…but there is more to Pete than running and being part of a successful luggage business, there is travel, lots and lots of travel before Mosko started and even now finding time to get away.
Most recently leaving the cold Pacific Northwest to fly to Ethiopia and pen the ride report – Flying to Ethiopia Today
Other ride reports –
You have traveled extensively, name some of the countries traveled thru and when that travel bug started?
Usually, I travel in the winter months when the US motorcycle business is slow and we don’t have as many trade shows and rallies.
Because of that, I tend to gravitate towards places that are warm during the US winter. I just returned from a month riding in Ethiopia, for example. I’ve also done a number of trips in South and Central America, places like Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina.
In Africa, I’ve done several trips in the southern and eastern parts of the continent, like Uganda/Rwanda/Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya, and South Africa. Also West Africa – Ghana, Togo, and Cote D’Ivoire – as well as this most recent trip in Ethiopia.
In Asia, I’ve done two trips in SE Asia both starting and ending in Vietnam, as well as India and Sri Lanka. One day I hope I’ll have the opportunity to do more trips in colder places like Northern China, Russia, Mongolia, Northern India, etc.
The travel bug started for me very young. I left home when I was 15 and spent nearly two years hitchhiking and riding freights around North America. Later I got a bike and stopped hitchhiking.
Then I got into international backpacking trips, and that led me right into international moto travel. It’s my favorite thing to do: fly somewhere, get a bike, and go wandering.
Nowadays yes, always motorcycles. I’ll never go back to backpacking on buses and trains. I did one international trip in a jeep like 10 years ago but it just wasn’t the same. I love the freedom of being able to set my route and schedule on a bike.
Quite often we see you flying in and buying a cheap local bike on site in ‘that country’, is that your now preferred way of travel, can you explain briefly how it works and why you like doing it like that?
Yeah, that’s my favorite. Mostly because, in a lot of the places we like to travel, rental bikes aren’t available, or they are way too expensive for a 4-week trip.
Chinese and Indian bikes can be acquired in most developing countries for $1,000-2,000 brand new from the dealership.
The Chinese manufacturers, in particular, are making some nice 200cc dualsport models, which work great for touring. They’re cheap to buy, easy to work on, very reliable, and if you do have a problem, parts are available everywhere. These are basically Honda-clone engines that are based on old, tried and true technology.
We’ll buy the bike, ride it a few thousand miles over 3-4 weeks, then sell it for cheap at the end. Sometimes the dealer will buy it back, other times we sell it to a local. We usually expect to get about half the purchase price back.
In most cases, if you bought the bike cheap enough and had an epic trip, you could practically give it away at the end and still feel like it was a good deal.
My buddy and I bought two 200cc bikes in Ghana brand new for $1100 each and sold them after a month for $500.
In Vietnam, we bought two used 125cc bikes for $500 each and sold them for $175.
In Ethiopia, we paid $2,800 for two new 200cc bikes and had an offer of $1,400 at the end, but we decided to keep the bikes so we can return next year. Ethiopia has a 100% import duty on vehicles, which is why the price was so high there.
Sometimes I’ll just fly somewhere with literally no idea what kind of bike I’ll be on. The first few days of the trip are dedicated to finding a suitable bike to buy, which is part of the fun. Selling the bike at the end is always easier than I expect. I’ve never had a hard time selling it. Just offer a fire-sale price and you’ll find a taker.
Motorcycle rentals are also a good way to go if they’re available in the country you want to visit and the cost is reasonable.
Last year we flew to Ecuador, rented bikes from Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental, and had an awesome time exploring the mountains for a week. The cost was very reasonable, I think around $950.
Ecuador is a great destination for a shorter fly-in trip like that because it’s relatively close to the US, it’s culturally and geographically interesting, and there’s a professional rental operation with reasonable prices.
Rental bikes are also readily available in some more obscure destinations like Sri Lanka, India, and SE Asia. In Sri Lanka, we rented two 250cc Hondas for a month for less than $500 apiece. In India and SE Asia, you can find rental bikes for $10-20/day.
Does travel give you motivation for business?
Yes for sure. Our whole team rides. We go on trips together – the entire team – a few times per year, and we go on trips separately too.
Ash and I just got back from Ethiopia a few weeks ago, and now Sarah and Ames (our customer service team) are in Ecuador riding and gear testing.
You can walk up to anyone on the Mosko team and ask them anything about any product in our line and they’ll have an opinion.
When a rider calls or emails us, they will interact with someone who knows what they’re talking about. We form a deep personal connection to the products we create, which fuels the stoke and keeps the business moving forward.
Do you get inspiration/ ideas from traveling? (can you name something, a product)
All the time. A great example is our Nomad tank bag, which is based on a mountain bike hydration pack.
I was on a month long trip in Asia and I was looking at my backpack like man, I really don’t want to wear this every day! So I had someone sew on a few extra straps. I got back from the trip and I was like man… this backpack is the best tank bag I’ve ever used! That was the inception of the Nomad.
Where are you planning to go next?
We kept the two Chinese bikes we bought in Ethiopia this year. Next February we’ll fly into Ethiopia, pick up the bikes, and ride east to Djibouti.
Then we want to ride through the NE corner of Ethiopia, to Eritrea, which just opened it’s land borders for the first time in a long time. We’ll have to wait and see what the political situation is like in Eritrea later this year.
What is your current bike?
My main dualsport/ADV bike is a KTM 690 Enduro with the Rally Raid auxiliary fuel tanks on it. My trail bike is a KTM300 XC-W TPI, the new fuel-injected two-stroke.
Do you have a dream bike that isn’t your current bike – if you had an unlimited budget?
I’m totally happy. For the riding I do, these two bikes are perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing. I tend to buy bikes and ride them for a long time. I bought my last bike new in 2009 and sold it in 2018. I don’t like flipping bikes.
Where is your favorite country to ride and why, and which other two round out your top three?
I’ve never had a trip to Africa that was anything less than totally spectacular. This trip we just did in Ethiopia was one for the record books.
Ethiopia has it all: mountains, culture, history. Incredible scenery. Fun riding. But I cannot pick one or even a few countries as favorites. Wherever I was most recently is my favorite ha!
Is there one particular road or track that stands out above all the rest?
I love the local riding here in the Pacific Northwest. There is a singletrack network just North of where I live that is totally off the hook. The Southeastern corner of Oregon stretching down into Nevada is my go-to spot to get lost on a big bike.
A dream location to ride to that you have yet to visit?
I would like to explore Northern China.
Ladakh in Northern India is a place I’d love to visit, and very doable, but it doesn’t work in the winter. Also Iran and Pakistan.
Scariest moment on your travels?
My buddy and I broke down in a village on the Togo border a few years ago. His clutch plates were burned up.
There was a power struggle going on between two brothers for control of the tribe. We didn’t know that at the time though. Just as the sun went down we started hearing gunfire. Then we watched a gang of guys running through the streets around us lighting all the houses on fire.
A full-on gun battle broke out and it was non-stop all night all around us. It finally let up around 8 am the next day.
Most of the homes around us had burned down. We were lucky to be in an old barracks that was one of only a few concrete buildings in the village.
The next morning the whole village was smoldering and the army and police were all over the place. We got his bike running and got the hell out of there. That was a very unusual situation and not at all indicative of the overall security situation in West Africa at the time. A total fluke.
Most memorable day?
Oh geez. I can’t even, ha!
I will never forget my first time on a motorbike in another country. Leaving Hanoi Vietnam on a little 125cc two-stroke. I was so amped up I actually had a small accident in my first hour or two! But man… what a feeling.
Do you think more people should travel and why?
There is a big difference between living the same day 365 times in a row, versus living 365 individual days.
When you’re traveling, time slows, because every single day is different from the day before.
Ever returned from a week-long trip and thought ‘holy crap I can’t believe that was only a week?” That is what I’m talking about.
I grow more in a month of travel than I do in a year at home. It’s not just about seeing new places and meeting new people, it’s also about pushing our personal limits and comfort level, then setting new limits and pushing those too. For one person that might mean riding across the state line, for someone else it might mean riding to South America.
A good trip should make you a little uncomfortable and nervous before you leave. When you face those feelings, return successful, and start dreaming of the next trip, it builds character. Plus you gain an appreciation for the world and all the wonderful things, places, and people in it.
I believe humans are pre-wired for exploration and adventure. We weren’t mean to live to be so domesticated. It’s outrageously satisfying to scratch that itch.
Top 3 tips for a new rider?
- Do not be intimidated by all the gear, advice, warnings, instructions, and other stuff that people will push on you.
- It’s a motorized bicycle. Get on and ride.
- Try to stay upright.
When you aren’t riding what do you do for a job? (whats your official title at Mosko)
Crash-tester. I founded Mosko with my buddy Andrew Bryden. I spend a lot of time at rallies and events, showing people our gear and using it myself.
What does the word ‘adventure’ mean to you?
I think Yvonne Chouniard (founder of the outdoor company Patagonia) nailed it with this definition: ‘a journey from which you may not come back alive, and certainly not as the same person.’
Adventure is a mind state. Something that’s an adventure for one person might be old-hat to another. What matters is that you perceive it as risky but you go anyway.
What is your one favorite photo ever from all your travels?
How about a favorite from my travels so far this year? The one of Ash and I at the Omo River in Ethiopia, 25km from Kenya and the same from South Sudan.
Are there any other ways we can meet you or see you what you’re up to?
The UNRally – June 20-23. Note that this is not a Mosko event, and as the name implies, it’s not a rally either. It’s an experiment in intentional disorganization. We do this personally, outside the business. It’s 100% non-profit. There are no vendors, no brand promotion, and absolutely no fucking raffles.
For more interviews and a small look into the life of some inmates make sure you check out the Interview Series in the forum that has been running since 2007 – you can find it here