Woman Starts Her Own Line Compression Gear Just for Riders
VNM Sport is a line of compression base layers for men and women, specifically designed for motorcycle riders and racers. VNM was created by Aliki Karayan in 2007 while taking an entrepreneur course. She researched the market and the product, came up with prototypes, and tested them extensively with racers and professional riders. Aliki and I have many mutual friends and we finally met in person at the AIMExpo 2014 in Orlando, Florida. She has a great story, unrelenting ambition and an amazing product.
When did you start VnM
The idea came about in 2007, at which time I took an entrepreneur course, researched the market and the product, came up with prototypes, and tested them extensively with racers and professional riders. Once I was confident that this was the best damn gear out there, the business launched in 2010.
How did you come up with the idea?
My experience in the military taught me the importance of managing fatigue when performing in high climate environments. As a motorcycle instructor I often see riders push past their mental and physical limits. Fatigue accounts for the majority of unscheduled dismounts from our motorcycles. Lord knows, a few of us have been there and done that!
So, I asked myself how I could reduce my fatigue at the track or on long hot rides in order to perform at my peak and get the most out of my riding time. I discovered that our bodies can spend up to 97% of our energy on regulating body temperature. I also researched scientific studies on the use of compression garments. These garments are used to reduce muscle fatigue and speed up muscle recovery by reducing lactic acid build up and oxygenating the muscles.
There aren’t any motorcycle specific base layer garments out there that provide the effective level of compression on the muscles we use when riding. I also felt that garments available were cheaply made, do not last very long, and usually lack superior cooling and quick drying capabilities. So, I decided to create my own here in Canada using the highest performing fabrics available on the market.
I found a highly technical fabric in Italy, which was originally engineered for olympic level triathletes. Physiotherapist, Dr. Ian Eix of Highside Healthcare helped me come up with a design that focused on compressing the muscles that are primarily used when riding. Pro racers and professional riders tested the product and provided me with feedback on fit and performance. Finally, 3 years and 19 prototypes later, VnM Sportgear was born.
What were you doing before VnM?
I joined the Canadian Armed Forces 18 years ago operating heavy equipment and off-road trucks. I wasn’t long before my interest in motorized machines expanded to all things 2 wheeled. Two years later I added riding motorcycles to my list of qualifications. In the last 14 years I have created a career for myself as a Motorcycle Trainer, Examiner, and Event Specialist for major motorcycle manufacturers . I started riding on the track in 2004 and raced competitively in the Womens Cup Championship in 2007. I currently own a 2007 Honda CBR600RR race prepped motorcycle for the track, and my street ride is a super fun Suzuki DRZ 400 Super Moto.
What challenges have you faced or are you still facing?
One of the biggest challenges the business continues to face is keeping all manufacturing local, to support and grow our economy. Sewing compression fabrics with specific high tech machinery, maintaining the best quality, and having full control over production, are very challenging facets. The more I learn about manufacturing, the more I realize how and why companies have been forced to produce overseas in order to stay profitable. I continue to fight the fight to have our product produced in Canada and the US. VnM Sportgear’s suppliers and supporters are composed of other local motorsports entrepreneurs trying to make a living persuing their passions. I believe strongly in the importance of persuing what you love, supporting the sport that you live for, and helping to grow the industry that fuels that fire so others can benefit from it. Unfortunately, that ends up becoming the biggest challenge for local small businesses. A challenge that becomes extremely rewarding.
What is your ultimate goal?
I had a few goals to achieve by starting this business. On a personal level, I wanted to be able to live a lifestyle that worked for me. That included the freedom to travel to different places, meet more amazing people in the industry, and ride. So far I have done a decent job of making that happen. I am currently travelling across the US in my toy-hauler RV, promoting the VnM Sport products, meeting lots of amazing people, riding as many different racetracks as I can, and attending the top motorcycling events around North America.
My ultimate goal is to build a business large and profitable enough that it makes a difference in the industry. A business that can assist charities based in motorcycling (like purchasing safety air fencing for the track), help racers grow and pursue their goals, encourage and inspire more women to ride, and hopefully inspire others to follow their own dreams.
VNM SPORTGEAR PRODUCT INFO
Originally engineered for the serious rider and top-level racer, VnM Sportgear is the most advanced motorsports base layer gear on the market, incorporating innovative fabric technologies and design. VnM Sportgear is rider owned and racer developed and is actively involved in the motorsports industry in North America. We stand behind every item we make with pride and offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all our items.
Advanced fabric construction amplifies cooling and dries in a flash, reducing excess energy expenditure and dehydration. It’s like air conditioning for the skin -This is done so by the very unique construction of the VnM fabric. It is woven into little honey combs which help to increase cooling by opening up as you move. The fabric acts as a second skin that rapidly evaporates water, creating an intense cooling sensation.
-VnM Sportgear dries over 8 times faster than cotton and over 2.5 times quicker than the leading sports brands. This is the reason why the cooling sensation feels more intense than the Lycra Sport Certified targeted compression reduces muscle fatigue and speeds up recovery, thereby maximizing endurance:
-Muscles oscillate (vibrate) as you ride long distances or push hard on the track. This oscillation causes fatigue. If muscle vibration is reduced, the onset of physical and mental fatigue is delayed and you perform at peak levels for longer. The VnM fabric also works to reduce the build up of lactic acid in the muscles. If the VnM gear is worn for a few hours after an intense day, muscle soreness is reduced. This is particularly beneficial for multiple days of activity. Ergonomically designed to improve manoeuvrability and comfort while riding.
Protective gear slides on and off with ease:
-Seamless technology eliminates chaffing and is strategically placed away from high abrasion points and armour.
-VnM Sportgear’s proprietary collar design shades the neck from sun exposure and eliminates chaffing from protective riding gear and facial hair.
-Specialized silicone gripper waistband keeps gear in place.
-Engineered to fit the human body in the riding position, eliminating bunching, chaffing, and
-Soft mesh panelling is strategically placed under the arms, down the back, and behind the knees for added comfort.
-The VnM fabric feels more slippery then the leading competitors . Even on the hottest of days,
getting in and out of your riding suit is a breeze.
Durable and long lasting, designed to withstand even the harshest environments:
-The VnM fabric is extremely durable and abrasion resistant. It will not fade, lose it’s shape or stretch out over time, lasting well over 4 times longer than its competitors.
-SPF 50+ sun protection shields from harmful UV rays.Proudly made in North America with Premium quality Italian fabric:
-Canadian and USA made.
-VnM Sport strives to support and grow the sport in North America. Most of our suppliers are sourced locally and are involved in the motorcycle industry.
-VnM Sportgear Cooling Compression Base layers are currently available in men’s and ladies long sleeve tops and unisex full length pants.
-Suggested retail is $97.99 USD for the VnM Cooling Compression tops and $97.99 USD for the VnM Cooling Compression pants.
-You can purchase VnM Sportgear items at www.vnmsport.com and a limited selection of motorsports dealers in Canada and the USA.
-For multiple day use, wash the gear in the tub, sink, or shower and wring it out in a towel. It comes out practically dry and can be worn immediately.
-VnM Sportgear packs light for extended trips.
-On extremely hot days, soak the VnM gear down before riding to increase cooling.
-Hand or machine wash in cold water inside out. Do not put in the drier.
-VNM Sportgear can be worn on cold days as a base layer in active situations. It does NOT insulate but if worn under an insulation layer like fleece it works well to reduce overheating.
-VnM Sportgear can be used for all other sports like hockey, hiking, running, skiing, and cycling.
-For more information please email Aliki at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their facebook page www.facebook.com/vnmsportgear or website: http://vnmsportgear.com
All photos supplied by and used with permission from Aliki Karayan.