We went to Prague to meet with the guys at Festka and have a look around their workshop (see ‘Behind the Festka Doors’) but they decided the only way to truly understand what they do was to go out for a ride on a selection of their bikes. Luckily we had some Podia prototype kits with us and so we couldn’t resist.
Michael, one of the Festka founders, guided us on a 50km loop to the south of Prague taking in some challenging climbs, picturesque towns and villages in the suburbs and then leading us back to base along Vlatava river. This was just enough time to see how the bikes behaved.
We were given an XCr Modern, XCr Classic with Pablo finish, a Carbon Zero as well as a prototype titanium cross bike.
XCr Modern ridden by Max Burgess
If you have read the previous Festka post, you will know how much we love the finish on this bike. Out of the 50km ride, it was only at about 40km that Max finally began to pay attention to the ride. It was actually getting a little dangerous as his head was constantly down admiring the paintwork. Another reason he hadn’t thought much about the ride was quality of the bike itself; super smooth and comfy.
The frame is able to absorb the vibrations from the road without compromising the weight and power delivery. This is part due to the use of stainless steel tubes, but also has much to do with the modern (hence the name) geometry and tube sizes.
The choice of Ultegra components on such a high value bike left us scratching our heads slightly but we can only imagine they were selected for their aesthetics, and let’s be honest they aren’t bad.
XCr Classic Pablo ridden by Wojtek Kwiatkowski
The XCr Classic uses the same stainless steel tubes as the XCr Modern, which offers the same level of comfort. Where the two frames differ is the geometry and tube sizes. The Classic is for those that favour the more traditional look with thinner tubes and a more slender design, most notably the head tube which consequently uses a straight up 1 1/8 fork. These differences make the frame less ‘racing thorough-breed’ and more of a ‘mile-muncher’.
The paint scheme shown on the bike we tested is called Pablo, which is available as a standard finish and was designed by in-house designer Tomasz, who got inspired by Pablo Picasso (in case you hadn’t worked that out yet)
Carbon Zero ridden by Artur Miazga
Artur had recently been to test the new Specialized Tarmac 2014 and was using this as a benchmark when riding the Carbon Zero. He was a little sceptical of the lugged carbon frame before the ride, but had changed his mind by the end. While he felt the Zero was slightly less aggressive in acceleration compared to the Tarmac, it more than made up for it in other areas.
The ride was surprisingly comfortable for a carbon frame that has been designed to be stiff in all the right areas. The enormous 57mm head tube allows for a much larger fork that makes the front end very rigid; great for fast descents.
The price of The Festka Zero is in the same range as the new Tarmac, but the biggest benefit of the Zero is it’s bespoke geometry that can be tailored to the rider. Especially important, if like in Artur’s case (being so tall), some stock frames just don’t fit as well as they could!
Mist Titanium ridden by Karol Michalski
Unfortunately for Karol, while we were all on road bikes, he was given a cross bike which meant he wasn’t able to properly put it through it’s paces to find out what it can do. Of course that didn’t stop him from making the most of any rough terrain that he could find on the side of the road.
Having not ridden on a titanium frame before, Karol was surprised at how well it performed. Karol noted that if you can get performance as good as this from a material as robust as titanium, it makes the perfect combination for such a challenging discipline as cross.
The Mist that Karol rode was still a prototype and bared the marks where it had been chopped and changed. Festka are very busy developing their Titanium frames at the moment and if this prototype Mist is anything to go by, the final results will be very special!