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Aprire Inverno Sora review

29 Jun 2015
Verdict:

This ambitious British brand's first sub-£1000 model brings bike building back home.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£650

On the face of it, the Aprire Inverno could just be another good-looking, surprisingly good-value starter bike, but delve a little deeper and you’ll discover this could be the start of something much more exciting.

When Phil Dempsey started Aprire five years ago in southwest London, it was off the back of a career working in the Far East as an engineer in the bike industry. He had the contacts, he had the engineering skills and he had the passion to go it alone, having realised he could do things better himself. So he did, and Aprire was born. It’s been a slow build, but as Dempsey says, ‘I’m an engineer, I can’t do marketing for toffee.’ Carbon and aluminium frames are made in Asia to his exacting standards and shipped to the UK for painting and building. Now though, it’s time to grow, and to do that, Aprire is bringing much of its manufacturing back to the UK, where the advantages of on-shoring will mean greater agility, better productivity and carbon frames with a smaller carbon footprint.

Aprire Inverno chain stays

‘The idea of bringing carbon back to the UK is one, quality control; two, we can bring down lead times; and three, the costs are almost the same – we’ll be a little bit more than China, that’s inevitable, but the fact that we can do it quickly, and do custom stuff as well, means it makes sense.’

Much of what Dempsey has learned from carbon has gone into the aluminium frame of the Inverno, which, while undoubtedly a budget-conscious offering, sports a unique tapered head tube design, and clever shock-reducing (but still stiff) seat and chainstays. The main tubes are off-the-peg, bog-standard 6061 (a material Dempsey believes is far preferable to 6066-grade alloy we often see coming from China now), but by speccing tailored elements, the Inverno rides like a more expensive machine. It’s a frame that’s been in the pipeline for almost a year, but thanks to the vagaries of Chinese manufacturing and long lead times, it has only just been launched – in fact, it should have been available for about a week by the time you read this. [June 2015]

‘Bringing manufacturing back is interesting and if you do it correctly, it can be done successfully. But if you run with any inefficiency, you’re stuffed – the Chinese idea of efficiency is just to throw more people at it, and we can’t do that here.’

Aprire Inverno frame

Dempsey plans to have enough capacity at the new Aprire facility that there will be space to manufacture frames for other smaller brands too. This already happens in Italy, where lots of bike frames from a broad spread of manufacturers come out of a small number of factories – they’re all built to their own brand’s specification and design, but they’re not necessarily built by the brand itself. ‘We’re gearing up for 30,000 carbon frames per year and 200,000 aluminium,’ says Dempsey, ‘Aprire will just be a small chunk of what we make.’

When it comes to carbon, a point of difference for Aprire will be that it will be able to produce its own carbon tubes and lugs, rather than relying on off-the-shelf offerings bought in from China. The tubes and lugs will then be joined together through the tube-to-tube process, which ends up lighter and, if done correctly, can be stronger than a monocoque.

Aprire Inverno seat stays

Anyway, back to the bike in hand, the Inverno. It’s £650, it has a full Shimano Sora nine-speed groupset (it even has the rarely seen Sora chainset), Mavic Aksium wheels (bargain) and branded finishing kit from Dedacciai and Ritchey. The fork is carbon with a tapered carbon steerer tube, and production bikes will come with mudguard eyelets (we tested a pre-production model). All Aprire frames are painted in the UK and it’s fair to say the Inverno really doesn’t look like a budget offering – the mix of blue and unpainted aluminium lends the bike a real air of classiness.

Hit the road and despite the 23mm tyres – which, having become accustomed to 25mm or larger, look very slender – the Inverno does a good job of soaking up road buzz. Those split and shaped seatstays at work? We reckon so. And at a full kilogram lighter than last issue’s £500 group test winner, it surges forward with the urgency of a more expensive bike. The Sora equipment works well enough and at this price, Mavic wheels are an absolute steal.

The Aprire Inverno starts at £650 for the model tested here, and goes up to £1,195 for a Shimano Ultegra equipped bike. Our pick, though, would be the £995 Shimano 105 11-speed version.

Spec

Aprire Inverno Sora
Frame Aprire 6061 Alu, full carbon fork
Groupset Shimano Sora
Brakes Shimano Sora
Chainset Shimano Sora, 50/34
Cassette Shimano Sora, 11-28
Bars Dedacciai
Stem Dedacciai
Seatpost Ritchey
Wheels Mavic Aksium
Tyres Mavic Aksion, 25c
Saddle Prologo Kappa
Contact aprirebicycles.co.uk

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