August 17, 2020
This is the story of how a small typo in the spec sheets for a garment can become an expensive and embarrassing mistake. Especially when it happens in the midst of an international pandemic.
Late last year, pre-COVID, we made a typo in the specs for the blue colorway of the Basilisk jacket. The five digit color code “H08KR” (the color black) was mistakenly entered as “808KR” on the spec sheet. “808KR” doesn’t mean anything – it doesn’t exist in the book we referenced – but the three digit code “808” means orange, which is what YKK thought we meant.
Normally that would’ve been noticed and fixed downstream, delaying just that one colorway while new zippers were made. This year however, the zippers arrived right when our factory was closed for six weeks during the COVID shutdown. The owner, who lives in Hong Kong, was unable to visit because Bangladesh’s borders were closed. His managers (who mostly live in Dhaka) were also unable to visit, because domestic travel was restricted and the factory is 5 hours away. We weren’t able to travel to Bangladesh ourselves this year either, so instead we confirmed everything by mail. The confirmation samples came in only one colorway, and an important pre-production step was missed.
Flash forward to three weeks ago, 9 months from the original order date. Production is done and the factory sends us pics. We immediately noticed: ORANGE ZIPPERS WTF??!? Where did those come from?? All 200 pieces of the blue jacket were affected, with a retail value of $120,000 and a cost of approximately half that. Looking back at the specs, we found the typo and worked forward from there, clearly seeing all the moments it should have been caught (by us, the factory, or YKK) but wasn’t. Luckily the orange looks OK, it’s just not what we were expecting when we got the pics.
We considered retrofitting black zips here in the US, but then we’d be turning a ‘first quality’ garment straight from the factory into a ‘seconds quality’ garment from the repair shop. Fixing 8 zippers post-production is not the same as installing them on the production line. Instead we decided to explain what happened, and offer the jackets on our site at a discount.
This special edition COVID colorway – which we’re calling the “FUBasilisk” (pronounced ‘foo-basilisk,’ like FUBAR, the F*cked Up Basilisk) – will be priced at $400 (vs $600), which is a pretty great deal considering it’s the same as we intended in every way other than the zipper color. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a totally unique colorway. There’ll never be another like it
If you don’t love our groundbreaking design work on the blue colorway, the good news is that the grey and red colorways – which make up the bulk of the Basilisk production run – arrived perfect. Imo, the red in particular is SO COOL. In addition to color, we made some small updates to the jacket this year, such as internal abrasion protection and some small tweaks to the collar shape.
The FUBasilisk and its grey and red counterparts will be live on our website next week. We also have a new colorway in the pant, plus we did away with the pant’s inseam extension zipper (replacing it with tall sizes), and updated the waist closure snaps as well.
Rak Jacket & Overpant
The Rak Jacket and Overpant arrived and they look awesome. I’m super excited about this kit. It fills the gap between the ultra-packable lightweight Deluge, and the more durable but bulkier Basilisk. It’s tougher than the Deluge, but more packable than the Basilisk. For riders whose jackets spend more time on their bike than their body, but who expect to encounter cold and/or wet weather on their trip, this is a kit to seriously consider. On the jacket, we removed as many zippers, pockets, and openings as we could: ‘too simple to fail’ was our motto. It’s a simple enduro shell that’s tough enough to survive long term RTW travel. I’ve worn it on two trips with heavy rainfall and it really works. Like the Woodsman, which works seamlessly with the Rak, the Rak was inspired by trail riding and mountaineering gear.
The overpants I’m wearing in this pic are actually a size too big for me so they look a little baggy (I’m a 32, these are 34) but you get the idea.
Size samples of the new sublimated jerseys arrived and they look great. These are in production now, and should arrive in about 5 weeks.
The Camp Pant
This is our idea for a double zip-off, bottom-half insulating layer. It turns into a warm pant for chilling around camp, or a 3/4 length zip-off midlayer that you can remove without taking off your boots, outer pants, and knee armor. It started kind of tongue-in-cheek, but now that we have a prototype in hand we’re really digging it. I can’t emphasize enough how excited we are about 3/4 length zip-offs. Stripping down to your socks on the side of the road to add insulation in cold weather, sucks.
The idea with the Camp Pant is that on a cold weather trip, you’d wear these in your sleeping bag at night. In the morning you’d keep wearing them while making coffee, breakfast etc. When it’s time to gear up, you don’t take the pants off. Instead you just zip off the bottoms, converting them to a 3/4 length pant. Knee armor goes underneath, outer pants go on top, and the 3/4 length pant stops right above your boot. Riding in the morning when it’s cold, the camp pant is your warm midlayer. As temperatures rise throughout the day, or as the riding gets more technical and you start to warm up, you stop on the side of the trail, drop your outer pants to your boots, and simply zip off the pants. Boots, armor, and outer pants can all stay on.
Towards evening, when it starts getting cold again, put the camp pant back on by dropping your outer pants again and zipping up the side zips. When you finally get to camp that night, take off your boots and outer pants, zip the leg bottoms back on the camp pant, and convert them back to full length for chillin around the fire, making dinner, and crawling into your sleeping bag that night.
We also got a revised prototype of our zip-off long undies, which are the same concept, minus the zip off bottoms. The problem is that it’s currently the middle of summer, and nobody wants to test insulating layers when it’s 100 degrees out.
We’re also working on a thermal top to go with the zip-off thermal bottoms. We like the idea of a hood that lays flat on your back when it’s not in use, so it won’t interfere with the collar on the outer jacket. It would be tight enough to wear under a helmet, but also loose enough to be cozy on a cold night around camp. We’re adding a quarter-zip as well, for ventilation.
Here’s what the camp pant and long undies look like packed. When it’s stuffed rather than rolled, the camp pant actually packs smaller than it looks here, but it’s still about twice as large as the long undies.
Ectotherm Heated Jacket
The Ectotherm heated jacket hasn’t been on the blog for a while, but we’ve been quietly tinkering away in the background, with an eye on introducing it in 2021. The idea with the Ectotherm, is to put heating elements into a modern outdoor-style puffy, so that you’d barely even know it was a heated jacket until you needed it. It would still look and function like a normal puffy off the bike. This is different from most heated jackets, which usually attach the heating elements to a very basic ‘liner-type’ garment.
The first Ectotherm sample we received is shown below, with the shiny black face fabric and fleece along the sides. The shininess reminds us of liner fabric, and also the fleece – while great for reducing bulk under your armor – isn’t really warm enough when you’re off the bike. We want the Ectotherm to be the only insulated jacket you need on a multi-season trip, which means it has to keep you warm around camp too.
The second version of the Ectotherm, which we all unanimously liked better, is shown below. The tan face fabric (not the final color) is a nice outdoor ripstop with a great feel, and the puffy insulation replaces the fleece panels in the earlier sample. This version really feels like a nice winter puffy.
Other Apparel Stuff
Since it’s very hot out at the moment, we’ve been thinking about a ‘summer/desert’ version of the Woodsman pant, with mesh ventilation panels instead of waterproof/breathable fabric. We’re looking at some interesting options from Schoeller. Like everything from Schoeller, they’re expensive but nice. We’d love to find a stretch mesh that’s tough enough for moto, but open enough to still allow lots of air. There’s one good candidate so far (the pic below), and we’ve requested more.
Looking ahead at colors for 2021: we want to continue focusing on nature/outdoor colors on top, and what Scottie calls ‘informed neutrals’ on the bottom (meaning not black or grey, but not too colorful either).
We’re working on a summer-weight base layer top. It will be the least insulating and most packable base layer we can make, designed specifically to wear under body armor. It’s feather-light and packs down tiny. I’ll be testing it on a hot-weather trip next week.
Our quest for the ultimate separate armor for all-day, long-duration ADV use and extended touring continues. We recently bought some of this awesome CE2 soft armor from Dainese. Unfortunately it’s only available as separate pieces, not as an integrated kit, so it’s not quite what we’re looking for, but the armor itself is SO COOL. It’s soft, flexible, extremely well ventilated, and protective. It’s the nicest soft armor we’ve ever seen.
These red strips use a softer compound, allowing the back protector to articulate.
We laid the Dainese components over an older version of the Forcefield EX-K harness just to get a visual. An armor kit like this is what we’re looking for. I sent this pic to the CEO of Dainese in a blind message on LinkedIn over the weekend. It’s a longhshot but you never know.
Big thanks to @Kerschbaumer on advrider.com for turning us on to these Cromag knee pads, which in turn led us to a company called Rheon Labs, who makes the armor in the Cromag pads. We had a productive conversation with them last week.
Up till now, we’ve mostly been focused on finding a big armor maker (like FF, Leatt, or Dainese) who wants to tackle this challenge with us. We’d provide design input, they’d make the armor, and we’d resell or promote what they made. The problem with that approach has been getting anyone to listen. It’s also a problem that many large armor companies (like Leatt, Dainese, Alpinestars – not Forcefield) also make apparel, so in that way we’re sort of competitors too.
A second option would be to put our time and money toward developing our own armor in partnership with a company like Rheon. Under that scenario, they’d make the armor pads and we’d make the system for attaching them. By going that route we could avoid all the stacked-up layers of margin between the factory, designer/wholesaler, distributor, and retailer. We could replace three supply chain steps with one, and make something much cooler than what’s out there now, because we could spend almost twice as much making the product as anyone else.
We’ll keep pulling on this thread and see where it leads us. There are many challenges with designing our own armor: mold costs, CE approval, etc. It’s a big project with a long lead time, and we’re a small company. But also, there’s no hurry. If there’s an opportunity to make something really cool with Rheon, it will be hard to pass up.
White Salmon Showroom
Our good friend Bear has been in town for most of the summer, camped in his overland ambulance (the Overlandulance) at the Bates Mototel. He put the finishing touches on the Mosko showroom a few weeks ago. It looks great.
Thanks Bear! We miss you already man.
The Mosko showroom is open for business. Please contact Jenn & Paulina at our main Mosko email to schedule an appointment.
It has been so fun this summer, to host so many friends & travelers at the Bates Mototel. We’ve had a steady stream of visitors, and several friends have been here on and off all summer. Thanks for all the help and hard work to make this concept come together.
Our friend Joel – organizer of the Death Valley Noobs Rally – was in town a few weeks ago. He cleared a new site in the woods for the Dusty Lizard Lounge tent, where it will live next year. Our friend Trent is coming back in September with his excavator to remove the remaining stumps, level the clearing, and prepare it for a tent platform next Spring.
The Bates Mototel is available for any & all moto travelers passing through the Gorge. We usually have space for car, van, and truck campers – please check with us beforehand – and sometimes small trailers too. If you’re interested in staying at the Mototel, find us on the Tent Space map on advrider.com (White Salmon, WA), or contact Jenn & Paulina directly at the main Mosko email: moskomoto (at) moskomoto (dot) com.
In Other News
Our friends at Hippo Hands in Bend stopped by with some pre-production samples of a new version of their classic winter hand cover. The new version looks great guys, nice work! For anyone who hasn’t seen Hippo Hands before, or who maybe saw them on the road somewhere but didn’t know what they were called, a set of these is the easiest upgrade you can make to extend your riding season as temperatures drop. We used them last fall, and loved them.
Andrew showed up at the shop with this cool new electric bike a few weeks ago. He got it for commuting to work. It passes for a motorbike on the road. He even picked up a vanity plate with his nickname, to complete the disguise.
Summer is ON. Despite COVID – or maybe because of it, since normally we’d be on the road – it has been an epic summer. Lots of time to ride, swim, fish, tinker, explore… all the things.
On Monday the 24th (next week) I’m packing up my 1290 and heading out on a solo trip to Jackson Hole via a mix of dirt and pavement. There’s lots of new gear to test, and friends to visit in Wyoming. Stoked for that!