Sri Lanka Trip
March 14, 2017
This has been the longest break in blog entries since we started the business three years ago. Ash and I have been moving non-stop since February, traveling through Sri Lanka & Bangladesh. That’s my excuse. Now we’re back and getting all caught up. Big thanks to Tiffany, Lee, Andrew, & Dusty for keeping this train on the tracks while 33% of Mosko was overseas.
Sri Lanka: amazing. We rented Honda Baja 250s from Sha Lanka in Negombo. The owner, Suranga, is an awesome guy. Highly recommend connecting with Suranga if you want to explore Sri Lanka on two wheels. The bikes cost approximately $500 apiece for the month. We spent ~$20-40/night on lodging (for two people in a double room) and almost nothing on food/supplies, except when we splurged at fancy restaurants. Gas is cheap and the bikes are efficient. Beer, however, is expensive, and sometimes hard to find. Though somehow, we always seemed to manage.
I took the new Scout 25 Panniers v2.0 and a Scout 25 rear duffle. Ashley took a Reckless 80. We both took Nomad tank bags. Sri Lanka is a densely populated country, so we didn’t bring camping gear, just an extra blanket and some canned food for emergencies. 75-80 liters apiece was plenty. Packing was easy. Here’s what I took:
Scout 25L Panniers v2.0
We didn’t have final prototypes of the mounting plate, so I made due with an older version. The slots had very sharp edges. I was worried they would saw through the connection straps, so I filed them down before leaving. The slots will have factory-rounded edges in production.
Suranga had some homemade pannier racks welded for us in Sri Lanka based on the same hoop dimensions as the standard Touratech racks. He made these specifically so we could test the new Scout 25s. Thanks for that Suranga!
We found a couple issues with the Scouts right away. First: the slots in the back plate didn’t extend far enough to accommodate the Touratech-sized hoop. At some point tn the design process, we must’ve made some small revision to the overall dimensions, and not adjusted the slot-size accordingly. Whoops. In the pic below, you can see that the mounting puck isn’t properly seated on the rack. This worked fine for the trip, but I’m really glad we caught the issue before starting production.
The second issue was that the clips on the MOLLE panel were sewn too close to the MOLLE panel itself, so they don’t reach all the way over the back plate. Again, easy fix. We’re adding a couple mm of extra webbing to the clips.
After living out of Scout 25s for over a month, covering thousands of miles on dirt and pavement, I’m so excited for this new system to be ready. It’s extremely durable, light-weight, and incredibly easy to take on/off. Removing the side bags takes a couple seconds:
1) Un-clip the side buckles.
2) Clip them together into a handle
3) Pull the bag out of the harness
With the drybags removed, the harness can be cinched-down tight to the back plate so it’s not flopping around while you ride. The cinched-down harness also works as a convenient spot to tuck things – like a hoodie or jacket, or recently acquired groceries – when you’re out & about on the bike without the drybags.
The Scout v2.0 system weighs only a few pounds, and it looks sharp. This will be a great system for minimalist, lightweight travelers and smaller bikes. The outer harness protects the inner drybag, just like on the Reckless 80 and Backcountry 35, so when the bike goes down, you don’t damage the integrity of the drybag. When you’re riding, the outer harness cinches really tight, so there’s zero movement in rough terrain.
The only issue we had on the entire trip was that the welds on my homemade pannier racks spontaneously released one day. I heard this loud noise behind me, and suddenly the bike got really squirrely. I was like wtf?? Ha! That’s a first.
We used Steelcore locking straps to reconnect the racks. Of the many uses for Steelcore straps, holding a pannier rack together isn’t one I’d heard of, but they worked great. I finished the day like this with no issues.
In the next town, we got the racks re-welded and reinforced for $5 in less than an hour.
I’m so stoked on the new Scouts. Production is currently underway. We should have them in stock by June. Prices should be in the range of $350-400 per set including all the mounting hardware, dry bags, harnesses, etc. The optional MOLLE panels will cost another $30 or so.
Nomad Tank Bag
Ash & I both took our Nomad tank bag prototypes. This is exactly the kind of trip this bag was designed for, and it lived up to expectations 100%. We’ve already done several testing trips with the Nomad, and it’s been fully covered on the blog, so no surprises there. On this trip I was initially concerned about whether they would fit a small bike like the XR250, but it turns out they fit great because of the large fuel tank.
It’s so awesome having hydration on the tank instead of on my back. Especially on a trip like this, where it’s mostly hot & humid, and we’re constantly getting on & off the bike to go exploring. I just pull out the backpack straps, put it on my back, and I’ve got water/camera/wallet/passport ready to go. Looking back through our photos, it’s funny that a Nomad appears in so many pics. We always had them with us everywhere, on or off the bike. This is an awesome bag for international travel.
Ash’s Reckless 80 held up great. No issues. The R80 system is ideal for this kind of travel. On international flights, she folded it up and tucked it into a Scout 60 duffle with the rest of her gear, and she used the Stinger 22 as her carry-on bag. When we arrived, it took her only 5 minutes to setup. So simple. Our buddy Josh, who joined us for the final week of the trip, also brought a Reckless 80. He mounted it on a Yamaha TW200 with no issues.
Scout 25 Duffle
I rode with a Scout 25 rear duffle. There are lots of things I love about this little bag. Here’s a few:
- On a lot of other duffles, the shoulder strap lives inside the bag while you’re riding, so you have to open the bag and connect the shoulder strap before using it. With the Scout, it’s always sitting right there under the beavertail. Grab a side pannier in each hand, throw the Scout over your shoulder, and you’re mobile.
- I mounted two bottle holders on the beavertail MOLLE, and mounted the beavertail on the bag with the MOLLE side face-up. The bottle holders each fit a 1L bottle or – just barely – a 1.5L bottle. So in the morning I’d grab two store-bought water bottles and stuff them in the bottle holders. With that, plus 1.8L of water in my Nomad tank bag, I was good on drinking water for 24+ hours.
- On the face-down side of the beavertail, I used the waterproof pocket for map storage, various trip notes, random people’s business cards, and other paper stuff like that. Everything stayed 100% dry through several torrential downpours.
- I used the Scout beavertail constantly for rain gear, groceries, snacks, beer, arrack, garbage, and all sorts of other things we acquired or used during the day. It really comes in handy.
- I don’t keep credit cards and excess cash in my wallet, in case it gets lifted, so I need a convenient spot to store that stuff. I used the two internal side pockets on the Scout: credit cards on one side and a roll of currency on the other side. The pockets are great for cash because you can reach in the bag and access the pockets without removing any other stuff.
- On the trip home we had 48+ hours of travel from Bangladesh to Portland. I pulled out the backpack straps, put the beavertail in my checked luggage, and used the Scout 25 as my carry-on backpack. For long international flights, where I’m taking snacks and extra clothing and a laptop, it’s nice to have extra space in a carry-on.
I used Backcountry Cinch Straps for the bike/duffle connection. I trimmed the straps to length, which makes them less functional as an emergency tow/tie-down strap, but makes them a lot easier & faster to thread.
Scout 60 Duffle
We used Scout 60 duffles (minus the beavertails) as gear-haulers for flying. With two Scout 60s each, we were able to fit all our luggage, clothes, and riding gear, with plenty of room to spare. I used the shoulder strap on one bag and the backpack straps on the other. That way I could tote everything through customs and airport terminals without help. Although, of course, I still prefer a luggage cart.
After thousands of miles of riding (not sure exactly how many, since neither of us had an odometer) we made it back to Negombo with zero major mechanical issues and only a handful of cuts and bruises. Such a ridiculously fun trip. Sri Lanka is one of the friendliest places I’ve ever been. So many smiles and waves. English is widely spoken, which make it easy to get around, and easy to make genuine connections with locals everywhere we stopped. We avoided cities and tourist destinations, spending most of our time in small villages, going back and forth between the beaches and mountains. Sri Lanka’s culture is ancient and fascinating, the terrain is interesting and diverse, and the people are welcoming. We wished we could’ve stayed longer!
Our next stop after Sri Lanka was Bangladesh, where we worked on our latest apparel prototypes. Plus we spent a couple days exploring the countryside on a bike. More on that in the next post!