With a full carbon fibre frame hand built in Italy, the Aprire Vincenza is a great handling bike to ride with a lively character that puts a big smile on your face. The stiff frame revels in sprints but is well damped on rough and bumpy roads, making it the ideal choice for anything from an hour blast around the lanes to longer adventures.
Aprire is the work of London-based cyclist and regular road racer Phil Dempsey. With a background in design and engineering in the cycle business, he decided to put his experience to work in designing his own range of bikes. The Vincenza is his flagship model. It's hand built in Italy (where, he won't tell us) to his own designs, and honed over the three years with his own race team. The result is a fine riding bike.
Next year they're sponsoring new British women's racing team, Team Velosport – Pasta Montegrappa, so expect their profile to rise.
Ride: Fun, fast and thoroughly enjoyable
On the road the Vincenza offers a delightfully smooth ride. It floats over bumps and ridges in the road, with the sort of composure that I've experienced from only a handful of top-end carbon frames. Yet it manages to be stiff enough that there's no loss of efficiency. Show it a climb and the frame feels taut and direct. Each pedal revolution has the bike powering forwards, reeling in the summit so quickly that you takes you by surprise at first.
This urgency of pace is countered by just how much fun it is to ride. Some bikes can be incredibly stiff, aero or efficient, but lacking in character. Not so with the Vincenza. It engages with you, from the way it smooths the road surface and looks after you on long training rides, to the weight of the steering which makes it a doddle to put it just where you want it on the road.
In a way, it's an easy bike to ride fast. It doles out speed where some bikes struggle. You can make up time on the descents, a place where it really shines. There's good feedback so you can exploit the grip of the tyres; you can push it right to the limits and easily pull it back when you get too close. The steering is accurate but not too fast, a balanced handling that will suit racers and sportive fans.
At speed it feels settled. Unflustered. It sweeps through bends and around corners with ease. Push it harder through very fast downhill corners and it feels planted. I found it revelled in every situation I put it in, and not once did it struggle to cope or keep up.
It is perhaps not the stiffness carbon frame I've ridden, but nowhere did I find it lacking. There's just a degree of softness in the way it deals with road imperfections and power input that hints at a frame built to absorb impacts, with a slight trade off in stiffness. The slight lack of stiffness does translate into a wonderful ride quality.
Where better to test its performance, not in a road race, but a 200km Audax. Starting from Tewkesbury and heading out on a lovely rolling route into the Welsh Borders, the Vincenza proved to be a joy to ride. It looked after me, providing a comfortable ride but was fast and light enough where it needed to be when the pace get a bit toasty.
When you just want to cruise, it settles down into its stride, and is happy to lope along country lanes at a sedate pace. At the end of the ride, 7.5 hours later, I still felt as fresh as when I left the car park earlier that morning. Such a ride isn't the natural environment for such a bike, but it proved its performance to me on that ride.
Racey best describes the fit of the bike, which suits me perfectly. There are five sizes from 48 to 60cm. The 54cm I rode has a 54cm seat tube, 55cm horizontal top tube, 15.5cm head tube and 979.8mm wheelbase, making it a little shorter in reach but with a comparable stack height to a typical 56cm frame. The head tube keeps the bars low, but Aprire fit a couple of headset spacers if you want to go higher. Angles for the head tube and seat tube are 73 and 73.5 degrees respectively.
Frame and fork: UK designed, hand built in Italy,
The Vincenza cuts a subtle presence. A matte black frame with gloss decals along the down tube and top tube provide added sparkle, in the right light. You can choose any coloured decals if you want to add a splash of colour. The frame is nicely proportioned with elegantly profiled tubes. The down tube is a triangular shape mirrored by a similarly shaped top tube, which almost disappears into the seat tube. The down tube and top tube pairing really make the frame; it's undeniably a good looking bike.
Made in Italy to Phil Dempsey's own design, the Vincenza is constructed using a tube-to-tube process. This also allows a custom option on the frames. Phil and his builders have spent the years since they first launched on getting the layup of the carbon fibre just right, to deliver a frame that offers the character of ride they set out to achieve. The shaping of the tubes is important as well, and you can see that as you cast an eye over the frame.
We're used to seeing massively reinforced bottom bracket junctions on modern race bikes, but the Vincenza bucks the trend with a comparatively undernourished bottom bracket. What it lacks in chunkiness it makes up for in prettiness. It uses an external threaded bottom bracket. A pair of tall box section chainstays branch off the back of the BB shell and ebb away into the dropouts, with a replaceable hanger on the driveside.
The large diameters of the frame's main tubes are countered by slender seat stays that converge into the top tube and seat tube, forming a neat junction. The tapered head tube gives the frame a good visual balance. It just looks right. Aprire claim a frame weight of 850g which if accurate places it in good company. Only the very exotic, and frames costing as much as this whole bike, get much lighter. They've paired the frame with their own 350g fork too, with a carbon steerer tube.
The frame is fitted here with a mechanical groupset, with all the cables internally routed. Should you want a Di2 electronic groupset the frame is ready to go, with the necessary drillings and down tube mount for the battery.
Build: No shortcuts here, full Shimano Ultegra 11-speed
You might expect a small new British company to struggle to offer an Italian built carbon frame at any sort of price approaching good value, but Aprire have somehow managed it. The bike here, with a full Shimano Ultegra 11-speed groupset, Ritchey finishing parts and Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL wheels, costs £2,695. That compares well to similarly built bikes from bigger brands that boast more buying power.
Much has been said about Shimano's new Ultegra 11-speed groupset, so I won't go into too much detail here. Suffice to say, it's a wonderful groupset. It's almost identical to the more expensive Dura-Ace. The levers feel the same and the reshaped and smaller hoods fit so much more comfortably in my hands than their predecessor.
The brakes are a highlight, with lovely modulation and stacks of power at the fingertips. Front shifting is a noticeable improvement, with a lighter throw of the lever required to push the mech over, and improved trim.
You don't have to have Ultegra though. Aprire offer the Vincenza frame with Shimano 105 and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels for £2,245, and if you're feeling particularly flush a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40C and Ritchey WCS build can be yours for £5,695. Something for everyone then, and it's the same frame throughout the range.
Aprire use Ritchey components to keep things simple, and this bike had the company's Pro alloy handlebars, stem and seatpost fitted. Ritchey stuff is top quality and always reviews well on road.cc, and the alloy Pro range does the job without fuss.
I'm forever changing saddles on test bikes, opting to switch to one that I know is comfortable no matter how long or hard the ride. So I was delighted to discover Aprire share my fondness for the Prologo Scratch. The padding on this Pro T2.0 is a little softer than I'm used to, but the shape ensures it's comfortable, even for a 7.5 hour ride.
The wheels are a visual and performance highlight of the package. They are getting a bit long in the tooth '' aerodynamics has moved on a lot in recent years '' but the Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL wheels still provide a fast ride with good stiffness. The aluminium braking surface provides consistent and strong braking performance, though these wheels don't have the Exalith coating of the more expensive Cosmic SLRs we tested last year.
One mild disappointment: the Mavic Yksion Pro Griplink/Powerlink tyres. While fine in the dry, the tyres didn't inspire much confidence to push hard through corners on roads a little damp or wet. A change to a pair of Michelin Pro 4 tyres turned this around.
All that kit brings the weight of the bike to 7.5kg (16.5lb) on the road.cc scales. You won't get much lighter than that at similar money, and the wheels clearly add a fair chunk to the weight. A switch to a shallow section wheelset would lop a couple of hundred grams from the overall build.
There is much to love about the Vincenza: it offers a classy ride that will be enjoyed by racers and speed loving cyclists, it's comfortable and smooth, handling is crisp and inspiring, and looks fantastic too. That they manage to offer a bike that could easily take on bikes costing twice as much at just £2,696, is nothing short of astonishing.
Aprire might be the newest bicycle brand on the block, but the Vincenza shows they've done their homework, it's truly a cracking frame - in a good way - that is a delight to ride
road.cc test report
Make and model: Aprire Vincenza
Size tested: n/a
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Designed in the UK by Aprire founder and Engineer Phil Dempsey no detail has been missed. Internal cabled, Di2 compatible and ready to race the Vincenza is our masterpiece.
The Vincenza is built for a combination of speed and comfort, corners like it's on rails and really flies when you start putting down the power. Race tested in the British Elite racing scene this bike is a winner.
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Groupset: The Ultegra 6800 series is "pro-proven" as it is a direct trickle down from the Shimano Dura Ace groupset. It stands for state-of-the-art technology, proven in pro races, the technology used in the new Ultegra 6800 series with 11 speed, newly designed brakes and new chain treatment make it a race winning groupset.
Wheelset: The best value aerodynamic wheelset, light, stiff and fast. Cosmic Carbone SL features time-proven Mavic aerodynamics. But weight has not been ignored, with one of the lightest clincher carbon rims to significantly reduce inertia.
Components: Race-level parts without the race-level prices. Ritchey PRO benefits from the trickle-down effect, incorporating many of the innovation found on WCS.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
First class finish, frame looks stunning in real life.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Full carbon tube-to-tube construction, hand built in Italy. They don't give any details away about the actual carbon fibre used to make the frame.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Quite racey, low front end, a little short for flighty handling and speed, it's designed for racing.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Fitted my perfectly, but then I do like my bikes low and long.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The comfort most impressed, considering the stiffness it displays it mops up vibrations on rough roads.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
There's plenty of apparent stiffness in the front end and bottom bracket, but it's outclassed by other frames that trump it on outright stiffness. It's marginal stuff though
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
No hesitation to transfer power.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral, a regular 73 degree head angle.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Handling is really its ace card. Smooth and controllable no matter how fast you're travelling, it's an easy bike to ride too.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels are fast but I wasn't impressed with the tyres. Lighter wheels helped on the climbs, but the aero factor came into play on flatter routes.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Plenty of stiffness from the alloy bars and stem.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The new Ultegra chainset is a smidgen stiffer than the old design.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The new Ultegra groupset is seriously impressive.
Wheels and tyres
The Mavic Cosmic wheels are feeling dated these days
No problems with the wheels, and no punctures either
You could shed a chunk of weight with some lighter wheels, if you sacrificed the aero
Wheels also not the most compliant.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
I'd recommend a change of tyres, these Mavic tyres aren't that confidence-inspiring in less than perfect weather conditions and mixed road surfaces.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Really enjoyed riding it.
Would you consider buying the bike? It's pretty good value, so yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Oh yes.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.