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Empire Cycles is a unique British bike designing and manufacturing company in the North-West of England. We are passionate about using great British engineering to create elite products and we offer innovative designs to the world’s mountain bikers and downhillers. Cyclists are fanatical about their equipment and differentiate quality. They know that a trust in their bike’s performance means they can ride to their full potential. Empire Cycles provides cyclists with bikes that are unique in design and appearance, are of the highest quality, and invest in British engineering.

The story begins in 2004 when Chris Williams, working for a motorcycle company, was asked to design the cast swing arms of two models of motocross bikes. Chris already loved mountain biking (since his BMX days) and was into amateur motocross racing. A stark example of Chris’s innovative design strategy, he brought together the needs of mountain bike frame structures with the technology already apparent in motocross. He liked the simplicity and strength of the motocross bikes with their minimal cast aluminium pieces bolted together. Chris was also a designer frustrated at giving away his ideas to big companies: it was only a matter of time before his own product and brand would emerge.

The brand name, Empire, was selected because of its irony. Chris wanted "a piece of something big” but knew that going up against established brands would be tough. Not being a man to take the easiest route, Chris started with a downhill product: the AP-1. This took some serious graft and confidence as the tooling for the cast parts had to be right first time: there was no room for error. He was convinced that the front end and swing arm could each be made from just single parts, using aircraft grade aluminium and bolted together leaving no requirement for welding. Chris was working in Ford and then Jaguar at the time, whilst still offering freelance time to medical design work. This automotive experience, coupled with his interests, provided the perfect mix of knowledge to bring bicycle design to a new level. The geometry of the AP-1 was devised: high single pivot like a motocross bike, adjustable wheel base, and motocross-type bearings. With limited funds and a cast frame design, parts could not be tested until they were manufactured and therefore, huge investments had been made. Chris recalls his first time on an early AP-1: "it rode killer”. Others tried it and doubters of the non-conformist design had to admit that it was a remarkable bike. In terms of comment, Empire Cycles has to date always managed to create a storm on the internet and in the magazines each time they release something to the public. It seems that the world of mountain biking really is watching this space and Chris is keen to keep people talking.

Some of our high points? Selling the first product to the talented Brad Mather (who still rides an Empire), getting on the front page of Mountain Bike Action magazine, the AP-1 being branded a "superbike” by MBUK, Lewis Buchanon being the junior national champ on his AP-1 in 2009, getting ‘best in show’ at Eurobike (MTB Rider magazine in Germany), receiving a Red Dot design award alongside Apple and Dyson in Germany in 2010, taking the award from Bugatti Veyron as ‘component of the year’ in the 2011 Cast Metals Industry Awards. Despite the glory, the truth behind the Eurobike achievement is that Empire didn't actually exhibit - but when Chris wheeled an AP-1 in as he attended the show to meet suppliers, photographers could not resist taking some shots as it was propped up. So it was the ‘best’ but not officially ‘in show’. There are numerous other stories of nights slept in the van (once outside Steve Jones’ house before a Dirt magazine ride of an AP-1 prototype!) and trips to events on a shoe string to get us off the ground...

Empire has achieved an impressive and successful formative period.

The company is now well-established, with products approved by bikers on the trails world wide, and a management team working to build the brand.

Innovation and product quality are at the core of the business - the future is looking even more exciting!

Bring it on !