London Bike Show 2013: Starley Bikes

Newly launched bike company pays homage to JK Starley, the inventor of the Rover safety bicycle

by David Arthur   January 18, 2013  

There were some interesting new brands using the London Bike Show as a platform to launch themselves, and one of them was Starley Bikes.

John Kemp Starley brought the Rover Safety Bicycle to the world in 1885, and with it set the blueprint for pretty much every bicycle produced since. Starley opened the Rover bicycle company to manufacture the bikes on a huge scale in Coventry, before the advent of the automobile. Rover transformed into a car company, and they stopped producing bicycles in 1904.

Short history lesson over, Starley Bikes are producing a range of carbon fibre road and time trial bikes. The Cheshire-based company has the full blessing from the Starley family to use his name in this way.

The aero AR1 certainly looks the part

The bikes then... well, they’re all carbon fibre and the road bikes come in two flavours, the aero AR and the regular R1. The frames are made using readily available open moulds but Starley are very specific about the carbon layup. They have the necessary engineering background with carbon fibre to know precisely what they want to achieve with the layup. They use a mix of Toray 700 and 800 carbon.

The all-round and very nice looking R1. Starley have their own paintshop and will do any colour you want

Details include internal cable routing, and they have a Di2/EPS specific frame that is moulded without the redundant cable ports. There’s a Press-Fit 30 bottom bracket, tapered head tube, and AR aero frame has an integrated seatmast.

There's a time trial frame too, which looks bang on trend

The frame and forks sell for £699 and this includes any choice of colours you can think of. A full custom paint job design costs an extra £150. Starley produce their own handlebars and seatpost, and you can get a module, including a stem, for £949. Complete bikes are offered too, starting at £1,750 with a SRAM Apex groupset. SRAM Force and RED are also available.

Starley also make their own wheels. They have a full-time wheelbuilder who’ll build up any combination of hub and rim you want. There’s everything from 24, 38, 50, 60 to 80mm rims, a disc wheel and even a five-spoke carbon wheel. The JS Meteor AC 38/50 C wheels cost £749 and use an aluminium rim wrapped with a carbon fairing and weighs 1,750g.

We’ll be getting a bike in for review soon, as we’re keen to take a closer look. Check them out at http://starleybikes.com, or why not visit the show this weekend and see them for yourself?

12 user comments

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The bikes look fantastic, and yet they're plastered with a "80's Sci Fi Movie" logo - shame!

posted by Hicksdesign [9 posts]
18th January 2013 - 14:53

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The bikes do indeed look fantastic. I had a day off yesterday, and I went over to Starley's showroom in Altrincham to have a look. Unfortunately, most of the stock had been sent to London, so there were only a couple of bikes on show.

However, and here's the thing, I asked one of the guys what the difference was between one of their frames and a "generic Chinese thing". Their answer? "Probably nothing. We paint them better! [laugh]". Now, I get that an open mould is used, don't have a problem with that, there are some very well-thought-out moulds out there, but it certainly doesn't gel with the bit above about "Starley are very specific about the carbon layup. They have the necessary engineering background with carbon fibre to know precisely what they want to achieve with the layup."

Maybe the guys who know anything about them were all in London. Be interesting to read the review, because I do like the idea of supporting a UK company, especially one that will do a funky paint job.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2943 posts]
18th January 2013 - 16:01

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That's for popping into our show room, it's a shame most of the team are currently at the bike show. Our paint team are currently the only guys in the office - he's right they do paint better! If you pop in anytime next week our engineers, sales team and marketing director will be available to answer any questions.

Thanks for your feedback it's much appreciated.

posted by Starleybikes [5 posts]
18th January 2013 - 17:31

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Thanks for replying, I don't know when I'll next get over to Altrincham, but I'll read the review.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2943 posts]
18th January 2013 - 23:51

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Lovely idea - but the benefit with our products is the design team will work direct with you - creating something you want and it's finished on a personal note with our design team. Painted in house In Manchester.

posted by Starleybikes [5 posts]
19th January 2013 - 0:49

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How can a carbon frame be made so cheap and how does it compare to a more expensive frame from Wilier, Pinarello, Cervelo etc at four times the price?
I'm not trolling, I genuinely don't get it.

posted by Gero [16 posts]
19th January 2013 - 10:23

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Saw some a while back in Swift Cycles, London. They managed to look pretty stand-out in a sea of bling.

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posted by mr-andrew [294 posts]
19th January 2013 - 12:14

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This is such a joke.

There's a reason these bikes look identical and are priced the same as the planet-x bikes, and that's because they're the same frames. It is well known that planet-x sell re-branded generic chinese carbon, and, whilst I have no issue with generic chinese carbon frames (My bike is built on one of them), I do have a problem with people buying them, repainting them, claiming them to be British-designed/made, and doubling the price tag.

posted by Osprey [18 posts]
19th January 2013 - 14:32

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Osprey - thanks for your input, But i would like to point out our frames are certainly not the same as planet x. The track frame is an open mould used by a number of manufacturers as frame are prohibitive based on track frame sale volumes. However our carbon fibre frames are laid up entirely to our specification and we use a totally different composite company to planet x for all our frameset. If you would like to visit our show room and meet our design team and engineers your more than welcome. We will talk you through what sets us apart and show you our closed mould designs.

posted by Starleybikes [5 posts]
19th January 2013 - 21:32

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Gero - thanks for the comment, please give us a call and we can talk you through how we hit our current price points. A lot is to do with final paint, finish and quality checks carried out in the UK. We can paint any colour free of charge - as frames are ordered to the customers requirements, if you call we can give you a lot more information to how we do this.

posted by Starleybikes [5 posts]
19th January 2013 - 21:41

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Gero wrote:
How can a carbon frame be made so cheap and how does it compare to a more expensive frame from Wilier, Pinarello, Cervelo etc at four times the price?
I'm not trolling, I genuinely don't get it.

Well for a start those brands you mention use and pay for their own moulds which costs a fortune to get setup to their requirements. They also spend a lot of on research and development, designing their own unique frames - Cervelo for example have a facility in California that is solely for developing new ways of pushing carbon fibre to the limits. Plus there are all sorts of other cost to consider, distribution, marketing (they each supply professional race teams), and loads more

David Arthur's picture

posted by David Arthur [1414 posts]
20th January 2013 - 0:13

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Any chance of coming to the Scottish Bike Show this year?

posted by FMOAB [229 posts]
20th January 2013 - 0:20

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