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 from Reilly?
Wheels: Handmade DT Swiss rims and Shimano Deore hubs
Transmission: Single-speed 50, 22
Brakes: Shimano BR-M636
Shimano BR-M636 brakesASDesign.uk.com
Reilly SX Street X ride impression
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.
Fast and grippy 25mm Continental Ultra Sport tyresASDesign.uk.com
This bike, born and bred in Brighton, UK, 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.
Reilly fitted my bike with a silent Gates Carbon CDX belt driveASDesign.uk.com
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 percent 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.
The SX is entirely customisableASDesign.uk.com
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 singlespeed.
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.
It’s a shame the bike isn’t fitted with mudguardsASDesign.uk.com
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 singlespeed, and perhaps came with mudguards, we’d be hard-pressed to disagree.
Reilly SX Street X early verdict
Beautifully crafted bike; an internal-geared hub would be perfect.