Chico Brenes: More than a skater’s skater

Finding connections

Building community. It’s a popular phrase in danger of becoming cliché. But in the right hands, community building can not only introduce new friends, it can change lives. When we first spoke with skateboard legend Chico Brenes in 2022, it became clear that he was not only a professional skater but an inspiration and a leader in his community.

Having had to leave his native Nicaragua when still a young boy and to build a life for himself in the United States inspired Factor Bikes to want to connect with Chico and tell his story.

“We want to find people who have overcome adversity, who have done interesting, challenging, inspiring things,” Factor Creative Director Jay Gundzik explained. “And Chico’s story is one of those. From being a kid and escaping the gang pressures and military violence in Nicaragua to learning how to adapt to his new city to becoming a professional skater, and not just any professional skater, but an iconic professional skater. He set the standard for modern street skating at the time.”

From skating to cycling

Chico turned to cycling after suffering a severe knee injury while skateboarding. He found it was an amazing method of rehabilitation, not only for his knee but his mind as well.

“When I hurt my knee, I was 39 at the time, and I thought my skateboarding career was over,” Chico said. “I did physical therapy first and then just started riding the bike and then started doing these long rides. The doctor said it would be over a year before I could skate again, but I was already pushing around on the board after 7 months. Listening to my body to make sure I didn’t reinjure anything. I think it was all because I was riding my bike at the time.” The incredible thing was not only that Chico could skate again, but that he was as good if not better than he was before his accident.

“I never thought that I would be skating at this level at this age. Never in my wildest dreams. If you had told me that I’d be able to do a lot of the tricks that I was doing back then now that I’m 49, I would have been like, no way.”

Chico believes it’s riding his bike that has saved his skateboarding. And perhaps what’s surprised him most is how many other skaters have told him the same thing.

“I think the more I told my story, the more I had skateboarders reaching out and telling me that they had gone through something like that. Even skating legend John Cardiel used cycling to be able to skate again. I was blown away that a lot of people were also using cycling to recover or come back, and for me it really did get me back to the level of skateboarding that I needed to be.”

It's just like riding a bicycle

Though cycling has been used by all types of sports people to help them return from injury in the past, there is an unexpected, unique connection between cycling and skateboarding. Jay Gundzik, Factor Creative Director, understands this synergy especially well since he has long been both a cyclist and skater. “There are a lot of similarities you don’t realize that cycling and skateboarding have in common. I think it’s part of a holistic lifestyle that they both share. There are physical similarities for sure, like the need for good core strength, balance, muscle memory. But even more importantly, there’s the mental strength that both require,” Jay said.

“Cyclists are tough, we know that. I mean a cyclist would rather finish a race all bloodied and bandaged up than give up and quit. And skateboarders are the same. We’re talking about spending an entire day trying to learn a trick that is very complex, and it takes coordination, focus, tenacity, pain tolerance, determination. I feel like skateboarders have the same mental strength and determination, the fearlessness, that cyclists have. There are consequences to not landing that trick in skateboarding. I mean even if it’s just on a curb, you can eat shit, you can lose some teeth, you can break your wrist, you can smash your head open. It’s not child’s play.”

It’s a description of a process that Chico wholeheartedly recognizes. “Absolutely, unless your leg is falling off, you’re still going to continue. Another similarity too, cyclists I feel are just out on their own, just like skateboarders. You are just learning that trick on your own. Yeah, sure you have a group of friends you can meet up with to skate, but most of the time, you are just practicing on your own, and I think that’s a lot like most cyclists. That’s another thing about both sports that I really, really like. I mean when I am cycling, most of the time I will just go out on my own to do my own thing.”

Storytelling through design

Something else that’s similar between cyclists and skateboarders is how much we love a cool paint job. The special Factor x Chico Stix Capsule Collection unites our shared love of graphics, color, and storytelling through design. The OSTRO Gravel Chico Edition absolutely pops in the sunlight, and a whole collection of accessories and soft goods follow the same design language not only to tell his story, but celebrate our connection.

“When Jay showed me his design ideas, I loved it right away. The cool thing is that it was meaningful. Jay actually went into my background: where I’m from in Nicaragua, what I’ve been through. At first I wasn’t certain how he was going to do it because with skateboarding, you have new graphics like every month. So I was wondering what was left to do since I had already used a lot of stuff from my home town in past designs. But then Jay said, oh we’re going to use the Nicaraguan national bird and these colors, and typeface, and imagery from where you live now, like with the Golden Gate bridge. Right away when he showed me the design, I was just blown away. Jay did an incredible job.”

At Factor, we’re lucky to have a Creative Director like Jay Gundzik, who has proved his creativity, skill, and imagination on dozens of special edition designs. But even someone as talented as Jay can have nerves when working with a legend like Chico.

“I’m honored because when we started this project, I was super nervous because I didn’t want to get it wrong. Like Chico said, graphically, skateboarding is so inventive, and he has worked with some really renowned, amazing artists, so I wanted to do something that Chico would be really proud of,” Jay said.

“I always like to start with some type of idea or message. And Chico’s story is so special and unique, I wanted to reflect it, but I didn’t want to be too on the nose with it. I wanted it to feel subtle, but still tell the story. I saw some earlier graphics that Chico had done. It was a sort of Japanese mid-century print work that had been done in a tiled kind of pattern, look and feel. I love mid-century design, anything from the 50s and 60s graphically I love. So I wanted to do a modern take on that and create a unique typeface for the bike that says Chico, that says Factor. And then also create some iconographic images that could illustrate a little bit of Chico’s journey. And then have the colors tie it all together.”

Collaborating not just on the frame design, but the other items that will make up the Capsule Collection, Jay and Chico found a way to make even the matching skateboard design unique. “One of the really cool things that Chico suggested, which I love, is a full top and bottom print on the board,” Jay explained.

“So, the top of the skateboard has the Factor logo, and the bottom is Chico’s. It looks beautiful. And especially when you see the two boards together with the design language side by side, I’m super happy with how it turned out.”

Factor x Chico Stix Capsule Collection

In addition to the OSTRO Gravel Chico Edition, the collection includes special T-Shirts, Hoodies, two skate decks, one for cruising and one for street skating. We also have a special edition matching Castelli Jersey and Bib Shorts as well as a matching bidon.

To order the skateboard and softgoods items from the collection, please go to

The OSTRO Gravel Chico Edition will be available to order on our website for a limited time.

Revisit our first interview with Chico here.