Mosko Moto isn’t a traditional motorcycle luggage and accessories company: there’s no slick marketing department, no shiny dealerships, and no glossy advertising campaigns. Instead, founders Pete Day and Andrew Bryden rely on word of mouth from riders, direct interaction with their customers and an unwavering trust that the quality of Mosko Moto soft luggage will advertise itself.
How was Mosko born, what’s the secret of their success, and what can riders expect in 2018? We talked to Pete Day, the heart and soul of Mosko Moto, to answer these questions.
Pete, what’s the story behind Mosko Moto?
It's a long one, but here's the short version.
I was riding from the US to Panama, trying to do as much of the trip on dirt as possible, and using soft luggage. I was 'between jobs' at the time, looking for inspiration, and hoping to find something related to international moto travel since that's pretty much my favorite thing in the world to do. The business started with a simple question: why is there such a huge gap between the quality of gear we use in backcountry skiing, mountain biking and backpacking versus what we can get for our motorcycles?
For example, comparing a backpacking pack to an equivalent soft pannier or duffle for a motorcycle at the same price point, the backpacking pack had way more features, better technical fabrics, and so on.
I raised that question with my buddy Andrew - now my business partner, and previously the senior bag designer at DaKine - and Mosko was born.
Motorsports have lagged behind other outdoor sports with respect to soft-goods development, and we want to close that gap.
On that trip to Panama, as it turns out, I got in a gnarly wreck (in the Mosquito Coast in Honduras, which is where our name comes from) and had to return to the US for surgery. After that, we had lots of time to work on our ideas!
Where do you get your inspiration from for your designs?
We get our inspiration and some ideas from our advrider.com thread (which is extremely active, and which we check every single day) and from other outdoor sports like backpacking and cycling. And of course, from using the gear ourselves. We get a ton of feedback on a daily, even hourly basis from riders who are using our bags via Facebook, email, phone, and advrider.com. That's the backbone of our development process.
In addition, I personally get a ton of ideas from riding with the bags myself. I end up absorbing a lot of information from riders in person and online, and then those thoughts constantly pop-up while I'm out riding. I always keep a notebook in my tank bag and jot things down the instant I think of them, no matter how obvious they may seem, because it's really easy to forget stuff on a moto trip!
How does the whole process of creating gear look like, from idea to product?
Usually, the first idea is obvious: we look for a gap in our product line. Like something that's clearly missing, and people are asking for. A tank bag, a lighter pannier, or a top-loading duffle, etc.
We collect a ton of feedback! For the tank bag, as an example, we collected a huge volume of notes, which when listed out into individual pages in bullet points and after eliminating duplicates, was over 12 pages long. We group those into categories, study them, internalize them, then set that aside and start brainstorming.
It's better to brainstorm without a huge list in front of you because a lot of the feedback we get from riders is contradictory (one person says 'make it bigger' and someone else says 'make it smaller'). With that, we start designing, making rough mockups that we can hold up to a bike just for size and dimensions. Once we know the approximate size we start developing features, like pockets and closures, which are then integrated into a final mockup.
At that point we go back to the original list and say: Okay, from where we are now, what else can we implement that we might have missed? Where is the additional real estate on the bag?
hen, we start thinking about manufacturing feasibility in terms of patterns, seams, materials, and so on. We'll typically go through 3-4 rounds of prototypes, working with prototype sewers here in the US before we go to the factory. Finally, we'll do another 3-4 prototypes with the factory before we have a final production sample.
The whole process takes about 18 months from start to finish. Interestingly, one thing we rarely if ever reference in the design process is cost. Because we only sell direct, and we don't have distributor or retailer margins to contend with, the cost always works itself out in the end.
What's the most exciting thing about creating soft luggage?
I bet everyone at Mosko Moto would have a different answer! Personally, I really like being part of the conduit (Mosko) that transforms customer needs into a finished physical product. I love selling direct because we are the only intermediary between the customer and the factory. We don't have retailers, distributors, sales representatives. We collect ideas directly from customers, and then we get direct feedback once we've translated those ideas into a finished product.
Plus, we get to use the gear ourselves! Just like a backpacking pack, motorcycle luggage is a very personal item. If the bike is like your car, the bags are like your house. And it's the house that people live in during really special, intense moments of their lives. For example, someone might spend fifty weeks in the office looking forward to the two weeks (or month, or year) they get to spend on their bike. We get to be part of making that time more enjoyable, and in some ways help them push further and harder in terms of what they can do and where they can go on two wheels. I love that. Every time I see someone with a Mosko bag on their bike I get so stoked.
What's the most challenging?
For a small business like us, financing inventory is always a challenge. We are growing, and we're always trying to buy next year's inventory with this year's cash flow. Next year's production order will be bigger than this year's and that difference has to come from somewhere.