Tested: Reid Solo360 27.5″

Subtle, killer value and as we were to find out, quite a lot of fun to ride, too!
Ripping smooth singletrack is what the Solo360 is best at.

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.

A FOX fork with the Grip damper on a $1799 bike is seriously appealing.

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.

The rear wheel uses a quick release thru-axle for added security.
The black-on-black graphics only appear from certain angles, a nice feature if you don’t want a bike that screams for attention.

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.

Woohoo, so much acceleration speed!

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.

Up to speed, the frame isn’t particularly forgiving, so hold on tight!

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.

Good times on the fast and fun Solo360.

Favourite bits.

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.

Shimano XT all round, too good. The single-ring is very clean and neat, too!

The XT brakes are excellent too; one finger has all the power you’ll need for a confident ride.

Top shelf brakes.

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.

Double check the fit and match the tyres to your terrain, and it is good to go.

For more on the range of mountain bikes from Reid and details on their direct-to-consumer sales model, click through here.

Flow’s First Bite: Reid Vice 3.0

Both the 360 and Vice sit at the top of their range populated mainly of entry level and city bikes, but after reviewing the 360 earlier this year we really got the feeling that there’s real thought and consideration going into this new push into the mountain bike market.

Check out our review of the Reid Solo 360 here: Reid Solo 360 review.

The Vice is Reid’s new plus bike, using 27.5″ diameter wheels and huge 2.8″ tyres available in three levels, the 1.0 for $699, 2.0 for $999 and 3.0 for $1399. Riding the wave of the fast-growing category of plus bikes, Reid could well be on to a winner with this thing, big tyres with loads of grip and cushion really makes sense to us for bikes in this price point. Newcomers to the sport are the ones to benefit from a bike with loads of confidence inspiring control, it’s a no-brainer that plus bikes suit this segment.

Before we get too far on the review, let’s take a quick look at the Vice as we go for a quick spin around our local trails.

_LOW6003
120mm travel forks head up a very robust front end.

The frame

Perhaps not the most stylish bike we’ve seen, but at least it’s clean and simple without being covered in three-letter acronyms and technology features. The unsightly rack mounts are a bit of an odd one though, we’re not too sure that this would be the best commuter bike or touring bike, we sure won’t be fitting panniers to the Vice in a hurry, there’s a whole host of great city bikes from Reid for that.

Upon closer inspection the aluminium frame construction is actually pretty impressive, it uses boost spacing at the rear hub, with a solid thru-axle clamping everything nice and tight. There’s removable cable guides for an externally routed dropper post, and the rear derailleur cable runs inside the frame for added neatness.

_LOW6037
Boost hub spacing, and a thru-axle, impressed!
_LOW6009
Frame finish is neat with chunky welds and a big reinforcement gusset under the head tube.
Ok, not our favourite part of the bike, the Vice graphic are a bit 1999.
Ok, not our favourite part of the bike. The graphic style is like that MASH TV show crossed with an old 24hr event t-shirt from 1999.

Parts

Single ring drivetrain: There’s a real neatness about the spec on the Vice, the single-ring drivetrain gives the bike a modern look and an uncluttered cockpit and drivetrain area. The FSA cranks feel super tight to spin and didn’t loosen up during our first ride, the bottom bracket bearings are overloaded with tension, we’ll look into that before riding again

_LOW6010
FSA single-ring cranks with a narrow/wide chainring. Superb!

Plus wheel: WTB’s Trailblazer tyres in 2.8″ size are well-known to us here, they strike a good balance of tacky-ness, bite and rolling speed with low profile tread and small knobs that can conform to the trail surface. They are tubeless ready, with the rims taped up, tubeless valves fitted and a couple cups of sealant the Vice will be taken to the next level. Shame the valves don’t come with the bike as standard, but at least a common bike shop stock item.

2.8" of grippy low pressure rubber.
2.8″ of grippy low pressure rubber.

The 40mm Alex rims are on the wide side for a plus bike, typically between 30-40mm the wide rim gives the tyre a strong footing, and when running low pressure they won’t squirm and roll over like they would on a narrow rim.

_LOW6030
The heart of the Vice, 2.8″ tyres. Yeahhhhhhhh!

Suntour fork: The Suntour Raidon fork may not be from the RockShox or FOX stable, but we’ve had plenty of good experience with it before. Not overly supple and plush in comparison to the big guns, but it’s certainly no pogo-stick with good control, air tune-ability, lockout, rebound control and an excellent quick release axle system.

Suntour Raidon fork, 120mm of decent bounce.
Suntour Raidon fork, 120mm of decent bounce.

Seatpost: We know, we know… You can’t have everything in life, but riding a bike with no dropper post makes it even clearer that every mountain bike under the sun should have one. Either get used to stopping and flipping the quick release lever to drop and lift the seat on the trails, or fit a dropper and fully unleash the potential of this thing.

Maybe a bit too much to ask for at this price, but we can only imagine how much more fun you'd have with a dropper post.
Maybe a bit too much to ask for at this price, but we can only imagine how much more fun you’d have with a dropper post.

First ride impressions

Considering the last bike we were riding was around four times the price as this one, we were a little sceptical of how we’d enjoy the first ride on the Vice. But there’s something about plus hardtails that promotes hooligan riding, the areas a bike is specced to reach a $1399 price point, the big volume tyres makes up for it on the trail. Grip is amazing, the ride is comfortable and the control under brakes is excellent.

_LOW6043
Plus hardtails bring out the hooligan within, jumping off things, climbing challenging terrain, and generally playing around is inevitable.

The cockpit is quite high to begin with, giving the Vice a real tall and laid-back feeling. That translates to pretty relaxed cornering, but when the trials turn it up you’re ready for it. We ended up blasting the descents off the brakes, bouncing around and loving it, but never with that feeling of crashing or being thrown over the bars.

Jumping off rock ledges and popping wheelies with the Vice was a hoot, this bike is not built for cross country racing, it’s here for a good time. So far it looks like they have the vital ingredients of a fun hardtail covered, good tyres, geometry and brakes. That’s all you need to have a good time.


Over the years we’ve had plenty of experience with all sorts of bikes in this price range that miss the mark when it comes to proper mountain bike riding, and there is often some compatibility issue. But if you’ve got someone in the design team with good experience that actually rides, you’re off to a good start. The Vice is a solid example of this, it’s a well-rounded bike that so far holds its own on the trail. _LOW5998

We’ll be putting it through its paces a lot over the next few weeks, but we won’t be hitting the trails again without fitting tubeless valves and sealant.

Stay tuned for our full video review of this fun-loving entry level plus bike soon.