REILLY SPIRIT HSS
Brighton-based Reilly Cycle Works showcases the enormous frame designing and building talents of Mark Reilly, respected as a master of his craft. Mark’s 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 head-tube is a match for the oversized down-tube and swoopy carbon fork.
But 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.
Our model is one of the first bikes we’ve had supplied with the new Shimano Ultegra groupset, with hints of Dura-Ace and refinement across the board. Its compact 50/34 chainset is paired with a climb-friendly 11-32 cassette and long cage rear mech. The brake callipers are a little less angular, the hoods slimmer and the shift levers enlarged.
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, 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 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 a capable performance to match the frame’s ability.