Urban Cyclist - - On Test -

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.

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