The future is here, and we are proud to announce that it is VERY European. Pedro at IXO is making the most innovate skate products and working with amazing local talent. This is the beginning of an awesome legacy.
Hola Pedro, how are you?
Very fine, thank you. I’m happy !
Where are you from?
I’m from Vigo, in the Northwest coast of Spain, just over the border of Portugal.
What’s it like there?
Nice. It’s the perfect place to live and work in high tech composites.
When did you start skating?
I don’t skate! I just know how to manufacture carbon fiber components and parts.
When did you first start working with carbon fiber components?
Our main business is the repairing of plastic containers. Our company started to repair and produce composite parts in 2007, and we manufacture pieces for third parts from 2011.
What is special about carbon fiber?
Carbon fiber composites are the strongest and lightest material you can imagine. It’s very resistant and supports big loads flawlessly. Also, it can take shapes and forms impossible to create with metals.
The most sophisticated of all the carbon forms is the prepreg, as this has the resins (we just use epoxy) integrated in the fabric. This means that the % of resin in the laminate is the smallest possible. No other manufacturing technique allows you to obtain a smaller percentage of resin as prepreg. This means a stronger laminate. The less the resin, the better the results.
Laminate is high-vacuum compacted, to reduce air between the layers, and cured in oven for 6 hours, following a carefully designed map of temperatures.
Using prepreg allows perfect repeatibility of results, piece by piece.
Where is prepreg normally used?
The main use of prepreg, due to the very high cost, is mainly aircraft pieces, military parts, and high-tech elements in machinery, robotics and special cars, like Koenisegg, Lamborghini or Ferrari. Most of the new airplanes from Boeing or Airbus are made with prepreg carbon fiber as this reduces the weight of the airplane. It means more load capacity and less fuel expense.
Why did you decide to start making skateboards?
It could sound like a joke, but we just started to do it in December, as a way to use some leftover carbon. One of the pieces we manufacture for Airbus was 85 cm wide. As the carbon fabric was 120 cm, we had 35 cm left, all along the fabric roll, and we had no use for this crazily expensive fabric. So, in Christmas, I had the idea to make a skateboard for my 12 year old son as a present, using this left fabric. We made a very simple mould for it, and I went to a shop here to ask for trucks and wheels to finish my present.
When the guy in the shop (Isra Cameselle) saw the deck, he went crazy, and asked me if I could make him another one. This was the beginning of everything.
We made more moulds, and started production, focused on the best quality and best finishing. We aren’t under presure of having sales figures, as our business is different. We enjoy the comments about our decks, so we decided to go ahead more seriously with it.
What are the advantages of using carbon over wood?
Our decks are much more rigid, more thin, more strong than wood. With carbon, it’s possible to create shapes impossible to do in wood, as wood has blending limits. The imagination of designers and riders is the only limit on the boards we can create.
Are there any disadvantages?
The only disadvantage is the price. Some people consider the rigidity as a disadvantage for skating, but this could be avoided, using flexible resins, and using different cores, so that’s not a worry for us, we could produce a blade as flexible or more than wood, if needed.
How much more expensive is it?
It’s at least 4 times more expensive. This depends on many different factors: the type of carbon used, the type of core used (for example, the core of Nomex® honeycomb we use, is around 20 times more expensive than pvc foam), and also the type of finishing used. If you wish for a carbon deck finished like IXO decks, it’s a lot of hand work. Polishing the surface no less than 6 times and using a very, very expensive varnish from duPont that allows you to have a glossy mirror finish that people love. It costs a lot of hours of very skilled workers.
What is the name of your company?
IXO has two main activities: the plastic (covered by our 7 factories in Spain and one in Portugal), and the composites arena; covered by our plant in Madrid and in Vigo.
Vigo is the “mother” of all the group,we call it “the kitchen”. Here we cook new things, new projects, we test new materials, making moulds, etc. That later one we pass to the rest of our factories.
What does IXO mean?
I created our logo with an “X” in the middle, as in terms of graphic design it looks nice. In the basque language it means “shout up”, but in Spanish it has no meaning.
How has the company grown since December?
Since we’ve taken the decision to go ahead with this adventure, the growth was quite fast. We introduced 3 models of boards, and we’re working on some more. In summer, we would like to have 6 models of decks in the market. We’re a small company (at least in the composites area), and we prefer to go slowly but with firm steps. Creating a team of good riders is key for having a presence in this business, so we actually focus in to have the best possible running with IXO. We’re very glad to have Tyler and Rafa with us.
Is there anyone out there making similar boards?
No, as far as we know, there isnt’t any, at least in prepreg. Some manufacturers claim to make “carbon fiber boards”, but most of them just add some layers to a wooden one. Others use a very THICK core of pvc foam, liquid resin and dry carbon to make boards, most of them quite manually, with a poor finish. We don’t know one that produces a board like us.
What was the inspiration for the first models?
In the beginning, we decide to get some inspiration from shapes that were present in the market, like the Avenger model from Rayne and the Wolf Shark by Landyachtz, as these boards were commonly accepted as good ones. This allows us to test our capacity of production, our process and the possibilities of the luxury market where we move. Now we’re strong enough to start creating our own shapes and designs, using the capacity of carbon to adapt easily to any mould.
We decided to collaborate with some people with good names in this downhill world, for the design of future models, like our next IXO SK-04. Our team riders are committed to helping us in future development of new top-class models, using their experience and comments. We enjoy the atmosphere we have at IXO for it !
Is there a market for high end skateboards?
There is a market for high-end everything! In spite of the financial crisis, many people have enough money. Chanel is selling very expensive carbon fiber items, and we do it also. We don’t have any production needs in terms of amount per month, we make our decks only on order, and we don’t have a minimum quantity.
There are individuals that give distinction and exclusivity a high value, and we make boards and items for them. We don’t manufacture massive selling items, this isn’t our intention.
You can compare us to the watch manufacturing brands making mechanical jewels, very limited amount of sales, and very expensive. We don’t want to be Swatch or Renault, we love to be Rolex or Bugatti.
This limitation on the number of units we produce and the high price tag we have allow us to inlude only the very best materials in our boards. A good example is the full set of titanium grade 5 of screws and nuts we include with each board. Also the Cordura® cushioned bag. Who does it like us? Which brand sends a set of 100 dollar screws with each deck ? Only IXO.
What else is in the bag?
The deck is covered with a soft non-textile bag, manufactured in Evolon®, a very soft fabric. This fits inside a cushioned Cordura® ballistic fabric, in a black foam. When the deck arrives, the owner could take out this foam, and use the cushioned bag as a carry bag for the board.
Also, there is a bag with 8 ”titanium grade 5 screws” and nuts, a set of very thick risers (because our boards are so thin it’s impossible to make wheel wells). Future models will take care of such characteristic of our blades.
What do you look for in team riders?
First of all: a nice person who is a good team player. We are very small, like a group of friends, and individuals that don’t understand this philosophy, can’t have a seat on our boat.
Second, they should be a quality lover, like us! Love for the precision, for the details, for the finishing, for the perfection of the forms… for IXO!
How big a team will you have in a year?
No more than 4 riders. We are very proud to have Irra Cameselle, Tyler Harrington and Rafa Garrido with us. We’ve already selected the fourth one, it will be announced shortly, we promise that it will be a very nice team of riders!
While big brands sponsor hundreds or even thousands of riders all over the world, IXO keeps small numbers. The quality of our support and care we have for our riders, will mark new standards in this business. Fast answers, immediate response to their needs, personal care of all of them are details that a big brand cannot offer to their big teams. IXO cares!
RAFA! Will he have 2 board sponsors now?
No, Rafa will totally fulfill his contract with Landyachtz, which allows Rafa to collaborate in the mean time with us. He will be from now, using our accessories and help us to design and develop new decks and security items, with his experienced point of view.
Of course, we offered Rafa a deck, but his wish to fulfill his commitment with LY shows that he’s a GENTLEMAN. We appreciate very much his position in this question.
We cannot know what will happen in the next year, but Rafa knows perfectly that all technology and support of IXO is at his full disposal. We hope to have Rafa fully integrated in IXO team for the next year.
What are your plans for this year?
We plan to have a range of competitive decks, all of them manufactured in carbon fiber, where riders could choose a winner. We don’t manufacture toys or decks to take to school. We manufacture extreme competition downhill decks only, and we’ll go on doing so in the future. With our team of riders, we hope to learn a lot about this world, and become able to jump worldwide for the next year.
We want to see an IXO deck winning the world championship one day, and we are TOTALLY sure we will do it.
How will IXO change the face of longboarding?
Things will NEVER be the same after IXO. Once one of our riders wins a race, all other riders will start asking their sponsors why they are riding a wooden block, instead a light and technically advanced carbon deck.
It will happen exactly like in Formula 1: years before, the cars were built in glass fiber laminate. Once Lotus introduced the very first car body in carbon fiber, all others took note of it, and today, we can’t imagine a Formula 1 car not fully built in carbon.
The same will happen in downhill racing, where differences between riders are little, the advantages of a technically superior deck will make the big brands to move fast towards something similar. They cannot ignore it, as their riders will demand to have such technology available to them. At the moment, only IXO riders have it, but all others will follow us, we’re sure of it.
So this season Rafa will be riding his wolfshark with IXO support?
Yes, IXO will support Rafa in technical questions, custom made accessories and protections.
What new products can we expect from the IXO stable?
The new IXO SK-04 will shock the market, not only for the quality of the design, but also for the name of the designer working with us on it. This deck will mark a new starting point for the brand IXO.
In protections we will introduce a full range of articulated elements, manufactured using our experience and know-how in orthopedics and ergonomy.
Also, we are focusing our attention on a really GOOD aero helmet, specifically designed for downhill skateboarding. We tried to contact one manufacturer of such helmets to explore the possibility of collaborating with him; we would make the shell of the helmet in carbon fiber, and he the inside, but we don’t have any answer to our messages, so we decided to produce our own helmet in carbon: lighter and much, much stronger than his.
The SK-04 is being designed by a skater?
The SK-04 is being designed by the BEST skater ever, but keep it confidential till the board is finally introduced. We are very happy to have him working with IXO, as his experience will blow up the actual design of decks in wood.
How are IXO protections different from the ones already available?
Mainly, the actual protections are built with hard plastic, which blends in case of an extreme shock. We will make all of them in carbon fiber and kevlar®.
Kevlar is much stronger in impact than carbon. In fact, it’s used to make bullet proof clothing and military helmets. Using carbon also will greatly reduce their weight. We calculate that ALL protections our riders will wear (knees, elbows, back, neck and shoulders) will not weigh more than 1 kg. And we’re talking of a material so strong that it is virtually indestructible.
We want to collaborate with a leather manufacturer (we focus on ARC actually), to make a leather suit, that integrates all this new protections INSIDE the leather, with special pockets to fit them all, which make this protections totally comfortable for the rider. These protections will have titanium hinges that will allow only the degrees of movement acceptable for the human body. It will prevent movement of the legs or arms in positions that will cause damage, and this means greater security for our riders. We are totally committed to supply our guys the best and safest equipment they need.
Fully customized leathers with spaceman technology protection?
YES! The technology is there, the knowledge is there, we’re not reinventing the wheel. We want to focus in security and ergonomy for our riders. It makes me crazy to see a guy going downhill at 100 km/h with cheap plastic knee protection on his leathers. If impact occurs against a metal barrier, they may injure a leg or foot, and this is totally unacceptable to us.
Will normal racers be able to afford this protection?
It’s a question of priorities. Also, it’s a question of how much support they get from their sponsors. For us, security isn’t negotiable in any way.
But, it’s obvious than high-tech materials and products will not be cheap. Nothing in Formula 1 is cheap, but we cannot imagine Alonso or Hamilton discussing the price of their helmets with their sponsors.
How long do people have to wait?
As small company, we have some advantages. While the big dinosaurs of the skate universe take a long time to produce something new, we can do it sometimes in days or weeks. For example: we’ve designed and produced special risers for Tyler, with the form of his Aeras, just in 2 days, using a special rubber, cut with waterjet. This type of care details are simply impossible for a huge company.
In capacity of production, we don’t have problems to increase if necessary, if the demand exists, so we’ll see how the market responds to our proposals.
Are all your products made in Europe?
Yes, all our products are made in Spain (world leader in composites, by the way), and they will be in future.
We got offers recently from big manufacturers in China, asking us to produce there, but we aren’t interested! No way we’ll make anything in China. It’s like asking Lamborghini to produce their cars in China, instead of Italy. Mass production is fine for big brands, because of the cheap prices.
But this isn’t our market, we don’t expect (neither do we want), to sell thousands of nothings, we will keep our technology and experience here in Europe forever.
What are you looking forward to most this season?
We want to accomplish our storyboard: complete our team of riders, and be able to have the helmets and protections ready before the end of this year.
What do you do when you’re not making skateboards?
Other carbon pieces, and sometimes, sleep some hours, hehehe. We like to focus and love what we are doing, we feel very lucky to enjoy our jobs, and I’m sure that the products we make reflect perfectly this spirit and care for the details. We will never be able to create our IXO masterpieces if we don’t love what we’re doing.
Choose 3 numbers between 1-41
1, 7 and 15
15 – What was the last book you read?
A very boring manual about how to eliminate bubble and pinholes in rotomoulding plastic, written by a lecturer at Dublin University (Ireland).
7 – What is your favourite meal?
Fruits of the sea, and fish, of course, I’m from the northwest coast, we have the best meals one could ever imagine !
It’s been really fun talking to you Pedro. Stoked to hear about all the stuff you’re planning. Proud to have such amazing things coming out of Europe. Stay stoked!
Thank you very much for your kind attention. As small company, one of our challenges is letting the people know that we even exist!
Any thank yous?
I wish to thank you, the believers, very much indeed! To the friends, to the family that support our passion. Big thanks to the riders of our team that risk their lives skating down hills, with our name on their leathers, we will take care of you!