REILLY SPIRIT HSS

£2499 › New kid in town

Cycling Plus - - ROAD TEST -

Brighton-based Reilly Cy­cle Works show­cases the enor­mous frame de­sign­ing and build­ing tal­ents of Mark Reilly, re­spected as a mas­ter of his craft. Ex­pe­ri­enced with ti­ta­nium and steel, Mark has been us­ing Colum­bus Spirit steel tub­ing for over a decade, more re­cently pro­gress­ing to hy­dro­formed Spirit HSS as used here.

Hy­dro­form­ing lets frame de­sign­ers get more cre­ative, and of­fers the abil­ity to cus­tomise a frame’s stiff­ness, com­fort and looks with spe­cific tube pro­files. The triple-butted nio­bium steel forms a flat­tened top-tube, down-tube with flat­tened up­per sur­face, ex­tremely flat­tened seat­stays that broaden to­wards the seat-tube, and ovalised chain­stays with no crimp­ing or bridge. The 44mm di­am­e­ter head­tube is a match for the over­sized down-tube and swoopy car­bon fork.

What sets this frame apart is its fil­let brazed con­struc­tion, which cre­ates beau­ti­fully clean, flow­ing joints that are com­ple­mented by the beau­ti­ful paint fin­ish and smart graph­ics. It’s far more labour in­ten­sive than TIG weld­ing, and ac­counts for much of the cost, but each frame is be­spoke, and the price in­cludes paint­work de­sign. We like the brazed-on front mech mount, re­mov­ing the need for an un­sightly clamp, and cus­tomers can opt for in­ter­nal ca­ble rout­ing, de­pend­ing on their cho­sen groupset. Any brazeons re­quired, such as down-tube ca­ble stops, are in stain­less steel, as is the head-tube badge.

Our model is one of the first bikes we’ve had sup­plied with the new Shi­mano Ul­te­gra groupset, with hints of Dura-Ace, and re­fine­ments across the board. Its com­pact 50/34 chain­set is paired with a climbfriendly 11-32 cas­sette and long cage rear mech. The brake cal­lipers are a lit­tle less an­gu­lar, the hoods slim­mer and the shift levers en­larged.

Its fil­let brazed con­struc­tion cre­ates beau­ti­fully clean, flow­ing joints

Apart from the lever feel, the groupset was mostly for­got­ten once rid­ing, as the frame took cen­tre stage. Whereas a good car­bon fibre frame seems to float over the road sur­face, only feed­ing back ab­bre­vi­ated pas­sages of sur­face tex­ture, the Reilly main­tains an im­pres­sively de­tailed commentary. It’s a firm ride, but not harsh, smooth­ing road vi­bra­tions and tak­ing the edge off sharp hits.

The com­plete bike car­ries a lit­tle more weight than some here, but from the way it rides, you’d never know. Assertively swift over rolling ter­rain, the han­dling is crisp, con­fi­dent and pre­dictable, and makes good use of the 25mm Con­ti­nen­tal tyres’ gen­er­ous 27mm in­flated width. It’s con­tent to cruise, but stand­ing on the ped­als un­leashes a bit of a hooli­gan, switch­ing from as­ser­tion to con­trolled ag­gres­sion. The wheels aren’t su­per light, but de­liver able per­for­mance to match the frame’s abil­ity and, at 23mm wide, help sta­bil­ity too.

Both head and seat an­gles are 73 de­grees, which is quite nor­mal, but we found the zero set­back seat­post pushed us too far for­ward of our pre­ferred ped­alling po­si­tion. The nar­row 40cm Deda bar is eas­ier to live with, but a cus­tomer could spec­ify al­ter­na­tives to suit.

The Reilly Spirit HSS has lines and a lus­trous fin­ish we could gaze at all day. Such metal­lic artistry de­serves to be en­joyed, and rid­ing it is a treat that im­proves with ev­ery hill crested, and one we wouldn’t tire of.

Be­low Our Reilly had the lat­est Shi­mano Ul­te­gra groupset Bot­tom The com­pany has a long as­so­ci­a­tion with Colum­bus for its frame tub­ing

Reilly main­tains its rep­u­ta­tion for stun­ningly crafted, high-per­for­mance steel frames

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