I've not been drinking, promise but I wanted to talk about the build thread but open up a slightly different topic and that's sponsorships. On a recent interview with Adventure Rider Radio, a young lad from the UK was on a round the world trip. the host asked why he didn't have any sponsors for the trip, he lamented that he meets a lot of round the world travelers who regret sponsorships because there's that joy of putting on a free farkle that improves your trip..a larger gas tank, some panniers, LED lights or perhaps free hotel stays at a certain chain, etc but along the way, nothing is free. You're eternally in debt to them so when you stop for a night and don't stay in the free hotel so that you can instagram about it or post photos or if that Farkle lets you down, you can't complain and have to keep using it because it must be shown in all photos of your bike, etc....it makes the trip feel like you're just a model, an actor for their brand and no longer on your own journey It's something that I take very seriously. Every single time I talk to a company that wants to give me a discount, do I feel shitty about it. Do I feel like a sell-out, will this cost me headaches later down the road if I were to accept this free piece of plastic instead of just buying it myself? ------ I've received discounts on things before based on my loyalty to a company. I don't consider those sponsorships. There's no implied back & forth, they just say "thanks for coming back, here's 5% off" Then there are phone calls where I'm specifically told "here's a promotional discount. Thanks for sharing your experience online with our gear" and that sort of opens up a new conversation from my side where I explicitly make a promise to go to them first if I have an issue before going online about to allow them to fix it followed by a few ground rules from me that I have to disclose the discount with you all, I'm not making any promises on photos and no I won't join Instagram or Facebook and use a certain hashtag and share your referral code. If the companies ask for me to do something I wasn't going to do anyway like instead of me doing an install video, if I'm asked to host some Q&A or talk positively or post about it at least 10 times on this thread, I say no because to me, my time is valuable and I'd rather just pay full price than be in-debt to a company that isn't putting a roof over my head. I'll never back out of an agreement but if I have a 3 month work schedule that prohibits me from going to a specific rally or posting about their thing 10 times, I'll feel bad and end up paying for the Farkle on the back-end just to get myself out of owing someone my valuable time. $99 in free shit often isn't worth all you have to go through to make up for it. That's just how I am. I want everyone to like me and I don't want to owe anyone anything. ---- Why am I posting this mumbo jumbo? Well today, I accepted a role with Jesse Luggage as their first (to my knowledge) east coast ambassador. there very likely were east coast reps in the past but the company is under new ownership so I can't be sure of what was established in the past. This relationship is about 12 months old at this point. After I purchased jesse boxes used a year ago from JVB, I couldn't get the racks to fit so I bought them from Jesse directly. I put together the videos, paid full price and started sending in feedback and ideas. Then more ideas, then I bought more stuff...a new upper rack, lid racks, interior bags, I did some customizations and along the way I kept them informed. Believe it or not, I do this with every company that A) is willing to listen to my rambling B) seems to give a shit about what their customer is saying C) Makes a product WORTH improving. If they're almost perfect and they want to make perfect gear, I'm thrilled to give feedback and share ideas I always preface, "i'm just one guy talking here and I'm rarely representative of most riders" but if they pick up the phone, I'll offer feedback in the form of a phone call, videos, photos, etc. In the Fall, after an extensive back and forth on top box mounts, I was asked to test some future designs and I said of course I'd love to "I'll even pay shipping!" and they laughed. I went to order my Jesse boxes yesterday and I sent an email off asking if there were any future revisions or design changes where I should consider waiting before ordering. "I don't need boxes for 2 months. Should I wait?" they received my email and called me today offering me some things for free, others for full price in exchange for basically continuing the relationship just as it has been. I volunteered my bike at some rallies to be their booth bike, I offered to test anything they want and to meet up with any potential buyers in my area that wanted to see boxes. Again, this is all stuff I do anyway. I've lent my bike to companies before at Rallies. I don't need free stuff to do that. I think in total, the value of the MSRP of their goods given to me is around $1,000 with me covering the cost of racks and mounts in exchange for just being myself. I made sure I was allowed to still cover their boxes in stickers and they know I'll still run Mosko bags on off-roading trips because I just like them on days that I know I"ll drop the bike every 10 feet. My mosko bags are affixed to Jesse's soft luggage mounting plates so technically still a sponsor plug :) ----- So this is exciting. I never asked for it but I'm happy about it. I hope the effort I'm putting into this post shows how seriously I take 'free shit' and the self-awareness I have around sponsorships and the ground rules I have for myself and most importantly the respect I have for each of you to not dupe you into thinking "OMG I SUPER LOVE THIS NEW DIET TEA THAT MAKES MY BELLY THIN BUY IT NOW NOT A SPONSORSHIP" because you all deserve disclosure when you're seeing an advertisement...in fact, the FTC by law requires it :) Anyway, I don't know when I'll get my boxes, I told them to call me to get my credit card info so I can pay for whatever when they do ship and if they see this post and decide I'm not worth their time, I'm buying their boxes anyway no hard feelings. I think Jesse makes the best boxes on earth. I love them and they've survived some gnarly falls and crashes and kept going. So long as I'm able to afford them, I'll keep buying them on every bike. they're so good even if this post gets me banned from being an "ambassador" PS: Puig, never replied to my email linking to the video I did. Guess they really didn't want any social media marketing at all. The did say as much in their email to me before I bought their reservoir covers and reviewed them anyway :) They do look really good on the bike!!!!