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Verdict: 
Fun and capable adventure road bike with great looks to match the great ride
Weight: 
9,320g
Reilly Gradient 2017 gravel/adventure bike
8 10

South Coast-based Reilly Cycleworks has produced the Gradient as a do-everything adventure and gravel bike, with a lovingly finished titanium frame and smart specification in this £2,399 complete bike. It provides a ride that is as lovely as the bike is to look at, with space for wide tyres for heading off into the wilderness or adding dirt and gravel roads to your route, and a high level of refinement.

Reilly Gradient.jpg

Reilly Gradient.jpg

Frame and build details

The frame is made from 3Al/2.5V titanium with carefully profiled tubes to provide the right balance of stiffness and compliance. The downtube has a flattened top section and the top tube is tapered, to provide more lateral stiffness, in combination with an oversized 44mm head tube and chunky chainstays.

Reilly Gradient - cable route.jpg

Reilly Gradient - cable route.jpg

The do-anything capabilities of the Gradient are served up by its ability to take tyres up to a 44mm wide, so you have a huge range of options from a fat slick tyre for road duties to one of the growing number of decent gravel tyres for tackling bridleways or a gravel event. There are also rack and mudguard eyelets on the frame and fork so you could transform it into a winter training or daily commuter workhorse, or slap on a rack and go touring for a week.

The rear brake hose is hidden away inside the downtube while the gear cables are easily accessible as they are externally routed. There's an externally threaded bottom bracket which I know many people will be happy to see. No creaky press-fit to worry about here.

Reilly Gradient - rear disc mount.jpg

Reilly Gradient - rear disc mount.jpg

Disc brakes and thru-axles are natural bedfellows for this type of gravel/adventure bike, and Reilly has specced 12mm thru-axles front and rear, with neat titanium dropouts on the frame and a Selcof full carbon fibre fork. Disc brakes are mounted using the older post mount standard. Nothing wrong with that, post mounts provide easy adjustment, but the industry is rapidly moving over to flat mount which offers slightly cleaner aesthetics and a bit less weight.

You can just buy the frame for £1,399, add the Selcof fork for £1,599, or get a complete bike like the one pictured for £2,399. That price includes a full Shimano 105 groupset, with mechanical gears and hydraulic disc brakes. It's hard to fault Shimano's 105 groupset with high quality shifting across the cassette and compact chainset.

Reilly Gradient - stays.jpg

Reilly Gradient - stays.jpg

The Shimano BR-R505 levers don't win any style awards, but the hoods provide an exceptionally comfortable fit. Your hands fall naturally into their curves and the brake levers are easy to reach with a lovely feel when applying force.

The rolling stock is a pair of Fulcrum Racing Sport DB wheels shod with Continental Cyclo X King tyres. They're cyclocross tyres, as the name suggests, and good for purely off-road use. The block tread pattern finds good grip in a range of conditions, from loose soil and sand to mud and gloop.

Reilly Gradient - tyre 2.jpg

Reilly Gradient - tyre 2.jpg

The Cyclo X Kings are slow on the road, as you'd expect of such a tread pattern. I'd have preferred Reilly to fit a gravel tyre with a smoother centre tread such as a Panaracer Gravel King to push the Gradient's multi-terrain capability and provide a better balance of on and off-road use. And given the frame's 44mm tyre clearance, you might as well take advantage of it with fatter tyres.

The Fulcrum wheels are solidly reliable, with an aluminium clincher rim and thru-axle compatible hubs, but at nearly 1.9kg they are far from the lightest. They're robust and bombproof however and ideal for battering along rocky roads and tackling woodland trails.

Reilly Gradient - crank.jpg

Reilly Gradient - crank.jpg

Finishing kit comprises a nicely shaped aluminium Zipp Service Course handlebar with short reach drops that put you in a good position and extended drops that shortens the reach a bit. A Reilly branded aluminium stem, nice carbon fibre seatpost with two-bolt saddle clamp and slim saddle round out the details.

Ride and performance

Reilly Gradient -4.jpg

Reilly Gradient -4.jpg

The Gradient provides a lovely ride. It's composed and comfortable, the titanium frame providing a sublime balance of stiffness and comfort. The carbon fork and oversized head tube gives the handling a crispness and it changes direction quickly when you want it to.

I swapped the knobbly tyres for a faster rolling gravel tyre and this simple change provided improved on-road speed without compromising off-road grip on the dry conditions that prevailed during the test period. I tackled everything from predominately road rides to entirely off-road jaunts, exploring the bridleways and woodland trails around where I live and mixed up the terrain as my whim took me.

Reilly Gradient - saddle and post.jpg

Reilly Gradient - saddle and post.jpg

Switching from hard to loose surfaces shows the Gradient's handling to be well honed. It's fast and steady on the road, but plenty of fun if you throw it through corners at high speed. The Gradient is right at home negotiating narrow tree-lined singletrack with loose corners and steep climbs and would be a good choice if you're looking for a bike to tackle one of the growing number of gravel events like the Dirty Reiver.

It's a smooth ride. The titanium frame, despite the oversized tubes, provides a vibration-absorbing feel over any road or gravel surface. Ergo, it's a relaxing ride: it looks after you on longer rides or routes with lots of rough obstacles.

Reilly Gradient -3.jpg

Reilly Gradient -3.jpg

There's no twitchiness to the handling at any speed, and that trait comes into its own when you're riding over a loose surface such as dirt or gravel where you want the bike to be predictable. As such it's adept on challenging terrain with lots of ups and downs and testing corners.

It's a great all-rounder, as Reilly intended it to be. While I didn't test it laden with panniers or shod with mudguards, it's clear the performance ensures it offers the versatility to turn its hand to any type of riding you have in mind for it.

Reilly Gradient - head tube badge.jpg

Reilly Gradient - head tube badge.jpg

If you're in the market for a titanium adventure road bike with the geometry and tyre clearance for tackling mixed terrain or off-road adventure, and like the option to be able to fit a rack and mudguards, there are a few good choices vying for your hard-earned cash. You can safely add the Reilly Gradient to the shortlist.

Buy the frame and build your own dream bike or go for the complete bike with its solid and dependable kit choices – though change the tyres for better mixed surface riding – and you've got a fun, entertaining and highly capable bike ready for any adventure.

Reilly Gradient -2.jpg

Reilly Gradient -2.jpg

Verdict

Fun and capable adventure road bike with great looks to match the great ride

road.cc test report

Make and model: Reilly Gradient First Ride Review

Size tested: 55cm

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

The REILLY Gradient is an unprecedented engineering achievement. Combining a Hydro-formed REILLY AXIS 3AL-2.5V titanium tube set with our hugely flexible geometry, Mark Reilly/Damon Fisher designed, all in a package of pure indulgence.

Road, Gravel, Audax, Tour, Cyclo Cross, this bike has it all in one package, you may not need another bike!

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Mark designed this bike to be very progressive with an ultra secure disc 12 x 142mm rear thru axle and a stunning but subtle REILLY AXIS multi facet Hydro-Formed titanium tube set, just like our favourite steel tube set Columbus Spirit HSS.

We could have stopped there, but we didn't. Clearances for 44c tyres, easily fitted, disc, thru axle, QR just doesn't cut it! The new REILLY AXIS tube set is incredibly stiff but wonderfully comfortable.

Di2/eps or mechanical to choice

Designed for up to 44c tyres

142mm x 12mm thru axle

CNC XX44mm head tube for Chris King inset and Hope

English threaded BB

31.6mm seat post size

35mm band on front changer

Bright brushed finish as standard

Lifetime warranty, this extends to the original owner only and is non-transferable.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Lovely build quality and finish on the titanium frame

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

3AL-2.5V titanium with hydroformed tube profiles and a full carbon fibre Selcof fork

Riding the bike

The drivetrain

Wheels and tyres

Controls

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Maybe

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Probably

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
8/10

Use this box to explain your score

A thoroughly enjoyable and capable titanium gravel and adventure bike that can comfortably turn its hand to mixed terrain riding

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

20 comments

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Freddy56 [269 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes

visually - Cest tres beau

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jterrier [122 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

Did i see one of these at the dirty reiver?

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willvousden [45 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Another Ti gravel bike? I can't tell the difference between them any more.

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BehindTheBikesheds [728 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

i like the look, nice tidy welds by the looks of things and importantly has two sets of threaded eyelets at the rear for guards/rack (plus rack mounts on the seatstays) with a set of eyelets on the forks which is a massive plus over most other frames in this catergory but just not what I'd be after.

Make it 130/135mm at the dropouts, no internal cabling and V/canti/caliper compatible and I'd be all over it.

i don't understand the thought that QR doesn't cut it, in what way, never had a QR come undone EVER, if you're worried about an arm being pulled back on runs through forest trails etc buy some spin stix or get security AK type skewers.

That said for those wanting a ti disc set up for weekend riding AND to use as a commuter/tourer/audax with the ability to fit racks and guards this one appears to cover the bases most don't.

Avatar
alotronic [526 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

nd the thought that QR doesn't cut it, in what way, never had a QR come undone EVER, if you're worried about an arm being pulled back on runs through forest trails etc buy some spin stix or get security AK type skewers.

 

Thru axles nothing to do with safety and levers. It all comes from MTB world where flex in the front end with suspension forks is an enemy. In MTB it's def an improvement to have a wider axle as it means the whole front end flexes less, less 'twang'. Of course less flex can mean less comfortable too - not an issue on a suspension bike -  so they tend to go with gravel bikes well as they get the comfort from larger tyres rather than frame and fork compliance. 

 

 

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [728 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
alotronic wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

nd the thought that QR doesn't cut it, in what way, never had a QR come undone EVER, if you're worried about an arm being pulled back on runs through forest trails etc buy some spin stix or get security AK type skewers.

 

Thru axles nothing to do with safety and levers. It all comes from MTB world where flex in the front end with suspension forks is an enemy. In MTB it's def an improvement to have a wider axle as it means the whole front end flexes less, less 'twang'. Of course less flex can mean less comfortable too - not an issue on a suspension bike -  so they tend to go with gravel bikes well as they get the comfort from larger tyres rather than frame and fork compliance. 

I ride my globe pro with 42mm tyres on occasion & QR, I'm 100kg (down from peak 107) and usually lug loads up to 25kg but on skinnier tyres (28/32 on road) and never have flex issues, it's all pony for bikes like thisto state they need through axles and wider dropouts.

Avatar
antigee [430 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

I found on my pro6 I had to tighten the QR a lot lot more than I'd have done  for a non-disk bike to stop the occasional give away tinkling noise that the front wheel had moved slightly - I'm not heavy and wouldn't think of myself as an aggressive rider - the physics says disks and QR's just aren't a fantastic combination  -  shortest explanation I've seen is this article on why Cotic originally put the brake caliper on their Roadhog on the front of the righthand fork: 

http://www.cotic.co.uk/geek/page/archive     (and page down an article)

I switched to Swiss RCS skewers which sort of ratchet up rather than rely on hand pressure and have since switched to a thru axle frame - for me peace of mind more of an issue than stiffness

.....as to the Reilly - think the combination of internal brake routing and external gear cabling is excellent - would prefer a 3rd bottle mount though

Avatar
Yemble [54 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Nice price!

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cyclisto [277 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
willvousden wrote:

Another Ti gravel bike? I can't tell the difference between them any more.

Well true Ti bikes have Ti forks. All these are Ti-CF bikes

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Spangly Shiny [150 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Is that top tube on the wrong way around? Sureley you'd want the beefier end at the head tube not the seat tube.

 

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Rapha Nadal [606 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
jterrier wrote:

Did i see one of these at the dirty reiver?

No idea mate, did you?

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MandaiMetric [131 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Is there a full option list for this bike? I don't see a 105 (or Di2 or any SRAM 1x) equipped spec on their website, only a framset or full build with Ultegra Hydro...

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notwelshyet [7 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

i am totally loving this bike - it looks great and - although i wouldn't use this build - it seems very good value. However, what the review doesn't really mention is how it is re: cyclocross - it is advertised as being good for this too and that's what i'd be interested in - as well as the gravel capability - any thoughts Dave?

many  thanks

 

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3mkru73 [55 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
jterrier wrote:

Did i see one of these at the dirty reiver?

You did, it was ridden by my friend. He had it equipped with Lauf forks too. His was built up with tubeless Schwalbe G1's with the rear failing in the last 70km for him. He had to tyre boot and innertube it back to the castle, though still put in a respectable time!  

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giskard [65 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Interesting that the reviewer didn't fit the bike with mudguards, if he had tried, he might've found that it couldn't be done thanks to the 105 front changer's cable pinch getting in the way, unless the chainstays are exceptionally long, which I suspect they aren't.

Avatar
willvousden [45 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
giskard wrote:

Interesting that the reviewer didn't fit the bike with mudguards, if he had tried, he might've found that it couldn't be done thanks to the 105 front changer's cable pinch getting in the way, unless the chainstays are exceptionally long, which I suspect they aren't.

I've had this problem with a Croix de Fer; the solution is to cut a notch out of the mudguard.  It's a bit inelegant, but it can be done neatly and it does the job.

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mellowmiles [19 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

wonder how this frame compares to the J.ACK? The geometry seems more aggressive than the J.ack and i wonder what the handling is like

in the 'first look' a  few weeks ago they rightly pointed out the congested market and i guess would be nice to read how the bike rides compared to the others as with some previous reviews. I guess a lot of factors would affect the comparison but i would've like it anyway...

Avatar
MandaiMetric [131 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
mellowmiles wrote:

wonder how this frame compares to the J.ACK? The geometry seems more aggressive than the J.ack and i wonder what the handling is like

in the 'first look' a  few weeks ago they rightly pointed out the congested market and i guess would be nice to read how the bike rides compared to the others as with some previous reviews. I guess a lot of factors would affect the comparison but i would've like it anyway...

Would definitely like to see some side by side comparison.

When kitted out with Ultegra, the Reilly seems to be noticably cheaper than the Kinesis Tripster ATR v2, J.Laverack J.ACK or the Lynskey GR250. Unless I'm misreading things (always possible).

Avatar
mellowmiles [19 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
MandaiMetric wrote:
mellowmiles wrote:

wonder how this frame compares to the J.ACK? The geometry seems more aggressive than the J.ack and i wonder what the handling is like

in the 'first look' a  few weeks ago they rightly pointed out the congested market and i guess would be nice to read how the bike rides compared to the others as with some previous reviews. I guess a lot of factors would affect the comparison but i would've like it anyway...

Would definitely like to see some side by side comparison.

When kitted out with Ultegra, the Reilly seems to be noticably cheaper than the Kinesis Tripster ATR v2, J.Laverack J.ACK or the Lynskey GR250. Unless I'm misreading things (always possible).

 

Yup was   thinking the same thing! Got my eye on the Jack in particular. The only differences i can see are the internal routing - and consequently the weight - as well as the disc brake mounts. the Jack is a thing of beauty... but  the price is very attractive on the reilly though!

Avatar
ideax [2 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

There do seem to be plenty of Ti bikes of this kind right now.  So I agree an article comparing them would be helpful

That would be too late for me however as I have the Reilly and am v pleased.  In comparison with the J.ack, it's quite a bit cheaper and takes wider tires.