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Tom Hnida: “Haute Couture” Road Bike Designer Experimenting with Colouring Techniques

By Adam Marsal

For a cyclist, getting a bike from the Czech company Festka is a dream similar to buying a Porsche or Lamborghini as a keen motorist. Custom-built road bikes made by hand in Prague, mostly from carbon fibre, are sought after by cyclists all around the world. The company was founded in 2009 by former professional rider Michael Moureček and entrepreneur Ondřej Novotný. Since the very beginning, the frame coatings have been designed by company’s art director Tomáš Hnida. Once you become a Festka customer, it’s him who guides you through every stage of the process – from selecting the right colours and a design theme to sending you a picture of the parcel with your bike ready to go directly to your home.

What’s the first thing to happen after I get in touch with your company?

When you come to the Festka headquarters with the idea of getting a new bike, you would undergo a so-called fitting – measuring which gives us data needed for manufacturing a proper frame tailored exactly to your dimensions. This service is also provided at our partners’ locations abroad for anyone who contacts us via the Internet. Once the frame is being built by our engineers, the time comes for me to get involved. Our customers can either choose a colour pattern that already exists or decide for a custom painting, which means that we create a unique design exclusively for them. It’s all about the process of a collective search for a dedicated theme which should match the customer’s typology.

Dazzle: Design inspired by World War II battleship camouflage

Have you experienced something really crazy?

The boldest customers usually come from Asian countries. They aren’t afraid to go where Americans and Europeans would never dare to. Each market has something specific: While Yankees are rather conservative, Europeans yearn for being a little different but, generally, they still worry too much about being provocative. On the other hand, Asians don’t have a problem to come up with the idea to have 350 kittens on the frame.

Did that really happen?

I had to negotiate and we ended up with fifty, but yes. Now I have to deal with a wish of a customer who desires to have a Transformer painting on his new bike. You know – a Transformer is actually a transformable object while a bike is always the same shape. Designing a frame painting is difficult as you only have two triangles made of tubes as your canvas.

Girls: Nordic variation of the Aurora made for a Scandinavian customer

How do you communicate with your customers?

We run all projects on our Basecamp online platform page from the first step till the last one. When a concept is agreed upon and the process gets underway, I continuously post photos from the production. Finally, I send the customer a photo of the packaged bike prepared to be sent to their address. We are always happy to keep our customers looking forward to their new toy.

Do you also have any influence on the bike geometry?

The technical part is not in my competence. Engineers in our company focus on the tube design in particular. Our tubes are developed with the Czech company CompoTech, the best carbon fibre tube producer in the world, so they are the best we can offer. You can find their composite parts in different products ranging from masts for racing catamarans to industrial robot arms in modern factories.

Malaysia: A fork with Muslim motives painted for a Malaysian cycling team

Are you limited by some specific painting procedure?

Designing a new bike doesn’t end with the paint job. I love natural colours of materials. We often use exposed titanium or carbon in our designs. Customers can also choose whether they want to opt for a matte or glossy finish, or the steel tube to be polished or satin. We have such beautiful carbon tubes that more and more customers want to leave them naked. Now we are very close to trying new techniques, such as branding steel and titanium frames using colouring techniques and specific chemical substances.