The outstanding design talent of the Czechs is evident in so many areas that it’s no surprise to find alternatives to one of the 21st century’s trendiest forms of transport: handmade, unique bikes from Festka, a stylish companion for everyday life. We asked the brand’s founder Michael Moureček.
What inspired you to create Festka?
I wanted to buy a nice bike, but I couldn’t find a manufacturer who would build it for me from start to finish. After a few months of fruitless searching, I got together with Ondřej Novotný and we started working on this crazy idea of making the kind of bike I wanted to have. My experience of buying custom-made bikes goes back a long time: I’ve been “consuming” them since I was 16. And in my late teens, I became a professional cyclist, so I had plenty of opportunities to test different designs and materials.
What technology do you use and what exactly are the processes involved in making a bicycle frame like this?
Initially, we made steel, titanium and carbon bikes but these days we focus fully on carbon. Our raw material is a reel of carbon fibre and resin. Hi-tech robots turn the fibre into tubes by winding them on steel mandrels while injecting resin. When the resin sets the tube is ready to use. Our frames are composed of seven different tube diameters and profiles. These are then cut to measure according to the geometry drawing and assembled in an adjustable jig where the joints are bonded. This production method allows us to make every frame to measure from scratch. The joints then get reinforced by layers of carbon fabric laminated over and around them. The surface gets filled and sanded to be ready for painting. Getting the base layer perfect is a hard job on carbon. We paint all our design schemes by hand. Some of our frames may take up to 70 hours to paint. We use all sorts of techniques, from airbrush to hand drawing to precious metal inlay. The frame is sealed with transparent lacquer which may be glossy or matt.
The brand is consciously personality-driven, which means it’s important to you that it fits perfectly with your customers’ personalities. How do you achieve this? How do you make a bike completely tailored to the customer’s character?
We believe that we are all different in body and soul which means we can’t all ride the same bikes. There are bike fitting studios all over the world. All you need to do to start the process of getting a Festka is to get properly measured. The data we get from the fitter is sufficient for us to design the correct frame for everyone. It’s the design scheme that’s the harder part. Sometimes it’s a light breeze and sometimes a drawn-out storm. Customers can choose from set schemes that evolve or change every year. Sometimes they come to us with an original idea of their own and we just materialise it for them. The small group of people who want something special but are not sure what are in for a longer process because we need to get to know them first to be able to project their souls into the design scheme for their bike. The team at Festka dedicated to this part of the production process is very experienced and happy to take on any challenge.
In general, what do you think makes a good bike?
It depends on what you need it for. If you’re in a city and need to travel a short distance from point A to point B, then a city bike from some kind of shared system is best because these bikes are designed to best suit that type of use. We always try to find out as much as possible about what the customer wants from their bike.
What does Festka mean to you?
A family of people who help others discover the beauty of cycling. I believe we have this ability and it makes me happy when I see people having a great time on their bikes.