The Black Dog
June 20, 2014
Last weekend was the Black Dog ride in Hood River, our home town. Thanks so much to the organizers of this great event for letting us setup a tent there, we’ll be back for sure. We wrote some additional pre-orders and got to connect with a bunch of local NW riders.
I rode the Black Dog myself on Saturday, which was my first time on any kind of organized ride. It was a really fun 160 mile loop up in the Mt Hood area with a mix of pavement, jeep track, and trails. Good times. This was also my first time using one of these old-school, hand-operated, paper scroll charts for navigation:
Things are moving forward with the bag production. All but one of the fabrics we’re using are currently in production. The only thing we’re still waiting on is a replacement for the 210D ripstop on the roll-tops. We ran into some issues with this material wearing through and/or actually tearing in Moab. So we’re still on the hunt for something better. There are plenty of options, of course, but we specifically need to find something that is actually in-stock at the fabric mill, because we don’t have time to make a new batch from scratch. As of right now sourcing this fabric is our biggest challenge time-wise. David at the factory has been generating some options.
Assuming we can track down a good fabric for the roll-tops, we expect all the materials to arrive at the factory by the end of June, and the final bag production to happen in the first three weeks of July. Andrew will fly over for a final QC check (and also to finalize the two Reckless designs), and then we’ll air-freight in enough inventory to fill the pre-order demand which has accumulated over the past month.
Air freight is expensive (still waiting on an actual quote, but it’ll be a lot), so with that plus the higher first-run production costs and the pre-order discounts we’ve been offering, we won’t make money on the early rounds of shipments. The idea for these early sales is just to get the product out in the field, on bikes, and in the hands of riders as soon as possible. What we learned at Overland Expo and the Black Dog is that the product itself is by far our best marketing tool, we just need to get it out there.
We swallowed hard this week, and made our first deposit for the wedges and mounting pucks with a machine shop in Portland. The first batch will be done in late July, so we’ll setup an assembly line to combine the bags/frames and have the first batch of bags packed and mailed in the first week of August. If had to guess I’d say Aug 8 looks like the most likely ship date right now. We will keep everyone apprised.
We’ve received several requests to create a smaller Reckless bag, something in the 35-40L range, to complement the larger 60L Reckless which is already in development. We started on the smaller Reckless last week. Here are some of the early sketches and paper patterns laid out on my 450 EXC. The overall concept is similar to the large reckless, with removable drybags, molle, etc. We’re hoping to get back up to the shop with Chip in the next few weeks and get a prototype underway.
Also working on revisions to the large Reckless as well.
OIA Visit & Warehouse
With all our inventory now scheduled to show up in Portland sometime in the next few months, we’re going to need somewhere to put it. We met with OIA again, the 3PL we’ve been working with in Portland, to take things to the next level. Originally we planned to have the product delivered to Hood River, do our final assembly here in the gorge, and then deliver the inventory to OIA once it was fully assembled and ready for shipment. However the warehouse space that we were looking at last week fell through because we couldn’t agree on lease renewal terms. So now we’re going to have everything shipped directly to OIA in Portland, and we’ll do our final assembly there in the OIA warehouse.
We spent some time with the crew at OIA measuring and weighing all our items so we can get precise shipping quotes. There have been a number of questions coming in via the website about “how much will it cost to ship to X.” We should be able to answer those questions soon.
Jack and Becky
Jack and Becky from Stevenson, WA stopped by to pickup some samples to take to the Wallowa rally this weekend. Jack was our fist “unsupervised installer,” he has Rally Raid racks on a KTM 690 Enduro R. The wedge bolts directly to the RR racks, without using the mounting pucks. Here’s what Jack had to say after the install (unedited):
Super easy to install plates, drilled one more hole in my RR rack. Three bolts seem plenty secure. When I get my panniers I will probably add another. When I install the plates again I will shim (fender washers) between the UHMW plate an the metal plate on my RR rack. The round tubing sticks out further than the metal plate and causes the UHMW plate to bow. Plus it will allow the plates to stack up with a hard stop on the bolt, if you know what I mean. And of course shorter bolts with nylock nuts.
Rack Fitment Update
We finally got a good up-close look at a Givi rack system, and it looks like this is going to work with our wedge, which is great news. The little attachments and rubber nubs are all easily removable, so the wedge should mount on there quite easily.
On the curved-pannier rack solution, we received some good ideas via email, and we also received one of the Twisted Throttle/SW Motech Adapters in the mail, which looks like it will work with our wedge-mount. So that’s good news, plus anyone who uses this adapter won’t need the mounting pucks, which saves $65 off the price of the bags and helps to offset the cost of the adapter. Still it’s a bike-specific adapter, so it only works on certain years and models. We’re on the hunt for other solutions.
We’ve had a few inquiries about the Moose Expedition Rack, shown below:
We think this rack will fit, but can’t confirm until we see one in person. For this rack, we’re thinking that you wouldn’t need the wedge or mounting pucks, but would instead attach the bag directly to the existing mounting system that comes with the rack. In other words, drill and bolt the removable part of the rack directly to the pannier. If anyone wants to try that please be sure to let us know, because we can reduce the cost of the panniers to reflect the fact that you won’t need wedges/pucks.
Loans and Capital
We’ve applied for an SBA backed loan with two different banks, and we’re anxiously awaiting their response. We also have a visit next week from a good friend & possible co-investor who’s coming out to Hood River.
We’ll be at the Touratech/NW Overland Rally in Plain, WA next weekend. If you’re there, stop by!