December 18, 2017
Long Beach Moto Show
After returning from Germany and Baja, Ash and I drove south to California for the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show. We were joined by our friend JC from Expedition Electric, who flew out to help, and who will be managing the Mosko booth in Chicago and D.C.
This was our 4th show in Long Beach. Huge thanks to everyone who came out and made it another record show. We had a little excitement Saturday night, sleeping in our camper in the convention center parking lot. We were falling asleep around midnight and had mistakenly left the truck unlocked. A prowler opened the door and rifled through the glove box while we were in bed directly above him. We heard the commotion and jumped out of the camper just in time to hear the door slam and footsteps. He must’ve been just as freaked out as we were. Leaving car doors unlocked in LA is obviously a pretty bad idea.
Rob Kirby loaned us his bikes to use in our booth again. Check out how Rob attached the Mosko wedge mount to his hard panniers, so he can easily swap back and forth between hard bags and soft.
Birmingham Motorcycle Show
While Ashley and I were in Long Beach, Andrew and Roel were in Birmingham, England working the Motorcycle Live show. This winter, with Roel’s help, we are attending our first European motorcycle shows to learn more about the market there.
This was another great show. At 9 days, it was also the longest show we’ve ever done. Roel and Andrew reported consistent traffic and lots of interest. We distributed a tracking code, and I was happy to see a bunch of orders come in after the show.
We face some challenges selling internationally. Because we are a direct-sales only company, we do not have enough margin built into our products to accommodate a distributor. If we did, the retail price would be way too high. However, when we sell direct to international customers, they get hit with a) expensive international shipping and b) high import duties, often as much as 18-20%. With shipping and duties the retail price of a Backcountry 35 pannier set – which costs $700 in the US, and approximately $80-100 to ship internationally – is over $900. We offset this by offering flat rate international shipping of $50, but it’s still expensive.
Making it worse is the fact that we’ve already paid duties and freight to import these items into the United States from their country of origin. So the customer is paying for duties and freight twice, once to import the bags into the US and again to import into the customer’s home country.
It’s not just the duties and freight that pose a challenge, it’s also the time and hassle of importing. I don’t exactly know the specifics of how it works, but apparently in many countries the incoming package is held at customs, and the customer has to actually pick it up in person and pay their duty bill. Sometimes packages get stuck in customs for weeks for one reason or another. So not only are international customers paying more for the same product, but they have to jump through a bunch of extra hoops to take delivery.
How to fix this situation without using a distributor? We’re considering contracting with a fulfillment warehouse somewhere in Europe, probably in the Netherlands. If we could ship inventory directly from the country of origin to the fulfillment center, and then from the fulfillment center to the customer, we should be able to deliver a bag in Europe for roughly the same price as the United States. We could setup a similar situation in Australia.
Ash and I are headed to the Netherlands to visit with Roel and attend a show in February. We’ll do some additional research and see if we can’t setup a few visits with fulfillment centers while we’re there.
After the Long Beach show, Ash & I decided to head down into Baja on the bikes for Thanksgiving. Our friend Jim Kitt was nice enough to let us stage out of his house in Jamul, CA, which is just a short ride from Tecate. And he shared some of his delicious tequila with us as well.
The morning of our departure I did an oil change on my 950 in Jim’s driveway, and found some unwanted stuff in there.
These are remnants of my old clutch, which disintegrated on a trip in Nevada earlier this year. This made me nervous right before heading into Mexico, but as it turned out all was fine and the bike rode great.
We took a well established, fun, mellow route from Tecate to Mike’s Sky Ranch on the Compadre trail, then out the backside of Mike’s to Rancho Meling, from there out to the coast at Coyote Cal’s, and then back to Tecate. Ash took the Scout 25s and I took a Reckless 40, no camping gear.
Dinner in Valle de Trinidad.
The cooks at Mike’s were on vacation in Tijuana, but they let us use the kitchen and make our own grub.
Added a few Mosko stickers.
Thanksgiving dinner at Coyote Cal’s.
On the way home from Baja we unexpectedly hit snow 45 minutes from home near Mt. Hood. We stopped to help another driver who was stuck, and promptly jackknifed the truck and trailer and ended up being part of a multi-vehicle clusterf*ck including two semis and a whole bunch of cars.
Amazingly: when the Mt. Hood snowplow arrived to help bail everyone out, the driver turned out to be a friend of ours who we’d helped evacuate from a motorcycle wreck in the desert back in May. Small world!
Jesse Felker helped with a couple new videos.
My buddy Jonathan Glessner recently got back from a trip from southern Africa to Europe, crossing through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Ukraine… awesome trip. His panniers survived a collision with a truck, and still finished the trip despite some torn stitching on the outer bag. This is another great example of why we do double-bag waterproofing, a pannier can take a serious hit and still be 100% waterproof for the rest of the trip.
We got our latest shipment of Reckless 40/80s along with the Stinger 8/22 drybags. Unfortunately there was a screw up at the factory, and both the stingers and the harnesses arrived with loop velcro instead of one with hook and one with loop. Reynaldo, who does our prototype sewing, came to the rescue. He will be re-working the entire shipment.
We’re moving! We’ve finally outgrown our little 600 square foot shop in White Salmon. We’re moving down the street to this 1,000 square foot shop. We’re currently painting the walls and re-doing the floors, with the hope of moving in by early January.
We had our company holiday party at Heni’s Kitchen in White Salmon earlier this week. Love this team. My second family. It’s been a heck of a year.
Ash & I are gearing up for a moto trip in Mexico starting next week. We were originally planning to go to Ethiopia this year, but our latest apparel samples are almost done, and we want to go somewhere we can properly test them. We want to be on our own bikes – not locally sourced Chinese bikes – and we want a wide variety of weather and temperature conditions. Ethiopia will still be there next year.
We’ll probably start in Baja, then ferry to the mainland, and either loop back to the US through Copper Canyon or possibly continue south to Guatemala and ship/fly back from there. Either way, should be fun, and I can’t wait to spend a month in the new gear.