In the Vinohrady district of Prague, between two buildings, at the bottom of a path, there is a large black steel door with the word Festka painted in white.Behind the door awaits a grotto of brightly coloured steel and carbon which sits in strong contrast to the stark white of it’s surroundings. Adding further drama to the atmosphere are the photographs that adorn the walls by one of Festka’s admirers, one Stefan Rohner of Rapha Continental fame. Festka met Stefan when they produced a bike that he is due to ride in an upcoming Continental film.
Festka is the brainchild of Ondrej and Michael, who in the search of some bespoke fixed gear bikes decided that their options were almost non-existent and so started their own business to produce them. Things have come a long waay in only four years They now have around twenty people working for them across the Czech Republic and this is where Festka as a company start to become really interesting.
Although it is still quite common for steel frames to be made in Europe, carbon frame and component production has mostly been moved to Asia. Even Lightweight, who hand-make some of the most expensive carbon wheels have taken the decision that the Urgestalt frame should be produced in Asia. Festka pride themselves in producing everything in Czech Republic with very few exceptions.
Their decision to make the carbon frames in Czech enables them to offer a fully bespoked bike from geometry through to graphic paint schemes. The importance they place in making striking bikes was highlighted when they employed graphic designer Tomas, who has also helped to shape the image of the company.
But it doesn’t end there. Festka have begun a series of bikes they call the ‘Art Collection’. It was the result of their collaborations with famous Czech artists and illustrators including Tomski and Polanski, who produced the wonderful wind and bird themed fixed gear carbon bike, hand painted with acrylic pens and then lacquered.
The foundation of what Ondrej and Michael wanted to create is a completely bespoke proposition for their clients. They decided this must include wheels and kit, hence sister companies Rocket Wheels and High Voltage. This enables them to produce individual bespoke designs for customers that will match colours and motifs across the frame, wheels and kit. They have recently had their first customer for this complete bespoke package who comes from Asia.
They Keep Going
Festka have many exciting plans and have been teasing a new titanium cross frame on their website for a while. They are actually planning both road and cross titanium frames with the collaboration of ‘Chief of titanium’ Svatopluk Zatloukal who comes to them from legendary Czech titanium frame maker Morati. While Podia visited, they were in the process of building new prototypes and we were lucky enough to test the ‘Mist’ titanium cross frame (you will be able to read about it in a future post).
They are also ambitious when it comes to carbon. Collaborating with a company that makes masts for race yachts, they have developed a carbon tube that enables them to tailor the strength, rigidity and ride characteristics of each tube according to the client’s specification. Expect to hear about the use of these tubes from other companies, as Festka look to form a business model similar to Enve who supply carbon tubes to other frame makers.
A highlight of visiting the Festka was the stainless steel XCr Modern with chrome pink paintwork. This particular finish requires a twenty three-step process and cannot be completed in anything less than one month! It is a finish that cannot be appreciated in photographs (we tried our best) but none the less, expect to see it featured a bit on the Podia blog in the near future, as we took it on a test ride and tried our hardest to photograph the stunning paintwork.
See our collaboration with Festka here.