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The New New Normal?

November 03, 2022

November 02, 2022 

Things are still crazy out there in the world, but compared to the rollercoaster we’ve been on since 2020, it actually feels kind of stable. Just normal stuff like war, inflation, recessions, monkeypox, winter, rain, & muddy trails. We’ve got inventory in the warehouse, fresh ideas on the design table, new prototypes in hand, and we just got back from our Fall team ride.

These days I’m spending less time on management and financial stuff – thanks to Alistair, Ames, and our awesome team – and more time riding, testing, and making videos. Ash and I were on the road more than ever this year, sometimes for riding & camping and sometimes events & meetups. Now we’re home, winter is coming, and there are no more trips on the horizon. Being home right now feels great.

In September we crossed the 9 year anniversary of the Mosko blog. Here’s the very first blog post from September, 2013.

My buddy Andrew and I are on a mission to create the best adventure-touring motorcycle luggage on the market. This blog will track our progress.

This is partially about the bags, and partially about building a business.

The adventure begins!

156 posts later, the adventure continues! The team is bigger, our line is broader, and there are so many back-to-back trips that I can’t keep track. So much is happening all the time, and I’m only hands-on with a portion. Thinking back to some of the insanely long posts from the last few years, with 150+ photos and thousands of words, I was trying so hard (too hard?) not to miss anything. The quantity of ‘blog-worthy’ activity at Mosko was rapidly outpacing my capacity to document. Going forward with the blog, I’ll be focusing on a smaller number of salient highlights, and hopefully learning to make posts of a manageable length

Content & media are changing too. I mean not just at Mosko, but in the world at large. This time last year my phone was full of photographs. Now it’s full of videos. Short-form videos took over everything this year. We’re adding them to the Mosko website, and I’m incorporating them into the blog and advrider too. Websites, blogs, photos, and forums seem like the old-school internet, while social media and short-form videos are still fresh and new. Soon they’ll be old too though, and we’ll be riding virtual motorcycles around a virtual world, talking about the good ol’ days when we had to lift a phone to make a TikTok.

Welcome Aboard!

Stoked to welcome Amy Garrison (CS) and Anna Farkac (Accounting) to the team!

Amy & Anna both love riding, and both work remotely – from Cashmere, WA and Portland, OR respectively – visiting Mosko HQ in White Salmon as needed.

Amy & Anna: welcome aboard!

The Sale

As of the last post, we had too much inventory showing up way too soon, as an aftershock from the supply shortages in 2021. We’d just kicked off our first-ever mid-season sale to help address the issue. Our expectations for the sale were modest: I figured we’d run it a few weeks, see a moderate bump in volume, and end the sale when volume tapered. The sale was one part of a multi-part plan to move through our growing inventory stockpile.

Instead of a short-lived, moderate bump in volume, we saw a substantial and sustained increase. It continued for months, so we kept the sale going. Between June and September we moved through almost all of our excess inventory. THANK YOU to everyone who participated!! We were happily surprised – and also a little mystified – by the response, so I posted this video online.

There was broad consensus in the video comments that free shipping was super important, so when we finally ended the sale, we kept the free shipping going. We’ll be offering that permanently going forward, plus we reduced prices on a few of our major items. That was possible because of last year’s price increase, and the subsequent return-to-pseudo-normalcy of our supply chain.

Now the riding season is wrapping up in North America, but lead times have shortened, bags are in stock, and apparel is landing. Next spring, we’ll roll into the riding season fully stocked, and with a more stable, predictable supply chain. That’s the plan anyway. A lot can still happen between now & then.

Dusty Lizard

In 2022, Advanstar Communications – parent company of the Progressive IMS Shows – announced that after 40 years of running the most recognized motorcycle shows in the United States, they were shutting it down. As painful as that was for the folks at IMS, it wasn’t a huge surprise. It opened up a lot of free weekends this summer though.

On one of those free weekends in August, we invited 50 people to our backyard moto campground (aka the ‘Bates Mototel’) in White Salmon for a weekend of camping and riding. Friday night we served tacos at Mosko HQ, on Saturday everybody rode, and on Saturday night we had a BBQ dinner and live music. Using our camp infrastructure from Burning Man and the UNRally, we built an outdoor lounge with some very dusty couches, and named it the “Dusty Lizard Lounge.”

That first Dusty Lizard was so much fun, that we did a second one a month later on our buddy Cam’s property near Park City, Utah. We loaded up two big trailers in White Salmon – one with the mobile Mosko showroom and one with the Dusty Lizard Lounge – and hauled them out. About 130 people came for Dusty Lizard #2 – some traveling long distances – and it ended up being every bit as fun as the first. We had big fires at night (it was chilly!), live music, and some awesome riding & GPS routes for different skill levels and bike sizes. Thanks for hosting Cam!! Let’s do it again!!

We want to do lots more of these. The idea is to keep it unstructured: no guides or seminars, just riding, chillin, and meeting new friends. If people want to see Mosko gear, it’ll be there on display, but no pressure. The Mosko team will all be out riding too.

With the Dusty Lizard, instead of setting up a booth at someone else’s event, we can create our own thing with our own vibe. We can move it around to different landscapes, different venues, and different types of riding to keep it interesting. For example we could jump from Death Valley, to Oregon, to Moab, to Idaho. Sometimes it could be at a campground, sometimes on private property, and sometimes on public land. Sometimes we’ll have catered dinners and live music, sometimes not. Each one can be unique.

We don’t have it all planned out yet, we’re just going to start doing it and see what happens. Stay tuned for 2023 locations, and please… join us!

New Products & Prototypes

Basilisk Jacket & Pant: The Basilisk jacket got a redesign in the latest version, with flaps on all the zippers and some internal construction changes, mainly around the zippers, plus some fresh design lines. Same thing on the pants, plus large “J” vents on the thighs that open directly into the wind.

Surveyor Jacket: I just spent a week on the WABDR in this jacket and loved it. I wore it every day, directly over armor like a heavy duty zip-off jersey. When temps got really cold or it rained, I wore a waterproof shell on top. The Surveyor has more abrasion, wind, and weather protection than a jersey, but it breathes way better than a typical hardshell. It’s great for high output riding in variable terrain, and trail riding too.

Surveyor Pant: The Surveyor Pant shares it’s main body fabric – a stretchy Cordura ripstop – with the Surveyor jacket. This is a three season trail pant, for athletic riding on smaller dualsport and trail bikes. Riders who aren’t worried about abrasion (esp pavement abrasion), may dig this pant for offroad touring too.

Kiger Mesh Pant: The Kiger is like a hot weather Woodsman minus the pockets, because pockets block airflow. Everything except the one pocket and two small patches of knee leather, is heavy duty stretch mesh. The airflow is awesome, and the Kiger has great abrasion resistance too. Folks in warmer/drier climates, or anyone looking for a summer offroad touring pant, should check this out.

Woodsman Pant: The Woodsman pant is finally back in stock! The current batch fits very much on the snug side, so if you’re someone who’s on the cusp of sizes, I’d suggest sizing up. We made a few small fitment changes, but mostly it remains unchanged. We love this pant. Everyone on the Mosko team has at least one pair, and many of us have several.

Rak jacket/Pants: On the team ride, I spent a long day in the new Rak Jacket and Pant, much of it in heavy rain, riding from the Canada border back to the gorge. When I got home, I took off all my outer layers and carefully inspected everything underneath for any trace of water. I was totally, 100% dry. In the latest version we added zipper flaps, a kangaroo pocket, a removable hood, and a snapback collar. Plus we made it so the side entry zipper doubles as a vent.

Nomax: The Nomax is getting an expansion zipper, so it can grow if needed. Also new & improved removable backpack straps, which you can kind of see in this video. Also we added additional cable organizers inside, some pockets under the beavertail, and a few other minor updates.

Cup/Can Holder: We’re messing around with the idea of a soft beverage carrier as a novelty add-on. Andrew found this interesting leather one in Mexico. It was designed for a belt, but it works on MOLLE too. It could tuck away invisibly, then pop out to hold a beer, soda, or energy drink while your hands are busy doing something else. Like for example: filling your gas tank, airing your tires, making lunch, or unpacking your bags.

New MOLLE Panels: We’re adding this strip of webbing down the middle of our MOLLE panels, so you can rig things both horizontally and vertically. This is super handy for strapping rolled up jackets to MOLLE panels, or when you have a multitool or knife sheath that’s oriented in the wrong direction. Especially with the rear MOLLE panels on the R80 and Backcountry Duffle.

Frontcountry Pannier?: The concept of a rollerbag pannier has been bouncing around at Mosko for a while. Our factory threw together this quick & dirty prototype for discussion purposes. Functionally it works, and it’s a super nifty idea, but it doesn’t work for the kind of riding we do, and it’s not something we would ever reach for ourselves. Purely from a design perspective though it’s kind of interesting, and we love stuff like that. Should we pull on this thread? Does the world need something like this? The internal debate on those questions has been at least as interesting as the bag itself What do you think?

I posted this video on my Instagram stories last week and it was the most-viewed story I’ve ever posted. Not sure if that’s because people loved it or hated it.

New Reckless 40: We’re experimenting with a composite harness on the Reckless 40, similar to what we’re looking at for the 80. We’re wondering if maybe a thinner – and lighter – version could work on these smaller reckless bags. A problem that’s already come up in testing, is that the thinner edge is so sharp, it might slice into your seat over time.

New First Aid Kit: The first aid kit is pretty much done at this point. We’ve sourced all the internal components, and the bags themselves look good.

Wildcat Backpack Raincover: We’ve had some requests for a Wildcat raincover. I want one too, because I’ve been carrying my drone and camera gear back there. Here’s a first sample.

New SM/LG Molle Bags: Our MOLLE bags have barely changed since 2014. They’re way overdue for an update, plus we have a few new ideas too.

New Pucks: Lee came up with a cool new low profile puck design for the Backcountry panniers. The original puck has a fitment issue on a small number of bike models and aftermarket exhausts, where the rack sits too close to the exhaust. Some riders address that by using only three pucks, while others grind down the current puck to fit. Both work, but neither is ideal. Lee set out to find a solution, and he ended up with a whole new puck design that will become our new standard. It works the same as the old puck, but fits tighter spaces and weighs less.

Reckless 80 Stuff Sacks: Andrew is working on these shaped stuff sacks for the Reckless 80 leg bags. It adds some layers of vertical organization to the R80 drybags, so you’re not just jamming everything into a long tunnel and then having to dig around for it.

Brush Guards: On the team ride, Dave and his T7 tagged a branch on the side of the trail. It pulled him and the bike down hard, breaking his collarbone. The brush guard tore but it saved the pannier. Wish we could ‘undo’ that test and give Dave his collarbone back, but in lieu of that, we’re happy the bag survived (and the crash wasn’t worse!!).

Videos and More Videos

Pretty soon after Andrew and I started Mosko back in 2013, we needed product videos for the website. I ended up in front of the camera, not because I was good at it, but because somebody had to make the videos.

Since then I’ve made more videos than I can count. In the past, when I made them myself with a phone (or a point & shoot in the early days), they were completely unedited, because I didn’t know how to edit. I mostly shot them in one long take and they were usually way too wordy, because I spent a lot of time on small features, and the dialog wandered. I love talking about our products in person at shows and events, but talking to a camera is totally different. It’s awkward, and I’m way too critical of the results.

This year I’ve been trying to get better at it. I acquired some tiny camera stuff that’s small enough to take on moto trips, and I learned how to make basic edits on my phone. I practiced on Instagram (@moskopete) and TikTok, and then eventually started making product videos for the website. My buddy Pierce (IG: @videokidproductions) helped with the editing. I shared a few examples of those in prior posts, now here’s a few more:

I’m basically always working on videos nowadays, sometimes for social media, sometimes for Mosko, and sometimes just for fun. It’s not a drag anymore, now I dig it. It’s cool how you can move components around (like closeups, audio, and riding shots) and then stitch them into something greater than the sum of its parts. In that way, video editing is a lot like writing, but way more visual. I’d love the ability to pull over on the side of the trail, make a quick video about a product, edit it in my tent that night, and post it the next day. That’s the goal.

Mosko Fall Team Trip

We’re just back from the Mosko team trip on the WABDR. On this trip we had 16 people, including Silke and Fernando visiting from Europe. Roel was out riding in Nepal, Beth was riding in Thailand, and a few other folks had other conflicts. Despite some injuries (broken leg, broken collarbone, broken ribs) the trip was a blast. The WABDR is a great route, and it was neat to leave right from the Mosko shop – no trailers required – and camp together every night.

Thanks for your patience when we close the shop and do these trips twice a year. I know it creates some hassles. The team rides are an important part of the Mosko equation, not just because it gets us out riding together – which is awesome – but also because we’re product testing, experimenting with different kits, trying out new prototypes, brainstorming ideas, etc. Everyone on our team participates in product development, so team trips are a week-long internal focus group. We’re using stuff, breaking stuff, learning stuff, and getting to know each other a whole lot better. Plus it’s outrageously fun. I just wish we didn’t have injuries. But it’s a big group, and motorcycles are dangerous.

See ya out there!


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