Juha "Mr. YOKO" Tirinen, 40 years after founding Yoko
LIFE BEGINS WHEN YOU OPEN THE DOOR
Yoko has 40 years of experience and expertise in designing and manufacturing quality sportswear using first-rate materials. Designed in Finland, where the challenging climate calls for proper equipment, our products are intended to serve their user under any circumstances, from outdoor and leisure activities to the most demanding competition conditions, regardless of the season. It is our passion and duty to manufacture exactly the right products to fit your demands, whether you are a recreational exerciser or a professional athlete.
By choosing Yoko’s sports apparel, you can rest assured that the your comfort and enjoyment of outdoor activities won’t be compromised by what you’re wearing. The great outdoors are filled with experiences; we’ll leave the fulfillment and satisfaction to you.
40 YEARS OF YOKO
The story of Yoko begins in 1977 in Forssa, Finland, when Juha Tirinen and Kaija Gustafsson founded a sportswear manufacturing company named JOKO. Both had vast experience in the industry, having previously worked together at Finnish sportswear companies Koho and Sinisalo. Joko started off making mitts for a sport called Pesäpallo, a Finnish version of baseball.
During the late 70s and early 80s, YOKO and Moto-X Fox logos co-existed on the gear of legendary names such as Brad Lackey, Mark Barnett, Graham Noyce, all of whom delivered Yoko and Fox World AMA Championship titles.
It wasn’t until 1982 that Yoko and Fox started selling their gear separately. Still, Fox gear (along with Oneal, AXO, Answer, Hallman Husky etc.) was produced at the Yoko Factory in Finland until the early 90s. Motorcycling gear was also added to the Yoko repertoire at this time.
The first Yoko skiing products were born when Finnish skier Asko Autio asked Tirinen to produce some gloves for cross-country skiing. Yoko obliged and Asko went on to win the 50 km race -- earning the King’s Cup -- at the 1983 World Championships in Holmenkollen, Norway. Yoko ski suits started to appear a couple of years later.
Swede Håkan Carlgvist captured his second World Championship title in 1983, this time in the 500cc class.
Yoko riders swept the 1984 World Championship in all three classes, with Italian Michele Rinaldi (pictured below) taking the 125cc title, Austrian Heinz Kinigadner winning the 250cc class, and Belgian Andre Malherbe the premier 500cc class.
Heinz Kinigadner won the 250cc World Championship in 1985 as well.
Yoko rider and British legend David Thorpe won the 1985 and -86 Motocross World Championships in the 500 cc class.
Yoko was the first brand to start producing Gore-Tex motorcycling suits.
Dutchman John Van Den Berk became the 125cc Motocross World Champion in 1987 and the 250cc Champion the very next year 1988.
Towards the end of the 90s, Yoko expanded its product range yet again, this time venturing into bikewear. 1999 women's downhill World Championship silver medalist Katja Repo was one of the Yoko factory riders.
When the new millennium rolled around, Kaija Gustafsson's son Jani Gustafsson took over the Yoko business at just 26 years of age. Having spent most of his childhood at the Yoko factory in Forssa, Jani had Yoko in his blood, initially just hanging around, but taking factory duties as well as he got older. One summer he was running the screen print machine, a laser cutting machine the next, and later on, as a teenager, he assembled 100 000 knee guards single-handedly.
At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, 9 of the available 12 cross-country skiing gold medals were won with Yoko gloves. Worth mentioning here is that all the winning gloves were models that anyone could buy in the retail shops, which wasn’t often the case at the pinnacle of cross-country skiing, where most gear was custom made.
Swiss mountain bike rider Thomas Frischknecht won the MTB World Championship wearing Yoko gloves in 2003, and fellow countryman Nino Schurter took his Yoko gloves to the title 2009.
Juha Salminen, one of the all time Enduro greats, won his 13th and final World Championship title wearing Yoko. Yoko moto gear was produced by another company at the time. Photo. J. Edmunds.
Yoko added skis and ski boots to its cross-country product range. The ski factory is located in Kitee, Finland and run by Harri Kirvesniemi, a cross country World Champion himself.
Yoko's moto license found its way back home and Yoko now owns the sole right to produce original Yoko motocross, enduro, motorcycling and snowmobile gear.
Yoko reached the respectable age of 40. So we went back to where it all started, testing products on World Championship riders. Yoko teamed up with HSF Motorsport KTM, one of the premier teams in the MX2 World Championship series. Using the feedback they provided, we were able to take our products to the next level.
Yoko’s strong push back to the top of motocross continued with the announcement of a multi-year contract with future motocross superstar Liam Everts in October 2018. Motocross runs deep in the Everts family with grandpa Harry having won four Motocross World Championships and father Stefan’s record 10 World Championships. 14-year-old Liam claimed bronze in the EMX85 championship and silver at the German ADAC series in 2018, and moved on to the highly competitive EMX125 series for 2019.
Motocross legend and 10-time World Champion Stefan Everts joined Yoko as part owner of both Yoko Europe and its mother company Yoko Sports. In addition to the shares acquired, Everts will play a role in Yoko’s product development and marketing, and serve as talent scout and race strategist for the Yoko Team Pilot program.
Husqvarna Motorcycles announced a new three-year partnership with YOKO – an agreement that would see Yoko become the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing MXGP team’s official riding gear and teamwear supplier through the end of the 2021 season. The team, owned by Finnish F1 superstar Kimi Räikkönen and ran by former MXGP rider Antti Pyrhönen, will field team of Arminas Jasikonis and 2017 MX2 World Champion Pauls Jonass in MXGP class and Mikkel Haarup in MX2 class in the 2019 Motocross World Championships.
With Jani Gustafsson (below) steering the mother ship YokoSports and Technical Touch owner Jan Berthels running Yoko Europe, Yoko Team is now pushing full steam ahead, spreading the YOKO word and coming up with innovative products for cross-country skiing, motorcycling, motocross, enduro, snowmobile, and bicycle sports.
On the product side, Yoko launched its Snowmobile clothing range, which includes everything from jackets, pants and overalls to gloves, boots and other accessories. For the 2020 season, we teamed up with Finnish Snowcross team Tynkkynen Racing, which consists of two riders: Jere Tynkkynen and Matti Reinikainen. Let's see if one of these boys can bring home the Finnish Snow Cross title this year.