pulling back from far-away events that require air travel. Sadly, that means we will not be at March Moto Madness in Tennessee this year, which we’re really bummed about.

– Suspending overseas travel to our factories in Asia.

For previously scheduled events that we can reach by road, like ADV Days (happening now), the Desert 100 (canceled yesterday), and Overland Expo (our next big US event in May), we’re trusting the organizers to make the hard decisions about whether to cancel or proceed. We’ll support whatever they decide. If the event is proceeding as planned, we’ll try like hell to be there.

Just like when something unexpected happens on a moto trip – a breakdown, injury, road closure, or getting lost – we’re taking all this in stride, embracing the challenges it presents, and carrying on, knowing that when we look back later, this will all make for a great campfire story.

In the meantime, please remember to always cover your nose and mouth (with your helmet), keep your hands away from your face (on the handlebars), and avoid large groups of people (by heading to the mountains, woods, and desert).

The Mosko Team

Southeast Asia & Laos Crash

February 21, 2020

I’m currently in Mae Hong Son, Thailand recovering from a broken leg, and Ash is camped out with a hill tribe somewhere in central Vietnam.

We arrived in SE Asia three weeks ago to do a loop through Northern Vietnam and Laos, starting in Hanoi and ending in Saigon. Things went sideways in Laos just 10 days into the trip, when I slid on the pavement and spiral-fractured my fibula.

The medical options in Laos were limited, so I flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand to visit an orthopedic specialist at a private hospital. There was no need for both of us to go, so Ash continued the journey solo on her bike. This is Ash’s first solo trip outside the US, and although of course we both wish the accident hadn’t happened, what a great opportunity! She’s been having an absolute blast.

We’re meeting in HCMC at the end of the month to visit with factories and catch a flight home. In the meantime I found a great hospital in Chiang Mai, met some awesome new friends, and now I’m road tripping in my buddy JM’s loaner 4×4 in Northern Thailand. Yesterday I even ducked across the border into Myanmar for 30 minutes just because, why not? I’m alone and on crutches, so I can’t do much except drive around.

The fully story of the trip is posted on our (still going) ADVrider Ride Report.

Here’s a quick summary:

We rented two XR150s from Tigit Motorbikes, which has offices in both Hanoi and Saigon. The bikes were $500 for the month for a one-way trip, and they were in excellent condition. Tigit has been awesome to work with, I can’t say enough good things about them. I can see why they have so many 5 star ratings online.

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We first headed north in Vietnam, but it’s winter and it was pouring rain in the mountains, so we headed west toward Laos instead, where it’s sunny and dry this time of year. Beautiful scenery, nice little villages, friendly folks, bumpy roads, and delicious noodles.

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This is where I slid. You can see the gouges in the pavement back to the apex of the turn. The road was wet from rain the night before, and there was a big and obvious slippery patch where the rear wheel lost traction. I was going maybe 20 mph.

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First we went to the local hospital in Laos, but the non-english-speaking doctor there was not much help.  He didn’t even notice the fracture. He seemed more confused by the old injury, and by the metal hardware that was already installed in the leg.

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Gear sidenote: the Reckless 80 v3 held up well in the slide.

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The Danner leather boots saved my foot. If I’d been wearing full moto boots, would the break still have happened? Not sure. It was caused by twisting. My foot was trapped under the bike, and my body flipped over while sliding. It twisted the leg, causing the spiral fracture. A more protective boot might have helped, but twisting injuries are hard to prevent. Even in a larger boot, my foot would have been trapped and my body would have twisted. Still, I can’t help but wonder.

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The fabric on the Rak jacket prototype held up great.

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This full-face Klim helmet prevented some facial scars.

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Ash and I parted ways in Oudomxay, Laos. She continued toward Saigon on the bike, while I flew to Thailand for a hospital.

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The private Bangkok Hospital in Chiang Mai is unreal. It’s like checking into a luxury hotel. Service is lightning fast, professional, and all in English. The total cost for everything including new crutches was $400 USD.

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Mosko Moto Pannier Reckless Adventure Bike Motorcycle Luggage Apparel 2-21-20 (34)

Huge thanks to my buddy JM who invited me to stay with him in Chiang Mai, took me to the hospital, and even loaned me a car! Dude, I owe you one!!

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There’s a large & lively ADV community in Chiang Mai. It was really cool to meet everyone!

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Mark Ritchie (aka @markinthailand on advrider) invited me to give a presentation at his cafe/school/gym in Chiang Mai, which is built almost entirely from converted shipping containers. His school, the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute (ISDSI), caters to international students spending a semester studying abroad. About 30 ADVers came for the presentation. It was great to meet everyone. Thanks for coming! And thanks for the opportunity Mark!!

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Met this cool guy Maurice, who is starting a new business called ‘Rider Buds‘ making headphones for motorcyclists. He sold out his Indiegogo campaign, and just received his first delivery. The product looks great man. Congrats! I am definitely buying a set.

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It was also neat to see riders notice the carbon fiber laptop cases my buddy Juan makes (his site: Valeo Cases). Whenever I turned around, it seemed like someone was inspecting it.

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The next morning, I headed up into the hills in this sweet Suzuki Vitara 4×4 that JM loaned me for the week. I’m just exploring a bit, catching up on work and the blog, and reading a lot. Although it’s hard to get around on crutches, things could definitely be worse 🙂

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In a few days I’ll return to Chiang Mai, the leg will get wrapped in a full cast (right now I have a half-cast until the swelling goes down), and I’ll catch a flight to HCMC to meet up with Ash and visit factories.

That’s it for now. Time to pack up and get on the road before they kick me out of this hotel!

The Mosko Mule Rides Again

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.

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Here’s Spencer on the new Yamaha Tenere 700 in a writeup for Upshift Online Magazine (issue 39) wearing his Basilisk riding kit.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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I’ve been wearing it nearly every day since last week, including two days on the ski hill. I’m digging it a lot.

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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.

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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.

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The booth was very busy when we arrived.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We’ll replace the sealed side zipper in the pic below with a YKK Vislon Aquaguard in the production version.

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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.

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Same thing on the Rak jacket.

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We’re experimenting with adding some inside panels to protect the inner tricot from abrasion caused by body armor.

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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.

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The Basilisk pants look good.

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No inseam extender zips on the new version, we’re introducing tall and regular lengths instead.

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Bridgestone Tires

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.

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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!!

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The Automan

In December Ash and I started a new project for the UNRally.

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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.

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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 🙂

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Other News

Foghorn Visit

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.

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Cruz Tools

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.

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Tie-Down Straps

We’re developing our own Mosko cam buckle tie-down, and maybe a ratchet strap too. An approval sample arrived last week.

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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.

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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.

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Here’s Chris and Mariel from Rottweiler Performance out for drinks in California.

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Christmas Party

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.

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Blake brought the Christmas tree.

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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.

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Markus’ Bikes

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!

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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!

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San Francisco to Long Beach – and Paulina, Welcome Aboard!

December 7, 2019

We have another new addition to the team to announce. Paulina joined Mosko last week from See See Motorcycles in Portland. Before that she worked at the outdoor gear company Poler, also in Portland. Paulina rides a KTM 200 XCW on the trails, and she’s interested in getting her first dualsport soon. She’ll be working with Sarah & Jenn in Customer Service.

Here’s Paulina, 20 seconds into her first day at Mosko.

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Here she is a little later that same day, training with Jenn.

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Paulina: welcome aboard!

New Scout 30 Duffle

We received a final prototype of the revised Scout 30 duffle, which will replace the Scout 25 duffle sometime next year. We added 5L of capacity, changed the beavertail design, beefed up the backpack straps, and made the straps detachable. I’m really digging the look and feel, can’t wait to use it on a trip. Lee has been riding with a prototype of this bag all summer and he loves it. 

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Voile Straps

Our new Voile straps arrived a few weeks ago. You can find them on our website here.