One of the things that makes fingerboarding so special is its community, where practitioners and makers mix and mingle. In today's Instagram era, the distances that separate all these people geographically are no longer a barrier and the possibilities of exchange are infinite. This leaves us all the more chances to make a humanly enriching exchange. And this is exactly what happened to me the day I sent a DM to Aïko Wheels.
The brand made in Quebec, Canada, is a one-man show managed entirely by Hélios. A passionate autodidact who, shocked by the prices of Fb wheels often higher than those of skateboard wheels, launched into their production with the idea of offering quality wheels within the reach of all pockets. ITW with one of the most nice activist of the game !
Fingerboardz : Hi Hélios and thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions! Can you introduce yourself and AÏKO WHEELS ?
Hélios : The pleasure is mine ! I'm a very ordinary person, I've always loved skateboarding and what it entails ! Today I'm 24 years old, in addition to Aïko Wheels, I work in disinfection and housekeeping, and I'm fiancé :)
4-5 years ago I had a car accident due to a truck that didn't stop and since then I have a cervico-dorso-lumbar problem. I have a really hard time getting on a board without having a lot of pain. So I found the alternative of trying the fingerskate and I got hooked. I really liked the feeling that it brings and all the creativity that it allows to express!
Slowly, I've made some great contacts and I'm very grateful for that. I've had a lot of encouragement and support along the way especially from my friend Marc-Antoine (@bolt_it_fb) who really pushed me to test and release a product. I can't wait for the ramps and boards he's developing too !
The wheel project is a project started with fun, for fun. I want to give back to the community for the support I have received.
And I believe it's a scene that is very much worth discovering and will continue to grow. But we have to help it grow like a bonsaï !
Aïko means "child of love" in Japanese, because to give life to a project you have to give it a lot ! But Aïko is also a little warrior (canine) who accompanied me during the creation of the product unfortunately deceased. The project is now named in his honor !
I am currently working on some new wheel models and color formulas to give a more varied choice to consumers ! Aïko Wheels is growing day by day despite the fact that I often lack time 🏃 And I don't intend to give up !
We are currently expanding and I'm doing business with a few other companies in the fingerskate sector, many projects are to come !
FBZ : In terms of design, the wheels are far from being the easiest to produce. Why this choice ?
HELIOS : I started the wheel project out of curiosity, for the pleasure of learning. Because in fact it's more complex than it looks. At first my wheels didn't look like wheels 😂
FBZ : Haha it's crazy ! I can tell you've come a long way since then ! You produced two different generations of wheels during the first year of Aiko's existence. Today the project is evolving with a new model. It's a range that represents a turning point technically ! Can you explain us all this ?
HELIOS : In fact, before working on the hybrid, I did several tests to come up with this shape which was my mix between a penny wheel and a more traditional skate wheel. Then I started to work on street shape, but there were a lot of complications and I had to put it on hold. Then, since the demand was there, I started working on street minis, but I realized that without having succeeded in shaping the street, I was missing a step in the process...
So I reworked the (perfect) street shape according to my ideas and experiences, to offer a more professional, but at the same time, more conventional model. From there, I could finally work on this new generation of wheels with the mini street shape we know today !
FBZ : There have been huge evolutions on the technical level but not only, right ?
HELIOS : At the beginning, the project was a personal project with no real professional ambitions. But after the first year of development, I noticed that it was doing well and that there was a way to become better and to develop even more. But I had absolutely no time to push the project to 100%.
Recently I had the chance to start as a freelancer in my other business ! So I was able to adjust my schedule to professionalize Aïko Wheels in parallel ! This is a chance to really have time allotted for it and to really make it a part of my life, both personally and professionally. It's a childhood dream come true !
FBZ : Yeah and the amazing thing is that you have a lot of colors, often rare, produced in small quantities !
HELIOS : I think the basis of it all is just having fun ! So I don't want to produce the same colors all the time. I like to have a free spirit in my projects. I do some testing and so on. But sometimes I stick to the sales for certain colors ( white/black and white/pink ). And yes, I find that too much of the same colorway kills the thing a bit 😂 Have you ever gone back to school and seen a guy with the same sweater as you ... well that's kind of it 😂
FBZ : The scene seems very active in Quebec, can you tell us about it ?
HELIOS : In fact the scene seems bigger than it really is here in Quebec. However it's still important. I think what blocks people here, is the fact that they are judged for mini skateboarding. But I think it's still a general problem. I haven't been active in fingerboarding circles for a long time but I see that the people who do it are very attached to it I think, the hard workers, as well as the riders !
Slowly but surely it will grow, that's for sure ! I don't even think we have a physical fingerboard shop in Quebec. It's very artisanal and home made.
“ It's a scene that is definitely worth discovering. But we need to help it grow like a bonsaï tree ! ”
FBZ : Hehe yes it's a long-standing problem, I think it evolves a bit with time !
HELIOS : I believe that we should not be ashamed of what we do, or who we are. Especially for such a complex discipline that probably 80% of the people in the street would never dare to try for fear of failing, or not being good at the beginning. I mean look at Tony Hawk, he's a pro at skateboarding but he can't do Fbing.
He just prefers the SB to the FB and has persevered in this field. So yes it's a difficult discipline to take time to adapt and understand 🤷
But hey it was just an example to say that we each have our preferences. So don't be ashamed if your neighbor prefers something else and don't be afraid of judgment 🤷
FBZ : In the Fb industry there are sometimes secrets, let's say, "well kept" and that are not shared much. For example with the heat-transfer technique. How did it go on your side for the wheels ?
HELIOS : I had a year of testing because I didn't have any help from anyone really in the business except one person who informed me about stuff with a lathe but I was only casting, so I didn't need a lathe at that time. I was curious but people in the business keep their secrets well. You have to be willing to pay when you start from scratch and work. I really didn't know anything about it. Everything I learned, I learned in the last year !
FBZ : Yes I suspected, it's all to your credit, it proves how passionate and determined you are !
HELIOS : What I like about the fact that people don't share secrets is that you can see who really wants to push the development. It makes the products may look the same, but they are never really the same !
And personally, yes I do make wheels, but I also encourage other companies. I've ridden Illpils, DK too, and I think I even still have DK bowls in stock for my cruiser. I'm not someone who gets stuck on his product. Even my riders that I encourage, I tell them to ride what they want and not to block on Aïko if they want to test or ride something. I really make my wheels for fun ! I am not someone who wants a monopoly or a stranglehold on people, I encourage them to have fun !
FBZ : You talked about future projects, does it also concern the distribution of other brands in your shop ?
HELIOS : In fact it's the opposite, I'm more a supplier than a direct seller. I try to keep a rhythm with small sites and small shops. I'm not looking for size per project. I mean, yes being available on new platforms is good, but it's also important to encourage companies by buying ply that I could then redistribute with one of my graphics while mentioning where it comes from ! Clothing, new shape, wheels etc 🤷
FBZ : I thank you for your time, it was a real pleasure to learn more about Aiko! I leave you the last word, if you have a bigup to pass, it's the opportunity !
HELIOS : I am very grateful to the entire community and especially to my local contacts and friends who had the word to support me. I am very appreciative and extremely grateful !
BIGUP TO THE FUN AND THE WHOLE COMMUNITY !
Without fun it just wouldn't be the same ! 🔥
A special thx to you and the people who take time out of their day to talk about every product possible. It's much appreciated, and I'm sure from many other manufacturers as well ! 🔥
“I believe that we should not be ashamed of what we do, nor of who we are. Especially for such a complex discipline that probably 80% of the people in the street would never dare to try for fear of failing !”
👇 SPECIAL VIDEO "CANADA" WITH AIKO WHEELS AND KAMELPRO 👇