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Festka Scalatore Disc review

8 Jun 2021
Verdict:

A special edition, custom work of art with a ride quality as nice as its looks. Photography: Mike Massaro

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Instantaneous acceleration • Nimble handling • Low weight
Against 
Exclusive cost even on regular builds

Czech brand Festka has been making beautiful, super-high-end boutique bicycle frames since 2010. Last year, to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Festka produced the ‘X’ series, comprising 10 numbered special editions of its three most popular designs: the gravel-going Rover, the carbon-titanium mix Doppler, and this, the skeletal Scalatore.

Going by tradition a 10th anniversary should be celebrated with tin, but Festka opted for a slightly more precious metal, with 24-carat gold leaf used to create the Scalatore’s decals.

Seen through a clear lacquer that exposes the frame’s impeccable carbon fibre construction, the appearance it creates – particularly in bright sunshine – is stunning. The deep lustre of the gold counters the grayscale surface finish of the bare carbon perfectly, and happily I found that once I was able to look past its appearance, the bike’s performance proved to be just as fine.

 

On the wind up

Festka’s ‘X’ anniversary project may be extravagant – and breathtakingly expensive – but it is justified by the reputation the Czech brand has built over the past decade as one of the best custom tube-to-tube frame fabricators in the world, every bit the equal of Parlee in the US and Sarto in Italy.

However while Festka’s bikes are similar in quality, they stand apart in their construction method. The tubes Festka turns into frames are made by compatriot company Compotech, which uses a ‘carbon filament winding’ process to construct them.

This is where fibres are wound onto a mandrel by a robot, which injects a resin to bind the fibres together. After that the tube is cured on the mandrel, which once removed leaves the tube ready to be incorporated into a frame.

‘Filament winding gives us absolute accuracy,’ says Festka’s Janek Jaros. ‘We have control over every fibre. This allows us, for example, to set the rigidity of the frame precisely without the need to sacrifice comfort. We can use all 60 types of fibres available on the market if we so wish and pick any resin we want.’

Dramatic, wind-cheating tube shapes are beyond the scope of this construction method for now, but for bikes less concerned with aerodynamics it presents a compelling case as a highly effective way to build a frame.

Buy the Festka Scalatore Disc now

This has been officially recognised in the Scalatore Disc’s rim-brake counterpart, which won a Design and Innovation Award in 2018. Judges noted the bike’s stiffness and rapid acceleration despite its uncommonly light weight.

I’d say Festka has perfectly recreated those attributes in the Scalatore’s shift to disc brakes. By way of objective evidence, Festka says it has kept the frame weight to a feathery 790g, and this whole bike comes in at a remarkable 6.63kg.

 

Of course, the components contribute significantly to the overall weight, and this build is so extravagant that even its bells and whistles have bells and whistles – those are Carbon-Ti rotors on the Lightweight Wegweiser wheels and Carbon-Ti chainrings on that SRM Origin Carbon power meter crankset.

This is the type of build that could cover up deficiencies in the frameset, but I’d say that for all the finishing kit’s show, it’s the frame that truly provides the go.

Combined with snappy front-end geometry, the frame’s overall rigidity ties all those exotic carbon parts into a cohesive package that provides electric acceleration and a flickable ride feel that makes it downright fun to pilot through tight twists and turns.

As good as it gets

Not everything is perfect. I could feel the jarring when I hit big bumps, but given the Scalatore’s torsional stiffness and light weight the bike imparted nowhere near the level of fatiguing road chatter I’d have expected. It suggests the maker’s claims of using its construction methods to blend efficiency and comfort hold water.

I also found the flightiness that made the bike so nimble everywhere else trended towards nervousness on high-speed technical descents over rough tarmac, but that was tempered with a switch to wider tyres on more conventional wheels.

Buy the Festka Scalatore Disc now

Lightweight’s Wegweisers may be light and fast, but they’re not the most forgiving. I did lose a little of that acceleration, but in a bike as acutely balanced as this, any improvement in one area has to come at the expense of another.

When everything is said and done you can never quite have it all, but in the Scalatore Disc, Festka has come damn close.

Pick of the kit

Santini Adapt jacket, £185, zyrofisher.co.uk

As the name suggests, the Adapt is pleasingly versatile. Its fit and baseball jacket styling are on the more casual side of things, but this is still a technical garment, being unusually warm for its weight.

Santini credits PolarTec’s Power Shield Pro fabric for this. Comprising most of the jacket’s front, it uses a windblock membrane sandwiched between a weatherproof outer layer and merino wool inner layer.

The ring-pull zipper does seem unnecessarily large – you’re unlikely to use this jacket with thick winter gloves on – but it does match the overall aesthetic.

Buy the Santini Adapt jacket now from ProBikeKit

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Alternatively…


Great expectations

If hammering along the flats is more your thing, the Spectre Disc is the Scalatore’s burlier big brother. Its focus is on stiffness and quick handling, with frameset prices from €4,790 (approx £4,130).

Buy the Festka Spectre Disc now

One for the wallet

The One serves as Festka’s entry point, with frameset prices from €3,790 (approx £3,250). It uses the same construction tech as the premium frames but lower-grade carbon fibre to come in around 150g heavier.

Buy the Festka One now

Spec

Frame Festka Scalatore Disc
Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Chainset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Cassette Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Bars Darimo Ellipse
Stem Darimo IX2
Seatpost Darimo T1 Loop
Saddle Selle Italia SLR Boost Superflow
Wheels Lightweight Wegweiser Evo, Continental GP4000S II 25mm tyres
Weight 6.63kg (56cm)
Contact festka.com

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
€16,000 (approx £13,600)

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