March 11, 2021
Ash and I just returned from a month in Mexico on our KTM 1290s. We staged in Borrego Springs, crossed the border at Mexicali, rode down Baja to La Paz, took the ferry across to the Mainland, and returned to Borrego via Copper Canyon and Bahia Kino. After an exceptionally stationary year it was awesome to cross a border and ride.
On the trip, I thought a lot about gear (as usual), and also about Mosko as a whole and how much things have changed over the last 8 years. Below is our first blog post from 2013. At this point Andrew and I had been messing around with design ideas for about six months, and we had just decided to get serious about starting a business. This is the whole post:
“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!”
We’re still on that same mission, except now I would add the product categories of apparel (launched in 2019) and protection (coming for 2022). Because there are 19 of us, I would also expand the sentence “This blog will track our progress” to include “as seen through my eyes.” These days our team is working on many different projects simultaneously, but what you see in the blog is just my personal perspective. This is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a diary.
I’d still call Mosko an ‘adventure’ even though it’s not exactly life threatening. It’s an adventure in the sense that we don’t know what’s ahead, the outcome is uncertain, and there’s a lot on the line. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far, and I’m so stoked on our team. Everyone works hard, everyone gets along, and everyone rides. We all use the products and we all help create them. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do, or any crew I’d rather do it with.
In terms of where we’re headed on this adventure, the Mosko product line is still expanding. In 2019 we added riding apparel, and in 2022 we’ll be introducing our own line of CE2 body armor in partnership with our friends at Rheon Labs. We’ll also be introducing trail riding gear, because most of us have a dirt bike in the garage. That’s in addition to expanding and upgrading the things we’re already doing. The point is not to get bigger, we just want to make cool products, stoke out the riding community, and have fun.
Product Availability & Timing
For anyone who is waiting on product: I’m so sorry for all the stockouts. All our major bag systems should be back in stock next week. The whole motorcycle industry has been bonkers since last summer because of COVID, and we’re caught up in that too.
Black Friday 2020 was much bigger than we expected. That’s what totally cleaned us out of inventory. We sold more on Black Friday weekend than we did in the entire 90 days of Q1 2020. The inventory we received since then has not been enough to satisfy the people waiting, so it sold out in just a few days. At the moment we have two more ‘normal size’ shipments arriving soon, one next week and one in May. Then we have a huge shipment arriving mid-summer (July-ish). I wish we could speed all that up, but our lead times are ~5-6 months right now.
If you are waiting on a product, be sure to click the ‘Notify Me When Available’ button on the product page on our website. We don’t have any products that have more people on the waiting list than we have in units coming, so everyone who gets a notification should be able to purchase. After that it just depends on sales.
Apparel is also delayed for 2021. Last year, because of COVID, it took forever to turnaround prototypes, and we lost approximately two months of development time. We didn’t finalize our PO until December. Apparel should begin arriving in June assuming no further surprises.
Some riders were also peeved about the DirtyBird sale selling out so fast. We were more surprised about that than anyone. We had over 300 things to sell – way more than in prior years – and they were gone immediately. That’s not what we expected and I apologize for anyone who was disappointed. We’re looking into ways to manage it differently next year.
Dave Trenholm, welcome aboard!
I want to welcome Dave Trenholm to our design team. Dave joined Mosko from DaKine in Hood River, where he worked with Andrew, Scott, Beth, & Julia. Dave spent 10 years at DaKine, most recently as Product Line Manager for technical packs, luggage, and snow. At Mosko he’ll have a split role: part Product Line Manager and part Product Developer.
Dave recently picked up a new Beta 430 to use for both trail and touring. Our trend of one-small-bike-to-do-it-all riders at Mosko continues. Welcome aboard Dave!!
Mexico Gear Notes
We always come back from a trip with a laundry list of thoughts on gear, some about things we liked and some about things we didn’t. Here are a few of mine from this trip.
Locking: We used the light duty combo locks on this trip, which we both prefer over the larger heavy duty keyed locks. They pack small, don’t require a key, and work awesome. The lock rolls up and tucks into the little neoprene pocket behind the beavertail. It takes just a few seconds to setup, and it locks the pannier both closed and also to the bike so nobody can walk away with it. Super handy. These don’t sell as well as the heavy duty keyed locks on our website, which I don’t really understand. I’m not sure if it’s because people prefer keys to combos, or if they want the thicker cable, or if maybe it’s just the name.
We even left our bikes and gear on the beach overnight in Agua Verde while we spent the night on a boat with some friends.
The cable locks are also great for locking your helmet & jacket to the bike.
They also work well on the top-loading Scout 30&50 duffles.
It works on the side-loading Backcountry duffles. We have an improved metal locking system coming for those soon too, that will look something like this.
Workhorse Jersey: I wore the Workhorse everyday but one. It has abrasion panels on the arms and upper back, so it’s ideal when you’re traveling at speed on dirt. It’s not meant to replace the abrasion safety of a jacket, it’s just better than having no abrasion resistance at all. I ride without a jacket a lot, even on the pavement (don’t try this at home kids). In that situation, it feels a little safer to have a heavy duty jersey. The trade-off is that on hot days it gets pretty warm when you’re not moving, but it’s still way more comfortable than a jacket.
Scott sent me off with two different systems for keeping the jersey from sliding up the forearm at speed: a plain thumbhole and a cuff thumbhole. The plain thumbhole (my left hand) would barely fit under a glove, and the material bunched up between my forefinger and thumb causing that area to get really sore. The cuff thumbhole (my right hand, left side of pic) worked much better.
Another issue with an over the glove thumb hole is that it’s really tough on the fabric underneath the palm. You’d have to use some kind of really heavy duty fabric there, like a glove palm fabric.
I also had some cracking on the logo screen printing, which will be fixed in production.
Ash wore her summer-weight jersey the whole time and loved it. This is one of our Upshift colab jerseys.
The Graph Base Layer: This new base layer is the best riding shirt I’ve ever owned. It’s the only riding shirt I wore for a month. We made it small enough that you can pack two on a trip, but we only had one prototype. I wore it every day.
Both sides of the Graph are made from a loose weave that allows a lot of air to pass, but the front (grey, facing the wind) is just a little tighter than the back (where you get hot). We want this to be the least insulating, most moisture wicking, least smelly, quickest-drying base layer you’ve ever owned, without actually using a mesh fabric that shows skin. The nice thing about the Graph is that it looks and feels like a tee when you’re off the bike grabbing lunch or chilling.
It packs tiny.
Our test for ‘quick-dry’ base layers is whether we can wash them in a hotel sink and dry them by morning. In this case, yes, regardless of whether it was inside or outside the room (it helps that we were in the desert, but this base layer will dry fast anywhere).
Strata NuYarn Mid/Base Layer: We didn’t really need long underwear for riding, but we brought the Strata anyway in the interest of product testing. We found ourselves wearing it to lounge around at camp. The Strata top easily passes for a casual hoodie when you’re off the bike.
The Rak: The Rak was awesome on this trip because it spent most of its time rolled up and strapped to the back of the bike. You can see them rolled up on our duffles in this pic from our buddy Ray’s moto shop in Los Mochis.
The one issue I had was that, rolled up tight in the sun for a month, some of the logos are starting to peel. We’re looking at some different logo applications for 2022.
Another thing I would like to see on the Rak is some kind of wind control on the sides, similar to what we have on the Basilisk.
New Backcountry Cinch Straps: About a year ago we quietly changed the BC Cinch straps to 2 cam buckles instead of 1 cam and 1 ladderlock. The ladderlocks were the weak point in the strap, so when you used them as an emergency tie down, there was a chance the ladderlock would break. With two cam buckles they are now sturdy as hell. We used them on the ferry, since we’d forgotten to bring other tie downs. They’re also great if you break down and need to hitch a ride on a truck or trailer.
Valeo Laptop Case: Maybe you remember from posts last year that our buddy Juan makes these badass carbon laptop cases (https://valeocases.com/). I used mine again in Mexico, and it reminded me how awesome this would be as a Mosko product. We’d love to order some of these in smaller sizes for moto travel. It’s carbon fiber on the outside with non-Newtonian foam on the inside. You can drive over it in a car and not break your laptop. I feel like this belongs in our line somewhere.
Nomax Revisions: The Nomax hydration reservoir loads from the top now, which is it a lot easier. Actually I was fine with the old way too, but we got a lot of feedback that it was too difficult for some folks.
An issue we both experienced with the Nomax on this trip, was that the sternum strap on the backpack straps is sewn and not adjustable, which made it pretty useless. We’ll delete this on the next production run, and probably reintroduce it later as an adjustable strap.
Backcountry 40L Duffle: We added this cool helmet clip on the BC 30 and 40 duffles. It’s super handy at gas stations or when you’re just moving your bike a few feet or a few blocks. I used it every day.
Also on the BC duffle, the backpack straps came in handy constantly on this trip, for getting gear to a hotel room or campsite, for carrying spearfishing gear when we hiked into dive spots, and for carrying stuff upstairs on the ferry. I know some people don’t use them but for us they’re indispensable.
Knee Armor: Ash and I experimented with different kinds of knee armor on this trip. She took the Leatt Airflex and I took the Ion K-Pact zip-off. The Ion pads were too hot, although I like the zip off feature, and Ash got some pretty wicked rashes from the silicone on the Leatt. Mountain bike and/or trail armor doesn’t always translate to touring, where you’re wearing them all day everyday. The very simple Forcefield Pro knee armor on our website is still my favorite for long distance riding. We keep experimenting with other things though, because there must be something better out there somewhere. The FF is just a standard OEM armor pad slid into a stretchy sheath. It’s simple, but comfortable.
BC Pannier Corners: Andrew is making an edit to the corners of the BC panniers, adding an extra strip of webbing that stretches all the way around the back. There’s so much stress on these corners, that if there is a lot of weight in the Aux Pox sometimes you can actually see the individual threads exposed. We’ve seen a few warranty returns from these corners. The new webbing solution should solve it.
Our team has grown since COVID started, and we don’t really have space for everyone anymore. We expect the work-from-home situation to end soon so we needed to deal with the space issue now.
We currently rent about 4,000sf in downtown White Salmon divided over two buildings, one for offices and one for storage. The offices are in a shared building with several other artist studios. We’ve gradually expanded over the last 3 years to take over more and more studios, to the point where we’re now using over half the total building. The flexibility to grow has been great, and it’s nice to not be in a long term lease, but it was always a temporary home. Plus, it’s expensive.
There aren’t many commercial buildings in our little town. Even fewer are available for rent or sale. When a 7,000sf building came up for sale last year, we made an offer that was eventually accepted. There isn’t a lot of demand for retail/office space at the moment so the price was reasonable. We financed it with an SBA loan through US Bank, which allowed for a small down payment and reduced interest rate. The monthly payments are a little less than what we were paying in rent for much less space, although the utilities and maintenance will be more.
This is at the signing. I’ll be 71 when the loan is paid off.
The building was built in the 1930s and for most of its life it was a bar or restaurant (we think). In 2009 an aerospace company moved in. They divided the interior space into a lot of small private offices, so we’re removing most of those walls to create an open workspace. It will be so cool to finally have a long term home. We move in April.
I’m sure we’ll be tinkering with the building for a while. Eventually we’ll have a showroom downstairs and plenty of bike parking out back. Stop by this summer!
In Other News
There’s a lot of exciting stuff coming soon on the product front. I’ll cover that in future posts, when I’ve been home for a while and I have more pics on my phone.
Our buddy Joel (Sammy’s boyfriend) works for a carbon bike frame repair company in Portland. He surprised us with these cool handmade parts last week: some handguards for my dirt bike and a replacement fender for one of our UNRally minibikes.
This fender is probably worth more than the bike
We’ve been running into bikepackers more and more when we’re out traveling. That sport is exploding, and they’re using a lot of the same routes as ADVers. It so cool: lots of gear inspiration, and an awesome example of extreme minimalism. Bikepackers and moto travelers have a lot in common.
Andrew did a presentation at his son’s kindergarten class last month on what he does for a living. Here’s what he had to say:
“It was so cute, the questions they asked. It was like a mini Mosko meetup. The questions were like this: can you carry water, how much weight can they carry, how do they strap down, and how much do they weigh. All good questions! It was helping me get ready for rally season.”
Here’s Andrew breaking in his new Sidi Crossfires around the office.
And finally, here are some pics from Mexico!