by Ryan Olliges
The lightest cruiser skateboard, crafted from pure carbon fiber, upcycled from the production of modern day rockets!
About this project
We started 121C with an environmental mission: eliminate the landfilling of carbon fiber scrap. The support we received from the Kickstarter community in launching our Aileron skate deck gave us a fantastic start. We’ve come a lot further and a lot faster than we anticipated. We successfully set up shop and began manufacturing boards on a large scale in the United States. We fulfilled all our original Kickstarter orders last December and now we’re back, expanding our scope in an attempt to improve our scrap utilization efficiency and create the lightest, coolest cruiser skateboard you can buy!
During the production of the Aileron we found there was a significant amount of trim scrap that was too small to be incorporated into that large cruiser deck. We needed to develop a second board that could incorporate even smaller pieces and that board is the Rover.
JPL’s plucky little Pathfinder rover was the inspiration for our new skateboard. They share a basic design criterion: being elegantly simple yet functional and as light as possible. Pathfinder’s diminutive size and mass were requirements for its solar powered cruise across the Martian surface. Our little rover will cruise you across campus or town and without encumbering your journey or weighing you down when you arrive.
At just 560 grams complete the Rover is the lightest skateboard we’ve found. It trounces those heavy plastic cruisers and the supposedly light wood deck (at @1100g, an Uber Light or Fiberlight weighs in nearly twice as much as ours), providing you with a lot more performance, not to mention style. The weight savings we gain from pure carbon fiber allows us to widen the deck and trucks, providing longboard stability and control in a tight, light package. Carbon fiber’s stiffness allows us to keep the board razor thin (less than 1/4 inch). And did we mention style? Equipped with Shark Wheels and Randal Trucks the Rover’s looks are INSANE and its ride isINCREDIBLE.
The Rover is cut to reflect the high-tech origin of its construction. Our carbon fiber is an extremely light weight and strong fiber reinforced polymer actually used in the production of rockets and the world’s highest performing aircraft. An old-school, surfboard shaped cruiser just wouldn’t honor that heritage. We looked to the sharp stealth cutouts of the classic F-117 Nighthawk and the sleek look of a hypersonic airfoil. From the swept back holes to the aggressive cut outs, each feature is engineered for both performance and style.
We’ve experienced the frustration of having our board stolen and so we’ve added cutouts on the Rover which serve as security hard points. They let you secure your Rover inside your locker or outside with a bike chain lock or a pad lock. Simply drilling a circular hole in the carbon wouldn’t match the Rover’s style, so we came up with a vented look that references the appearance of a high-performance aircraft.
We like to travel with our boards and found the Rover’s unique cutouts allow it to be strapped to a backpack, which is both convenient and very cool. We’ve tested our boards all over the world and gotten amazing responses from tech loving skaters from London to Hawaii. Even TSA agents smile when the Rover cruises through their scanner!
We utilize the top-grade material our aerospace supply partners are working with at a given time. Things like weave style and resin type will vary. However, all material we collect is top grade aerospace material – far superior to the consumer grade stuff used in almost all sporting goods – and we carefully test each layup to ensure consistency for your Rover. Like a fine piece of wood, each of our boards has a unique finish. But though weave and resin finishes may vary, quality does not. Every Rover performs with precision.
Our material is top grade aerospace “prepreg” carbon fiber designed for use in America’s finest aircraft and spacecraft. We know we could save a few bucks by having your board made by kids or old ladies in some remote sweatshop, but that just wouldn’t be cool. Our deck production and build outs are done by college skaters in the very heartland of skateboarding – Southern California. Our Shark Wheels and Randall Trucks are also made right here in SoCal. We take pride in doing things right, so you can take pride in your ride.
Precision is something we take very seriously at 121C and an off shore manufacture just couldn’t live up to our standards. Each one of our decks is cut by waterjet to within a tolerance of 5 thousandths of an inch. An 80,000psi stream of water blasts the carbon away leaving behind a perfect deck.
Our unique carbon fiber boards are light, strong and frankly pretty badass. We offer several options in Aileron and Rover packages. You can buy a deck alone or complete with Randal 125mm Trucks and Sharkwheel California Rolls. Once again you can have any color you want as long as it’s black.
Our 50-50 Cotton Polyester stealth black t-shirt is made in the USA has the 121C pure carbon logo on the front and our stealth logo on the back.
Whether you are looking to build out a deck of your own or have a penny and want to replace the plastic with something a little more stable and frankly a lot more badass the Rover deck only is the perfect package
The classic rover complete is unlike any other board out there. This package comes with the 121C team’s favorite set up, the Randal 125s and the Sharkwheel California Rolls and the ride is Out of This World!
Amidst processing thousands of pounds of carbon fiber, we came across something interesting. Kevlar! This rover really lives up to its name as the 121C Gold Edition. Kevlar is the DuPont trade name for a unique type of Aramid fiber. Aramid fibers are distinguished by their low density, high tensile strength and excellent toughness. They are used in composites to provide lightweight, strong laminates with excellent resistance to fatigue and impact damage as well as good wear resistance. On the Rover, the Kevlar shines through the grip tape with a gold tint like a first place medal! This board is in a class by itself.
The Aileron is the original pride of 121C. By ordering one through our Kickstarter and helping to fund the Rover production, you’re able to get the best deal ever offered on this deck.
Just can’t decide if you want an Aileron or a Rover? Then this is for you! Get an Aileron complete and a Rover complete because they’re both just too cool to pass up.
Looking to build out your own setup or looking for more information on our components? Here are the links to our awesome suppliers.
No other board has been on a mission like this!
We wanted to show that the Rovers could hold up in any environment so we put it to the test. Mounted on a weather balloon launch rig, this board was catapulted to the edge of space! We launched out of Mojave, California and captured an incredible view.
Check out the journey this Rover took with our 360 video of the launch narrated by Micheal Lopez-Alergia. Note that 360 video viewing works best on an Android or iPhone YouTube app and that Safari on Macs or PCs doesn’t support 360 video play back.
We couldn’t accomplish what we’ve set out to do without your help! Your support means the world to our team and we’re very excited to have you join us!
Founder: Ryan Olliges recently graduated as an aerospace engineer from the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California. He has been a member of the Rocket Propulsion Lab since his freshman year and was the lead Composite Engineer and CFO for two years. He started working on carbon fiber recycling as soon as he noticed the problem at the end of his freshman year in college and has been working on it ever since. Ryan’s environmental interest inspired his Eagle Scout project which established a rain garden that utilized filtered runoff water from the public works building in Lake Stevens, Washington.
Co-Founder: Greg Autry, MBA, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship with the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Marshall School of Business, USC. His research context is the emerging New Space industry. Greg is a serial entrepreneur and is active in supporting American manufacturing.
Industry Expert and Spokesperson: Michael López-Alegría is a former Naval aviator and one of America’s most experienced astronauts. He flew on Space Shuttle missions STS-73, STS-92, and STS-113, as well as on the Russian Soyuz TMA-9. Mike also served as International Space Station commander. He holds several NASA records including longest spaceflight (215 days), most Extravehicular Activities (EVA) or “space walks” (10) and cumulative EVA time (67 hours 40 minutes). He formerly served as President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. As a product spokesperson and industry liaison, Mike’s achievements inspire the whole 121C team to reach for the stars.
Jaysen Harris has many years of entrepreneurial experience in several startups. He is experienced in implementation systems throughout organizations large and small, including several major projects in the IT Field.
Lifetime warranty for the original owner on the delamination or snapping of the deck , noting that the deck is not for tricks. Grinding will void the warranty. Trucks wheels and bearings are covered separately by their original manufactures.
Risks and challenges
Leveraging some fantastic support from space and skate industry partners along with resources provided by the incredible USC network, we’ve minimized the risk and challenges for this venture. The Rover follows on the success of our July 2015 Aileron Kickstarter, which funded at 440% of goal and delivered on time.
Like the Aileron, the new Rover board was designed by skaters and iteratively improved via extensive testing around campus and around the world. This design and the product positioning was validated through the use of a diligent process of customer discovery. We are ready to take on large-scale production.
Every new process faces challenges. 121C is the only firm that has ever made a high volume production skateboard out of 100% aerospace grade prepreg carbon fiber. Our high-tech style and performance are radical departures from tradition.