The Extans Akhal bike, with its space-age design and carbon frame, is helping to redefine the perception of the contemporary bicycle
Like many brothers, Lubomir and Peter Chovanec grew up fascinated by all forms of transport, from racing cars and airplanes to bicycles. But they also developed a passion for design, and in 2019 they put these two loves together to create the Extans Akhal bicycle. “We wanted to create our own product and we had to learn by doing,” says Lubomir, from his home in Switzerland. “But we had a clear goal – we wanted to create a bicycle that would be the most beautiful on the market. The name of our company, Extans, comes from a Latin word for still existing or standing out and that represents the philosophy of the company: our products are designed to be different and they are built to last.”
The Akhal is as much piece of art as it is a vehicle. Uniquely and strikingly beautiful, its monocoque frame has been carefully designed so that there are no visible external screws or welds. There are two models, which differ slightly in components such as wheels but are mainly distinguished by the unique frame – there is no seat tube, the vertical post that usually links the saddle to the pedals, which reduces weight and creates an unusual rhomboid shape. There is also a different surface treatment: Akhal bikes come in either bright or black chrome plating, the latter a finish that is far too exclusive for most manufacturers to even consider. These two variations are called Shadow and Shine, and both have been limited to 99 editions. The name Akhal is itself taken from the Akhal-Teke horse, one of the rarest and most beautiful horses in the world. “It’s elegant, majestic and dynamic, with a special metal sheen,” says Lubomir.
These sleek, minimalist bikes are handmade in the UK by specialists, a painstaking process that requires great skill and craftsmanship. During the long creative process, the brothers continuously refined their plans but always maintained a singular commitment to the very best concepts of design and quality. “It’s what sets us apart from our competitors,” explains Lubomir. “We soon discovered that this industry is very technology driven and that means people make compromises on design but we did things the other way round – we started with the design and adapted the technical side. That meant we had to come up with creative solutions that did not compromise design, performance or safety standards.”
Lubomir likens the intricate process to making a luxury watch, while further inspiration and assistance comes from companies that service the high-end automobile manufacturers. “There are some manufacturing operations that are very sophisticated,” he says, “and to achieve the quality that we demand from our vehicles we use specialist companies. These companies are the best-in-class and usually work for the major gold standard car manufacturers. That is the sort of standard we are achieving.”
While new designs are currently being planned, Extans is also able to extend its offering by creating bespoke bicycles. Following conversations with clients, it will introduce different components, colours, material and surface treatments to the basic Akhal. It can even add engravings or insert precious stones into the metal frame. “The bikes were not designed for the daily commuter,” says Lubomir. “It is a beautiful machine to use but we really wanted to change how people look at bikes by creating something that is more like an artwork that you can ride.”