VeloClub is CyclingTips’ membership program which brings us closer to our members, and connects likeminded cycling enthusiasts.
by Anna Thomson
March 23, 2018
Photography by Mason Hender
In this edition of Bikes of the Bunch we take a look at Anna Thomson’s custom-painted Festka One, a bike that was built to satisfy her riding needs while honouring her cycling apparel brand, Fondo.
I’d heard about Festka years ago but it wasn’t until July 2016 that I saw one in the flesh. It was love at first sight and I’d dreamt about owning one ever since. There’s something about the brand that really resonated with me – it’s the perfect balance between quality, performance and fun.
Fast-forward 18 months, and I’d convinced my husband Angus (the Minister of Finance) that I should get a new bike. There we’re two things that were certain; the bike would be a Festka and my good mate Mason Hender (of Bike Force Docklands) would build it.
I got in touch with Ben Norden from Bicycle Buyer (Festka’s Australian distributor) and just three months and countless coffee meetings later, the dream was a reality.
Half the fun of buying a new bike is the anticipation, which is amplified when the bike is custom-made.
The process began with geometry. I’d had a bike fit with Riderfit in the past so I sent my report to Bicycle Buyer along with a few ‘wishes’, which included slamming the stem. They came back to me with two sketches – a standard 55 frame or a custom 54. I went with the custom 54. If I’m getting a bike made to order, it may as well be perfect.
Coming up with a design, particularly when I wasn’t restricted by colour or placement, was really daunting. However, Ben (Bicycle Buyer) has a great eye for design and assured me that Festka’s designer Tom was a magician, so I knew I was in safe hands.
I found it hard to decide on colour and frequented the Pantone website and the paint isle at Bunnings (a hardware store) to play around with colour swatches. In the end, I went with an electric watermelon colour (which looks orange in photos!) — ‘hot pink with a touch of orange’ is what Tom called it.
I also wanted to incorporate an element of Fondo, my cycling apparel brand, without it being too dominant, so I included a few of our kit designs in my brief. The cross pattern from Fondo’s Astro kit works perfectly inside the forks and on the stem.
A month or so was spent selecting and sourcing components with the careful help of Bicycle Buyer and Mason.
I had Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 on my previous bike and it was always perfect, so the decision to go with the new Dura-Ace 9150 was an easy one. I chose 3T Ernova bars because they’re compact and I like the feel of the ergonomic egg-shaped top and flared drops. They’ve also got internal cable routing so I could hide all the cables and ports in the bars with Shimano’s handlebar port.
I went with a 3T stem to match the bars and the 3T Zero25 seat post for the flexibility of a zero or 25 offset. 3T lets you choose the finish of these components, so I went with the ‘stealth’ because I wanted a clean matte look that wouldn’t compete with the loud paint job.
The saddle is Bontrager’s Ajna Pro women’s – the same saddle I use on my other bikes – and the Bontrager Aeolus 3 wheels and Arundel cages came from my previous bike. I went with bar tape by bespoke Tasmanian brand Burgh. The black on black pattern of their ‘X’ tape offers the right amount of detail without being too flashy, and ties in nicely with the Astro kit pattern.
Frame: Festka One Sport custom geometry with titanium dropouts
Fork: Enve road
Headset: Chris King
Stem: 3T ARX II Team Stealth
Handlebars: 3T Ernova Team Stealth
Groupset: Shimano Dura-Ace 9150 Di2 with handlebar port
Wheels: Bontrager Aeolus 3 carbon clinchers
Tyres: Vittoria Graphene Rubino Pro Speed
Seatpost: 3T Zero25 Team Stealth
Saddle: Bontrager Ajna Pro Carbon
Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace
Power meter: 4iii Precision
Bar tape: Burgh ‘X’ Stealth
Cages: Arundle Mandible
Accessories: Fetha Components Garmin mount
Mason built the bike in my backyard on a balmy Saturday evening. For me, a perfect build is as important as the right fit — messy cables can make the best bikes look mediocre. Mason’s attention to detail is off the charts and he spent a lot of time hiding cables and electronics in the bars and frame to give my new bike a flawless finish.
I love my bike more than I ever imagined. It rides like a dream. It’s deliciously smooth yet lively, and I feel like I’m flying when I ride it.
Festka’s carbon is wound in a unidirectional manner, which means it’s not only super strong but also really responsive, particularly when teamed with the titanium rear dropouts. It really jumps when I accelerate at speed. The way it hugs the road has restored my love of descending too, which I didn’t even realise I’d lost until I descended on the Festka for the first time.
The new Dura-Ace Di2 is smooth as butter and lightning fast, and the compact gearing makes the steepest of climbs seem easy – I can’t wait to play with it in the Italian Alps in July!
The whole purchase experience was amazing. It was a pleasure working with Bicycle Buyer – they were very generous with their time and expertise, and guided me through each step of the journey.
There’s something special about creating a bike from scratch. Every single element was carefully considered and I’m so proud of the finished product.