The 20th June, the date the first one landed. An inconspicuous brown box adorned with a logo we weren’t used to seeing at Sigma Sports. Rumours were circulating, the excitement was building, the wait was over.
Shipped from the Czech Republic, we carefully opened the box and lifted it out. Like handling a newborn child, we were in awe, with a paternal sense of responsibility overshadowing us. We unpacked the frame, toying with its protective wrapping, slowing peeling back the layers. Each moment a little bit more was revealed, until we stood, arms aloft with our newest brand in hand. Festka. It had arrived.
After weeks of deliberating, hours spent discussing colours and designs with the team over in Prague, we finally had the Sigma Sports Exclusive ONE Frameset in our hands. It was worth the wait. The attention to detail was second to none, the design was subtle, yet stylish, and the desire to ride it? Palpable.
Fast forward three months and Festka founder, Michael Moureček, is in store speaking to our sales team about this exciting Czech brand. Coinciding with the building of our latest Festka creation, the Doppler, we sat down with the man behind the brand to learn more about this small yet significant custom frame builder.
Michael's cycling expertise stemmed from an illustrious background racing on the track and on the road, where he enjoyed great success, winning the Czech National Championships ten times as well as picking up a bronze medal in the World Championships. Moureček’s time as a professional rider gave him plenty of opportunities to test a wide range of bikes, from Bianchi to Colnago. It didn’t matter what the name was on the downtube, his main desire was to know if it was good or not.
For Michael, the same philosophy applies to watches. The brand is insignificant, it is the quality that underpins it that is important.
Founded in 2010, after retiring as a professional cyclist, Michael wanted to create a bike that represented himself, a bike that was an expression of his cycling past. In the beginning, he was surprised by how hard it was to find a bike for his needs.
The core belief? To build a bike you need to understand the rider’s needs, to understand the materials required and to be able to work with tubing at a high level. Moureček had four or five goals, which he wanted to achieve, with the aim to reach perfection in each one of these. The search to find a company that could deliver on these goals was a fruitless one. After racing in Italy, understanding the language, being a part of the scene, he was surprised to find that even companies boasting fifty years in the cycling industry do not have these skills.
After six months of searching, Michael couldn’t find anyone who would be able to build him a bike. Not in desperate need of a bike, he waited five years. It was worth the pause, as this long contemplation and search brought the Festka ONE LT Dazzle to fruition.
A Czech home
As a professional rider, Michael was used to living in different places but knew the importance of having a base to grow his fledgling company. His decision was made when he started searching for people to work for Festka. Even with Germany, Italy and the USA as possible bases, Moureček saw the potential in the Czech Republic, collaborating with the Czech Technological University, one of the oldest universities specialising in technology in the world.
There’s a huge history of innovation in the Czech Republic, from aerodynamic design to automotive pioneering. It was an obvious choice.
Starting from the ground up
Michael’s business partner, Andre, was working in the hotel business after managing a motor racing team, so he had a background in management as well as engineering.
First, they learnt how to build their frame from scratch. Countless hours spent honing their skills meant they were able to create a frame to the most exacting of specifications. It was important to employ and work with people better than themselves, who would be up to speed from the beginning.
Behind the bicycle
Aside from the loud colours and bold designs, Festka is about the build and ride quality. The company believe there is no need to produce visually unappealing bikes.
Research is important, and although they do not have the budget of the bigger companies, using their budget wisely, focusing more on the production cost rather than marketing, has reaped rewards.
Last year Festka was invited by the European Space Agency to sit down to optimise and better their frames. Michael claims that they are the only company doing this, always applying the latest technology and striving to further improve their products.
"What makes our bikes different, and is sometimes hard to understand, is we do not look at what the cycling industry does, we mainly take inspiration from the aviation industry."
Many focus on the frame’s aerodynamics, without looking at how the rider and frame together affect aerodynamics. Michael's values may differ from the general cyclist. He wants a bike that will last, that will be comfortable, look good, ride well and be fast. Aerodynamics are less important; he simply wants to enjoy riding the bike.
The ONE was created four years ago and still looks the same. This is what watchmakers do. They try to improve the product and focus on quality. Festka works hard to improve every day without visually changing the aesthetic design - everything is different, but nothing looks out of place. From a customer’s perspective, if they want to keep the bike for a long time, they would be disappointed if their bike started to look dated. A bike that looks timeless is key for Festka.
Michael wants their bikes to grow with the riders, sharing personal memories. Put simply it is like buying a car that you want to drive for the rest of your life, Moureček believes this is what Festka owners appreciate. It’s creating a relationship with the bike, building a machine that will last for the next ten years or more.
"I want the bike to represent myself, at the perfect level, without compromise."
Festka have almost fifteen road frames, each is completely different, for different riders and needs. Michael believes everyone can feel the difference between the frames. Many customers have four or more bikes from the company, bikes that each have distinctive characteristics.
Festka at Sigma Sports
Michael travels a lot and visits many cycling shops globally, but there are very few that understand how to offer the right bike to the right clients.
"Sigma Sports best fits to Festka’s philosophy. The people are interested in cycling, in the brand and this is quite unique. We are proud to work alongside Sigma employees and customers."
Crafted by cyclists for cyclists. Speak to our in-store team to learn more about Festka or browse our range by following the link below.