With their cast AP-1 DH bike Empire has always been a company that likes to do things differently, and this new MX-6 continues that tradition.
If you haven’t already worked it out, the thing that makes this new 150mm travel hard hitting trail/enduro bike so unique is that the vast majority of it is CNC machined. There are only four welds on the entire frame, and these are to join the head tube section to the ‘back bone’ via two box section links. The entire rear swingarm is machined from one solid piece of aluminium which starts life as a 42Kg lump before ending up as the intricately machined 1Kg swingarm. The whole process takes around ten hours (and that’s just for the swingarm) so it’s far from a cheap way of doing things but it does mean that you get the kind of repeatable strength, alignment, and performance that you’d struggle to achieve via other more conventional means.
In keeping with the AP-1 one part of this bike is still made using precision sand casting, and although the rest of the manufacturing techniques are different there are still several other similarities between the two bikes. They both use a relatively high single pivot design, and that pivot runs on super high quality full-compliment needle-roller bearings which are the proper tool for the job and should last for years. Chris, the man behind Empire, is also a stickler for geometry and it seems like he’s got this frame just as dialled as the AP-1. The geometry is below…
Of course one other key thing that remains the same is that this frame is designed and manufactured right here in the UK. Obviously that fact along with all the machining time means that these frames are never going to be cheap to produce. In fact the cost is so high that Empire have taken the decision to now sell their bikes directly in order make them competitively priced. Cutting out the middle man was really the only way to do it. Empire also believe that they can actually offer better customer service by doing things this way.
The geometry can be adjusted thanks to the bolt-on shock mount on the swingarm. Different size mounts will be available as spare parts, and these will adjust both the head angle and the bottom bracket height. The dropouts can also be changed so as to accept either a 12x135mm or 12x142mm hub, and either way your wheel is held in place via the excellent Maxle system. Oh, and yes there is an ISCG 05 mount.
If it wasn’t already apparent, here you can see just how much machining work has gone into this bike. We reckon it’s definitely going to be a ‘Marmite’ bike, people will either love it or hate it.
Even just the tapered headtube area has probably has probably been subjected to more machine time than all the machined parts combined on most other frames.
Empire are now selling this as either a frame or a complete build, with a choice of red or blue finish. If you’re going for a full build then Chris is also up for a bit of custom build action if you fancy something a bit different. Just have a chat with him about what you’d like and he’ll do his best to sort it out for you and work out a good price. The spec for the standard full build (as pictured) weighs in at around the 31lb mark. Yes that means it’s far from the lightest bike in this travel category, but Chris never set out to achieve that. Instead he wanted to make a bike that would last, no matter how much stick you give it. As I said before there are definitely going to be some ‘haters’ of this bike, but as long as there enough people who simply want something a little different and appreciate the amount of work that has gone into this bike then Empire should be onto a winner. It also has to be said that although the pricing of this bike is still definitely ‘high-end’, the fact that it is being sold direct means you’re getting more for your money. Whether you think it’s worth paying someone to spend all that time machining you a frame is a question that only you can answer. Hopefully we’ll have one to test out soon…
Full Build: £3795.00