ŠKODA has enjoyed a special relationship with cycling for 120 years. From the first Slavia-badged bicycles to the brand’s ongoing support for the Tour de France and other great races, ŠKODA’s passion for two-wheelers is as strong now as it was 12 decades ago. The firm’s founding fathers, Václav Laurin and Václav Klement laid the foundations for success in 1895, when the pair agreed on a plan to build the best bicycle on the market.
Although their first efforts were merely improved versions of existing designs, the duo swiftly came to the conclusion that the best way forward was to design a new bicycle from scratch. Operating under the patriotic brand name ‘Slavia’, Laurin and Klement started production in 1895, and soon developed a range of five models that included a lady’s bike and a hybrid bike. Step by step, the bicycle range was expanded. There were tandem bikes ‘for two gentlemen’ and ‘for a gentleman and a lady’, children’s bikes for boys and girls, delivery tricycles and speciality bicycles with a drive shaft.
The products from Mladá Boleslav inspired people with their innovative technology. For example, the bikes had tyres with an air-filled inner tube and valve – a revolutionary idea at the time. On the downside, the bicycles were rather expensive with a typical Slavia model costing around two to three months’ wages of a Bohemian craftsman.
The high level of reliability and excellent-quality finish of the Slavia bicycles led to growing commercial success. For quality control, comprehensive endurance tests were carried out before launch. These included tests where the wheels were immersed in water three meters deep for 24 hours without any trace of water penetrating into the bearings. Easy maintenance routines also contributed to Slavia’s growing reputation.
With sales rising, the range continued to expand. In 1899, L&K presented the next engineering milestone: a bicycle with an auxiliary motor – the so-called Motocyclette. Although L&K’s first motorcycle achieved a top speed of just 20mph, it was a huge success with buyers who were happy to trade leg power for horsepower.
ŠKODA has never lost its passion for cycling. The brand sells its own range of two-wheelers and is deeply involved at all levels of cycling. Since 2004, ŠKODA has supported the Tour de France, the most famous bicycle race in the world, as official sponsor and vehicle partner. It also sponsors other renowned national and international cycling events as well as maintaining comprehensive involvement in cycling as a grassroots sport.
PRUDENTIAL RIDE LONDON
Developed by the Mayor of London and his agencies in 2012, Prudential RideLondon is the world’s greatest festival of cycling, with over 100,000 cyclists regularly participating across 8 events on traffic-free roads in late July. There are 8 events within the 3 days–and has something for both the amateur, keen and professional cyclists. It’s the 'London Marathon' of cycling.
ŠKODA has been involved in motorsport since 1901 and has won titles all around the world in a range of vehicles. And more than 100 years on - and competing since 2015 with the ŠKODA FABIA R5 - nothing much has changed.
In the 2018 season, the ŠKODA Motorsport is focusing on defending their titles in three championships in particular - the WRC2 category in the FIA World Rally Championship, the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and our home series, the Czech Rally Championship (M?R).
Our works drivers have achieved much with the ŠKODA FABIA R5 cars over the past three seasons. ŠKODA Motorsport has claimed three WRC2 Teams' titles in a row, with Esapekka Lappi winning the Drivers’ title in 2016 and Pontus Tidemand did the same in 2017.
Jan Kopecký meanwhile has won three Czech championship crowns in a row and in dominant fashion, while Tidemand claimed the APRC title in 2015.
And it is not just the ŠKODA works team who is putting the FABIA R5 through its paces in 2018. ŠKODA Motorsport also produces the FABIA R5 for various customer teams and this customer programme has seen the car claim numerous other titles around the world and there are high hopes for continued success in 2018.
Further back, ŠKODA UK’s involvement in motorsport has helped shape rally history. Rookie Andreas Mikkelsen became the first driver in history to win back-to-back Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) titles, after finishing 2nd on the Cyprus Rally, in his Fabia S2000. Partnered by Ola Fløene, who retained the co-drivers’ title, Andreas won 2 rounds of the 2012 IRC, finished 2nd on 5 occasions and recorded 58 stage wins. In fact, over the 2011 and 2012 IRC seasons, Andreas recorded an impressive 99 stage victories!
Andreas was also presented with the Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy for his achievements in 2012. ŠKODA also dominated in the 2012 IRC Manufacturer rankings, scoring 120 stage wins out of a possible 172 on its way to being crowned IRC Manufacturers’ champions for the third consecutive year.