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About the company of Robert Štěrba

“It is not common for the first page of a web presentation to be written by a journalist. You may well ask – why? Why should an independent journalist of a specialized bicycling magazine write about a Prague bicycle outlet? - Although it should be added that Štěrba is also the trade name of special custom-made road bicycles.

The answer to this question is quite straightforward and simple – because our editorial board was asked to do so. Nonetheless, we are very glad to be able to do this. Robert Štěrba, the founder and owner of the company, is undoubtedly one of the best known figures in his field, whose philosophy and charisma have affected the establishing and developing of the bicycle market in this country. The story of his life makes interesting reading and is definitely noteworthy.

People who have been interested in bicycles for a longer time know Robert very well. He was one of the best competitors in the country in the 1980’s. He has been national champion five times and won a bronze medal at a track cycling world championship. He competed for the Dukla Prague team, where a number of excellent competitors, such as Trčka, Soukup, Černý and Buchta, gained the title of World Champion under the leadership of trainer Vršecký. In fact, a great many other figures in the Czech bicycle business were recruited from the Prague Dukla team – Vokolek, Bareš, Pek, "Toďa" Černý, Konárek, and others. Half of our four editors were also active in this club. Towards the end of his competitive activity, he competed as a private person because of differences of opinion with the management of Dukla and the representatives. He even worked as a waiter in a restaurant for one year, but then returned to bicycle racing and was even a member of the national representative team.s

After terminating his active sporting career, Robert Štěrba acted as a mechanic for the national representative team. As the fall of the Communist regime approached, with increasing opportunities for foreign travel, he did not hesitate and travelled abroad for more lucrative work and to gain new experience. There he met Bob Štícha, who is one of the best known bicycle builders in the world and has his own company and trade name in Switzerland. Later he joined the Molk – Stans company in Lucerne, where he learned custom-made construction of special hand-made bicycles. He was soon entrusted with an entire frame production section. For example, alone he constructed a special track bicycle for one of the most famous track cyclists, the Swiss world cycling champion, Urs  Freuler. Here, he learned not only to solder frames together, but also to work, paint and design them. His teacher and the master painter was a person who now “sprays” frames for Colnago. At this revolutionary time, he also gained valuable experience in business know-how. It was an obvious step to establish his own brand when he returned to Bohemia, where he began to build bicycles under his own name. His workshop is in the basement of a family home in Podolí in Prague. Although he always works alone, he soon gained an excellent reputation, both amongst competitors and amongst experienced hobby cyclists, and his bicycles are now famous and a synonym for top-notch quality.

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album: Robert Štěrba workshops

After a number of years of hard work, he was faced with the fundamental decision of whether to continue to devote himself to the construction of special racing bicycles or to concern himself with business to a greater degree. He decided for more extensive business and opened a cycling shop in Nusle in Prague. In contrast to a great many of his colleagues, who concerned themselves only with building bicycles or, to the contrary, decided to devote themselves to importing foreign brand names, Štěrba very carefully built up his retail business. His only import activity is related to the import of Italian Campagnolo components. He concluded that only the creation of his own trade name would lead to a very narrow range of customers, consisting of most active bicycle racing competitors. Similarly to the import of even high-quality bicycles, there is also a limited range in relation to the preference for his imported goods. His philosophy consists in having as much as possible in his shop, to cover the maximum number of manufacturers and to thus create a fully stocked shop with professional service, his own production, paint shop, consulting and better-than-average approach to his customers. At this time, although it may seem paradoxical, he shares his experience with his “competitors”, teaches technicians, has a regular consulting column in magazines on sporting subjects and, in 1993, became one of the founding fathers of the Cykloservis magazine, which, of course, he supplies with professional articles.

Looking back over the years, at a time when his shop is celebrating twenty years in the market, we can state that it was a good decision. He has created one of the best-supplied shops in Bohemia, with an excellent reputation and the address in Nusle is considered a traditional Czech outlet. This shop is a Mecca especially for experts, both from this country and from abroad, when they require one-hundred-percent service and assistance.

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album: Shops

The background of a specialized shop is a very complicated matter. Although Robert Štěrba is a leading expert in his profession, the success of his work depends on his ability to put together the best possible team of coworkers, mechanics and professionals and on providing a good base for their work. In the final analysis, the limiting factor for the customer is the professionalism of the seller or mechanic responsible for his bicycle. All the employees of Robert Štěrba & Co. are well aware of this and thus he attempts to engage the best possible professionals. A total of twenty narrowly specialized workers are employed here.

Annually, hundreds of new owners of various brands of bicycles, from children’s to tandems for sight-impaired people, leave the shop in Nusle and Robert Štěrba openly admits to a single wish:

“I would be extremely happy if they were all to become our permanent customers and friends.”

“And my friends, I am convinced that this is very frequently true,” adds Michal Stavrev.s

It is surprising that it was hardly known for a great many years that Robert Štěrba is greatly interested in history and old bicycles. This is probably mostly connected with his personality and sincere humility. His knowledge and erudition became apparent only when they extended beyond the borders of this country. At the present time, he is amongst the top experts in the world in the area of bicycle history; he restores bicycles, collects, studies and seeks out new information, gives lectures and publishes technical articles and publications.

Most collectors and experts concentrate on a certain period. With substantial simplification, historians can be divided into two large sections. The first is interested in the initial years of bicycle history and the technology of the first machines. The second is recruited mainly from former racing competitors and riders, who are more attracted by racing and sports cycling. In a great many countries, these two groups frequently have little mutual contact and their interests seem to be too far apart. Robert’s exceptional qualities lie in the fact that both areas are of interest to him and he is concerned with the entire history of the development of cycling.

“For me, my love of old bicycles opened the way into a world of marvelous people from around the globe; the history of the development of bicycles is amazing in that, although it has been described many times, it has not yet been examined in detail and offers a great many new areas, fields and periods that should be studied and described, so that we can all better understand the modern bicycle and the philosophy of its use. The bicycle is a splendid machine and its history deserves greater promotion and attention. This web site could also contribute a little to this process,” adds Robert Štěrba.

Velo 1...Peleton 2 ...Cykloservis 1. Velo 2.......................................................................Peleton 1

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