I was reluctant to give the Reilly back. Very reluctant. It had been my companion in the early part of the summer to help motivate me back on the bike – it worked too, and we clocked up many fine miles together.
The Reilly RS-7 is a once in a lifetime bike in my view, unless you have loads of money (in which case well done, go fill your boots), a carefully considered purchase of an item worth coveting for its craftsmanship and beauty and providing years and years of pleasure. It’s the kind of bike that, once you swing your leg over, you know you’ll never ride anything as comfortable or quite so near perfect and it’s all down to the proprietary stainless steel developed by Mark Reilly in association with a facility in Taiwan.
The quality of the Tig welds, using pyromet rods which according to Reilly are “the best on market”, are beautifully executed – testament to the years of experience in the Reilly workshop. The geometry of the frame is tried and tested road bike however, there are slight nuances including the shortish seat tube and an ever so slightly longer head tube that produces a gently sloping top tube, this takes away the racier edge but it is a very fast machine nonetheless. The rear triangle is quite traditional, in the sense that the seat stays are completely straight, and the chain stays are ovalised and, again, straight which is aesthetically quite pleasing.
The test bike, a medium, was a demo made for the Bespoke show in Bristol and came with a shorter head tube than advertised, for reference see the geometry chart on the Reilly website – this probably gave the advantage of making the bike feel a little more aggressive and I think, if I was to buy a bespoke hand made frame, I’d request the shorter head tube because that would be my personal preference – I’d need to splosh an extra £200 for the privilege of course.
Not wishing to descend into split infinitives and hyperbolic descriptors of the bike, out on the road the ride felt absolutely flawless – rider and bike completely at one with the environment and the road – road riding to bring a smile back onto your face, a technicolour experience way beyond the grainy suffer faces and mono filtered Instagram photographs. Steel frames do feedback that magical ride quality, but this stainless steel gave back something else – stiffer and more responsive and greater output for your watts perhaps?
Reilly say “(the) RS-7 triple butted, heat treated stainless steel tubes are immensely strong…” continuing “The RS-7 tubes have an ultimate tensile strength up to an astonishing 2000MPa with excellent elongation figures.” This is engineering speak, but an MPa (megapascal) is a measure of tensile strength, similar to newtons per square meter, and I am led to believe from my cursory research that 2000MPa is very strong – as a comparison Reynolds claim their 953 tubing has an ultimate tensile strength of 1750-2050 MPa. Either way that goes some way to explaining why the frame gives back that little more over other steel.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the paint job on this bike. Not to everyone’s taste, perhaps, but I am a big fan of that orange. The exposed stainless steel decals and chain stay are really nice. The benefit of talking directly with the frame builder is that you can request any colour scheme of your choosing. There are 6 colour paint schemes on offer as part of the price, but there’s nothing to stop you opting for something a little more bespoke to you.
The build details are:
COLUMBUS GRAMMY FORK
FSA TAPERED HEADSET
EDCO OPTIMA ROCHES WHEELS
CONTI GP4000SII TYRES AND TUBES
SRAM FORCE GROUPSET, 50-34 172.5MM 11-26 CASSETTE
FIZIK R3 ALLOY BARS CYRANO SNAKE 42CM
FIZIK R1 CYRANO STEM 11CM
REILLY CARBON POST
FABRIC LINE SADDLE
All in the bike weighs 7.86kg which is respectable for a steel frame (inc, bottle cages and pedals) – the build has been put together for the purposes of a show bike, so not necessarily what you might choose yourself. Again, the beauty of buying a hand built bike is that you can specify the component parts for yourself, or build your bike up at your leisure from components as you have them or buy them. There are several weight savings to be made on groupset, wheels and, in this case, forks to suit your budget… I bet you could easily build this bike up to that magical 7kg weight for all the added gains. The advertised weight for the frame is 1430 grams.
If you’re thinking about a new bike then it’s well worth considering stainless steel and it is well worth considering Reilly. I have promised myself a bespoke steel frame for my 40th birthday… only another 18 months to get saving.
Reilly RS-7 from £1699.00 (frame only)