November 20, 2014
We keep expecting things to slow down for the winter so we can get all caught up, but the opposite is happening. Between getting next year’s design revisions off to the factory, the metal rack adapters we’re developing, and the winter motorcycle shows, Andrew and I have been running around like crazy for the last few weeks.
Having the new shop space is great. Admittedly it’s nothing fancy, but man when we actually started moving stuff in and we realized how much we’d accumulated over the last year and a half, it was clear that this was overdue. Before moving in we gave it a good scrubbing.
Wood burning stove works.
First job in the new space was to make some kind of show display for the Progressive International Motorcycle Show down in Long Beach, California. There were some old wood panels left in the shop that we were planning to burn. These were re-purposed into a quick and dirty shelf display.
We picked up some rolling contractor boxes to hold our show samples and supplies — for indoor shows sometimes we need to transport everything a long way to get to the booth, unlike the outdoor rallies where we can usually park right next to it — and those were also incorporated into the display.
In anticipation of going back on the road for moto shows, we finally pulled the trigger on a new enclosed trailer for Mosko. We’ll use this 8.5 x 16 unit for transporting inventory and bikes. Last summer we collected orders at the shows and then shipped the product from the warehouse. Now we want to start taking inventory with us and selling it on the spot, so we’ll need a lot more space.
In addition to inventory, my BMW 1150GSA as a show bike, and the booth, I also packed my Honda CB175 Super Sport to use for getting around town. The BMW is typically parked in the booth, and firing up the truck/camper/trailer rig just to run to the store is kind of a pain, so the Honda solves that problem.
A Backcountry 40 Duffle rigged as a backpack works great as a grocery-getter and for running quick errands.
Before heading south toward Cali, I went up to Seattle for two meetings.
First I met with a company called Schoeller Textiles. Schoeller is a Swiss company that makes some super high-tech fabrics for outdoor apparel. Moto gear is one of their specialties. They even have their own in-house abrasion tester that simulates a moto crash, and all their outerwear fabrics are tested and rated for different crash speeds. It’s a family owned business that makes everything in their own in-house mill in Switzerland. They have their own proprietary waterproof/breathable membrane, called “c_change,” which is different from a lot of the other WP/BR fabrics out there (like Gore, Toray, or Event) because the membrane actually responds to changing temperatures, opening up when it gets hot and closing when it gets cold. The idea is that the breathability of a garment can actually increase when the wearer is working hard.
We’re really impressed with this company overall. The only disadvantage to using Schoeller is that its insanely expensive: about three times the price of the Toray fabric we originally specified and 50% more than Gore-Tex. We think the extra cost is worth it though. The fabrics are really well made and all the technology and R&D that goes into making them is cool. Tom Weinbender, President of Schoeller USA, helped us pick a highly abrasion-resistant 3-layer WP/BR fabric with c_change for our next round of prototypes.
The second meeting was with Justin from Cascade Designs. Cascade Designs is based in Seattle, and is the parent company for several backpacking brands which Andrew and I use when we’re camping off our bikes. Two examples are Thermarestand MSR. Our large and small MOLLE pouches were actually designed around MSR’s Dromedary bags and fuel canisters. We want to make more interactive MOLLE expansion bags like that, and also offer some of Cascade’s products for sale at rallies/shows and through our website. Cascade makes some products that are really ideal for moto-camping, like camp stoves that run on unleaded gasoline, lightweight backpacking tents with removable gear vestibules, heavy-duty water storage bags, and a really cool hanging water filtration system.
Check out this new folding chair. Maybe a little bulky for moto travel but still, cool design.
Cascade Designs also makes luxury-lite cots. These things are really comfortable, and pack down pretty small, although not quite as small as the newer thermarests.
Here’s a one-person MSR tent setup with the optional gear shed.
And the hanging water filter (center).
Some of their newer camp stoves run on both gas AND liquid fuel, compared to the classic Whisperlite (which I use) that only runs on liquid.
As big fans and long-time users of these products, we’re really excited to be partnering with these guys, and hopefully we can get them some additional exposure in the moto world while we’re attending all these shows and events.
In the meantime, Andrew’s been cranking out our product revisions for 2015, and also working on the metal adapter plates. Here’s the latest prototype of the F800 GSA adapter. Looks great, but we need to do one more round of revisions/prototypes before taking them to market.
The 1200GSA bracket definitely looks like it’ll work, but unfortunately the prototype we have doesn’t line-up quite right, so this needs another round of revisions as well. Clearly we underestimated the work required to make these metal adapters. We thought they’d be ready in 4-6 weeks back in September and here we are in November and we’re still working on them.
Even though the BMW racks are stainless, we found it is actually pretty easy to drill through those little touratech tabs, which is good to know in terms of opening up some options for placing the wedge on the rack.
We’re also redesigning the wedge and frame to be injection molded instead of machined, so Andrew has been working with a factory in HCMC to make 3D models of those items.
Back On the Road
From Seattle, I headed south toward Long Beach, stopping for a night in Portland where I metup with John, who’s been trying to decide between Backcountry’s & Scouts and wanted to check them out in person.
Also picked up our new trade show sign.
Stopped in Eugene to visit our friends at BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon and get a new rear tire and replace some broken lights on the BMW since that’s going to be our “show bike” going forward. It needed a little reconditioning after the ride to Minnesota last summer.
And from there I headed south toward California. I’ll be living out of this rig for the next two weeks.