In the latest instalment of our London bike company profile series, we bring you Aprire, a South London based bike manufacturer. We sat down and chatted with the founder a few weeks ago when we got our hands on a couple of demo bikes to see what they were all about.
Aprire are still relatively unknown but will not remain that way for long if the quality of their bikes is anything to go by. The company was founded by Phil Dempsey in 2009, an engineer with extensive experience in the cycle industry, and as I found out, a passion for making excellent bikes.
Who are they?
Based in Cheam, South London, Aprire are a very small team making mainly performance road bikes with a few London dealers. Speaking to Phil, it is clear that designing and riding bikes is his passion. He really gets bike design and the best way to use form and materials to make the bike comfortable and perform well. “I have been designing bikes since I was a kid. My first carbon bike was done when I was 17 during my A-Levels. Then I went to Taiwan and worked for a few companies out there, mostly in mountain bikes, I come from that background.
“Carbon is a beautiful material in that it can be anything you want it to be. Road bikes are all about resonance – you don’t really want suspension on a road bike. You don’t really need it on a city bike either. You do need some way of taking resonance out, which is something not many companies are focusing on at the moment.” This is one key point that Aprire are working on and as I found out later, something that makes their bikes super comfortable, more so than most other bikes I have tried – Phill’s attention to design detail to perfect the ride.
All the bikes are designed in London and then the frames are made in Taiwan or Italy. The bikes are then painted and built up in Cheam, allowing for the great level of customisation on offer.
However, and this is really exciting for London bike building, they are in the process of moving full carbon frame building to London. They have just got the machines in place and should be making frames for themselves, and other companies, by the end of the year.
What do Aprire make?
The flagship Aprire model is a full carbon, elite level road bike; the Vincenza. They also make a lower priced full carbon bike, the Celeste. Then there are a couple of aluminium offerings. All the bikes have great finishing kit and components, the spec of which is not scrimped on at all. “Some big brands save £10 [on the ticket price] by putting on cheaper wheels that the consumer then has to change in a year at a cost to them of £200. Doesn’t seem right.” Phil’s mentality means the bikes are all spec’ed with Mavic wheels and Ritchey components which should see you through some serious riding.
Along with this, the bikes are highly customisable. You can choose the gearing, handlebar width and stem length. Further, for only £50 you can have the bike painted in the colour of your choice. It’s a great service, but that means you need to have some idea of your preferences.
There are two models that would be great fast commuters and still allow you to club ride at the weekend, much in line with the Specialized Allez etc. These are the Inverno and the Inverno AR. These bikes both have mounts for mudguards, and the AR has rack mounts also. These are the two bikes I test rode in varying conditions.
The Inverno is Aprire’s aluminium and carbon road bike. You can buy it as a frameset only (for the bargain price of £275) or with a variety of gearing options depending on budget and preference (starting at £645 for Shimano Sora). The frame and forks have eyelets for mudguards so you can use it as a year round commuting steed as well as for club riding and sportives, basically any kind of on road cycling you wish.
The Inverno comes in a good range of sizes so is pretty unisex, especially with the ability to pick your desired handlebar width and stem length. You can pick your gearing of choice, meaning you can tailer the bike to your budget and uses. The new Sora groups for example is cheap but really quite good, certainly good enough for commuting and light weekend use.
I am a steel bike stalwart and have found aluminium bikes to be a bit harsh in the past. Not so with this frame. It felt easily as comfortable and smooth as steel but lighter and more responsive to acceleration. It climbs hills well and accelerates away from lights very easily, while still smoothing out road noise and potholes. The rim brakes are effective and bite well. Riding this bike was pretty rewarding, and out in the hills of Richmond Park it felt responsive and fun to ride, while still feeling stable in traffic.
This is the adventure loving brother of the Inverno. It comes equipped with disc brakes, 35mm tyres and can take a rear rack along with the mudguards. I borrowed one of these for a weekend to ride an adventure cross race up in Derbyshire. The course was hilly and far more off-road than I was expecting. The Inverno AR handled everything far better than I did and performed flawlessly in pretty muddy, rocky conditions more suited to a full mountain bike – I didn’t have any punctures with the Schwalbe CX Comp tyres. There were also some road sections that the bike flew over easily, I even managed to drop other people on the climbs who were also on cross bikes.
Comfort wise it was the same as the road version, and was smooth over everything but the most rugged track. The brakes were effective and worked well even after going through deep, muddy puddles – on city roads they would be great in the winter. As a set up for commuting and a do it all, ride it all bike it is great as it comes.
I did take this on city streets as well and it was as good as the straight Inverno – great handling and very stable amongst heavy traffic with enough punch to make accelerating from lights a doddle.
I added a rear rack to the bike to carry extras for my weekend trip. It was all very easy to add on and off, and mudguards would have been fine too as there are two sets of eyelets. The rack made the bike feel a little more sluggish, but that is to be expected when sticking 10kgs of stuff in a pannier.
Both the Inverno AR and the Inverno come with great quality finishing kit – very nice Mavic wheels, and Ritchey bars, stem and seat post, all the things that can really make or break a good bike. The Prologo Kappa saddle especially is incredibly comfortable, although of course that is subjective. There was nothing on this bike that I would need to change, unlike other bikes I have had in the past, including my beloved Trek. This just increases the value for money.
Both the Inverno and the Inverno AR would make great commuter bikes if you want something fast and light and they are really great value. They would be great bikes for sportive or cyclocross riding as well. I prefer the feel and assurance of disc brakes, especially in London in the winter when the roads can be gross, but rim brakes are pretty fine too and a bit lighter.
Aprire are definitely a bike brand to watch. Phil really spends time designing the frames to be the best they can be. They are great value for money and put together in South London, and the level of customisation is a real bonus and something you will not get from a more main stream brand but a feature that can make a huge difference to on bike comfort.
The Inverno starts at £645 for a full build, while the Inverno AR starts at £745. Demo bikes are available if you want to see if the bikes are for you, contact Aprire directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.