Sunday, September 28, 2014

Rukka: Hyvää Suomesta!

As we are very pleased with our Rukka suits and gloves, we wanted to visit Rukka while in Finland to meet the people behind our Rolls-Royce of motorcycle suits. As you can read in our post about Rukka, in the clothing-jackets section, we were surprised about the enthusiastic approach to Mike's record setting attempt by Elina from Rukka. Milla, also from Rukka, helped us sort out the most suitable suit for the trip and quite frankly we haven't looked back! They have been so good that even after having used them now for quite a while, we still haven't found anything we don't like about them. The other way around in fact, we still keep finding clever touches and are still surprised about how good they really are.

Elina not only welcomed us to Rukka, she also welcomed us to her home! I had known Rukka motorcycle clothing for many years. In Europe Rukka is well known as a manufacturer of the best motorcycling clothing available, especially when the weather is cold. That Rukka is also gaining more and more popularity in Australia, where the climate can be very hostile indeed, doesn't surprise us and only adds to the world wide quality image. It's also proof that Rukka's claim to make temperature regulating clothing is justified. We all know the problems when riding in sunny but cold weather; as soon as you stop to take a photo, things start to heat up inside the jacket. Not with Rukka. Our jackets and pants work so well in maintaining a constant temperature that we can now take our time to make photos and video and walk around to find the best angle, without getting hot and bothered.

Imagine standing here on 3 mtr long slats… where the white lines end you will be airborne for 130 mtr! 
Mika explaining how it all works
This is where they jump from and
where I took the photo you see
Finland can be described as 'properly sports-mad'. Of course we have all seen the Finns taking part in extreme winter sports at the olympics and doing well. The town of Lahti seems to be the centre of it all. Elina and her husband Mika kindly took us to see the ski jumping. Something we had until then only seen on TV. We simply couldn't believe what we saw, standing in front of the ramp is truly unbelievable. These things are huge! Imagine flying down the ramp and at the end of it being airborne for 130 mtr! Mika had arranged that we could go in the complex and I even managed to sit at the exact same spot where the ski jumpers start from…! The view is amazing but at the same time terrifying! While hurtling down the ramp, you can't actually see where you are going to land.

Picture by FSA / Source Creative, Ville Kantee

Being welcomed by the Rukka CEO
Being based in Lahti, it came as no surprise then that Rukka is active in more than just motor sports. The Rukka slogan is 'Enjoy the sport' and 'Make every weather a joy'. To ensure that they can keep that promise they have a team of no less than 15 people at the head office in Lahti alone, dedicated just to Rukka gear. There are 3 designers who are continuously looking into improving even further on what is already the best gear available… During our visit we had the privilege to meet all 15(!), explain what we were doing and what we thought of our Rukka gear. 

We were also shown some, in my humble opinion, unique products. One of them a pair of special gloves. As many motorcyclists will tell you, heated grips sort of work ok but will still leave you with a cold upper part of your hand. Heated inner gloves either have wires attached to them or a battery built-in near the wrist which will prevent the cuff closing properly around the glove. Using gloves with minimal insulation will allow the warmth of the heated grips to reach your hands better, but also means that the upper part gets even colder. Rukka has the solution: a glove with two built-in inner gloves. It works as easy as simply sliding your hand in the lower or the upper part of the glove.

Our young man being interviewed for Motouutiset 
Magazine by Erkki Mäki
When using the upper part, you have a double insulated glove that is comfort rated at minus 15°C… yes that is minus 15! If you use the lower part, you have normal insulation between your hand and the heated grips (so more heat going into the glove) and triple insulation between your upper hand and the cold outside air to keep the warmth in! A simple but brilliant idea which shows Rukka's designers think outside the square. No wonder they have several design awards to their name.

Rukka is also a company with a long history. In 1950 Roger Störling started a small family business in Kokkola specialising in sportswear, which became known as Rukka; Roger's nickname. The flags in the Rukka logo stand for R.U.K.K.A. in the international flag sign alphabet used in sailing, a sport which was the core of Rukka's business. Since the 1990s Rukka is an independent part of the L-fashion group based in Lahti and home to brands like Rukka, Luhta, Icepeak, Li-Ning and Sinisalo for instance. The L-fashion group is one of Europe's largest clothing manufacturers with an annual turnover of 258 million Euro and employs 1645 people. The company was founded in Lahti in 1907 and still has its head office there today. The L-Fashion group moved to its new headquarters in 2013, to combine all brands into one building and named its new home The Luhta Tower in honour of its oldest brand name: Luhta. It has become a real landmark in Lahti for its construction and modern style, both visually and technically. 

Having met the 15 dedicated Rukka specialists and given insight into how Rukka products are being developed, the testing regime employed by both Rukka and the material suppliers; it's no wonder our suits and gloves work as well as they do. Professional testers are employed for functionality and final stage testing in both hot and cold weather, rain and snow as well.

The biggest surprise of our visit came right at the end, when Rukka decided that mum's leather jacket just wouldn't do… and gave her a complete Rukka outfit as well! She now has the aptly name 'Belle' jacket and pants plus Outlast thermals as well! Her first impressions? 'This is the best bike gear I've ever had!'

Interview with Janne Urpunen and photographer
Vesa Tapiola of the Newspaper
Etelä-Suomen Sanomat
Rukka has not only been enthusiastic from the start about Mike's record attempt, they also actively promote it. So when we arrived in Lahti, Elina had already contacted the press, motorcycle magazines and organised interviews. We are all for that, the partnership we have with Rukka should work both ways and benefit both. At the same time we have the understanding that we can write about our experiences with Rukka gear honestly and truthfully, so what you read here in these pages is honestly what we think about it.

The article as it appeared in the Etelä-Suomen Sanomat Newspaper

With journalist/photographer Petri Suuronen of Bike Magazine
One of those interviews was conducted at the Ace Cafe in Finland, what a great setting! There is much to be shown about the Ace Cafe, so much that we will write an extra post about it!

Meeting the team at Rukka was a great experience for us, meeting the people that make the gear that make our life so much easier and safer. For Rukka it was another part of quality control if you like; listening to our experiences, evaluating them and trying to make the next product even better… having 'tested' our Rukka Cosmic suits for about 12,000 km now through all kinds of weather; we still don't know what could be improved, but I bet you they do!