Kafka on a bike

Who is the best known author from Prague? At least outside our country’s borders, it’s undoubtedly Franz Kafka. Considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, Kafka’s blending of realism and the fantastic in his stories of individuals caught up in bizarre situations often caused by surreal bureaucracy even gave birth to the word Kafkaesque for weird stuff.

Festka being a bike company as intrinsically linked with Prague as the great writer was, it made perfect sense when a client approached us with an idea for a You By Festka project with a Kafka theme. Lyndon, the client, lives and works in NYC as an advisor in hostile corporate situations, and is a lapsed but devoted reader of literature who especially adores Kafka’s work and knows it backwards.

He had a list of scenes and ideas from the books he wanted to be depicted on the frame. The two stories he liked the most were those of ”The Hunger Artist” and “A Message from the Emperor”, which could be a brief and dreamy cousin of the novel – The Castle. For further inspiration, he also selected a number of quotes from Kafka’s notebooks.

As regards the style, he gave us excellent directions: “Kafka (...) wrote in Prague German, which he himself called a "dry and papery" version of German. He did not use a lot of vocabulary. The style was very orderly, clinical. But there were LOADED twists of logic and directions and misdirections in Kafka's sentences. I'm thinking of a similar aesthetic - dry and papery art that is intricate and ornate, logical, but surreal and hallucinatory at the same time.”

Our art director Tom Hinda considered several artists for the project. Initially, he opted for a renowned painter/tattooist who delivered an amazing set of designs we liked very much but which didn’t quite resonate with Lyndon who felt his view of Kafka

Tom’s next man on the list was our erstwhile collaborator, the immensely talented illustrator Michal Bačák who was behind the Spectre Porcelain collab project we did in 2019. Michal absolutely loved Lyndon’s ideas and accepted the commission immediately. We knew Michal was the kind of person who didn’t do things by halves but the amount of prep he did for this project was nothing short of incredible. He basically read all of Kafka and suggested three additional scenes based on the short stories Excursion into the Mountains, First Sorrow and A Little Woman.

Michal also connected the themes from the five Kafka stories with the unifying motifs of clouds and crows, because according to Kafka: "The crows maintain that a single crow could destroy the heavens… This is certainly true but it proves nothing against the heavens, because heaven means precisely: the impossibility of crows." The impressive proposal he prepared convinced Lyndon straight away he was the right man for the job.

The model Lyndon chose for this amazing project is a custom geometry Festka Scalatore built with a wireless SRAM Red groupset, ENVE cockpit and ENVE SES wheels.


Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re dreaming of a very special bike. We will help you develop your ideas or suggest our own ones to you. Let’s just start the conversation. 



written by: Janek Jaros
photos: Tom Hnida, Ondrej Szollosz

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

You may also like

View all