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Bike owners #3 – The amazing rack
22/01/2018
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Amazing rack of bicycles

Amazing rack! That was the first expression came to my mind when I saw the bike collection (above) of Frank Mäder, a 49-year old bicycle aficionado from Zurich, Switzerland. I If you look at his range of bikes closer you will see, why he wanted to have from as all you can get starting from belt drive transmission and ending up with multiple gears. Not to mention upgraded parts selection and of course our flagship carbon frameset, similar to one that is owned by flying human being Felix Baumgartner. I (Kristo, hereafter K) had a chance to ask some questions from Frank (hereafter F) and now you have the opportunity to “peek behind the curtains” of fellow cyclist as well. By the way – all photos (except last one from #viksfactory) are taken by talented Noah Mäder, the youngest one in Frank’s family.

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Man and a machine

K: Tell us a bit on who you are and what do you do?

F: Turning 50 this spring, I’m married to Pia and father of Noah (18). After my degree in jurisprudence (Master of Law) I completed my professional skills profile with several additional educations as project manager, training manager and vocational teacher. Cycling has been my main hobby nearly 30 years. Fitness training (30 years as well), running (7 years) and swimming (18 months) are runners-up. In 2017 I completed my first two triathlons (Olympic distance, 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run). I set this goal 25 years ago (!!) and managed to hit the target finally with some delay.

K: Training for triathlons is a huge time consumer. What do you do for a living and how does it fit with your hobby in terms of time planning? And you have a family, the most important thing probably…

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Frank on Specialized S-Works Venge adapted for triathlon

F: I work as a teacher in the field of vocational education. The aim of the school is to give IKA education, which means information, communication and administration to 16- to 20-year old students. My job is related with teaching of useful computer programs, internet search engines for business info and writing business letters in a proper manner. With 9 classes and 150 students overall, it is quite a hustle to keep balance between work and private life. I have an average of 7 to 8 training sets per week (fitness, swimming, running, biking). Unfortunately, neither my wife or my son are not interested to join in. So, my training sessions are in time frames when the rest of the family is occupied by something else. With my family I’d like to spend holidays in various countries and cities. Last October we spent 10 fantastic days in New York City for example.

K: As we can see Viks is far from being your first bike. Tell us a bit, what’s the story with all the bikes you have at home and is there some you want to highlight?

F: I started 30 years ago with a racing bike, 10 gears and shifters on the frame. It’s fun to see the same type of bikes having a revival nowadays as retro-style bikes. That second-hand-bike cost me 500 CHF (K: approximately 625 EUR based on currency exchange rates in 1988, that had the same purchasing power as 1200 EUR has today) and the triathlon handle bar another 220 CHF. I was captivated by the so called aero position on the bike, which makes you faster in the fight against time and wind. Some years later I made an upgrade to Wheeler T-63 – a bike especially designed for triathlon. Eventually the idea of taking part in a triathlon shipwrecked on my lack of running and swimming skills. That still left me the joy of extra speed caused by the aero position that I was enjoying year after year. Then the “fetish” of carbon wheels began: Spinergy 4-spoke wheels were nice upgrade for my T-63.

K: And then the time was right for legendary Cat Cheetah bike?

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Cat Cheetah designed by Swiss engineering prodigy Rudi Kurth

F: Yes, in 2005 I was ready for the ultimate triathlon machine, a Swiss made Cat Cheetah (No 134). Natascha Badmann, a Swiss triathlon queen won 6 Ironman World Championship titles on similar bikes.  So, it was supposed to be good enough for me, the bloody amateur. But still no running, no swimming, hence no triathlon.

K: Why was that?

F: After car accident – I was “kissed” by a SUV, I changed my cycle routine from asphalt to trails in the woods. Specialized Epic Marathon (2010) with the four spoke Xentis Kappa wheels helped to rebuild confidence.  I was happy man, because police said, that people normally get killed in such kind of accidents. But I missed the speed and the aero position, so I made my comeback to the tarmac with Specialized S-Works Venge (2012) aero bike equipped with Xentis Mark II wheels. The aero position on my Venge is less aggressive, that helps during longer rides.

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That Specialized Epic Marathon has rather rare wheel selection. Nothing can do if you’re fan of wheels with few spokes

K: Still, you gave the promise to participate in triathlon years ago. As you said in the beginning, you finally accomplished that. How?

F: As my fifties were approaching, I started running in 2011, had my first training course in swimming in 2016 and again in 2017. I finished the Zurich Triathlon 2017 (Olympic distance) in 3:05 h (super slow) and the Greifensee Triathlon 2017 in 2:50 h (very slow). But who the f*** cares? I made it and had a lot of fun.

K: Fun, satisfaction and new experiences are most important, couldn’t agree more. When you are looking for competitions abroad, I can highly recommend IRONMAN 70.3 that takes place in Otepää, Estonia in every summer – super organization, beautiful nature and fun people. Let’s switch from sporting to commuting now. How you found Viks? Have you looking for something or was something missing from your life?

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Frank’s fully loaded Viks Carbon Edition bike at the Sky Lounge of The Metropolitans in Zurich

F: I somehow stumbled to a website of Viks dealer (K: you can find all of them from here: viks.cc/resellers/). I started a rigorous web research about your bikes at once. And yes, I was looking for a decent birthday present to myself for “50 years of Frank Mäder” ;-)

K: What were your first emotions when you had Viks?

F: Joy, fun and satisfaction. Another step to live my dream. The bike has kind of eccentric design that I like and it fits perfectly to my collection. And of course: all bikes are in use.

K: Glad you mentioned the fact of using your bikes. We all know the formulas on “how many bikes should I have” that often are expressed as N+1 (N = your current number of bikes) or N-1 (N = the number of bikes you have that leads to divorce). The rule you really have to apply is, that you have to find time to ride every single bike you own at least once a year and accomplish something that is beyond casual training or a ride. How the ride feels by the way?

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Bikes are meant for riding

F: Viks is very sporty and kind of aggressive. But I like that and with my experience of the extreme Cheetah the riding position of the bike was OK from the very beginning.

K: You have pretty special bike in terms of materials and components. What about the reactions of other people? Is there a story you can share with us already? I know you had a chance to take the bike out already despite the winter we have now.

F: Cheetah has been my No 1 eyecatcher so far. Astonishing is that young children notice much faster how special this bike is and force their parents to pay attention. Due to bad weather condition I had only one 10km ride with my new Viks yet, but I think the reactions will be comparable. Swiss people are normally quite reserved. They take a look, but they do not search for contact. But that’s not a problem of course. My rides are my joy, not posing.

K: Where do you normally ride with your bikes and what are your suggestion for leisure rides or more sporty ones, if someone comes to your area?

F: Switzerland is tiny. That means different kind of tracks and routes are always nearby. I like to ride along the many small and super-small lakes in my home country. I even created a 8-lake-tour (170km / 7 h). Once a year I take part in the Bodensee Radmarathon (220km / 7-8 h). It’s a gran fondo around the Lake of Constance.

K: What your family thinks about your hobby? Seems that you are really busy on that matter. Do you involve your wife and son to maintain a good balance in family life?

F: My wife knows that I am kind of nerd. But! If a sporty girl drives by … I examine the frame, wheels and cranks of the bike, NOT the girl … ;-))) During winter we enjoy skiing together, hiking in the snow; during summer travelling. If Noah is part of the travel group, he shoots his pictures.

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Nicely parked

K: What Viks gave to you? Is there something extra that you didn’t have in your life before?

F: I was looking for a ride to cruise with style. Being a “carbon nerd” it had to be the mix of carbon and steel to attract my attention.

K: Is there something encouraging you want to say to people who are about to have their Viks bike but still are in some sort of doubts?

F: Start to take it easy and enjoy “slower” rides in-style. Nevertheless, Viks can be driven pretty fast too.

K: Thank you Frank – for sharing your life with us and for your riding tips of course. Spring is not far away. In behalf of team Velonia Bicycles I wish you many enjoyable and stylish kilometers. Whenever you have emotions or images to share, please do. It’s always cool to see Viks in different situations all over the World.

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What the future brings? When having collection like this – lot of excitement…

When want to dig deeper into Noah’s work in Instgram: @_leolight for nature and @_urblight for urban

When want to discuss your new Viks bike then: viks.cc/order-custom

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Frank’s bike in #viksfactory, Tallinn just few moments before packing and sending out to Zurich