Shape of Things to Come
Our samples were scheduled to arrive 24 hours before today’s departure for Moab. I’ve never been so happy to see the delivery truck. Someone at Fedex must be wondering why their webpage views dropped 50% overnight. My fault.
We spent the last few days ripping open boxes and seeing what we’ll have to work with. Everything from panniers, duffles, molle stix, and mounting hardware to t-shirts, banners, stickers, keychains, and business cards.
For the most part, everything looks great. Only a few small issues so far.
– The revised pannier handle construction interferes with our mounting plate. We had to cut the handles off to make them fit. This can be fixed before production. Not a big deal.
– The rotary draw latches were different from our samples, though the manufacturer’s SKU number was the same. They changed the design in a small but important way. The original design had a rubber spring, so the latch had some “give” to it. We machined our mounting plates to accommodate that feature. But the new latch has no spring and no give, so our mounting plate holes don’t fit. We’ll fix this before production, but it’s a bummer because we’re taking these to Overland Expo, where they’ll be scrutinized by potential customers.
On the bright side, it’s good to experience these problems on a sample order of 12 instead of a production order of hundreds.
The first-round rackless prototype arrived. In a lost-in-translation moment, the factory seems to have named this item the “Reckless,” a name which we’re tempted to actually use. We’re very impressed with their interpretation of our half-sewn, torn, cut, resewn, taped, pinned, frankenstein prototype, which was overnight-shipped to Vietnam while I was there at the factory. I’m riding with and living out of this proto in Moab next week, so I’m sure we’ll have a long list of revisions after that.
One thing we noted right away is the need for a heat shied on the exhaust. Giant Loop makes a cool-looking and reasonably priced one (Hot Springs Heat Shield), and Black Dog Cycle Works does too (Eduristan Inferno Heat Shield). Either one of these would work but we have no time to order, so we made our own version with hose clamps and aluminum channel.
Other initial observations about the “Reckless:”
– Rear drybag is too big
– Bottom webbing allows the back corner to bounce around too much
– Compression straps bump into each other
– Rear pockets seem unnecessary, or at least too big
– Rear webbing connection points should to be longer
– Need some kind of armor/protection over the webbing on the footpegs
Much more to follow.
Our Forcefield samples arrived. These guys nail it on “out-of-the-box” appeal. In other words: nice packaging.
I was particularly excited to get my hands on the Adventure Harness. Initial impression: this is a great piece of gear. Not cheap, but high quality. More comfortable than my Acerbis Koerta (which is also a great piece of kit). I like that it’s a harness not a mesh shirt like a lot of pressure suits, so between the main armor components everything is open to the air. It fits snug and has lots of adjustment points. The armor is flexible, comfortable, and feels much burlier than the D30 armor I’ve used in the past. My prediction: I’m going to like this suit a lot. We’ll see how it does in Moab.
I’m 6’3″, 190lbs, 40L/42L. Large was too big, medium fits perfect.
We’ll also try the Pro shirt in Moab and will have more feedback after that. The armor goes in/out of the pro shirt easily so it can be washed, and it’s extremely comfortable to wear. It has a tight/spandex feel though, which I’m not crazy about. I’d be concerned about going for a slide without a jacket over the top, which kind of defeats the point of separating the armor layer from the jacket. This feels more like a product for downhill mountain biking than offroad moto touring.
The Ironskin samples I tested last week are here in the Gorge, and the Superfabric samples are at Galen’s place in Portland, so we haven’t had a chance to do a side-by-side yet. This week Galen hooked up some Superfabric to the (already warm) exhaust on his Husky.
Started to notice some smoke and burning at almost 4 minutes, shut off the bike at 4 minutes exactly. The only significant damage is where the wire was holding the fabric with pressure against what’s probably the hottest point on the bike. No fabric discoloration and no real damage near where the wire was. I think this fabric would do just fine with incidental contact with pipes, which is what 95% of any contact would be. I’m much more impressed with this than I was with other “heat resistant” fabrics that I’ve tested before. Those lasted about 1/4 the time and discolored badly. We should do the same test that Iron Skin stuff as well.
Overland Expo (Flagstaff, AZ May 16-18)
We’re so stoked for Overland Expo. Can’t wait. Leaving for Moab today, then we’re going from Moab to Flagstaff on the 10th. We’ll use that week to cobble together some kind of show display and figure out pricing, order forms, etc before OE starts on the 16th. If you’ve been following our advrider.com thread and/or the wordpress blog, please stop by and say hi. We would seriously love to meet you, and I’m sure we’ll be serving beer, whiskey, or something good like that. Plus we’ll have stickers, P-38s, etc. And of course, some pre-order incentives.
Normally for a trip like this I’d take a duffle, some tools, and a bike. But with the “business” part of this trip mixed in, it adds a whole new element. So-much-stuff.
A reminder: if you haven’t signed up yet, we’re still doing the free P-38 offer for people who sign up for our mailing list. We’ll ship them anywhere in the world. The email list will be the first place we send out info on prices, availability, discounts, and gear testing opportunities.
The latest from the factory is that we’ll have a production schedule and pricing early next week.
We’re on the road in a few hours. Communications could be spotty over the next few weeks. We’ll do our best to keep the blog and advrider.com thread up-to-date, and to keep up with website inquiries in the meantime.
Come see us at Overland Expo!