Sure, cyclocross season is on hiatus for another half a year, but cross never really goes away, right? We caught up with Czech cyclocross national champion Pavla Havlíková a few weeks back outside of Prague’s indoor velodrome as the KC Koopertiva development team she oversees was finishing up their last indoor training session before moving back outside for a spring & summer of racing on the road and mountain. She gave us a detailed look at her unique (and tiny) custom carbon Favorit F3 Cyclo Cross, one of the few carbon framesets raced on the World Cup circuit made entirely in Europe. Join us for a closer look across the barrier…
Havlikova is one of the smallest pro riders you are likely to encounter at around 150cm/4′-11″ tall. That means that throughout her career she has always had to have custom bikes made to get to a comfortable fit on the bike. That also has meant that while many of her teammates were racing on the latest carbon bikes from team sponsors over the years, she was most often riding aluminum bikes made just for her, then painted over to satisfy sponsors, as the best performing option for a weight & stiffness balance. She started racing on Czech-made Duratecs, then while on a Ridley sponsored team still rode mostly rebranded Duratecs.
That changed a little more than a year ago when Czech carbon frame maker Favorit got in touch with the multi-time elite Czech women’s champion about sponsoring her development team. Much like the premium carbon city bikes that the company has developed to revive the long-running Czech brand, Favorit was able to build a series of full carbon cyclocross bikes to meet Havlikova’s unique sizing demands.
It took some adaptation of their manufacturing process to craft a bike as small as this 43cm frameset, but essentially Havlikova’s bike shares the same construction as Favorit’s production city bikes and their next generation F1 series of performance road bikes. In order to get the bike so small though, they did have to revise how to craft such a small headtube with the toptube and downtube coming together in such cramped space. It hasn’t been without trouble either, as Havlikova continues to play a big role in the development process, going so far as to break a bike racing in the process of figuring out the best method to construct the front end.
But that give and take seems to be something that Havlikova finds interesting working with Favorit. She talks about it less like a sponsorship and more like a partnership that she takes pleasure in, coming together to build a bike that rides better than anything she has raced on before.
Like the rest of the bikes that Favorit produces, Havlikova’s F3 Cyclo Cross is designed to be relatively lightweight but also strongly focused on providing a ride quality reminiscent of the steel bikes of Favorit’s heritage. That means the bike forgoes a lot of oversized carbon tube profiles, as they were able to get the drivetrain & handling stiffness they needed with more conventional sizes that also let them build in more comfort.
One of the keys to that ride is also the carbon fork that Favorit developed and builds in-house, and Havlikova is racing on a version that is essentially adapted from the city bikes. With a look harkening back to a traditional lugged crown, the fork is actually constructed in a similar way with a CNC machined aluminum crown and alloy steerer mated to uniquely shaped carbon legs. Favorit really prides itself on their Czech designed & produced forks. They say it makes them one of few, if not the only producer in Europe building their own carbon fiber frames and forks in-house.
Havlikova’s F3 Cyclo Cross gets plenty of modern touches like an integrated headset, full internal cable routing, and disc brakes. There are a couple of Amy D. stickers on her bike too. Havlikova rode with Dombroski on Telnet Fidea and likes to see the broken heart logo both to keep her motivated racing and to continue to bring awareness to the continued work of the Amy D. Foundation.
Her race bike is built up with a SRAM Force1 1x drivetrain, but keeps Havlikova’s familiar hood and mechanical brakes paired with TRP Spyres. Her crankset is a 165mm machined aluminum GTP Wave Light crank with a threaded external bottom bracket from Czech producer Gebhardt, who also produces her 40T narrow-wide ring.
The bike has a standard round seattube, so it would be no problem to add on a front derailleur, but with a 1x setup Havlikova mounts a Czech-made Cabtech chain guide for added security, something we’ve seen on several pro XC bikes. The F3 Cyclo Cross has a small chainstay bridge to boost stiffness and offers plenty of tire clearance, as long as it doesn’t get too horribly muddy out on the course. A set of XT pedals provide a stable and reliable pedaling platform.
It does still stick with post mount brake calipers, and in the interest of wheel compatibility and easy wheel changes stays with QR axles for now, too. She stops with TRP rotors, 160mm up front and 140mm in the back.
Czech made Tufo Flexus Primus vulcanized tubulars with a special label for Havlikova’s team are glued up to a set of carbon wheels sold in Europe by local low-cost carbon wheel company Equator (a recent division of Equinox) and produced in Taiwan by mega wheel maker Gigantex.
Havlikova says she does most of her own bike building, which she learned from her father while growing up racing. It gives her a good idea of what’s going on with her bikes at all times, but as she said it also some time ends up with a bit of a mix like the standard black SRAM shift, white Jagwire CGX-SL brake, and black Jagwire Elite Link segmented brake housing. Her bike goes through lot of cables & housing over a season, and she’ll often throw on whatever is sitting closest to the work bench.
Havlikova races perched on a San Marco Mantra saddle with Xslite alloy rails. Component wise FSA finishes out the cockpit with an SLK carbon post, SLK alloy stem, and compact bend alloy handlebar.