Onewheel.Pro interviews Matt Hoover, founder of Land Surf.
OWP: Tell the community where you are from and where you live now?
Matt: I was born in Sacramento, and grew up in Novato, Manteca, and Modesto, CA. From 1999 to about 2009 I lived in San Francisco. I now live in Marin, north of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.
OWP: When did you first hear about Onewheel and how did you become involved with the sport?
Matt: I remember seeing an ad on the Internet while looking for an electric skateboard or EUC. I remember thinking the Onewheel had such an odd look to it and I never anticipated that it would function and ride like it does. The same way no one understands the magic feeling until that “ah-hah” moment when they first ride a Onewheel.
OWP: How many boards do you have and what type of setup do you have on them?
Matt: I have 5 full size boards and a Pint currently. Three XR’s and two Plusses. Of course, all are outfitted with Fangs 3, Platypus footpads front and rear, Platysense front sensor prototypes, and most also have a Contour fender because I hate rocks in my socks and shoes. Some have rail covers, some have Bone handles. I have tires like the FF Whisper, Burris Treaded 5.5 and 6, as well as some Hoosier slicks. Next up for me are some CXBR battery upgrades.
OWP: Tell us about your company Land-Surf, how did you come up with it?
Matt: Shortly after getting my Onewheel I was headed up a steep hill going home, too confident, and leaning way out the front to push the nose down and climb the hill. Next thing I know, I’m on the ground. My first nosedive happened so fast I didn’t have time to put my arm out. I wished that the nose could have just rolled a bit instead of stopping instantly.
So, when I got home I started thinking about the V1 version of Fangs. Once I showed some people prototypes (back in the day I was on the Onewheel site only, not Facebook), they seemed to like it and I was then making the V1 fangs with my 3d printers and some off-the-shelf wheels. “Land-Surf” was a name I chose early on because I thought later on in life I might like to make some aftermarket parts for e-skates and EUC’s. So, to cover all of those non-Onewheel products, I chose that more general themed name instead of using “Onewheel” as part of it.
OWP: What is the difference between original fangs and Fangs 3.0?
Matt: There are so many differences that the only similarity is that both have wheels. The originals were 3D printed and strong, but some users were rougher than others and some breaks occurred. They were also very small wheels (about 15cm or less in diameter). They are what would now be known as “Fang Minis” V1. The wheels were off the shelf and very hard. Fangs 3 is the 6th generation of bumper wheels, if the Pint Fangs are counted.
The new Fangs 3.0 is a complete front bumper replacement and requires a big, expensive mold to produce. It has 6 CNC’d pieces of aluminum and steel to hold the wheels in. It comes in 8 colors and has specially designed wheels that come in 5 colors and are only a bit smaller than the skateboard wheels that are popular now on push skate decks. And those wheels are now further out from the centerline of the board, providing a wider stance and more stability. The axles are custom machined stainless steel 316 for a precise fit. And the overall shape of the bumper presents rounded edges and flowing lines to avoid having any part of it catch on the landscape you’re riding over.
OWP: Your Contour Fender is one of the sleekest looking in the market, with so many aftermarket competitors already producing fenders, what sets Land-Surf’s Contour Fender apart from the rest?
Matt: Two things. One, it’s made of Dupont Zytel – a super tough nylon. To this day no Contour fenders have been cracked or broken. The material is just ridiculously tough. And two, the shape of it is unique as it hugs the tire in a constant radius. It’s also just received a design patent award, a few weeks ago, after 18 months of being in the US Patent queue.
OWP: Your Platypus footpad is a new product you recently launched; can you tell the community about it?
Matt: The Platypus is a urethane footpad that has a W-shaped profile to it. I wanted to make something different than what was already available. The center hump was very comfortable to me, as I have flat feet – and many people like the feeling also, but it isn’t for everyone. Some don’t like the hump, and that’s okay. I prefer to have a bit of arch support, and it feels even better barefoot.
After making many high-backed versions on my 3d printers for friends in the community, I decided to make one that was less extreme in height. I wanted more leverage for trail riding, so I made the pad significantly wider, to the point that it overhangs the rails on each side by about 1/2”. I was also tired of the stock footpads losing their brass inserts, or having them spin in place, so I made the inserts on the Platypus out of a thick piece of steel that can’t be pulled out of its spot no matter how hard you pull.
OWP: If you could create the next version of the XR, what improvements or design features would you change?
Matt: Oh, man! Big question. We’ve all seen many posts and responses to this. I think the top wishes for me are a more powerful motor, better range, lighter, and more water resistant. There are many places for improvement, but the current XR does so well.
OWP: Ky tell us where you live, how old you are, and about your family.
Ky: I am from the grand state of Ohio. Currently residing in Bellevue, just 15 minutes away from Lake Erie. I’m 39 years of age. I live with my wonderful girlfriend, Haylie, and our three kids, Gavin, Finley, and Adeline.
OWP: What sort of activities were you into growing up?
Ky: As a kid I skateboarded and snowboarded most of my time. I also played a lot of video games, made art, hung in the woods. I have to say I miss those days of being out until well after the sun went down sometimes riding 8-10 hours a day.
OWP: When did you first hear about Onewheel, and how did you start riding?
Ky: I started seeing Onewheels pop up on YouTube and random videos. A few creators that I followed had them. Every time I researched them I had an inner voice saying it’s too expensive. You should spend your money on other things besides yourself. Eventually that happened to be the exact reason I ordered one. I was going through a divorce and needed to up my stoke levels. One night I finally got the nerve to order it and haven’t looked back since!
OWP: You first called the onewheel community’s attention with your amazing sketches and artwork, tell us a bit about your passion for art and how that lead into your career as a tattoo artist.
Ky: Art has always been my passion and when I started riding I was obsessed with my wheel. I put a couple phone wallpapers up in the forums and people reacted positively. I wanted to do more and build the sport and saw apparel was a good way to share my art and help others express themselves. Eventually that lead to me building my company Swerv Clothing. Working as a tattoo artist there are a lot of ideas I love designing but didn’t lend themselves to tattoos. So I branched out. I still tattoo 6 days a week, when I’m not riding or designing clothing.
OWP: How has the last year and a half with a pandemic affected your business?
Ky: It’s been up and down. I’ve started recently running into garment shortages which have held up some of my plans and projects. Everything seems to have been short handed due to the butterfly effects of Covid. My tattooing business has been jam packed because we’ve never been able to catch up since the 3 months we were not allowed to work according to state guidelines.
OWP: As the economy continues to open up have you noticed a rebound in business?
Ky: Yes. As I mentioned we have not been able to catch up so therefore we keep booking further out which is great for tattooing but also overwhelming because we are booked so far in advance it’s hard to make plans last minute or take a weekend to go do things with the family. The clothing is doing great and it’s on the up rise from the dip that we had due to the pandemic.
OWP: What was the first community event you attended? Can you tell us a little bit about that experience and how it changed your experience as a Onewheel owner.
Ky: My first Onewheel event that I attended was in fact FLF3. I had never gotten to ride with anyone let alone a group or an entire mob. I was overwhelmed with excitement when I first arrived and couldn’t wait to tell everyone back home about how many Onewheels and people attended the festival. It was mind blowing!
OWP: Tell us about Swerv Clothing and your plans for its future.
Ky: I am trying to acquire the machining needed to do production on site. I would like to move into a larger space so that we have more room for growth. We have more plans than time it seems most days. Tons of new designs in the works as well as hopes to offer other items than just apparel.
OWP: With regards to your artwork for the Onewheel community, where do you draw your inspiration from?
Ky: My inspiration comes from everything within the community as well as movies, pop-culture, video games, etc. We try to stand out and be unique and offer designs that are creative and well thought out.
OWP: What sort of terrain do you enjoy riding the most, and will you be attending this year FloatLife Fest 4?
Ky: Yes you will see me out at FLF4! I’ve been called a pavement Princess on more than one occasion… But I also absolutely love trails. The older I get the harder I fall.
OWP: Do your children ride one wheel?
Ky: My children do ride but not as much as we do. They tend to like to hop on a bicycle or a hover board when I go ride. If they weren’t as busy with sports I think they would put more time in on the onewheel.
OWP: What sort of improvements would you like to see made on the next version of one wheel?
Ky: As far as improvements to the board I think it would be cool to have some sort of an improved factory lighting system as either a standard option or an add-on that would improve vision for both the rider as well as traffic/pedestrians. I would also like some sort of a diagnostics display built into the vehicle.
OWP: Ky, thank you for giving the Onewheel community a chance to learn more about you and Swerv Clothing! We truly appreciate all you do and love your work! Any final comments or thoughts?
Ky: Thank you for reaching out and showing interest. Means a lot to be included in this community and to help build it up and as always bring the stoke levels to max. Much love to everyone, ride safe and keep smiling.
Love ya Faaaaaaammmm!!!
To learn more about other awesome Onewheel Vendors like Swerve Clothing’s Ky Miller click here!
The latest product launch by Armor Dilloz is straight fire...Literally!!!
Onewheel.Pro Product Review
OWP: Thanks for giving us an interview Cory, and sharing the Armor Dilloz story! Tell us where you are from and how you became involved with Onewheel?
I was born in the mountains of Durango Colorado and spent most of my youth in the Four Corners region. Mostly on one side or the other of the Colorado/New Mexico border. Now I spend most of my time in Miami – which, of course, is awesome! I was interested in the Onewheel the moment I saw the V1 on Kickstarter and had read a few things about it. I had never seen one and without there being much public opinion, I just wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted. But, living in Miami, I was missing the mountains and my snowboard. Still, I waited and held off on the first Kickstarter. Figuring I would find a chance to ride one and see if I wanted one. I got busy and lost track without ever getting on one, but then the Plus was announced.
After reading about the improvements, I got a feel for how much people were enjoying them. My credit card may have broken the sound barrier as it was whipped from my pocket when the second Kickstarter campaign was announced. I ordered within the first hours, and it was one of the better decisions I’ve ever made. Today, I’m approaching 20K miles of riding and love the ability to ride all around Miami. It gives me that feeling of snowboarding, but I’m not cold and never need to buy a lift ticket. I love the practicality of commuting to work, doing grocery shopping, and just going to the local brewery. It is so convenient and fun!
OWP: Which is your hometown Onewheel crew and how often do you do group rides?
SoFLOW Crew! I know I’m biased, but this is an amazing group of dudes, and I’m lucky to call such great dudes friends – we have The master himself – Chris Richardson, the absolutely insane Jamie T, The one and only Lukasz, and of course, Vitto Campuzano – the OG founder of .Pro itself and the dude that I met on my first group ride way back when, and a ton of other incredible guys and girls – far too many to actually list, but each one of the crew here is honestly amazing in their own ways.
OWP: When did you think about becoming a vendor to the community and how did you get the idea to create your first product Armor-Dilloz Tire Sealant, tell us about that process.
So, fun fact: Dilloz wasn’t actually our first product – at the time we brought that to market we were actually deep into the development of our plates, and were working with FlightFins at that time to release the aluminum FF Flight Guards, as well as nearing the completion of testing on our Overkill Stainless Plates that we sell in-house. We’d been at it for some time at that point, having lost the first two rounds of production to poor quality control and material waste, we had lost nearly $5,000 before we were able to get a product that met our standards.
The tire sealant business was born entirely out of my frustration at losing a tire on a monthly basis. I had so many punctures from riding around Miami! It is not cheap to replace and a loss of free time. I would rather be riding my Onewheel instead of changing a tire. We quite literally tried just about everything you could buy, and certainly had given a shot to everything popular. Some worked ok, but none of the products did what I wanted.
Getting the Right Mix
I do like to push the limits. So, I figured what the hell, let’s source over $1000 worth of products and mix them together. I wanted the best attributes of a couple of different products, but wanted to make all the magic happen in one product. We tried to see if we could really get something special that will do exactly what I wanted. That first day testing it we ran over everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING! Everything that we had seen failures on before. We picked out nails from the tire, and broken glass, but it was sealed. Finally we got it to fail by running over the bottom of a broken bottle and leaving a huge gash.
It was at that point it became obvious that the efforts had paid off! We were getting the results we needed in these thin slicks, something we weren’t really sure was actually possible. It felt pretty awesome, knowing I’d finally be able to actually wear out a tire instead of losing it. Typically, I would get a puncture before I even got to 800 miles on my tire. At the time, we didn’t view it as a product that we would be selling much of. We had expected to just sell a few bottles a month to a few friends. I knew a few who I was sure would want to buy their way out of the headache of punctured tires. It was NEVER expected to become popular really though, as we thought it was simply too costly.
Armor Dilloz is Born
It was something we wanted for our little group of riders, but we didn’t need seven gallons of it! This was the very minimum I could buy/make to get the blend I wanted. The one thing that my girlfriend was certain of was that I did not need $1000 worth of tire sealant. So, that’s how Armor-Dilloz, the product, came to be. The name Armor-Dilloz, which is a DBA under my corporation Overkill Inc., was Ky Miller’s idea. I asked him to draw me a logo of a Onewheel with an ‘armored tire’. I had the idea of a steel armor plate covered tire. Something where they were riveted together, like the angular Batmobile wheel covers.
Ky then created that awesome adorable curled up Armor-Dilloz as a tire on a OW, and I was in. I thought it was AWESOME! And in fact, we just commissioned Ky to do an updated ‘Dillo companion for our Draggin’ Tail stickers. We also just announced the first shirt in our apparel line, featuring the Overkill Inc. skull logo! So, we are having a ton of fun and it is wonderful to solve problems for other riders. It is a good feeling knowing that our effort has saved rides and kept tires out of landfills. We are trying to make the sport more enjoyable by eliminating most flats and low-pressure issues.
OWP: Some time back, you witnessed an awful crime of hit and run in Miami-Florida where the person hit was severely hospitalized. Tell us what happened and how you were able to apprehend the driver of the vehicle.
Yeah, that is a bit of a story isn’t it? I was coming back from the local brewery J. Wakefield. (They have excellent stuff, and I love their sours and pastry stouts!) I was with my wonderful girlfriend Anna who was on her bike, and me on the Onewheel. As we turned onto Miami Ave, we heard a HUGE bang! I saw a car on the sidewalk about 2 blocks up. I chuckled and started to comment to Anna about this one being a special sort of idiot!
But then the screaming started. Those screams were the sort that haunt dreams and curdle the blood. The screams were of a daughter and wife who believed they had just watched their father and husband being run down and murdered. Even from two blocks away it was already obvious I knew it was going to be bad. I told Anna to call 911, and I jumped on the board and went to the scene with the idea of rendering aid and comfort.
As I started down the road, the car DROVE OFF!! As I was arriving at the scene, I saw the man who had been run down. He was being helped by a small crowd. The road sign he ran over had ripped the oil pan and transmission open. The victim had been hit and thrown 15 feet through the air. He was also crushed under the car as the driver took off. The video of that whole thing is disturbing.
I continued riding towards the car stopped at the light two blocks ahead of me. But the driver paused and waited for traffic. When I caught up, I snapped a picture of the license plate. I then went to the window to stop the guy, but he took off. He then turned right onto NE 29th street and headed towards the ocean.
So, naturally, I followed along – being careful to not overdo it and nosedive! (Literally repeating to myself, don’t nosedive, don’t do it, stay under control man) After about two more blocks, Shawn Alarcon came FLYING by me in his car. Shawn owns the shop the guy was run down in front of. This dude left his shop open and trusted customers to watch it while he helped me to give chase. This was just before we crossed the railroad tracks on 29th in Midtown.
At this point we are about a half mile from the scene, and there is a red light. Plenty of traffic stopped up and coming in the oncoming lanes too. Good deal. I get up there, and ID the car both by the plate, and the human sized hole in the windshield. At that point, I yell to Shawn (who I did not yet know) that this was the guy, and to block him in. Shawn did a great job of keeping the right-hand side of the car controlled and blocked in.
So, I then started yelling at the driver to get out of the car, five, maybe six times! He turns towards the front of the car, away from me, and it is obvious he’s looking for an out.
Side note: I do not know if you have ever broken a side window on a car. But I have, for various reasons, needed to break a few of them. They are damn near impossible to break unless you get it right. I did not have a glass breaker, but I did have a 30lb sledgehammer that I like to ride around town! I grabbed the Onewheel and WOW! That baby goes through the safety glass like a hot knife through butter.
Once I had the window popped, I reached in and restrained the guy with a friendly choke hold. (Arm-bar, against the seat, a bit unorthodox, but… effective for sure) I then put the car in park and turned off the key with my left hand. At that point, I needed to get the door unlocked and opened. But I needed my right hand for this, so I switched hands. I then changed over to a Homer Simpson style single handed choke, while I opened up the door of the car.
Once I had it open, I just went 100% on the forced extraction. Probably a bit of overkill but I was not in the mood for any further resistance. Mind you, I did not leave a scratch on him – the blood was all mine from the glass. At that point, I was met by Shawn on the sidewalk. I asked him to help me get the guy down without hurting him. This dude was trying his best to fight and get away. But he just did not have a darn chance at all. Shawn and I settled him on the ground. I had my knees ‘massaging’ his inner upper arm with all my 225lbs on it. I took out my phone and took ID photos of the guy just in case he did manage to get out and away somehow. (yes, the infamous ‘teabagging’ shots)
It turned out to be 100% unnecessary as the first police cruiser showed up in less than 1 minute. (Stellar response time – but they probably got fifty 911 calls) Then it was a fun filled evening of chatting with officers and traffic homicide detectives for the next three hours.
OWP: Did you maintain in contact with the victim and how is he doing now?
I do! We did a few fund raisers for him in the Onewheel community as well as in our charity rare whiskey groups, primarily The Angel’s Share. (THANK YOU ALL AGAIN SO MUCH!) All told, we raised over $5,000 for Eric and it did make a great deal of difference for him and his family! It was his only source of income. Eric will have lifelong effects from this, as he suffered a serious brain injury. But physically he has healed VERY well, and he is progressing AMAZINGLY well! One would not mostly be able to notice or tell. But he tells me that HE most certainly knows. We keep saying we are going to go out for dinner, but we just have not made it happen yet. I intend to correct that unfortunate continued oversight soon.
OWP: One of your other hobbies besides Onewheel is photography, tell us about that and how long you have been a photographer?What type of equipment do you use?
Oh, yeah, I love doing that! Artistic creation is such a pure joy. (It’s part of what I love about doing the metal plates) I’ve been competing at DPChallenge.com for well over a decade now. It is fair to say that I have been an enthusiast for several decades now. At one point, I was selling my photos in a gallery called Three Cranes in Socorro New Mexico. But having moved away, I let that lapse as more important concerns were taking my attention.
I wanted to capture this sport well and get back into some landscape and wildlife photography. So, I actually dumped about $20,000 into new Canon gear a year or so ago. I tend to run fast primes but, really, the fact is that we have gotten some great shots with our cell phones too. After all, the best camera is always the one you have when you need it.
OWP: Is there a website or place you share your photography?
You can find it in SO many places, I have probably forgotten half of them. But the one that matters to me is http://cory.dpchallenge.com as it has some of my favorite work. The idea there is they announce a topic, and you have a week or two to plan, shoot, edit and present for voting. They are strict about editing rules and other things making sure it pushes you to grow as a photographer. Joey Lawrence started there as a young kid; about the same time, I did. He went on to shoot the posters for Twilight and now works for National Geographic. It has turned out a stream of simply stellar photographers.
OWP: You recently dropped one the most exciting products in the Onewheel community called Draggin Tail, tell us what it is and how you came up with the idea as well as the process you went through to make it a reality.
Well, you see, I’ve always been a HUGE fan of fireworks! The idea of combining Onewheel with something like was irresistible. We have been playing with different methods for years. It got serious about a year ago when we decided to really do a killer product. We went through SO many designs. Some worked, a few tried to kill me, and some failed so fast it was comical. We also discovered that if you hit an expansion joint, or anything that stops the board by grabbing the tail, it will either break the tail, or it will break the board. It is why we designed the product the way we did. So that it is VERY strong but will fail before the board does. It keeps both the expensive hardware and the rider as safe as possible.
OWP: You have already sold out of Draggin Tail, when can the community expect the next batch back in stock?
NEXT WEEK BABY! It may be challenge keeping them in stock, we hope not, but the pandemic is providing some significant challenges for us in our supply chain. However, we will do all we can to ensure a steady supply. We are keeping the sale price of $50 until July 4th !!
OWP: Looking towards the future, what type of upgrades would you like to see in the next version of the XR?
Power. Just power. I need it. The board would be so much more amazing off road for us big guys if it just had more power. (and yes, I know I sound like Tim ‘The Toolman’ Taylor here…)
OWP: How has Onewheel and being part of the community changed your life and what do you appreciate most in this growing board sport?
It has been huge! I continue having so many new awesome friends and experiences. I literally live my life around this sport now. The community continues growing and I love meeting new riders every week. It is so exciting and cool, what a great time to get to be a part of this awesome thing!
OWP: Does Armor Dilloz have any other product launches planned for 2020 you would like to share with the community?
We are in the process of bringing our first apparel items to market and have some VERY cool stuff in the pipeline. Though, we are focusing on is decidedly community related for the rest of 2020. If FM announces a new board, we’ll scramble and continue making some cool stuff as fast as we can.
OWP: Thank you for your contributions to the community and taking the time to sit down with Onewheel.Pro Cory!
Thank you, it was great to finally have an opportunity to get all the little details on a few of these things right. I cannot wait to read all these wonderful works from our friends!
To learn more about other awesome third party Onewheel vendors like Armor Dilloz please click here!
In our latest blog post, we get a chance to sit down with Jeff and Raequel McCosker of The Float Life!
Jeff has not only been one of the best riders in the world for several years now, but is also the founder of his company The Float Life. His athleticism, balance, and ability to create insane tricks has led him to the top of the Onewheel world. Jeff’s company has also become a leading vendor in the community with board modifications, parts, and apparel. The Float Supply is located in Sacramento California and is known for great products and customer service. He has recruited some of the best riders in the world for The Float Life Pro Team which dominate most event competitions.
Raequel has been crowned FloatLife Fest street event champion twice in the last three years. She also happens to be married to Jeff McCosker making, them Onewheel’s power couple. Besides being one of the top female Onewheel athletes on the planet, she also is a professional wake boarder. When she’s not shredding the water or street, you can find Raequel ripping through the slopes snowboarding. She is full time teacher in Sacramento and is sponsored by The Float Life.
Please click below on the Sound Cloud link to hear the full interview.
In our most recent post, we highlight Jeremy Gavin. He is the founder of OWARMOR, an aftermarket vendor of Onewheel products. Furthermore, he is administrator of the largest Onewheel group on Facebook, the Onewheel Owners Group (OWOG). Jeremy has been a part of the community for over 3 years. He created the Onewheel Owners Group before deciding to launch OWARMOR and offer Onewheel products. OWARMOR has found success with one of the bestselling tail pads on the market, the Cobra pad. The Cobra pad changed Onewheel riding with its concave design. It gives riders a locked in and comfort feeling on their board which greatly improves the Onewheel riding experience.
OWARMOR also sells reflective night safety equipment stickers for Onewheel. They come in different colors and allow owners to customize their boards in a variety of ways. His latest product release is a multi-use fender called the Night Shark. It has a built-in handle to carry the Onewheel and has mounted flashlights on both sides of the fender. The Night Shark is the first fender in the market to include these options together in one product.
Additionally, Jeremy is also responsible for creating the Onewheel Owners Group on Facebook, known as OWOG. At first, the Onewheel community communicated through Future Motion’s forum on their website. Important to realize, it was really the only place available for Onewheel owners to discuss and get advice. Although the forum is useful, it is not ideal for posting pictures, videos, or has the popularity Facebook does. As a result, the online Onewheel community mostly uses Facebook and Instagram now.
Jeremy made the decision to start a Facebook group called the Onewheel Owners Group. Although there was a Facebook group called Onewheel Riders there was not really much activity in that group. As Jeremy’s group grew, users from the Future Motion forum began to convert over to Facebook. As a result, this shift of users from FM’s forum over to Facebook really sparked the creation of the Onewheel community. Notably, it allowed for the growth of third-party vendorsand new products for riders everywhere. Important to realize, many Onewheel owners were already visiting Facebook multiple times per day for other reasons.
These new vendors now had a very familiar place to market their products for Onewheel. As time went on and Jeremy’s group continued to grow, many members of his group had become online friends. All of them were from different parts of the country and members of OWOG when the first FloatLife Fest happened in 2017. By then other local Onewheel groups started to emerge and the community really started to grow out of OWOG. The rest is history and the Onewheel Owners Group is now the largest OW group with over 17,000 members and continues to grow daily.
Thank you, Jeremy!
Please click this link below for the full interview
Flight Fins Co-Founders Michael Woolson & Orie Rush open up about business and family.
#1 OWP: Where do you guys live and how are you related?
Orie: I live in Ohio and Michael lives in Los Angeles and are stepbrothers, we have the same mother. I have been living in Ohio since I was about 5 years old but Michael has been trying to get me move out to Los Angeles now for some time.
#2 OWP: So, tell us how you got involved with Onewheel?
I’ve been an acting coach for over 20 years and one day I saw one of my acting students on Facebook riding a Onewheel on set of the movie called “Project Almanac”. It turns out Future Motion had visited the set to promote Onewheel. The minute I saw my student riding the board I was riveted! I was like “What is that? How does it work? Where can I get one?!” At that time, there was almost a 3-month waiting period to get one from Future Motion. Eventually I was able to find a new one listed on Ebay that I bought, which turned out to be board number 54 from their kickstarter campaign. I got my second board not long after that, and that board was serial number 156. So, I had two of their early boards. At that time, people were selling them way over retail price, a new one was selling for around $2000 and a used one was around $1750. Back in those days there was no way to be able to tell how many miles the board had because there wasn’t even a phone app! In the beginning there wasn’t even such a thing as a fender!
#3 OWP: Did you have any previous board sport experience before riding Onewheel?
Orie: I had started skating and snowboarding when I was around 13 which helped me transition into Onewheel. Onewheel feels to me like a good in-between of skateboarding and snowboarding and has helped me in both boardsports. The way you use your ankles and muscles when Onewheeling you don’t normally use in skating or snowboarding, so when I went back to skating and snowboarding, I felt like I learned quite a bit and was stronger!
The Process Begins
#4 OWP: How did you guys come up with the idea for Flight Fins?
Michael: Initially there was a friend of mine who could nudge curbs out here in Los Angeles, and he was trying to help me learn how to do it, but it seemed impossible. This was before any of us were using the groups on Facebook and nobody had really been seen doing nudges. Jeffrey Rosenzweig was one of the first guys who put out a video describing how to do it. I saw that he had put grip tape on the back of his fender to get leverage so that it was easier to do. This worked for me and it spawned my imagination to put something else on the fender for even more leverage. I thought to myself, somebody should put a ledge on the fender or something that you could put your foot underneath and that would make it even easier. So, I went on Amazon and started buying all these little knobs and things, none of which really were that great and so I put them in my desk as a ‘get to’ project that never happened. Months went by and then the unthinkable happened, my dad had a massive heart attack. That’s what really spawned this whole crazy thing. It was a situation where a bad thing turned into a good thing because my dad lived and Orie and I invented Flightfins all in one trip. So, when I went up to Ohio to visit my dad, I had brought my Onewheels with me, and Orie and I started talking about this whole fender wedge thing. Next thing you know we were in the workshop, like mad scientists, trying to carve this thing out of a piece of wood and everything kind of just snowballed from there. We started getting excited and so we put another piece of wood on the other side. This led to Oct 5, 2017 which was when Orie got on the board with the two pieces of wood bolted on the sides and said “hey film me and let’s see if this works” and then he jumped in the air about 6 inches. And we both just high fived and were like “WOW this is FRICKIN’ AWESOME!”
Orie: It was at night and I remember Michael shooting it in slow motion and when I first did it, I remember thinking “I think that worked” and when we looked at the footage in slow-motion, we were both like “AWW Damn!” Because it was higher than we both thought it was going to be and the fact you could jump the board was amazing. We weren’t sure with the sensor if it would even work and didn’t know if there was any possibility but we were pumped because coming from a snowboarding and skateboarding background that was sort of the thing the Onewheel couldn’t do at the time.
#5 OWP: How many prototypes did you guys go through before finalizing the Flight Fins design?
Orie: For the first prototype we just took some 4×4 pieces of wood and basically sculpted Flight Fins out of it and spray painted them black, the design didn’t really change all that much to be honest.
Michael: The day I was leaving back to Los Angeles we had like 2 hours before I had to go to the airport, so I spent that time filming Orie jumping up and over things until both boards ran out of battery. I remember asking Orie, “can you jump over this, can you jump over that?” And of course, at that point we had no technique so it was hit or miss but mostly successful.
Orie: In fact, there was a moment of dismay because I was trying to jump up this curb and the board kept disengaging and we were like “ahhh man”, I don’t know if this is going to work. So, we kept on testing and then I started leaning back slightly and was able to keep the board engaged. It started working and we were like “oh wait a minute this can work; we can do this!” We continued getting more shots and we got a decent amount of footage in that short amount of time and threw up that video on YouTube to see what the reaction would be.
Michael: People in the beginning thought it was a trick or voodoo magic; they didn’t understand what we had done because in the video the first prototypes we made were super small and you couldn’t tell there was anything there.
Orie: The first two prototypes were made from wood blocks and were basically bolted onto the board. And that’s when we contacted a guy out in LA.
#6 OWP: What was the timeline between initial idea for Flight Fins, going into mass production, and the first sale?
Michael: Yeah, what happened after that was, I realized we needed to manufacturer these things, if that was even possible, and so I called around because I had no idea where to even start. The only other person I knew who had a product was my friend Greg (who makes The Silver Handle) and of course it was nothing like what we had created. So, then I called around and I found a guy who ran a little 3D print shop in Santa Monica who was willing to take on the project. Knowing what we know now, we realize what he was charging us was a really good price, even though back then it was still a lot of money to us especially since we didn’t even know if anything would come of this. So, he then made the first 3-D print set of them, which is the same process we do now, only Orie now does it, as we bought our own 3D printer. Orie had gone to school for art and animation and knew how to animate and sculpt but he didn’t know how to do it in CAD, he learned that later and then was soon able to create the flight fender. We knew it was a cool idea, but we didn’t know if the community would embrace it or not. We then created about 4 prototypes of rubber Flight Fins, and once I had them in hand, I would try them out and then mail them to Orie to try. Meanwhile, everyone we knew was trying to come up with the perfect name for these “foot lifts” We went through a hilarious list of names, ones like, floatfins, wave handles, hop handles, ledge plates, jump handles, ollie wedges, ollie handles, leap handles, jump fins, jump wings, vault plates, ollie fins, foot fins, air hooks, air handles, air fins and even gnar hooks, all before finally deciding Flight Fins.
Orie: It was around October when I went out there and had a chance to go to the 3D print shop. We talked it over with the owner and were able to put the final touches on them.
Michael: So to recap, timeline was, Oct 5, 2017 we jumped with the board for the first time, we then had the Kickstarter in December, and started shipping in February of 2018.
Orie: At that time, we knew nothing about manufacturing whatsoever, so it was a constant learning process.
Michael: Despite some challenges, quite surprisingly, things seemed synchronistic, one thing after another kept falling right into place. And when we finally got a good design with the 3-D printing we thought “we’re set”! But then we realized how much more difficult it was to get an injection mold made. I asked the guy who we were working with for 3D printing “hey can you help me with the injection mold?” and he was like “Dude, I have no idea; I wouldn’t even know where to start”. And so that was the beginning of another whole learning curve of how to do this, and how much more this was going to cost. That’s when we decided to do a Kickstarter. Because at that time it was the least amount of risk and we’d know for sure if the community would embrace the idea or not.
Orie: And that was also around the time when we had Bodhi Harrison come out to LA to do Flight Fins testing as we thought he was the right person to go full send with these things. Getting his feedback to see if we needed to tweak anything or if he even liked them was a crucial moment for us. We are so grateful to him for testing out our new product and from the get-go he started doing things with them we couldn’t imagine; he was immediately doing impressive tricks.
Michael: He got on the board and his first jump was a 180 on the sidewalk! He didn’t land it but he got really close and I was like “Whoa, here we go!” and then him and Orie began clearing 3 ft gaps and that’s when we created the Kickstarter video with them jumping together. And at that time, I myself still really couldn’t jump that well, I could hop a couple of inches, but it was still a learning curve for me and I spent most of my time on the business of getting them to the community. It was a couple of months before I started to jump curbs and eventually, I could do 180’ as well. I still remember the moment I jumped a water bottle at the playground with my kid, I landed it and was hooting and hollering around with excitement and all of these kids were looking at me like I was a crazy person.
Orie: Bodhi’s testing really cemented the idea Flight Fins needed to go into production.
Michael: Even then, we weren’t even sure what was going to happen with this Kickstarter. We had no idea we’d reach our goal, much less in the first day! Orie and I were just in disbelief, orders were coming in so fast that we literally had tears in our eyes! We were like “OMG; this is real now!”
#7 OWP: Any specific business challenges that you struggled with early on?
Michael: Yeah, we had some along the way for sure. When we did the FlightFender we needed an injection mold and that one in particular was very complicated and super expensive, so we did a preorder with the community through PayPal. At a certain point, the money was supposed to be transferred through PayPal to our bank, but nothing happened. To our surprise, after weeks of calling PayPal they finally responded in an email that they weren’t convinced we were a legitimate business and it was on us to prove to them we were trustworthy to receive the money. Specifically, they would need to hear from satisfied customers that they had received the products and were happy. We explained to them that the money raised was for the injection mold and we were clear to the community that we needed the money to manufacture that product. We kept asking them how were we supposed to have happy customers if we couldn’t manufacture the product? Unfortunately, PayPal wouldn’t budge. After several frustrating conversations with them we seriously considered giving the money back to our supporters and scrapping the whole idea. After much deliberation though we decided to take the risk and pay for the mold out of pocket, trusting that it would all work out. Thankfully, it did and after a couple of tense months of waiting, PayPal finally transferred the funds to us. We were glad we pushed through and feel super grateful that the community trusted us and was patient during that difficult process.
#8 OWP: Tell us about your experiences atFloatLifeFest and your favorite moments.
Orie:For me it’s been rare for me to see a community spring up so fast and so strong gathered around Onewheel, especially from a group of people that only knew each other from an online community who were already so close and tight knit. The events were so cool, being out in the woods on these electric boards and seeing people fly down these trails was amazing! I think what surprised me most was how strong the community was, it was quite surreal to me.
Michael: Yeah! Anytime you can spend time with family is wonderful, but when you incorporate the Onewheel it becomes even more special. The fact we got to also host these events with competitions like the long jump, high jump, as well as tricks with the fins and then were able to give back by giving out awards and prizes was really special. We really appreciate what great care Justyn Thompson takes in planning this event, truly a monumental task. Thank you, Justyn!
Orie: The Flight Fins long jump was really another moment where it was so much fun and crazy to see someone jump 13ft on a Onewheel!
Michael: Seeing Isaac Kosloskey almost clear 13 ft at this year’s FLF 3, passing Andrew Stroh’s Flight Fins record from the year before at FLF2, was epic. Of course, Andrew couldn’t break his record this year due to his injury, but we’re looking forward to seeing him come back and try to recapture the record. One of the highlights at FLF 3 for me was watching Kyle Hanson drop off the Flight Fins van.
Orie: Kyle seems like he is always having so much fun on the board, he loves to try new things and his style is loose and incredibly fluid. Even when he bails, he does it in a stylish way, even if he’s just rolling on the ground.
Michael: The word that comes to my mind about Kyle’s style is “creative”, he comes up with fun ideas and then just tries them. Also, watching some of the final slalom races at this year’s Float Life Fest was pretty inspiring, a real nail biter.
#9 OWP: Do you see Onewheel as a sport and where does it go from here?
Orie: Oh yeah absolutely, the racing has gotten to that level where it’s becoming very entertaining to watch, even for people that are not familiar with Onewheel. I’ve mention to people to go on YouTube to check some of the races out and once they watched they were like, “Whoa, I didn’t know it was like that!” So, I think the bar will just continue to keep rising in regards to where the sport will go, but it is hard to say because it is such a unique board, it’s not like skateboarding or snowboarding so I think it’ll create its own niche as far as sport goes. I believe it will continue to grow in the tricks people are doing, the racing aspect such as the dual slalom, I think that was a great format for Onewheel.
Michael: Yeah, I think it has a lot of potential and we’re so early in the game still. Onewheel has so much potential to become a pro sport as well as an extreme sport. It just depends on where Future Motion improves the boards from here.
Orie: I agree, because it’s such a reliable board compared to other e-boards, I think a lot will have to do with that. With snowboarding or skateboarding you don’t have to worry about the board failing, it has more to do with you as a rider than anything else. But with Onewheel it’s a bit unique and different because it is an electronic board which requires the rider to rely on it functioning properly so the sport can continue. It’s kind of like race car driving where the driver must rely on the machine to be functioning correctly in order for the driver to drive at their best and perform.
#10 OWP: Have you ever been hurt riding Onewheel?
Orie: Yes! Minor stuff, but the most painful one I can remember and might be the number cause of a nose-dive being a combination of drinking too many beers and trying to impress bystanders who are like whoa, that’s so cool and inspires a feeling of going fast for them. I was riding around in Mansfield and going uphill when I tried to floor it in front of some people and went down hard. Then suddenly, the vibe changes from “really cool” to “really painful” at once. I didn’t break anything, just had some bad road rash and my shoulder hurt pretty bad for a week or so. That was the worse nosedive I experienced.
Michael: When I first started riding, I jumped off the board and ran it out but stubbed my toe pretty bad. One time I was riding late at night running an errand to the drugstore and didn’t see a pothole in the road and fell down and face planted onto the pavement, but mostly for the past couple of years it’s been all good, just a couple of scrapes here and there nothing major. Sometimes I think to myself “I can’t believe I’m riding this magic carpet, hurdling me through space by this computer that can, at any moment, have an issue” but surprisingly, I’ve never had one fail on me, even after riding for 5 years and over 10,000 miles.
#11 OWP: What type of protective gear do you use when riding?
Orie: If I know I’m going to be jumping things or racing and trying to go fast then I’ll gear up totally, but if I’m just riding on an errand or something like that where I’m just doing some easy riding I usually will forego most pads but I do try to helmet up when I can and wrist guards are truly an essential piece of equipment because that’s usually the first point of contact with the ground when you fall.
Michael: I almost always ride with a helmet and wrist guards. When I’m going like super-fast on trails, I’ll wear my g-form hip guards for extra protection.
#12 OWP: Anything new from Flight Fins coming soon?
Orie: Most definitely, we recently launched flight fin extenders because people were asking for a wider stance. We’re also waiting for Future Motion to announce a new board and see if there will be any design changes we’ll have to address.
Michael: We have a big surprise in store next month for the community that we’re excited about and look forward to sharing soon.
#13 OWP: If you could improve the next version of Onewheel, talk with the community, or tell Future Motion something, what would it be?
Orie: I think swappable batteries would be a good direction to go as most people have mentioned before but it all depends how much Future Motion is listening to the community. If FM would allow for some kind of push back control so a rider could tune it more for racing, that could be something interesting.
Michael: I also think the community has done a great job with improving the ruggedness of the parts and creating new products, but FM is in a difficult position with not wanting to take on problems that are caused by things that were not their product’s fault. I think they are riding a fine line of trying to please the community but at the same time trying to protect their business, and that can be very challenging at times. I agree with Orie about the swappable batteries, I have also suggested to Future Motion directly that perhaps they could do an Easter Egg to where it unlocks the possibility of faster speed after a couple hundred miles. I think that would really be fun for people who are experienced riders.
Orie: It’s kind of like real-world achievement hunting, like in a video game where players strive to unlock as much as they can, but in this case the rider has an incentive to ride as much as possible in order to gain experience and unlock these special features.
#14 OWP: What do you appreciate most about the Onewheel community?
Michael: I’ve always been a private person and have kept to myself and only hung out with my close friends, so when I started riding Onewheel and began going on group rides it forced me to get past my own shyness and connect more to other people. For me it was a real game changer because I feel like Onewheel helped me open up to people whom I didn’t know very well. Also, the community itself inspires me to create and connect, that’s really the big thing for me. I want to create as many cool things for the community and make the Onewheel experience better and better. Most of the people in the community are kind and generous which in-turn inspires me to be kind and generous.
Orie: Yeah, I agree with Michael. I think one of the main things for me is the community is so inclusive and that Onewheel feels so accepting of newcomers and riding styles. Whereas sometimes in the skate and snowboarding community that is not always the case.
Michael: Even my relationship with Orie has changed. We were always very close but creating this business together has helped us become even closer as brothers. We speak almost every other day and it is really a beautiful thing. Taking a bad situation, like my father’s heart attack and having it turn into this adventure with my brother has really been the gift of this whole thing.
Orie: Shortly before Flight Fins happened, I had someone ask me if I had any siblings and I would pretty much say “I’m an only child, but I do have a brother who lives out in LA, whom I do see a couple of times a year.” I always wanted and thought it would have been cool to have had a closer experience growing up with Michael but then all of this happened and, like Michael said, now we talk almost every day and always have something fun to discuss. We get to see each other more regularly and go to events with one another. It’s really become this bonding experience that I truly value and didn’t see coming.
#15 OWP: This has been awesome, thank you for doing this with us!
Michael: Well, thank you for everything you do with the Pro group and beyond, we always appreciate it.
OG third-party Onewheel accessory vendor Greg DiGenti shares his story of MazzCo with us.
In late 2015 I saw Onewheel’s Kickstarter video on Facebook (about a year after it successfully completed). A few weeks later I placed my order. It took two months to ship but was totally worth it, and I was hooked after my first ride. My work commute became part train and part Onewheel ride. It was my favorite part of the workday. What sucked was lugging my Onewheel by the built-in handle up and down the various flights of stairs and through the halls of my office. The security guards frown on riding it through the building, unfortunately. It felt like my arm was going to fall off by the time I got to my desk.
Back then there were almost no third-party Onewheel vendors out there. I had seen a few posts on Future Motion’s Onewheel user forum where people had installed metal handles from the hardware store on the side of their Onewheel. A side-handle seemed like a great idea, but I didn’t want to drill holes into the rails of my board. So, I brainstormed and made a prototype of one that attached with velcro to see if it would hold a 25-pound board. It was ugly, but it worked even better than I expected.
I then came up with a nicer design. I thought I’d make a small batch and see if other riders were interested in having one too. But I had zero experience in manufacturing and wasn’t sure how to go about making it. Then a guy in the UK from the Onewheel forum contacted me about manufacturing another idea he had seen me post about. It was a simple strap system for carrying the Onewheel on your back. After a few back-and-fourths on that, he didn’t feel it worked well enough to sell, so I mentioned my handle idea. He liked it, so I sent him a prototype of my new design. (On hindsight, I wished I hadn’t done this. But at the time I just had no idea about how else I could get this done.)
A few weeks later he sent me photos of the wooden version pictured below. I was a bit taken aback because it wasn’t at all like we had discussed. But I had already sent him the money to manufacture them, and he had already made a batch of them by the time he showed me anything. They were well-made and they looked nice, so I put them up for sale on the forum and they sold out over the course of a few months.
We continued with a few more batches, but after about a year I decided to part ways with him. I was losing control over my idea and wanted to make a handle that was closer to my original vision. But… how? While I tried to figure that out, I was working on another idea I had for a Onewheel stand. This was when Future Motion’s wooden stand was the only choice and no third-party Onewheel vendors were offering one. I mentioned it to a coworker, and he put me in touch with a CNC operator he thought could prototype it for me.
I met with him and while discussing the stand I showed him my wooden Onewheel handle. When I mentioned my idea for a slimmer design, he said he could make the main bracket with aluminum. He sketched out a few concepts which got the wheels turning in my head. That night I immediately started working on a new design for what would become the SilverHandle.
The original SilverHandle: Brushed laser-cut aluminum
I named my company MazzCo in honor of my daughter, Mazzy. She was born around the same time I started making handles. I don’t think I ever would have worked as hard as I did had it not been for my daughter. For the next year my CNC guy was manufacturing the aluminum brackets for my handles. A friend of mine and I did all the assembly in a hot tool shed I had converted into a makeshift workshop.
Being a third-party Onewheel vendor has help me bond with our customers and great community members. I’ve enjoyed meeting fellow Onewheel riders at FloatLifeFest and in my local area on group rides. I have now been a third party Onewheel vendor making and selling side-handles for nearly 4 years. We are continually improving our handles. These improvements are anodizing the aluminum, reinforcing the velcro straps, and having more and more parts custom made. At one point we switched to a bigger manufacturer to make the brackets when demand increased and my CNC guy could no longer keep up. But my friends and I still assemble every handle in my workshop, which has since moved from the shed to the garage.