If you are looking piss-off, excite, engage, or get a few un-friending’s in the motorcycle world, just go onto your preferred forum and ask what is better, Hard or soft luggage? My personal favorite is the Horizons Unlimited FB page. The Horizons page is a nice place to voice your opinions on all things adventure motorcycle related and get a face full of reason from all of the “experts” in the world. Truth be told, I go there all the time looking for advice. Then I try to wade through the opinions and flush out the facts. For my most recent Q&A, I went looking for soft luggage. I've used the hard stuff and now wanted soft. All roads from my research pointed to the fine folks at Mosko Moto and their incredibly innovated soft luggage systems. Sadly I paid full price for the Mosko Reckless 80 system, and am receiving zero compensation from Mosko for my opinion. You will, however, get a full product review based on my experiences and that of other motorcycle adventure "experts."
Moskos Loaded From All Angles
MOSKO MOTOS. Who are they and why is there a lizard on my gear?
Have you’ve ever sat around your day job gossiping about people who fell into success or just started doing something they loved and magically the universe conspired to turn them into a success story? I have, and quite frankly it winds me up.
Really, you just started selling shoes out of your trunk and now your NIKE.
All the while the rest of us seem to be crashing into one bad decision after another in the game of life. Well, the Mosko team came to life after a crash of their own, quite literally actually. As co-founder Pete Day was ridding around the far off regions of La Moskitia, Honduras he crashed his bike and ended back in the U.S. to heal up. It was there in the U.S. that Pete and his now partner Andrew Bryden brought to life the idea of high-quality, soft motorcycle luggage. As they say, the rest is history.
Right, and the lizard. The lizard you might recognize as the spirit animal of Jesus himself. The Basilisk Lizard, as it’s more scientifically known, is also known as the Jesus Christ lizard as it can actually walk on water. I'm sure it's either a roundabout way to relate the bags to a god-like status, or they are going to keep your bike a float in the event of an unwelcome bath while crossing a river. As for the name Mosko, it’s an abriviation of the word Mosquito Coast or La Moskita where this whole “twist of fate” was brought to reality.
A look Inside The Beavertail. Note The Clear & Zipper Pockets
The Mosko line up, a brief overview
Mosko sells a variety of bags, accessories and luggage systems. Each one designed to fit a slightly different need. Whether you are looking for just a durable duffel, a waterproof tank bag, weekend warrior gear, round the world kit, or even a handy shovel for when its time for number two and there’s no loo!
- Scout 25L pannier kit. A quick-release pannier system with dual protection for aggressive back-country or off-road riding.
- Reckless 40 system. The weekend warriors set up. Designed with 40L of total storage from the two 15L side bags and 10L rear bag. Weighing in at 7lbs. Enough space to cover day trips, light camping, or pack your gear around when your hoteling it from place to place.
- Reckless 80 system. The end all for anyone looking to live off of their motorcycle. Designed with a full 80L of space from the two 25L side bags, 22L rear duffel, and 2x4L rear pockets. You could load up your 250cc, or nicely outfit anything from a 650cc-1200cc.
- Nomad tank bag. It's a six-layer tank bag; it's a hydration pack, it's a backpack, it’ll even do your laundry! Ok, it won’t do your laundry, but seriously I don’t even want to try and cover all it can do. As a tank bag, wow!
- Mosko Deuce – Poop trowel. Looking to leave no trace for your backcountry camping? This product will put up with a lot of sh!t.
At the time of research Mosko sells 27 separate products, including bags you can add on, the full systems and a variety of moto-related luggage kit that will make other bikes jealous. For the complete list check out their sales page.
Alternate Beavertail Uses
Reckless 80 reviews. We go looking for weak points…
Once you've tested a camping trip or two, did some weekend rides, and convinced yourself that the moto-life is the life for you. You'll then need to kit-out your bike with gear that you can pack that new life into. Now there are indeed a wide variety of options out there. Giant Loop makes some sturdy setups like their Moto Trekk Panniers or their extra-strappy looking Round The World Panniers. There is Wolfman who puts out the “voluminous 36+ liters” Rocky Mountain Saddlebags as well as their Expedition Dry Saddlebags. To this list, you can add Ortlieb who dabbles in both bicycle luggage and motorcycle luggage and distributes their motorcycle line through Touratech. Notable mention should also be handed out to a few die-hard fans of Adventure Specs clumsy looking Magadan panniers, these were clearly not designed for the KTM or BMW crowd, but I’m sure they’re practical.
Once you’ve stacked all these models side-by-side and compared looks, innovation, practicality, durability, and even choked a bit on the price. Mosko is still going to come out the overall winner, and it all comes down to design.
The Reckless line-up acquired its name based off the pun rack-less, and the Reckless 80 was designed to work with or without a rack on anything from small two-strokes to big adventure bikes. Covering the riding spectrum from weekend getaways to full on RTW adventures. I think the idea here was to make adventure motorcycling the niche market, then apply it to everyone within that market. The luggage was designed as a double baggage system that has a high-abrasion 1680d ballistic nylon and water resistant exterior, that then has the internal 25L bags within it. The dry bags are made from an 800D polyurethane coated material, so even if you go skidding down the gravel on your side at 50MPH and shred a hole in the 1680d ballistic nylon, your inner bag should survive.
What MOLLE Gear Is Also Used For. Image: Jeff Gurwitch
Added to the front side of the saddlebags and top of the rear beavertail are MOLLE webbing panels made of Hypalon. What are MOLLE webbing panels you ask? MOLLE stands for MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. These are what the military use to attach gear to each other easily. I find this clever on several fronts; one you can say you luggage uses military technology and Americans like to hear that things ae military worthly. Two, you can also add on a host of other MOLLE accessories you may have, like gear or camera bags. Three, Mosko can upsell you on additional gear for your luggage. Mosko has a video explaining the MOLLE bag attachments. I might note they are expert bag designers, but defiantly not in the video editing business :)
- Luggage system can be used on anything from a small two-stroke right up to sizeable 1200cc adventure bikes
- Double baggage system that utilizes 1680d ballistic nylon as the exterior. Incredibly durable
- Roll-top drybags are made from an 800D polyurethane coated material that is PVC free
- Exterior MOLLE attachment points for easily adding MOLLE accessories from Mosko or anywhere that sells related attachments
- See-through windows on the 25L pannier bags to get a glimpse of where something might be
The Stinger 22 Dobles For Washing Laundry!
Tell me more!
Additional design features include a well thought out tail bag design, or as they refer to it as the "beavertail." The beavertails main design function is to store the Stinger 22L storage bag. I like that the bag also has a Velcro backing to keep it from slipping around. The bag also turns into a backpack for times when you need to possible hike out of where your bike broke down or just as extra gear for grocery shopping. Inside the beavertail are three separate storage pouches. One medium and one small zipper pouches for items that don't need protection from the weather, like sunscreen or granola bars. On the other side of the tail is a see-through pocket that can be removed. This removable feature is excellent for holding your documents for border crossings or for people that use paper maps. I don’t know anyone who uses paper maps, but I'm sure you're out there somewhere. The tail can also be expanded to slide your jacket on top of your gear for hot riding days or to cram in more stuff than you need.
On the backside of the pannier bags are additional storage pouches with a volume of 4L each. The pockets were specifically designed to hold two, 1L MSR fuel bottles on each side. Naturally, you can put anything you want in here from tools to food. I store my tent between both sides as well as one MSR bottle. They even tossed in a lightweight 20L drybag for putting wet clothes in to keep them separate from your other gear. The dry bag or Stinger bag can also double for clothes washing if you feel so inclined to do a bit of backcountry laundry with biodegradable soap.
Rear Storage Pockets
Even the strapping system has been cleverly designed. Mosko uses small aluminum bars to attach straps to the luggage. If you break a strap, you can easily replace one strap without trying to get it sewn back onto the luggage. The strap replacement is one advantage over something like a Wolfman bag. If you break a Wolfman strap, you'll need to buy a replacement directly from them, here you can just fix the strap in the next town and move on. The aluminum bars are also a great feature if you've run a strap under a hard luggage case on the tail and don’t want to take the box off to remove the Mosko luggage. Just slip out the aluminum bar, remove the one strap, slide the bar back in and take off the Mosko system. I run my bags across the passenger seat and the rear strap under the top box, the strap keeps the bags from sliding forward.
- Expandable “Beavertail” that allows space to hold your jacket as well as gear
- Beavertail storage pouches for day use items and quick access documents
- 2x 4L rear storage bags for anything from fuel to tools
- 20L lightweight drybag for wet gear or laundry
- Easily replaceable straps via aluminum placement bars opposed to direct stitching
- Rear bracket hole for rear fuelling bikes
- 11.3lbs total weight for Reckless system
- Included “universal” heat shield to protect from exhaust heat
As far as the weak points are concerned I haven’t found many of my own. I switched from Pelican hard cases that opened from the side allowed me to view and access tools and equipment easily. The dry bags are long and narrow, and to keep the weight low I opted to put the tools on the bottom and clothes and gear on the top. If I need to access anything on the bottom, it requires taking out all of the top gear first. Though I'm sure over time or with the addition of a MOLLE bag, this can be resolved.
I also noticed after storing copies of my insurence and registration in the velcro-held clear map holder, that after a hefty rain storm the documents were soaked. I’m sure a ziploc-style zipper would keep them dry, but probably also break after some time. Another contrasting differnece to soft over hard bags on a RTW adventure, is the mental feeling of false security provided by locked hard bags is much better than easy to steal soft bags. Mosko sells lockable steal straps, but I feel that looking at hard bags VS soft bags, soft looks more vulnerable and the reality is if someone wants something they’ll get it.
Mosko Heat Sheild Along With My Panama Sovenier Licence Plate Heat Sheild
Online reviewers pointed out considerably higher positive reviews than negative; however there were some repetitive negative points. Reviewers felt that although you don’t technically need to use racks on the bike, without them, on some models, you will find that the bags get too close to the exhaust and melt. Also depending on your tail end, you might find it's too narrow to support the bag properly and results in rubbing holes through the material. Naturally, these issues can be addressed through heat shields (Mosko does provide a “universal” one), as well as adding on additional wear materials to your luggage or covering up wear points on your bike. If you want to see the full benefits from Mosko they have a dedicated Reckless 80 video.
All The Wrong Ways To Use Your Mosko Gear!
Behind the scenes. How I acquired my Mosko Reckless 80’s and how they worked
Not many events occur in my life the normal or natural way and almost always have a backstory. To acquire the Reckless 80 was no different. Having ridden from Canada to South America on my KLR with a full set of Pelican cases all around, and having broke the frame at various points due to the weight, I knew I would need to shed some pounds. I consulted various online forums and narrowed down what I wanted to the Reckless '80s. At the time I was in the Amazon in Brazil with a broken rear shock (hence the weight), my girlfriend was flying into Santiago Chile to meet me in a couple of weeks, and a motorcycle tour company in Bolivia wanted to buy my Pelican cases. This situation is what is known as an international motorcycle issue.
The choices were to convince the girlfriend to bring me this massive luggage system even though I suggested she not to pack much in the way of personal items for her visit. Doing this would require paying Canadian import taxes from the U.S. shipment and riding from Bolivia to Chile with all my stuff tied on in garbage bags. As well as explaining to the G.F. why it was essential to bring me a bunch of bulky gear while her stuff needed to fit into 10L drybag! I’m good a sales pitches but not that good. The other option was to have the bags sent from Mosko in the U.S. to the tour company in Bolivia and do the swap there. I was familiar with the postal system in Bolivia and although I could probably convince customs to let me pay a minimal amount of taxes, the chances of actually getting the bags in the country in under two months was unlikely. Option three required a bit of leg work but it magically presented itself.
Although Mosko does not have dealers, I found a company in Lima Peru selling Mosko gear and offered to ship me the 80’s from Lima to the border with Peru and Bolivia. Why he is selling Mosko gear I have no idea, I wanted a problem solved, and he could solve it, so I didn't ask. My friend at the tour company had a friend in La Paz who needed some gear from Lima too. It just so happened that the equipment he needed was from a guy I knew who had worked on my bike after a little Peruvian crash earlier in the year. The guy I knew picked up the 80's from the dealer, the packages were then promptly sent to the wrong city in Peru, and with a bit more mucking around, and a lot of exchanged messages with Spanish swear words mixed in. My 80’s eventually arrived at my friend’s at the Bolivian tour company. The tour company then purchased 2 of 3 of my Pelicans, and the trip continued without a hiccup. Sort of…
Luggage System Comes Off Easy For Flat Tire Dramas
Day two with my new soft luggage would be my first test of their ease of use. En route to the Solar near Uyuni Bolivia, I would have my first ever rear flat. I've had a number of front flats, but this was the first rear. I had fit a smaller profile knobby tire to the bike to get me through the mucky Amazon in Brazil along with a 4mm thick tube. This combination proved fatal, and I had rubbed/melted the tube to itself on at least seven points inside the tube. Once we were out of the warm parts of Brazil and Bolivia, a cold night in the mountains had separated the tube from itself and exposed all the holes. Just outside of Potosi Bolivia I would notice the flat. Not feeling great about leaving my bike and all it’s gear roadside while I went to get a tire fixed that I was unable to remove with my tools. I unstrapped the Stinger 22 and used it as the backpack it was intended. I also wanted my side bags but was running out of hands, so I unstrapped the whole system and threw it over my shoulder.
I was also carrying a rear spare on the bike to replace the knobby once I made it to Santiago and had more time. It seemed now was the time. I grabbed the spare tire, tire half on the rim, along with the full luggage system and walked across the highway to hitch a ride. Luckily the first car to come by picked up me, my two tires, my Stinger backpack, and full pannier setup and drove me around Potosi to acquire a new tube and get the rear fixed. *Note hecklers; I was carrying a 2mm spare, compressor, and irons. I could not get the tire off with the irons, so after about an hour of trying, I opted to grab my gear and hitch a ride.
As far as ease of use and practical, real-world experience, I was happy with how easy it was to grab my stuff and go. Looking back, I would have just left everything on the bike with hard boxes though you can’t have both worlds. I could have also covered the bike with my tarp, and it would have probably been fine. Over time I'm sure I'll ease into the best way about leaving behind soft gear when you need to. No matter how you look at it, Mosko still has my vote.