Only the first chapter of the report about ETALON has been written so far. The following chapters will be written later. Their co-authors will be you, as  I hope. 

“When all things began, already was not the Word but the whole sentence.”

We spent a week’s cycling holiday in the beautiful countryside of the Sumava mountains. The nice time we were having there was repeatedly being spoilt by the fact that a member of our family group had his bicycle chain loosened every day. Me, being the technically most competent person in the “team”, was automatically predestinated to the mending, which is necessarily combined with messing up your hands. It was then that I uttered the memorable  sentence: “ It is the last time anybody sees me on the bike with derailleur.

An authentic shot from the above mentioned holiday, taken before the memorable sentence was uttered. One can see, clearly, that the time was coming, the thought was to be borne.

But soon after that I realized, unfortunately, that there was no production of sporting bikes with internal gearbox. This meant for me that it would be up to me to build up such a bike. I accepted this necessity relatively quickly. What was worse was finding out that nobody produced any internal gearbox  with sufficient numbers of speed stages. There was no other way out but getting down to the development myself. Having at my disposal what was then on the market, my effort resulted in a very interesting bicycle: One three stage internal gearbox (fixed in the frame of the bike) was driven by one chain by the crank. From this gear, another chain was running a second-seven stage-internal gearbox of the rear wheel.

Saying that the bike was interesting, I have to add that the most interesting thing about it was, from my today’s point of view, that it really did ride. It functioned from the first assembly to the final decomposition.

It was indeed the first time since the above mentioned holiday that I sat down on the bike. By then, a new Rohloff speed hub, however, appeared on the market. It became clear to me that the technical level of gearboxes I used for my bicycle and the huge amount of special production needed for them turns my bicycle into the range of bicycle dinosaurs.

The first and at the same time last dinobike made by me.

My first intention was to construct universal bikes for snobs. Their characteristics was to high reliability and attractive shape. This intention vanished little by little since new construction possibilities opened with the use of the internal gearbox. It started to be clear that new bike will bring new standards to the construction of bikes. It was the origin of the name “Etalon” too.

The time of developing and testing the first prototype is the time when I did not keep my genuine resolution. I had imprudently my wife have a ride on it. That was not very clever of me, since having seen her enchantment, I was not able to ask her to give me back my bicycle. This necessarily meant that I had to ride on her bike with a derailleur system of course. So I unvoluntarily rode on a derailleur bike which resulted, of course, in the construction of a second prototype of Etalon.

Although reactions of bikers on the quality of the bike were promising from the beginning, I was still not satisfied with its esthetical visage. After next 3 years of experiments, I got inspired to bow the main frame tube finally. Using this, looking like a very simple element, I resolve all of mine construct and esthetical problem en block and I can finally to put my signature under the bike design. After this modification an interesting change of test riders behaviour in the time of the first pre-series specimen test occurred. When testing it before, after having done the first 30 metres, practically all of them came back saying: “Cool!”  or suchlike and only after that they started for  a longer ride. Now they said "Cool" twice. In the time of their first look too.

Indeed a good cyclist can tell the good quality of a bike after the very first meters. Average cyclists, like me, just have the feeling that they have been riding on this bike always and that a  common bike should look like that. Simply. What else can one wish? May be to find an answer to the question I was asked by one of the test riders: „Tell me why this had not been made this way since ever”.

In today’s version, the ETALON represents a top sporting recreational bike of an extreme reliability and life expectancy with low maintenance demands, offering excellent riding qualities and much more than just the difference between a speed hub and a derailleur.

As a matter of fact, if somebody considers the longing for the best and most attractive as snobbish, then ETALON can be the right bike for snobs, too. And then I am certainly one of those.

Karel Hladík
constructer of Etalon