There would be no Festka without people buying our bikes. Ideally, customers become friends and even members of the Festka family. Martin Kittler, one our first customers, is one of the latter so we thought it would be good to go and visit him in his house in the hills for a chat.

Who is Martin Kittler and what does he do when he’s not riding?

Martin Kittler is a 45-year-old perennial youngster who drills people’s teeth for a living. I have a dental practice in Liberec.

How did you become a cyclist? Do you remember your first ride, your first bike?

I do! I must have been about four when my grandad taught me to ride a bike with stabilisers in a park in Liberec. My first proper bike was a basic road Favorit and when, some years later, I blew my summer job earnings on a Sachs, I felt like a king. 

So you’ve been a roadie since your teens?

Even earlier. Since I was eight. Although, I rode mountain bikes when I was at high school and actually didn’t ride much while at university because I had nowhere to fit in a bike - both time and space-wise. After graduation I went back to the mountain bike and that’s what I rode to my first appointment at the Festka garage. 

What type of cyclist would you say you are now?

Predominantly road plus a bit of gravel. I ride between two and three thousand kilometers a year. I take every possibility to take a bike with me when I travel, both privately and on business, by car or by plane. My ideal ride is between 50 and 60 km/2-2.5 hours long. I love riding in the Jizerske Mountains because I live in Bedřichov.

What motivates you to ride your bike?

The need to exercise and explore but first and foremost it’s a great way to clear my head. Jogging is so automatic that it allows me to think of other things but cycling requires my full attention not in order not to end up in a ditch. It absorbs my attention completely

Do you remember your first contact with Festka?

Ten years ago I came across an article in the Forbes magazine about a bunch of guys with some pro-cycling pedigree who make custom bikes here in this country. Since I always liked projects outside of mainstream I contacted them, even despite my concerns that their bikes might be too racey for me.

What was your first visit there like?

A garage in the middle of a huge housing estate. Excellent coffee, a comfortable couch. I remember young mothers from the area coming in to buy what was then a hot item - an eco-friendly bidon.

Weren’t you put off by the premises? The article spoke of a high-end product.

Not at all. There were some great looking bikes standing there but what really convinced me I was at the right place was Mauri’s approach. He went for a ride with me to check out my posture and the way I ride. He asked me lots of things about my riding and about what I expected from my next bike.

What was your first Festka build?

Because of my then leaning toward a mountain bike, it was a steel frame with a cyclocross geometry - a raised bottom bracket and all that. Gravel was an unknown category at the time.

What other bikes have you got in your garage?

I got a Festka ONE about three years later and then one of the first Rovers - a proper gravel bike. The latest additions are two bikes for my son - a Rover last year and a ONE this year. That makes five Festkas. I remember the design and building process for each one of them.

So what would you say is missing in your portfolio?

The ultimate road bike to take to Italy or the Canaries. I expect it to be stiff and fast.

Anything you would like to wish Festka for her tenth birthday?

I wish it to prosper while maintaining its image of something nearly unattainable, something you have to deserve. I wouldn’t want Festka to become a mass brand!

written by: Tom Hnida
photos: Tom Hnida, Martin Kittler's personal archive

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