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Existential Cyclist: Czech Brand Designs Intricate Kafka-Themed Bike

The custom Kafka Festka bike near the water on a foggy day(Photo/Tom Hnida, Festka)
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What’s at the nexus of cycling, art, and everyone’s favorite cockroach-themed short-story writer? This unique bicycle.

Bike enthusiasts may know Festka as the Prague-based brand with a focus on individually tailored custom rides. The company’s Czech Republic roots and commitment to bespoke designs made it the perfect choice when a client decided to order a Franz Kafka-themed road bike.

To execute the commission, Festka’s Art Director Tom Hnida tapped illustrator Michal Bačák, according to a press release.

Bačák promptly read every Kafka short story and came back swinging with a black-and-white pointillist design that channels Kafka’s absurdist sensibilities.

Kafka-themed bike
Festka’s Kafka-themed custom road bike; (photo/Ondrej Szollosz, Festka)

The illustrations contain scenes from five Kafka stories, all connected with a crow-and-cloud motif.

“It wasn’t so much the technique or color scheme but the content,” Bačák said in reference to the task of translating Kafka’s famously challenging work to a bicycle frame.

“I don’t think I could say I came to understand fully [Kafka’s work], but I believe I got closer to him through reinterpreting, in my own way, several truly Kafka-esque scenes from his work,” the artist continued.

an illustration of the graphic layout of the kafka art bike
Artist Michal Bačák included scenes from five Kafka stories in his illustration; (illustration, Michal Bačák, Festka)

The client chose a custom-geometry Festka Scalatore as a canvas for the literary graphics. The build includes a wireless SRAM Red eTap groupset, ENVE SES wheels, and an ENVE cockpit.

Previous Work by Michal Bačák

Michal Bačák chose a black-and-white pointillist style to capture Kafka’s signature themes; (photo/Ondrej Szollosz, Festka)

The Kafka roadster isn’t Bačák’s first work with Festka. In 2019, the artist collaborated with the brand on the Porcelain Bike — a gorgeous white-and-blue one-off that tells the life story of Festka’s client in a carefully rendered English Churchill Blue Willow ceramic motif.

Where the Porcelain Bike is delicate, 2020’s Samurai is bold in two shades of gray and dusty reddish orange. As you might imagine, the Samurai is Asian-themed, with crane, dragon, coy, and cloud designs scattered over the frame.

A basic Festka Scalatore starts at an MSRP of $6,307 for the frame and $9,781 for a complete bike. Want something custom-made? You’ll have to shoot Festka an email.

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