Industry Profile: Mosko Moto - A Look Inside Innovative Luggage
White Salmon, Washington, lies nestled in the Pacific Northwest wilderness. If you aren’t careful, you’ll miss it as you speed by. With a population of less than 3,000 people, it’s a charming place in that sleepy, small-town kind of way. You’d never suspect that an innovative motorcycle business has been growing within its borders.
The small start-up company called Mosko Moto is based out of a garage and is quietly revolutionizing the motorcycle luggage game. With a wood stove in the corner heating the un-insulated structure and rain coming down outside, the folks at Mosko Moto are plugging away at making the motorcycle luggage world a better place. Puffy down coats and wool caps are the uniform of choice, while one-off prototype bags, samples, and sun-faded maps from all over the world hang on the walls. This “office” setting says a lot about Mosko Moto and the emphasis they place on the product.
If you’ve been to a major motorcycle rally in the past year, chances are you have seen Mosko Moto’s bags either on someone’s bike or at a vendor booth under their “Jesus lizard” logo. It’s also possible you stumbled upon an enthusiastic customer or “ambassador” of their brand in a motorcycle forum online.
The company’s slogan is “Soft Luggage for Hard Travel,” and the bags certainly look the part. Mosko’s high quality luggage appeared in 2014, seemingly out of nowhere. But in reality it was born from a passion for adventure and unbridled hard work.
Mosko Moto was the brainchild of life-long travelers and adventure motorcycle enthusiasts Pete Day and Andrew Bryden. It began with a motorcycle trip Pete took through Central America in the fall of 2013. After cutting ties with the corporate world, Pete was exploring the remote Mosquito Coast region of Nicaragua when he broke his leg in a motorcycle accident and was forced to prematurely end his trip. (But not before being rescued by commandos and being stranded on their base for two days before being flown to a hospital in Miami.)
In the three months leading up to his accident he’d been living out of a set of waterproof PVC panniers and had become convinced there must be a better way to make soft motorcycle luggage. A lot of time on that trip was dedicated to loading and unloading those bags, awkwardly removing and re-installing the soft panniers, and worrying about his stuff getting tossed around. He began to wonder why other outdoor activities like backpacking and kayaking had so many technical bags to choose from whereas the ADV motorcycle market was comparatively primitive. So, before Pete returned to the States he decided to take a stab at making more technically advanced luggage to better suit his needs.
Back home in Hood River, Oregon, while nursing his leg back to health and trying to gain traction with his luggage concepts, a mutual friend introduced Pete to Andrew. At the time Andrew was the lead bag designer at DaKine with one foot out the door and looking to minimize his contact with the corporate world. Andrew jumped headlong into the project and brought a lot of experience to Pete’s ambitious ideas. With Andrew on board they started making headway. Almost immediately they created a blog as well as a thread on ADVrider.com to document the process of building motorcycle luggage and starting a business. Transparency and seeking other riders’ input has been a common theme for Mosko.
Pete and Andrew liked a lot of the components found in the soft moto luggage on the market, but they wanted to remedy the shortcomings they found when putting gear through the rough wear and tear of extended travel and aggressive adventure riding. They wanted to make something more than just an “empty sack to stuff gear into.” They saw the need for some sort of quick release set-up to allow for expedited loading and unloading, fuel storage, external gear storage, and compression capabilities. In short, they wanted to cater to the needs of hard-core dual-sport riders.
After a winter of learning through trial and error they finally had a pannier prototype they were happy with. In January of 2014 Pete took them with him on the return trip to rescue his stranded motorcycle on the Mosquito Coast (source of the name “Mosko”). He put those bags through the wringer with three weeks of harsh off-road testing in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. After the bags had passed the field test with flying colors, Pete and Andrew were finally confident in the product they’d created.
The following months were spent sourcing a factory in Vietnam, developing a rackless bag system (Reckless 80), exploring other product possibilities, deciding to cut out distributors to keep costs down, and creating progressively improved prototypes. Andrew and Pete’s progress in this time period culminated that May in Moab with extensive field-testing of their bags, which once again reassured them of the quality of their product. Later that month they took their first pre-orders at the Overland Expo West.
In September of 2014 Mosko Moto started shipping product and hasn’t looked back.
Mosko Moto is still growing and evolving, dead set on creating the most “bomber” gear possible. With their strong connections to the motorcycle community and interest in real riders’ input, it’s hard to imagine that they’ll not keep growing in leaps and bounds from their humble White Salmon roots. MoskoMotoGear.com