We continue with our new feature dedicated to the art and practice of framebuilding: Heart of Metal.
Through an interview that moves between technical and emotional language we will tell the story of how the frame has been constructed and what makes it special.
This time Columbus sits down with Robin Fišer from Repete Cycles to talk about their “uncompromising modern road bike“: the Reason.
Ciao Robin, let’s start with a brief introduction of your brand, REPETE CYCLES. When was it founded and when did you start using Columbus tubing? And why?
Repete Cycles was founded in 2012, by Mikoláš (Voverka, ed) and I. The idea was born in that stage when we were collecting performance steel bicycles from 70ies and 80ies, 90ies, and we literally fell in love with cycling and steel road bikes and started recognizing and appreciating the difference between the tubings so we HAD to make our bicycles from steel, but modern hi-end steel bikes.
The first time we used Columbus tubing was when we really started to make frames. It was a road bike, called Re-born, back in 2014, when we unveiled our first model ever. So from the very beginning it was a little bit challenging because we were in contact with other Czech frame builders who were a legend and worked with this kind of material, you know…We’ve been using high strength Columbus Spirit HSS since then.
When we started, the two of us, me and Mikoláš, we did everything, both of us, also the brazing, the grinding and every stage of the process; now we are still in production but we have a few more guys working with us, for instance for TIG welding process we have the welders doing that for us. We are makers, we make things, this is what it’s all about and it means for us: frame building, steel tubing and the people behind the products, people who follow every single part and step of the whole process.
So, the frame you have chosen to present today is Reason, made of Columbus Spirit HSS. Why?
The Reason is our uncompromising modern road bike, you know, “the reason to ride”, the reason to explore… It is a powerful and fast machine that effectively translates monotonous muscle play into motion. The frame itself is made from high strength Columbus Spirit HSS steel, which gives the bike the essential characteristics – perfect rigidity, long life, and unique comfort. Both our standard models are made of Spirit HSS tubing.
What do you mean by standard model?
I mean that we produce the bicycles in 6 sizes, both for the road model, Reason, and the Verne one, our gravel. In this sense they are ‘standard’, not made to measure. We have developed what we consider the best geometry and frame for both the models and can offer our customers our best product in a reasonable lead time (i.e. 10 weeks from order). That’s why we set up our “standards”. But the customer still has the option of customising the bike, either by choosing their own color or by selecting components for a complete build, with our Decode your Individuality service.
Can you explain in a little more detail your manufacturing process?
Every part is under our own development and we produce the segments and parts in Czech Republic; for the dropouts, for instance, we cooperate with a Czech foundry and these dropouts are casted in stainless steel, and this took us almost two years of development, through functional prototypes made using 3D printing, to the production of final moulds for wax models.
Also, for internal cable routing, we were among the first brands to have internal cable routing on steel bicycles on a standard model. We have designed the frame with removable inserts which we can use or not according to the build of the frame, if it’s mechanical or electronic. This makes the frame compatible and ready to build with different groupsets.
Again, we combine the frame (with the geometries and character that we designed also thanks to the shapes of the Spirit HSS tubing) to the CNC’d machine parts, and to the 3d printed parts which are printed by industrial 3d printer. We also produce stainless steel headset cups for the tapered head tube for the greater benefit of the frame in the contact points.
Reason is the favourite model for our collaborations with other brands. It’s a road bike, it’s modern so we made a few collaborations with apparel brand Isadore from Slovakia, with the life-style brand RAP and with Czech painter David Krňanský.
Are these limited editions?
Due that we are Repete we make no limited editions: they are unique but not limited.
Why did you choose these tubes, this kind of steel, those diameters and reinforcements?
These tubes absolutely fit our vision to produce modern steel bikes. The development took place in parallel in computer analyses and of course in real riding tests. Thanks to the computer simulations we were able to evaluate which tubes would be suitable for the Reason. The design of the joints and connections was important. It is the oversized tubes that allow us to create connections that add to the rigidity of the frame. Finally, despite the performance characteristics, the Spirit HSS retains the characteristic inimitable comfort of steel.
Do you have any kind of typical customer and which is your main market?
Our customers usually are looking for quality products with prestigious details and they expect them to be durable, to stay with them for a lifetime. It’s the same feeling we had when we fell in love with performance steel bicycles from the Seventies and Eighties: the permanence and quality in time. Also, some of the customers are choosing steel after passing through other materials, such as aluminium or carbon. Now they know they can have a modern and much updated version of steel frames, with the amazing characteristics of the material and high end components and build.
We have customers from all over the world and we cooperate with retail partners from Indonesia, Dubai, NY and we are in close relationship, so we can know the feeling of the person who will ride our bicycle and we are happy to be aware that the bicycle is a means for them to spend good time riding with friends. A good reason for us to build a Reason and for them to ride it indeed!
Do many customer come and visit your workshop to collect their bikes and meet you?
Many customers are interested in REPETE, in the whole process of building the bicycle and it’s part of experience to visit us: they see how the product is born, who make it and we are glad to meet the persons who will ride our bikes.
But… have you been to Columbus yet?
No, and this is a kind of mistake, we know. Actually we planned to come many times with Mikoláš… but you know that in these years many things happened despite our will… We will love to come and visit Columbus; although we have a very strict relationship even from remote. But we want to come and see the history, the development and actual technology of tubing production.