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