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Festka One

Festka One Whole Bike
Josh Cunningham
10 Jun 2015

No two frames are the same from Festkas Czech Factory

We decided to create a bike brand because we were both looking to buy a new bike,’ says Ondrej Novotny, co-founder of Festka alongside Michael Mourecek. ‘For various reasons such as the brand, price, the principles of quality and production, we couldn’t find any to suit. We approached some existing builders in the Czech Republic but  they turned us down. They said our ideas were going in the wrong direction. So we said, “OK,  if nobody wants to make this bike for us then we will make our own.”’

That was back in 2010, and the bike the pair wanted to build was in fact their dream fixed wheel city bike, so it makes sense that the brand they created, Festka, is Czech slang for ‘fixie’. ‘We wanted to produce something of value so we invested heavily in R&D. We believed that even a small company could produce world class products, and we learned a lot making fixies,’ says Novotny. ‘They are the simplest looking bikes, yet so difficult to perfect.’

Festka soon added to its fleet with a range of bike types in different materials before the Silnice One design process began in 2013 as a custom range crafted entirely for the road (silnice is Czech for road). ‘We developed our carbon tubes with a company called Compotech [also based in the Czech Republic]. The One is a bit of a joint venture really. Together we produce everything from the regular tubes to the brake bridge and bottom bracket shell. So the tubes are from Compotech, and we put them together and make them behave how they have been designed to behave. The raw carbon is from Japan, but everything else is done in the Czech Republic.’

Festka One Front Forks

The One’s uniqueness, says Novotny, comes in the nature of the tubes’ carbon lay-up, which is layered in three stages. The innermost piece has plies layered with fibres at 45° to each other, and Festka uses this to form the shape of the tube. The outer later is also woven at 45°, with torsional rigidity and robustness as its primary function. Sandwiched in the middle is a layer with plies at 0°. ‘That’s unique,’ says Novotny. ‘When we say zero, we mean it’s completely zero. Usually the ply will be off at 5° or 7°, but at zero degrees it makes the tube very stiff.’ At present we have to take Novotny’s word that the performance matches the science, but we’ll report back on the frame’s stiffness once we test the Festka One in a future issue.

Three in One

Because the Festka One is a custom bike, the tubes can be adapted to suit different body types and riding styles. ‘Each layer can be set up differently, with different angles. We are about to hit the market with three staple iterations: standard, light and stiff. There are currently 11 versions of the tubesets, but if a client came with a specific definition of their desired tube behaviour we can make another. We are able to precisely measure the performance, so if you want 50% more torsional rigidity, we can make that exactly; I could even tell you what the weight of that tube would be before it was produced.’

It must be said that this technology is strictly related to the tubes, and such clear-cut definitions are not currently applicable to the complexities and subjective qualities of a complete frame. ‘We are working on this with the Czech Technical University in Prague though,’ assures Novotny.

To add even more individualism to its frames, Festka has paraded some of the most eye-catching paintjobs in the market (check out its website). ‘You can have the top level everything, but still people say, “What more can you offer me? I want something different.” It’s up to you how much creativity you want to put in,’ Novotny says. Even on Cyclist’s One, devoid of wacky paintjob, there is the telltale elegance of a sumptuously crafted titanium rear drop out. As Novotny says, ‘Even if there was no name on the down tube, we need something that would allow you to look and think, “Yes, that is a Festka.”’

Festka One, £6,899 as pictured; from £2,399 frameset, festka.com

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