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To Mexico & Beyond!

March 11, 2021 24 Comments

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.

New Building

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!


24 Responses

Tom Zinn
Tom Zinn

August 23, 2021

Just bought a pair of your Canyon II pants and the quality is amazing. I have been wearing Aerostitch gear for the last 25 years or so and I think I may have found a new favorite, especially when riding my dirt bike. Keep up the good work…I imagine I’ll be ordering more gear from you guys in the future!

Cheers,

T o m
———
Mosko Moto replied:
Tom! So stoked you’re enjoying your Mosko gear. Thanks for giving our Woodsman a gooo!

Brett Baker
Brett Baker

July 21, 2021

I visited your booth today at the IMS Northern California show with my nephew and spoke with Ash and Dave? Both were super friendly and informative. It was nice to meet them and I came away much more informed about your products and there is nothing like getting your hands on a product. I’ve worked a booth at a show and realize that it can be hard to be on top of your game at the end of a day standing on asphalt in the hot sun. Best booth visit at the show!
———
Mosko Moto replied:
Thanks a ton, Brett! So stoked we got to meet you!

Peter Erik FUchs
Peter Erik FUchs

March 26, 2021

Hello everyone at Mosko: First, thanks for this detailed entertaining and informative blog entry! Your commitment to innovation, quality and let’s be frank …. best-in-breed gear/apparel … is much appreciated. Growing a business like yours is a big but exciting enterprise – as you say, who knows where you will end up! I will try to support your evolution as much as I can, a lone wolf rider here in Japan. Ganbatte! Peter (and my Mrs, Sumie)

Kal Dahl
Kal Dahl

March 26, 2021

You guys are crafty. Just when I think I have everything I need (maybe more than I need?), you post a blog like this and I am forced to cruise your website for something more … this time the weenie locks (or whatever they’re called)! BTW, when I was a mechanic in a bicycle shop, we used to race in picking those simple 4-barrel combo locks. Are yours less pickable? Kidding aside, terrific content. You crafty buggers.

Tina
Tina

March 26, 2021

Protection topic: maybe is worth to have a closer look to the Sastec/Koroyd protectors. Thanks for the great products. A bumbag/legbag would be interesting.

Andy L
Andy L

March 26, 2021

I too appreciate this in-depth blog post about… well… everything! A super enjoyable read. I have the BC 40’s as well and am stoked to go on a trip soon. Is there a tute on how to run the cable locks?
I’d also be interested in a gear breakdown. What kind of tires did y’all run that whole time? Gloves, boots, helmets etc. Clearly I need some Mosko wearables now.

Ryan
Ryan

March 26, 2021

Ok i have to start by saying I love this. A Baja to mainland trip has been on my to do for a while.

I do have 2 questions, 1 kinda from this trip. Is there a way for older pannier bags to be sent in to have those metal plates put on. I definitely love the idea of a better security.

Second, is there any plans for a dedicated backpack/Camelback, I always have one when I ride and want to get a new one and would love to stick with you as I run all your bags. I do know my tank and duffel work as a backpack but not quite right.

Thanks guys

Martin Mendez
Martin Mendez

March 15, 2021

I had never stopped to read your block, but the title catched my atention, so I decided to read it and found it very enjoyable and interesting, especially since it is a mixture of adventure and “work”, (if you can call it like that). I really like the equipment you design and make. Now I have no doubt it’s high quality. I think I’ll start by buying a Backcountry 30L Duffle/Pack. I wish you all the best.

neville Guard
neville Guard

March 15, 2021

When designing the clothing lineup don’t forget about us bigger guys we ride too.

Anogoya_Dagaate
Anogoya_Dagaate

March 15, 2021

Just fantastic content! I love the rapid-feedback-iterative design and development. I’m a software-developer and your methodology around product design, continuous innovation and improvement is radical and exciting. You guys have either read “The Toyota Way” or come to Kaizen by your own R&D! Keep up the phenomenal work!

Matt Robbins
Matt Robbins

March 15, 2021

We were just down in that part of the world Feb27th thru March 6th . Started in San Felipe on dirt bikes, Mikes Sky Ranch, Rancho El Coyote, Rancho Meling, Mision Santa Maria San Ignacio,Hotel Mision Catavina, Guerrero Negro Bay of Los Angeles, Cocos Corner and back to San Felipe.
This was on Dirt Bikes for us but Im interested in your route on Dual Sports. Thats my next trip down the BAJA

yi
yi

March 15, 2021

nice blog ,interesting & lovely pictures,keep forward to new versions

ScottP
ScottP

March 15, 2021

Congrats on 8 years from start up !!!

Is there a chance you’d share your route South and discuss the ferry and trip North again?

We spend a lot of time in Baja but are a bit hesitant to venture to mainland Mexico.

Thanks -

Matt
Matt

March 15, 2021

Trip looks awesome!! As always great to see you putting your gear to the test and sharing with everyone. I was just about to buy some locks yesterday and this post helped clear up what I need.

Thank you!

Mike
Mike

March 15, 2021

enjoyed reading your latest post. Congrats on the new building. Impressive all the little adjustments being made to continually improve the products. A route track and a little more information / highlights on places visited would be even better. Cheers and best wishes.

Clint
Clint

March 15, 2021

I implore you to collaborate on the protective gear with Brian at Atomic-moto.com. He researches and personally tests virtually everything he sells, stands behind his products and most importantly does NOT form unyielding opinions. I’m not suggesting he would be a vendor… you don’t need those. He would be a good “testing” collaborator as he’s an expert on the seriously protective gear used in the more trail/enduro riding gear.

Chip Huber
Chip Huber

March 15, 2021

Love the gear and the blog. Share your road trip maps?

Arlene M Hamilton
Arlene M Hamilton

March 15, 2021

Nice post and love the descriptions of the changes you’ve made and what your planning. I have some of your gear purchased in 2019 for my KTM 350 EXC and it’s not let me down. We’re planning a ride for this summer that might take us close to White Salmon, and I’m definitely going to plan a stop by the new building. Thanks for the note about the notify button, I have a buddy that wants some gear, but it’s currently out of stock, so he’ll be happy.

My husband and I ride a 1290, but two up. Did you guys do anything to the 1290 for Ash, or is she that amazing that she can ride the big bike in the stock configuration? If so, my hat goes off to her, and thanks for representing!!

Keep up the good work, and have fun this next year.

Scott Rabeneau
Scott Rabeneau

March 15, 2021

Looks like and awesome trip!
We are headed down on Wednesday to do the same trip backwards.. love your stuff..happy trails
Rab

Seth G
Seth G

March 15, 2021

I’m glad to find out I’m not the only one that gets those rashes from shorts or knee pads with silicone strips tight against the leg. One day of wear and my legs turn red and blister.

ADVwxyz (Gord in YVR)
ADVwxyz (Gord in YVR)

March 15, 2021

Re combo locks- once i screwed up setting the combo for a lock and locked myself out. From the package to the garbage in one mintute… matbe that is the reason less sales…

re jersey- Please make one with a zipper on the front. It’s so much easier getting it over the armour in the morning. And around the neck brace. All my mountain bike jerseys I cut up the front and have a seamstress see in a zipper. All my friends are like “where did you get that?”

Re – new idea- Are you able to create a Molly panel with a ridgid structure and fastening points that will allow it to be mechanically fastened to the inside of a rack to accept one of your Molly pouches? (Instead of trying to use a tool tube to use that inner rack space?)

Re “leave no trace” molle roll up camp trash pouch to attach to bottom of panniers? could also double as a place to put your gloves overnight, Or easy whiskey storage while at camp…

Scott Harding
Scott Harding

March 15, 2021

Pete, great blog post. I love reading your post-trip posts. Q: where’d you get the rainbow mask in the last photo?

Mike Williams
Mike Williams

March 15, 2021

Thanks for all the information. I enjoyed catching up.

Bernie MCGlone
Bernie MCGlone

March 15, 2021

Well I went through you blog twice great stuff to come, all ways love how you keep your followers and user inform about problems in the field and you remedy the issues. I’m a proud owner or some of your products and I can’t say anything bad about then. There just rock solid easy to take off or modify with the added mollie straps. So keep up the great work Team Mosko! Congrats on the new building space. Cheers.

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