The not-so-minor details
Reid Solo360 27.5
Fast and fun in the singletrack.
Great Shimano XT spec.
Neat frame finish.
Smooth trails only.
Internal cable rattle.
Knock knock; your new bike is here… From Australian brand, Reid, the Solo360 comes from their entry-mid level range sold direct-to-consumer. It is killer bang for your buck, but more importantly, how does it ride? We took the Solo360 to the trails, for a solid thrashing to find out.
What is it?
We looked closer at the Solo360’s spec and value in our first impressions piece, have a read of that one here – Flow’s First Bite, Reid Solo360.
Reid Bikes are all about bang for buck, and their direct sales model is helping them deliver some impressive bikes at attractive prices. We reviewed Reid’s aggressively priced Solo360 last year. Quite simply, it’s the sum of its parts, which happen to be very bloody good for the money.
The Solo360 is a subtly presented and well-finished, 27.5″ wheel size aluminium hardtail with a Shimano 11-speed XT drivetrain and brakes, FOX fork. At a quick glance, you could be fooled thinking the frame is made from carbon as the welding around the joints has been finished off with a smooth appearance, and the graphics are gloss black which almost disappears on the matte black frame.
What’s new from the previous version?
In our review last year of the same bike, we found a few minor elements that weren’t exactly to our liking that detracted from our experience, so to see many of those addressed, we’re more than impressed. The latest model scores upgrades to the tune of a wider handlebar, through axle on the rear wheel, wider and tubeless compatible rims, dual water bottle mounts and a single-ring 11-speed drivetrain.
How did it go on the trails?
The Solo360 is a lively little thing, perhaps because we’re used to riding larger diameter 29″ wheels on hardtails like this, the Solo360 just wanted to sprint everywhere and pull wheelie out of every corner! A hard crank on the pedals is rewarded with a strong jump in acceleration; there is very little loss of energy going on. Winding through singletrack the steering felt very predictable and calm, though when you got it up to speed you really needed to hold on tight.
Once we got a feel for it, we began to enjoy how engaging and fun it was to ride, pumping through undulations the trails to milk more speed and dropping the seat post down to get a bit more aggressive through the corners.
With the wider bars and wider rims it feels more confident than the previous version we tested, that’s for sure.
Does it fit well?
Sort of, the frame is very low at the front end and seat tube, we had the seat post out at near maximum extension and the stem as high as they would go on the headset spacer stack. Make sure you check the sizing chart to be sure the bike won’t feel too small or low for you.
What trails is it best suited?
Smooth ones, that’s for certain! The small wheels and aluminium frame don’t give you much in the way of compliance, and in comparison to a hardtail with 29″ wheels, the Solo360 would be more at home on tighter singletrack with less rock to stop the wheels rolling. You can’t have everything, and we often see the high-end brands doing amazing things with compliance in carbon frames to provide a bike that is fast and also smooth to ride, but we’re talking well over double the price for that type of benefit.
We could only imagine what this bike would be like built around 29″ wheels, while it might lose some of its snappy handling and fast acceleration, it’d roll through rougher terrain easier and give you a smoother ride overall.
But if the trails you ride are rocky, loose and technical, we’d suggest considering a bike with bigger rubber. Reid does an excellent ‘plus size’ bike, using 27.5″ wheels with big tyres and a dropper post, called the Vice, we rated it for trails that are more demanding. Check out our review of the Vice here – Tested: Reid Vice 3.0.
The Shimano 11-speed drivetrain is a favourite of ours – read our long term review here – for being a consistent performer all the time, and it brings tremendous performance to a bike of this price point. The bike shifted gears perfectly, was quiet in operation and we already know it’s very durable.
The XT brakes are excellent too; one finger has all the power you’ll need for a confident ride.
Up front, the FOX fork felt very sophisticated, smooth and the Gripdamper is easily adjusted on the fly via the big blue dial. Another part that gave this bike serious credit far beyond its price.
Best value upgrade areas?
If you’re keen to throw some dollars at the Solo360 down the track, we’d start by matching the tyres to your terrain and make sure they’re tubeless compatible, the rims are good to go, just choose tubeless tyres, add sealant and the bike will ride much smoother with lower tyre pressures, there’s less risk of pinch flats too. The Continental X-King tyres (not the tubeless compatible versions, too) are fast rolling and fine for softer surfaces, but on hard packed or dry trails they are a little nervous, we’re all about matching tyres to the terrain you ride most.
A dropper post would be a good upgrade if you’re one to jump and throw the bike around on the trails, the best invention since tubeless tyres can be found for around $350 these days, try the PRO Koryak or Bontrager Line for a significant upgrade. And perhaps a higher ride handle bar would help raise confidence on steeper trails, and not a big cost item either.
An even cheaper upgrade would be to drop the forks out and stuff some foam into the down tube to silence that internal cable rattling around inside.
Yay, or nay?
We’d just make sure your trails aren’t too rough for the solid frame and 27.5″ wheels, or we’d be inclined to seek out a 29″ hardtail, or considering the Reid Vice plus bike with more traction. But if you’re keen to dabble in a bit of cross country racing or only tend to race about on smooth trails, this is a great option for the dollars.
For more on the range of mountain bikes from Reid and details on their direct-to-consumer sales model, click through here.