£ 2,000.00

Urban Cyclist - - On Test -

Should a bike des­tined for city life be built of any­thing but steel? Prob­a­bly not. Per­haps we should add another layer: should the ul­ti­mate city bike be made of any­thing but Colum­bus Nio­bium tub­ing, like the beau­ti­fully fil­let brazed, filed and painted model here?

Mark Reilly has been de­sign­ing and build­ing bikes for more than 30 years. He’s been heav­ily in­volved in ti­ta­nium and has made bikes in ev­ery strain of steel go­ing. His com­pany now works in car­bon, too, mak­ing road bikes out of a dif­fer­ent work­shop in the Mid­lands.

This bike, born and bred in Brighton, is his per­sonal ride for tool­ing around that fair sea­side city. In essence, the tub­ing’s char­ac­ter gives the bike a light, springy feel. Com­bined with its short wheel­base and tight ge­om­e­try, the SX is an ag­ile ride, great for fil­ter­ing through traf­fic and kerb-hop­ping around ob­sta­cles. It of­fers snappy ac­cel­er­a­tion and sharp han­dling, and is sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able, though it gets a bit choppy over bro­ken sur­faces. The 25mm Con­ti­nen­tal Ul­tra Sport are fast and grippy, and pro­vide plenty of sur­face area for the Shi­mano disc brakes to work with. The fin­ish­ing kit

fea­tures a Reilly-branded ti­ta­nium rail sad­dle, which is a racy choice, but its nat­u­ral min­i­mal­ism suited the over­all look of the SX.

Reilly fit­ted this par­tic­u­lar bike with a silent Gates Car­bon CDX belt drive that prom­ises a near 100% re­duc­tion in ripped trouser legs, oil stains on the sit­ting room car­pet and, even bet­ter, thou­sands of low-main­te­nance miles. The 50-22 ra­tio was low, mak­ing it great for the five sec­onds ac­cel­er­at­ing away at lights… but it also spun out too quickly for our taste.

But that’s the thing with the SX – it’s en­tirely cus­tomis­able. No two units are ever likely to leave Reilly’s work­shop the same. The Paragon Rocker dropout sys­tem in the rear tri­an­gle means the SX can be specced with any gear sys­tem you de­sire, from Shi­mano Di2 to a tra­di­tional chain-driven sin­gle-speed. That said, though the Rocker sys­tem’s a clever one, we were a bit sus­pi­cious of the bolt kit that com­prised a grey, leaden sheen of soft metal: con­cen­tra­tion is needed when wield­ing Allen keys on them.

Ul­ti­mately, it’s a great ride in a well-made, low-main­te­nance pack­age. And then, of course, there’s its looks. The sublime paint job comes cour­tesy of Reilly Cy­cle­works’ tie-in with Colour-Tech, a bike frame pow­der-coat­ing spe­cial­ist in Dart­ford, Kent. Reilly 3D ren­ders the de­sign ac­cord­ing to the cus­tomer’s wishes and, once the paint job is ap­proved, Reilly will take care of the rest. Un­der­stand­ably, this cus­tomi­sa­tion, crafts­man­ship and ser­vice come at a cost. This one re­tails at £2,000.

Still, this is one im­pres­sive piece of art that re­ally show­cases the team’s tal­ents. If money was no ob­ject and the bike was fit­ted with a qual­ity in­ter­nal-geared hub in­stead of a sin­gle-speed, and per­haps came with mud­guards, we’d be hard-pressed to dis­agree. Beau­ti­fully crafted bike; an in­ter­nal­geared hub would be per­fect

BIKE SPECS Frame Colum­bus Nio­bium steel / Fork Car­bon Reilly / Wheels Hand­made DT Swiss rims and Shi­mano De­ore hubs / Trans­mis­sion Sin­gle-speed 50, 22 / Brakes Shi­mano BR-M636 www.reil­ly­cy­cle­

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