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Reid Cycles Single Speed / Fixie Review

Thursday night I whipped a full hour off my previous best for a 35km ride on the Reid. When I say previous best, I am of course referring to this ride.

It had been almost a week since I picked up the Reid and finally a day clear from the rain and stomach bugs that plagued this week’s cycling so I took the Reid single speeder out for a proper hit-out. And let me say that when the bike isn’t being held back it fairly flies along. But before I get to the ride let me digress a little and examine the bits that hang off the bike.

 

The bike I’ve got here is the Reid Harrier with upgraded everything. You get a tonne of value for your money with sealed bearings almost everywhere, Lasko cranks, Tektro brakes and Velo seat.
When I first rolled out of Reid HQ with the bike last Saturday, what I noticed first about the Reid were the great brakes. (Okay, skip this paragraph if you’re die-hard fixed.) It had recently been pissing down and the roads were still sodden when I rode out toward China Town in Brisbane. In such conditions what normally happens when I squeeze the brakes is nothing happens, at least for the first few metres while the rims are squeegeed dry, and then normal braking services resume. In contrast, the Reid’s pulled me up pronto. Whether it was the brakes, the brake pads or the braking surface of the rim (or a combination), I can’t tell you, but I can say that I had some reassuringly strong stopping in the wet.

They’re a quality pair of brakes, these Tektro units being a cut above what I’ve seen elsewhere. It’s sometimes the little things that reveal quality, like the little cam you get on the side of brakes that widen the brakes for wheel removal. I don’t recall seeing that on fixies I’ve reviewed in the past and I stood there for a few idle moments waggling it back and forth and enjoying the simple clean motion of well made machinery. Okay, it was only for about two seconds. I’m not a complete moron. My point is they’re a nice pair or brakes and they’re indicative of much of the quality found on the bike. The brake’s levers were your standard Promax jobbies.

Okay fixie guys, you can start reading again now.The Kenda tyres are also very good. (Yeah, maybe you fixie guys tuned in again too quickly.) It’s lovely to have colour-matched tyres or (if you still practicing your skid) buying rear tyres by the six-pack from an anonymous tyre manufacturer via ebay, but you do notice a quality tyre when it’s raining. My confidence grew the more I rode this bike and now I ride it in the wet in just about the same manner I would in the dry. Maybe I’m a bit more conservative around bends in the dark where there might be a mound of leaf litter to slide out on, but even that didn’t worry me unduly because I was sure I could ride through it.

I reckon it’s small touches like these that are nearly intangible but are exactly the sort of thing you pay for when the sticker price on a bike starts to rise. We all know as buyers of bikes with one gear that some friends and family will be horrified at spending $500 on a bike with one gear. But the bike they’d ride at this price would be barely rideable let alone at night and in the rain. The thing about the Reid is that even the upgraded Reid Harrier I rode, it’s sticker price was still under $400. (For a discount, see bottom of this article.)

The wheels are my new favourties. I love a pair of deep dish rims, sure, we all do. It’s hard-wired into our fixieness when we’re born. But there are pros and cons associated with them. Here’s a list I prepared for you:

Cons: heavy, stiff
Pros: looks awesome

Sure, it’s not an exhaustive list but if I said things like “slices through the air like Pauline Handson’s nasal whine” you’d probably laugh at my naivete. I mean, what would you care huh? Their wind cutting ability is the reason roadies use them (and because they look awesome) but I don’t reckon any fixie rider ever considered anything beyond “looks awesome”, so I won’t pad my list out with guff you don’t care about and pretend not to understand. What’s important here are the cons, they are a bit portly and can be a bit harsh over long rides. (If you’re a lover of deep dish rims, deep dish pizzas and all things deep dish, please don’t leap to their defense too quickly. I’m referring specifically to deep fish rims at this price range. I’m sure the one you got to match the Aerospoke on the front is totally awesome in all ways.)  The solution is at hand though, a compromise, the semi-deep-dish rim. I know, I’ve probably exhausted all the hyphens in my computer-thingy but it was well worth it. I’m loving these semi-deep-dish guys.

Chain-tugs are a welcome site. Makes tensioning the chain and aligning the wheel a breeze.

In the past, I’ve noticed a few paint dribbles and other inconsistencies on the wheels at this price. Deep dish wheels offer a lot of surface and I’m yet to see a perfect pair at this price. I haven’t even mentioned these things because you kind of expect a few little imperfections at this price. I’ve seen deep-dish rims where join in the rim was wide enough to put a thumbnail into (but that wasn’t on a bike I’ve reviewed) and the owner thought they were awesome. I mention it now because in comparison these rims look the goods. They’re well finished and the braking surface appears to be nicely machined and Reid have put a nice Reid sticker over the join (which didn’t really need hiding anyway). They’re a good pair of wheels and the semi-deep-dish is the antidote to my deep-dish concerns, giving me a nice deepish-dishish look without the penalties.

What’s more these wheels have sealed bearings. I love sealed bearings. They’re so weather-proof and lack-of-maintenance-proof. (Wow, there’s like an inexhaustible quantity of hyphens in this thing.) Cup and cone (cup-and-cone…just testing) bearings are fine if you keep the maintenance up to them. My Cannondale mountain bike hid a lot of the purchase price in the frame (which is a beauty) so some of the parts are a bit cheap, like the wheels. I’m pretty good at keeping the maintenance up to these guys (I pulled them down and re-greased them last weekend). In contrast I pretty much expect my fixie to survive day-in and day-out without any love. That’s killed off a few of the lessor parts recently, like the headset (twice) and the bottom bracket but the sealed bearing hubs have thrived on their zero maintenance diet. The sealed-bearing hubs on the Reid Harrier are a $20 upgrade and I’d say they’re worth every cent. I’d say you’d have to be bonkers not get get them, partly because I love saying “bonkers” but also because you’d actually be a fair bit bonkers if you didn’t fork out $20 for a maintenance-free life.

See those road bikes in the background? That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Means you can get drop-bars on your fixie if you want them. It’s not on their website but they’re there for the asking.

The bike is stickered up. I know there are plenty of fixie dudes out there who like to pretend they’ve curated the fixie themselves with inspiration drawn from Marc Newson  and Rorschach and that they’re not buying in the brandism of the consumer culture (right-on brother) but from a business point of view it makes sense to brand your goods. Happily the stickers come off so you can still run incognito if giving a “big-up” to the guys who were kind enough to provide this bike to you offends you too much to tolerate a sticker that says “Reid”, one that says, “Harrier” and a picture of an eagle where the head-tube badge used to belong (before head-tube badges went the way of the Big Jim action man dolls.)

The bike has “upgraded everything” (words from Reid website) and that seems to extend across the bike. (I know, like everything.) The Velo saddle is the first I’ve seen on these bikes that’s been anything other than a flat generic unit. Whether you actually like the seat or not is another issue. It’s one of those seats with raised sit-bone areas and a cut-out for your penis-bit, so you can go for a long ride and still have children afterwards. I’m acutely aware of the shape every time I ride and think, “Oh, I don’t like this”, but come back having forgotten the shape. It’s definitely a better saddle than other bikes at this price but might be a love-it-or-leave-it proposition for anyone fixed on a saddle they already love.

The upgrading extends to the headset, which is also sealed. (Not much more to say about that really, unless you really want me to wax lyrical about headsets…)

Of course the frame is the heart of the bike and the frame on the Reid Harrier is about what you’d expect. The geo is pretty much spot on and the bike is nicely poised. On my interminably long ride around St Lucia I impressed my friend with some sweat track-standing at the lights (really the only trick for this one-trick pony) and it’s testament to the bike’s neutral geometry that I could do this on our first outing. The bottom bracket is suitably high for the fixied crowd (who need to peddle through corners) and the only thing that really stands out is a shortish  top tube. I like a shortish top tube in my fixies (and bought a small when I got the Mojo to keep things tight) so the bike had a familiar feel. This bike is a medium but the reach to the bars feels about the same as the Mojo does. It’s about bang on perfect for a guy who’s 165cm tall and gives said person (read: me) a comfortable cockpit for general commuting.

On my Thursday night ride inevitably some moron tried to run me off the road. It was a cinch to whip the tail into a slide. This isn’t the best way to stop a bike but it’s important to show some style to the morons who try to kill us daily. It can take a while for me to get to know a bike but I felt good about whipping the tale out on  the Reid. I’m sure the moron realised he had met a worth adversary and would be trying harder to kill me next time we meet.

The welding and general finish are neat and confidence inspiring. There was one small blemish in the paint work where it looked like a second coat had missed a patch (but I didn’t see this repeated on any other bike in store, just the tester they loaned me).

It’s definitely a fun bike to ride and sits somewhere in between the other bikes I have ridden lately, a nice balance between being comfortable but not lazy. The gearing is pretty much the same as every other bike in this field (so I won’t bang on about that again).

There is one finishing touch I would like to have seen on the bike, some cable guides. These guys:

What we’ve got on the Reid are zip ties. I suppose you wont care if you’re removing the rear brake for the purity of fixie nirvana but for guys like me who love their brakes some proper cable guides would have been a nice finishing touch. On the other hand you do get some bottle mounts, chain-tugs and a lovely pair of straight-blade forks.

My only other gripe about the bike were the peddles. We didn’t get along. Reid offers two types of peddles so it’s a moot point anyway. Check out both peddles and decide which you like the better. If I was buying the bike I can’t say I’d hesitate for a moment on peddles because I know I’m going to swap them our for some BMX-style flatties anyway. At least Reid’s peddles aren’t expensive Time clipless like I got stuck with once in the past. That’s a lot of coin for a manufacturer to invest on my behalf for some peddles I didn’t like or want. If you’ve already settled on your favourite peddles then take them with you when you go down for a test ride. The Reid guys have a proper workshop (or leastways will have soon, do have if you’re in Sydney or Melbourne). Maybe you clip in? Take them with you.

And that last point is something worth noting. They have a full workshop and qualified bike mechanics. (Jeez, did I over-do it with the “qualified” thing there? Can you even get bike mechanic qualifications? Substitute the word “experienced” if you have any concerns about the veracity of any of the stuff I make up for this blog.) If you have any problems with your bike (yeah, I know, not something that happens too often with fixies but humour me…) then take it back to the point of purchase and get someone with special bike tools to tighten and tinker. A free bike maintenance and oil change is thrown in at 1,000kms or after the first couple weeks, whichever comes first (and yes, I’m kinda making this stuff up as I go along now, but yes, they do a free maintenance, that bit’s true) and by Gollum they have a warranty so long my mid-life crisis will be long behind me before it expires. The other guys I’ve dealt with in recent fixie tests have left me in no doubt that they would resolve any problems their customers had, and having spoken with these guys I’d trust them, but in most cases this wasn’t a formalized warranty. Can’t say it’d worry me after having dealt with them first hand but you don’t have that privilege so it’s nice see a good healthy warranty in writing. They’re whacking a full 15 years on the frame and fork and a year on the other bits. You’ll graduate from college, find a wife, have two children, start your career in finance, drop out in favour of being a a house-dad, start up a chain of ice-cream stores and still have time left on your warranty (though sadly your hair is gone and your ice-cream stores fail due to a salmonella scare).

Go places on your Reid. Visit the nation’s retired corrective institutions.

I can’t see how you could go wrong with the Reid Harrier. The price is great, you can’t fault the parts and there’s a long warranty and after-sales service attached to it. You get a choice of wheels (get the sealed ones!) that come in a choice of colours, a choice of colours on almost everything else and it comes attached to a frame that’s bang on for the job. Once you roll out of the store I’m confident you’ll keep rolling for years to come.

UPDATE: Buy the Reid Harrier online and get a 5% discount. Follow this link.
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