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.

First Impressions: Reid Solo 360 27.5 2017

Reid Bikes are all about bang for buck, and their direct sales model is helping them deliver some impressive bikes at very good prices. We reviewed Reid’s aggressively priced Solo 360 last year. Quite simply, it’s the sum of its parts, which happen to be very bloody good for the money.

The Solo 360 now runs a 1×11 XT drivetrain.

It doesn’t add up…

The Reid Solo is an alloy-framed, 27.5″-wheeled hardtail, and it’ll set you back just $1799. That’s not a lot of money when you start to do the maths on this bike – in fact, from a purely component perspective, this is the best priced hardtail we’ve encountered. The reliable Shimano XT groupset gets the nod for all aspects except the hubs, but it’s the choice of a FOX Performance fork that’s really impressive. Most bikes at this price point will be equipped with a far less capable fork than this.

Scoring a FOX fork at this price point is a big plus.
Internally routed cables and smooth finished welds are unexpected in this price bracket.

What’s changed from last year?

Reid have taken on board some of our feedback from last year’s review too – the new version of the Solo comes with a 1×11 drivetrain, and the bars are wider now, both of which are sensible improvements. It’s also now running through-axles front and rear. ‘

Where will you test it?

It’s definitely true that a 27.5″ hardtail is best suited to smoother, faster trails, and so we’ll be testing this one out on the fast singletrack of Glenrock MTB Park. We’ll let you know how it stacks up soon.

 

Tested: Reid Vice 3.0


What is a 27.5+ (plus) hardtail?

The Vice is Reid’s new plus bike, using 27.5″ diameter wheels and huge 2.8″ tyres. 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 for bikes in this price point.

Wanna ride trails for the fun of it?
Wanna ride trails for the fun of it?
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27.5″ diameter wheels in 2.8″ width, mounted to 40mm wide rims, there is a lot of air to sit on!

Who for?

This bike is for anyone wanting to ride proper off road trails for the fun of it, or if the trails are tricky and challenging the big tyres will open up possibilities. The Vice is a very capable bike for the dollars.

Taking a $1399 bike where we'd not normally go.
Taking a $1399 bike where we’d not normally go.

Is it suitable for newbies?

Newcomers to the mountain biking are likely to gain the most from a bike with loads of confidence inspiring control, but we also think that if a beginner can benefit, an experienced rider should also.

What about the model below, or above?

The Vice is available in three levels that share the same frame, the 1.0 for $699, 2.0 for $999 and 3.0 for $1399. The 3.0 is the only one with a suspension fork, two models below are rigid. The 2.0 is very similar in the components to the 3.0 with Shimano hydraulic brakes and the same wheels, while the 1.0 drops down to cable actuated disc brakes and a lower component spec across the board.

Good hardworking components, nothing flash, nothing missing either.
Good hardworking components, nothing flash, nothing missing either.

Could I buy the model below and upgrade it a little?

For a $400 saving for the model below we’d certainly lament the lack of a suspension fork, the 3.0 is worth the stretch if it’s possible.

How well is it built?

The aluminium frame is made tough to suit the inherent rugged nature of a plus bike, with chunky welds and loads of clearance for the big tyres. The bold orange colour and minimal graphics create a clean and simple appearance but in comparison to many of the larger brands it’s certainly no style king.

While we’re not adverse to rack mounts as it could make for a good bike packing rig over challenging terrain, they aren’t exactly the finest looking part of the frame, looking like an afterthought welded on at the last minute.

Rack mounts are handy, but these are a bit of an eyesore.
Rack mounts are handy, but these are a bit of an eyesore.

It uses boost spacing at the rear hub with a solid quick release 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 a clean appearance.

The frame geometry?

We found the Vice to have really great geometry, and once you get it up to speed it is confident and begs for more. Where a traditional cross country hardtail would normally feel twitchy, sharp and nervous when the terrain gets rowdy, the Vice is slack and laid back in its geometry.

How is it specced?

This is a large part of what makes the Reid so appealing, the parts are really great for the money. The brakes, and drivetrain are excellent and suit the bike’s intended use. The FSA single chainring cranks give the bike a clean and quiet ride, and the use of a SunRace 11-40 tooth cassette out the back gives the Vice a wider gear range than a standard Shimano drivetrain, a nice touch.

The tyres are tubeless compatible, the expensive part of going tubeless, another great spec choice! While the bike doesn’t come with tubeless rim tape or valves, it’s worth buying some tubeless tape for the rims and a pair of valves to set the bike up tubeless. It’ll take it to the next level.

The Suntour suspension fork

While it’s no FOX or RockShox the Suntour Raidon is still a very capable fork. The thing with plus bikes, is that a basic fork’s shortcomings in sensitivity and plushness are hidden by the huge volume of air in the tyres. The fork has lockout, air spring adjustability and the chassis is stiff enough when you need it to be.

Suntour Raidon fork held its own during the review.
Suntour Raidon fork held its own during the review.

What would we change?

Just converting the tyres to tubeless tyres at first, and definitely a future dropper post upgrade would let you hang it out even more on the descents.

Let’s ride!

We love plus hardtails, they are just a tonne of fun, they promote you to get wild and launch yourself off anything in sight. While the lack of rear suspension is certainly noticed on hard landings the 2.8” WTB tyres make up for it by delivering immense traction and smoothening out the terrain nicely.

Reid Vice -4652
Yeeehaaa, no brakes no worries!

The Vice is all for popping wheelies, hitting jumps, skidding through corners and generally having a good time out there.

Would we recommend it?

Too often we see riders entering the sport on a cross country style hardtail, with long stems, narrow tyres, sharp handling and one million gears. If you’re not out to set lap times around a race track or dabble on the road too, a plus bikes makes so much sense. There’s no doubt that a plus bike like the Vice has more ability to ride more trails per dollar spent.

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.

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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.

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Boost hub spacing, and a thru-axle, impressed!
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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Tested: Reid Solo 360 27.5″

We’re beginning to see a real shift in how we understand value-for-money in the bike industry. For the last couple of years we’ve witnessed the prices of bikes begin to creep up, driven by the falling Australian dollar and rising material costs. At the same time, these prices rises have been made even more stark by the proliferation of direct-to-the-consumer brands in Australia (such as Reid, Cell, Polygon, Canyon and YT), most of whom have seen less dramatic price increases than their traditional retail counterparts. So on one hand, traditional retail offerings have become more expensive, and on the other, there are now more ‘direct’ brands than ever offering pricing that is relatively cheaper. Interesting times indeed!

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Industry analysis aside, we’re very impressed by what Reid have served up with the Solo 360. Sound geometry coupled with attractive construction, all complimented by the performance of its great components, make it a bike you must consider if you’re looking for a good hardtail without spending a fortune.

The triple-butted alloy frame is sleek, with its understated gloss on matte black graphics, it hits all the right chords with us. If a bike doesn’t have the instant name recognition of a more established brand, then looking good is important, and the Reid ticks this box. It’s clearly a pretty light frameset, with the whole bike weighing in at 12.05kg, and the smooth finish of the tube junctions is what you’d expect at a much higher price point.

 

The clean lines are enhanced by the internal cable routing. We did experience some cable rattle though, which made the bike a bit noisy when it got rough. (You can alleviate this by jamming some light foam rubber into the frame – sounds hokey, but it works.) You only get one water bottle mount, which is unusual on a hardtail, but it’s only an issue on longer rides when you might want to take a pack instead.

Quality components set this bike apart from most at this price. With the exception of the handlebar (which is too narrow for our tastes) this bike is equipped for serious riding and all the components are solid choices.

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The FOX Float 32 is a real boost to this bike’s performance.

The FOX fork is the standout item – it’s rare to see a fork of this quality at this price. With the FIT 4 damper, the 100mm-travel Float 32 offers plenty of grip and control. It’s sensitive for the little stuff, progressive for the big hits, and it’s a simple fork to tune and understand. The three-position compression adjustment makes sense to the less technically inclined rider, and so it’s a real set-and-forget item.

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Shimano’s XT brakes and drivetrain need no introduction. The control and power of the brakes are real confidence boosters, and the crisp and reliable XT shifting is hard to fault. Reid have saved a few dollars and specced a derailleur without a clutch mechanism; we understand the importance of hitting a price point, but we’d love to see a clutch derailleur on this bike, just to add some chain security and make it all a bit quieter on the trail. Still, we didn’t drop a chain or miss a shift once during our testing. The gearing range with twin chain rings and an 11-34 cassette is more than adequate, especially if you think you might use the bike for the occasional commute too.

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A double ring crankset is a sensible choice for this price point and style of bike.

We opted to pop on a wider handlebar for our testing – 660mm was too narrow for us, and with a 720mm bar fitted the bike immediately felt more confident and the riding position was stronger. We’d suggest you do the same if you buy this bike, as it’s definitely capable of some fast and aggressive riding, and the wider bar makes it all the more stable.

Even though we didn’t opt to convert this bike to tubeless, we still found there was plenty of grip on offer with the Continental X-King tyres, and they’re a fast rolling set of treads too. Reid have paid attention to the smaller details too; good lock-on grips, a twin-bolt seat post, a stiff and secure four-bolt stem… it’s all really good stuff, and shows that they’ve considered every item from a serious mountain biking standpoint.

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The stem length is great, but we found we needed a wider bar than the stock item to get the most out of the bike’s capabilities.
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Continental X-King tyres are a sensible choice. They’re fast and well-suited to hard packed trails.

Geometry wise, Reid haven’t taken any risks, picking frame numbers that are playful and agile, but not nervous. The 69-degree head angle is a good balance between confidence and speedy steering, and once we’d swapped the bar, we found that the relatively short stem, good tyres and excellent brakes gave us all the confidence we needed to tackle steeper descents. On the climbs, the 430mm stays are short enough to keep plenty of weight in the rear tyre too, so you’ve got good grip when you put down the power.

Reid definitely surprised us here, and the Solo is the kind of bike that’ll open up a whole new world of riding to a lot of fresh mountain bikers. It forms an awesome platform for progressing your riding and it’s the kind of machine that you can upgrade and tweak to suit your style and trails. Upgrades like going tubeless, adding a clutch derailleur, maybe a dropper seat post, are all worthy considerations down the line, and the bike is definitely good enough to justify these investments in time.

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The Solo 360 mightn’t offer the same cred as some of the brands that have traditionally played in the mountain bike world, but none of that matters when you hit the trail – it’s a good-looking, great handling, superb value machine that’ll leave you with plenty of coin in your pockets to spend on all the other mountain bike essentials.

 

Flow’s First Bite: Reid Solo360 27.5

That’s a neat looking head tube area. Cabling is a mix of internal/external.

We’re well accustomed to seeing flocks of Reid’s brightly coloured, basket-adorned, women’s step-through bikes all over Sydney – the brand has done very well in the urban/lifestyle cycling market. Now they’re looking to emulate this success in the mid-range mountain bike market with their most advanced hardtail to date.

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The Solo certainly looks the part in the flesh, with smooth finished welds, curvy dropouts and an integrated headset giving the Solo a very sleek feel, complemented by the understated satin paint job. It has the kind of subtle looks that will win over many buyers at this price point, who generally don’t appreciate ‘look at me’ paint jobs.

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The 100mm-travel FOX Float 32 is an impressive addition at this price.

But in your internet browser, it’s the value proposition of the Solo that is the immediate drawcard – $1599 gets you a seriously well-equipped bike. When you draw a direct comparison between the Solo360 and bikes at the same price from most other brands, you’ll find the Reid is generally a couple of rungs ahead.

Getting a FOX fork with a 15mm axle and FIT4 damper, superb Shimano XT brakes and a predominantly Shimano XT drivetrain (admittedly it’s lacking a clutch derailleur, and the cassette is down specced too) is possibly all the convincing many people will need to drop their cash on this bike. It’s largely excellent kit, all durable and easily serviceable, and helps keep the bike’s overall weight to just 12.05kg.

It's only the handlebar which we feel immediately unsure about - 660mm is very narrow.
It’s only the handlebar which we feel immediately unsure about – 660mm is very narrow.

We’re yet to hit the trails on the Solo, but judging by our experiences with it in the work stand and casting our eye over the geometry chart, it seems to have bones in place for a fun ride. The narrow 660mm handlebars are the only item that leaps out to us as being out of place, so we may pop on something a bit wider before we get shredding. The rest of the angles, at least on paper, are right where you’d want them – a 69-degree head angle and reasonably short 430mm chain stays are number we like, though it’s the $1599 number most people will be paying attention to!