Empire was a much talked about name a few years back thanks to their AP-1 DH bike which featured a cast aluminium construction. It’s fair to say that there were many doubters about the suitability of casting for making a frame, but Empire were adamant that it was a genuine step forward and not just a way of making their bike stand out from the rest.
Things then went a bit quiet, but now we have this new MX-6 which is a 6” travel all mountain/enduro bike. Visually it shares many similarities with the AP-1, and once again it is designed and made right here in the UK, but is it cast? No. This time Empire have gone down the “machine as much as we can from big blocks of aluminium and then use some bits of tubing for the top and down tubes” route. Again it’s pretty different to anything else that’s around at the moment (X-Lite did make an entirely machined DH bike waaaaay back in the day), but once again we have to ask if this offers any genuine benefits, or is it just a case of being different for the sake of it? Only time and testing will give us an answer to that one, but in the mean time what are your thoughts on it?
Designed and made in England – taking on the world
With the DNA of Empire Cycles’ award-winning AP-1 downhill frame flowing through its billet machined aluminium frame, the new MX-6 all-mountain bike from the Chorley, England-based cycle company is set to take the world by storm.
Aimed at the burgeoning enduro market the MX-6 and features Empire Cycles’ familiar three-piece structure and the existing, tried and tested swing arm bearing arrangement and seat tower from the AP-1 bike. The solid blocks of 6082T6 aluminium from which the headstock, swing arm and backbone of the MX-6 are machined provides added strength due to the materials controlled grain structure, making it ideal for highly stressed applications. Also, by machining these components from solid reduces the number of welds on the frame to four, further increasing the durability of the frame set.
The MX-6 is packed with features that fully justify the cost of £2500 for the frame set or £4000 for a factory assembled bike. These include, ISCG 05 mounts; 150mm travel front and rear with Rock Shox suspension; 135mm or 142mm rear hub; and 2 x 10 drive train from Sram. Additionally, for those wanting to maximise performance through changing the fork angle, the geometry can be fully adjusted by simply changing the shock mounts.
“In designing the MX-6 the intention was to create a bike that will withstand having the living daylights knocked out of it by being ridden up hill and down dale, all day long,” says Chris Williams, Managing Director, Empire Cycles. “Taking elements from the AP-1 downhill bike we have created a high performance product for the ‘all day warrior’ that will fully meet their expectations.
Based in the north west of England, Empire Cycles has kept its manufacturing close to home, selecting a specialist sub-contract machinist to manufacture the swing arm, headstock and backbone components using state-of-the-art CNC machine tools. These components are then assembled into either frame sets or fully assembled bikes at the company’s Preston headquarters. Having the MX-6 designed and manufactured in England was important to us as we can closely monitor quality and production to ensure that each and every MX-6 is built to the highest standard.