With every pedal stroke, cyclists perform the same movement. Over and over again. It’s a monotonous sport, one might think. Even the routes we do may repeat many times during the season, but this repetitiveness isn’t a bad one, quite the opposite. It is undoubtedly one of the reasons why people fall in love with cycling.
The mentioned repeatability in cycling was one of the sources of inspiration for Czech handmade frame builders Repete when deciding on their brand name. Recently, we’ve had the opportunity to visit their factory in Prague to learn about the story behind the brand and the process of building modern steel frames.
Building upon the steel frame legacy
Founded by Robin Fišer and Mikoláš Voverka in 2012, the two initially came together through their passion for vintage steel bicycle frames. “I met Mikoláš on one of the group rides with the fixed gear community, when it was still booming,” Robin recalls. Soon after that, they started a workshop, collecting and refurbishing old racing bicycles together. Inspired by the works and legacy of successful Czech frame builders of the 90’s era such as Kovařík or Štěrba, they later decided to start engineering their own bicycle models as well.
The mix of traditional material with modern design
The Repete bikes are characterized by their mix of modern components, performance geometry with a minimalistic, timeless design, and importantly, a traditional material: steel.
The choice of steel as a material has been clear since the very beginning. They appreciated the racing frame sets from the 80’s, which were at their peak before the carbon frame era. And at the same time, the steel tubing has made a significant improvement over time. Currently, Repete builds their frames from Columbus Spirit HSS, a top-line tubing.
When discussing other materials, the choice of steel was convincing. Repete focuses on working with a single material that they are experienced with, rather than trying to offer various product lines made of other materials, even though technically it would be possible. For example in comparison with titanium, steel has more performance-oriented characteristics, which is an important fact for Repete. It has the best values when checking performance, durability and comfort, as they describe.
Timeless is the ultimate goal
“We want our bikes to last. Our dream is that one day, in 50 years, someone will find one of our models in their garage and it will still work and look good. The same way we found vintage steel bikes in our beginnings.” – Robin Fišer
There are two models in the current offer: the Reason, the flagship road bike model, and the Verne, a gravel model which we’ve tested during our presence at the BBB Camp last year. Both models are built with disc brakes and are available in standard sizes. The frames run a minimalistic single color painting, which can be of a custom choice.
One of the key values of Repete is innovation. Although they work with traditional material, they continuously focus on engineering and development in the area of frame geometry and on designing their own parts such as dropouts or cable routings. The brand focuses on the market segment of premium handmade frames in which each brand usually has its own specific design of their bikes and it allows them to incorporate their own engineering ideas into development.
All bikes are built to order only, nothing is built to stock. Thus another important value of the brand is the focus on their own and local production instead of outsourcing. “A very valuable aspect of our business to me is having absolute control of the whole manufacturing process. Every frame goes through our hands,” says Mikoláš.
The art of handmade frame building
Robin and Mikolas agree that they both love and enjoy nice, well designed builds. “If the bikes are well functioning, then people can use them to go out and explore, which is what bicycles are made for. It’s a very pleasant feeling that a lot of people are using your product and it brings them joy,” Robin concludes.
Robin originally has a background in mechanical engineering, but he would never expect himself to be building steel bicycles one day. Nowadays, he utilizes knowledge from both his studies and his past hobby of modeling radio-controlled airplanes.
Both Mikolas and he enjoy the craft of frame building, although these days they have to take care of different business matters too. “In the beginning, we were in the production process daily. Nowadays we are solving different business things, but actually I enjoy it. It’s hard to find time for development and tooling improvement but it brings nice things such as cooperation with other brands and so on.”
Customers from Asia and Australia
Repete has customers from all over the world, with Indonesia being their biggest market. In Europe, most of their sales come from Belgium. The expansion and growth of the company has been boosted mainly via bike fairs and exhibitions, especially when winning awards, such as for the Best Road Bike at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show with their previous model Reborn.
In the future, one of the objectives is to expand more to the European market. Currently, they build around 70 bikes per year, and the goal would be to make 100 units yearly. The gravel model Verne makes up around 60 percent of their production.
Collaboration with brands and artists outside of the cycling world
Recently, Repete presented a one-off collaboration with an artist David Krňanský called Troll with LOL. The bold looking model features a silver paint combined with a fluorescent yellow logo and hand-drawn-like motifs as a reflection and reaction to the current times. Another case that caught our attention was a work with a local lifestyle brand Rap and Czech cycling apparel Kalas, bringing road cycling (literally) to the stage of the rap subculture.
As both describe, such collaborations typically happen naturally, when meeting inspiring people from different communities and creating something together, giving a space to discover something new and unconventional. Although these collaborations aren’t planned ahead, Mikoláš assured us that we could expect a couple of more similar interesting projects in the future as both he and Robin enjoy taking part in them.
With the still recent start of 2023, Repete would like to continue participating in bike fairs and exhibitions and cycling events to open up more to the cycling community. Business partners and customers can look forward to factory visit events this spring. Last year, we met at the GiRodeo which we all enjoyed. Recently, they did not have as much time for such events as they had been busy working on the development of side products and another model that are to be unveiled in the future, which we certainly look forward to.