Lee Williams: Welcome Aboard!
April 17, 2015
Happy to announce a new addition to the growing Mosko team. Lee Williams, welcome aboard!
Lee’s role is one-part product development, one-part operations. He’s a mechanical engineer who spent the last 6 years designing propulsion systems for unmanned aerial drones for the military at Insitu (now a division of Boeing), which is headquartered just down the road from us in Bingen. Compared to that, moto gear will seem like a piece of cake. Lee lives a few blocks away from our shop. He’s riding a wrecked & rebuilt Ninja with TKC80s. Riding a sport bike, he quickly realized that everything cool in the Pacific Northwest is located at the end of a long dirt road, so he added knobby tires. Now he’s shopping for a dualsport bike and finishing up his last two weeks at Insitu.
Lee: thanks for joining our crew despite the complete lack of desks, chairs, computers, policies, processes, a dedicated internet connection, or even a payroll system. I promise we’ll get that other shit figured out. Stoked to have you on board!
Andrew and I spent last weekend at two different shows/rallies. Andrew was at the Euromoto show in Seattle and I was at the Desert 100 in Odessa. Both shows went great. Hopefully next year they will schedule them on different weekends. We got lots of new orders and lots of exposure to people who’d never heard of us. Really appreciate the support!
Loving the new outdoor booth setup. It even lights up at night.
Those wire grid displays we picked up for cheap from the local Yamaha dealer worked great for the MSR inventory. Really easy to setup & tear down. It was so dusty at the Desert 100 that all the inventory I put on display got completely coated in dirt, like to the point where there’s no way we could send it to a customer as “new”. The lesson: at outdoor rallies, only display one piece of each item at a time.
The Desert 100 is not really a tent-camping crowd. It’s more of a toy-hauler event. Several times I fielded a question I’ve truly never heard before: “Why would you want to put camping gear on a bike? Is that in case you break down?” Seriously, nobody has ever asked me that before. And it happened like 3 times in a single weekend.
Ran into Christina, who gave a presentation at March Moto Madness on her and her fiance Brett’s trip through South & Central America. Here she is checking out the size of the Gear Shed on the Hubba series tents.
We got our second prototype of the tank bag last week. This is the first of what we hope will eventually be at least three tank bag designs we want to offer. This is on the larger side, designed for enduro-style touring on big twins. Something to go with the Backcountry touring kit. This proto is still really rough, we’re just looking at size and dimensions right now, and the overall concept. You can see in the pic below that it has stashable backpack straps (hanging off the side of the tank).
We’re putting a beavertail on top. Because you know, we love beavertails. I can never get enough spots to stash things. One of the requests we got on advrider was to have a spot where sunglasses, earbuds, gloves, etc can be tucked when you stop for gas, since when the bike is on the stand everything falls off. This is our answer to that. It also turns into a helmet carrier for a full face moto helmet so you can carry it on your back when you’re off the bike. Beavertails are widely used as helmet carriers in downhill mountain biking, so we figured why not make this one work that way too.
In the pic above, you can see two zippers at the bottom of the bag. Interestingly, one of the most frequently requested features we’ve had for the tank bag is a concealed carry pocket for a handgun. Neither of us rides with a gun but we do have access to one we can test with, so we’ll mess around with that and try not to kill ourselves in the process. Obviously the CC pocket also works for storing other valuables too, like camera/phone/wallet etc.
We’re thinking a molle pouch on the outside of the beavertail. To attach map pocket, GPS/phone holder, etc.
Unlike the beavertail on the BC Pannier/Duffle, this smaller beavertail will have bellows on the side to keep smaller items contained.
Here’s the two-compartment system we came up with to divide the vertical space of the bag into a more organized layout. Each of these compartments will then be loaded up with tons of small-item horizontal storage options.
Another idea from advrider was to have internal bags that clip in/out for additional organization and storage. For example, an organizational feature like this tool roll could roll up and clip inside the bag, then deploy down the side of the gas tank for easy access to the contents.
One big question still remains: how to make it waterproof. We cut a plastic bag to simulate a rain cover and tried to figure out where it would be stored and how it would unfurl and attach to be truly waterproof but not be a pain in the ass to use. Btw, you can see the built-in backpack straps in this pic as well.
We’re hoping to sort out a way for this bag to easily switch between a tank bag and tail bag. I’ve been wanting a dedicated tail bag for tools/tubes on day trips for a while now. I keep waiting for us to get around to it, but realistically it’s still a ways off, so I may have to buy someone elses in the meantime. If the tank bag could work as both, that would be rad.
We also messed around with some initial concepts for a smaller tank bag. Andrew has this prototype of one of the ugliest bags I’ve ever seen, but feature-wise it’s kind of cool, because it’s a hip sack that converts into a backpack.
We just wanted to use it for estimating the size of a smaller tank bag – we liked this approximate size – but the expanding backpack feature was intriguing as well. I like bags/gear that can do multiple things. The term “dualsport” could just as easily be applied to gear as well as bikes. The more dual-purpose everything is, the less gear we need to pack.
Also, on the topic of new bags, here’s a sketch of a new MOLLE bag Andrew has been working on for tools and/or toiletries. Labeled the “Tooletry Kit.” Ha!
Dave Wachs, co-founder of Giant Loop and designer of the Hemispheres bag, stopped by for a visit last week. It was really cool to meet him after seeing so many of his products and reading his ride reports on advrider over the years. Man what a cool guy. He really knows – and lives – this sport. Dave, if you’re reading this, let’s go riding!
We also had lunch with Pat Frodel, formerly VP of Sales & Marketing at DaKine. He spent 20+ years at DaKine, growing it from a startup into a major brand, before the company was sold to Billabong. Andrew and Pat worked together for many years at DaKine. Pat’s happily retired and spending a lot of time in Baja now. He’s a wealth of information on the action-sport & outdoor industries.
I’ve been riding with our apparel prototypes for the last several weeks and scribbling revision notes in my notebook as I go. Finally got to meetup with Galen and hand these revisions off to him. Galen, however, was on his way out the door for a moto trip in Africa so that’s going to delay things a few more weeks until he gets back.
The fabric selection issue continues to be a huge thorn in our side with the apparel. Getting these big name-brand fabric companies to pay us any attention at all is extremely difficult. If anyone has any ideas on how to change that, they’d be very much appreciated.
The first round of BMW adapters shipped a few weeks ago – these were just prototypes, they went to some customers who had been waiting a really long time – and we got some feedback and improvement suggestions. We have 40 more sets on order and in production right now. They’re more expensive than we thought. Looks like the pricing will be closer to $100 as opposed to the original $50 we were hoping for. The good news, however, is that they work. Lee will take over this project as soon as he comes on board. Maybe he can help us redesign them and get the cost down.
We got our first delivery of the new wedges and frames from our machine shop in Portland last week. Which means we can start assembling Backcountry 35 panniers and get those back in stock and out to customers. There are a number of backorders waiting on the books. We’re still planning on shipping those in April… just barely. Some of the wedges might ship without logo plates, but if so we will ship those to you later.
For everything else: the delivery date is still June. We’re air-freighting inventory to fill existing pre-orders (so get your order in now if you want it as soon as possible) and then we’ll wait for the rest to show up by water a few weeks later.
We also added all the new MSR inventory to our website this week: Camping Gear. It’s going to take a little while to figure out what’s selling and in what quantities, and to get a reorder system in place so we don’t stockout on stuff going forward. Our initial buy-in was pretty conservative until we see what sells. In the near term: if you order one of the new MSR items from us and we don’t have it in stock, we will either a) offer you a generous deal if you’re willing to let us backorder it or b) refund your money immediately so you can make the purchase elsewhere. In a month or two we should have everything consistently in stock.
The deal with reselling other people’s items is that we have to comply with their official MSRP policy or they’ll fire us as a dealer. They have strict rules to prevent discounting, otherwise – especially with the internet – everyone would undercut everyone else and the whole model would fall apart. So we are prohibited from advertising any special prices except during certain time windows and under certain conditions. Like we can probably do some retail show specials and stuff like that. However, as long as we’re not actually losing money on the item, we will beat any competitor’s price. So if you find a better price from someone else, show it to us and we’ll beat it. As long as we’re not actually taking a loss, that is.
I’m headed out this afternoon for a solo moto-camping weekend. Then back in the office for two days, then back out on the bike with my riding buddies for the rest of the week/weekend. We’re doing an eastern OR/WA dualsport trip of some kind, route still TBD. Got the bike all packed up with the Reckless 80 last night.
This is what the MSR Hubba NX (one person) AND the Gear Shed look like when I put them together in my compression sack (that’s an old Sea-to-Summit compression sack). Just wanted to show you how small this packs. About the length of a beer bottle. The total weight for both items combined is about 4 pounds. That’s 2 pounds 7 ounces for the tent & poles, and 1 pound 12 ounces for the gear shed. It’s a ton of usable space. I’ll post some pics after the weekend. If you pack the Hubba Nx in it’s fast/light mode – like, in the summer – the total weight drops to only 1 pound 10 ounces. Pretty awesome setup.
I’m also taking the MSR Quick Solo on this trip. Last time I was using the Quick 2.
I can’t believe I never tried this before. I was trying to decide where to pack a 2L Dromedary water storage bag on the Reckless 80L and I realized it fits perfectly in the rear pocket. Which means it also fits in the rear pockets of the Backcountry 35 Pannier as well, since they’re the same size. How about that. Funny that we never even tried it. This is really handy on the Reckless because the side leg MOLLE panels are double-strip, so they’re too small for the large MOLLE pouch, which I normally use for the dromedary bags. You could put one on the triple-strip MOLLE on the rear beavertail – I did that two weeks ago – but then the weight is at the absolute top of the bag, highest point on the rear of the bike, which is not the best spot for it.
I’m taking some rain gear along because its supposed to rain next week and the pant/jacket protos I’m using are made from substitute fabrics/zippers, so they’re not 100% waterproof. With the Dromedary in the rear pocket, I can fit a rain jacket, pants, overboots, and overgloves all in the large MOLLE pouch on the beavertail.
Alright, let’s go campin’. No post next week, I’ll be in the woods.