Some of the world’s most visually arresting bikes are coming out of one country these days, and it’s not the USA or the UK. Each new release from the Czech house of Festka is more spectacular than the last — from their pink-chromed track bike at the 2013 NAHBS to the recent Dazzle road bikes.
Festka’s most recent build is a little bit more subtle. Designed for an Indonesian customer, the rolling masterpiece is a blend of ancient and modern, inspired by the intricate artwork of the Batak culture native to the peoples of North Sumatra.
I’m loathe to refer to Festka as a brand, because they are more like a team or a family. Everyone involved is committed to proudly presenting their product to the world as an innovative and highly skilled operation — although they’re neither afraid of expressing their creativity.
Festka regularly collaborates with artists to further enhance its already beautifully constructed frames. A joint project with fellow Czech locals, an artistic duo named Tomski & Polanski, prompted Tommy, who lives in Indonesia, to make an enquiry about a custom frame.
Tommy was keen to share his experience: “I saw a picture of this hand-painted bicycle by Tomski & Polanski on Instagram and instantly knew that I needed to be riding one. Although the bike that brought my attention to Festka was made of carbon, I wanted a steel frame. Call me a traditionalist but I like the feel of steel.
“I contacted Festka to see what they can do for me. I was taken aback by their friendly approach and felt very welcome since the first phone call. The initial phase was discussion. They asked me all kinds of questions about my riding style and what I expected from my new bike.
“I was put in contact with the graphic designer and we spent time talking about the design options. I come from Indonesia and respect the Batak heritage of the country. I also appreciate the beauty of Czech handcraft, so the design and the finish are a fusion of both traditions.
“I was given three options to choose from and once I picked one, we were ready to move on to the building process. Festka suggested I have a measuring session with their representative in Singapore in order to get the right frame size and geometry data.
“I wanted the bike to feel traditional, yet modern, so the choice went to Columbus XCr tubes and Festka original dropouts. We agreed on the components that were offered to me based on my riding skills and needs. Festka talked me through the whole building process and we were in touch over Skype to tune even the smallest details. It goes without saying that they adjust the components to match the frame color and design.
“We spent some time discussing the wheels and rims and I enjoyed being a part of the team. I had some specific wishes and they went out of their way to fulfill them. My seat is made of fine leather and engraved with a matching pattern to the design of the whole bike.
“When the time came to shipping arrangements I decided to pick it up in person. I have become so familiar with the Festka guys over the phone and on Skype that I wanted to meet them. They helped me book a hotel and invited me for a test ride.
“When I got to the store there was a surprise waiting for me. I have to say, they do take care of their business to the last detail. I was presented with my new bike and a matching cycling set that they had made especially for me under the High Voltage brand, a subsidiary company of Festka.
“They walked me through the store and workshop. I met the guy who put my frame together, shook hands with the graphic designer, and set off to a ride with the two Festka owners Michael and Ondrej. Riding through Prague was an experience to remember. We took photos, check out some of the sights and most of all we rode — the streets, cobblestones, the bridges and it felt amazing.
“Later, my family joined us for lunch where we finalized the transport of the bike via airplane. Festka provided me with an experience that I will not forget.”
I have a feeling Tommy’s bike will cause a stir, and not just in Singapore. What do you think? Head to the Festka website for more information.