The Reilly T640 is a stiff titanium road bike that offers sharp handling and lively responses. It also looks very, very cool!
- Pros: Stiff and efficient frame, custom geometry if you want it
- Cons: A little heavier than a similarly priced carbon fibre bike
The Reilly T640 is similar to the T325 that Dave Arthur wrote about here on road.cc back in 2015 but built from a different grade of titanium. That requires a short explanation before we get into the ride.
Rather than 3Al-2.5V titanium – which is far and away the most common variety used for bike frames – the main tubes, bottom bracket shell and braze-ons of the Reilly T640 are all seamless 6Al-4V titanium (meaning that the alloy is 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium). It's just the stays that are 3Al-2.5V. The tubes are ELI (Extra Low Interstitial gas purity) grade titanium which allows Reilly 'to butt and shape seamless tubes to much tighter tolerances'.
Let's not get too deeply into the science but 6Al-4V is a little lighter than 3Al-2.5V (4.42gr/cc compared to 4.48gr/cc), stiffer and stronger (the ultimate tensile strength is 1150MPa).
Titanium bikes are difficult to produce well, 6Al-4V particularly so because the tubes are hard to draw in the first place. Titanium frame building is notoriously demanding but the benefits include excellent corrosion resistance and very high cycle fatigue properties – so, treated well and barring an accident, a titanium frame will last an age.
The T640 is built with a CNC'd 44mm inside diameter head tube that takes a 1 1/8in upper headset bearing and a 1 1/2in lower bearing and (obviously!) a tapered fork steerer. The bottom bracket is English threaded – no press-fit creaking here – and cable routing is external throughout which, along with the frame's shiny finish, gives the bike quite a traditional look.
It really is a lovely looking piece of work with ridiculously tidy welds and little R logos on the bottom bracket shell and dropouts. Even the down tube cable stops are neatly sculpted. The branding throughout is subtle and classy rather than shouty and brash, and that certainly suits this bike.
The characteristic of the Reilly T640 that you just can't miss is its stiffness. Wow! We've got used to very stiff and efficient carbon bikes over the past few years and a lot of titanium bikes seem a little flexy by comparison, but the Reilly T640 isn't at all. Get up out of the saddle and pound the pedals for all you're worth in a sprint and the central section of the bike holds firm. Completely firm. The front end is similarly solid, Reilly's own C-290 full-carbon fork (claimed weight of 290g) offering sharp handling and very little ducking when you haul on the brake.
In many ways the T640 feels more like a stripped down race car rather than a plush saloon. If you're expecting the supple, whippy ride that adherents often ascribe to titanium, you're in for a bit of a surprise here. The T640 has quite a firm feel to it, especially through Reilly's own saddle – which doesn't have masses of flex in the shell – and the Vector 31.6mm carbon seatpost (148g), giving plenty of feedback from the road surface. It doesn't rattle your bones but it isn't going to mollycoddle you either.
Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on your point of view. I substituted Reilly's saddle with one of my trusted favourites and that made a big difference. I'd prefer a larger diameter handlebar to Reilly's Vecto aluminium model and/or more cushioned bar tape to spread the pressure a little more too. Those are relatively minor things, though, and they're down to personal taste. If you want any more cushioning you can always swap out the 25mm Vittoria Corsa tyres for 28s.
A non-flexy titanium bike is never going to match a high-end carbon model for weight, although our complete bike, minus pedals, hit the scales at just 7.44kg (16.4lb). The frame has a claimed weight of 1,200g and a lifetime warranty.
Spend this amount of money on a carbon bike and you can get lighter but the whole weight thing is massively overvalued in cycling. The T640 still whips up to speed quickly and climbs with prowess, whether you're driving the pedals from the saddle or standing up and hurling the bike from side to side.
Off the peg or custom
You can buy the Reilly T640 off the peg or go for a custom geometry. We had a standard large sized frame with a 57cm top tube, a 53cm seat tube and a 17cm head tube. The stack on this model is 583mm and the reach is 392mm.
That's an aggressive geometry, although not extreme. You'll certainly be able to set things up without any trouble for a flat-backed riding position when you're down on the drops.
On the other hand, this isn't a geometry for those who want to sit high in the saddle. For comparison, the 56cm version of Specialized's Roubaix Expert endurance bike has a stack of 611mm and a reach of 381mm so you'll find yourself riding in a much more upright position on a bike like that. No, the Reilly T640 is definitely more of a head-down and power-up kind of a bike suited to racing, fast sportives, or just going and thrashing out the miles.
Our review bike was built up with a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset (with mechanical shifting), including a 52/36t semi-compact chainset and an 11-30t cassette. You'll probably already know your preferred gearing but I really like this setup for its ability to take the pain out of steep climbs while allowing you to keep the power on during fast descents. If this setup isn't for you, Reilly will put on whatever gearing you like. If you'd like electronic shifting, Reilly doesn't bother with the gear cable stops and runs the cables internally.
Alternatively, you can spec either a Campagnolo Record or a SRAM Red eTap groupset if you prefer.
The Fulcrum Racing Zero Nite wheelset, with a 27mm-deep rim at the front and a 30mm-deep rim at the rear, isn't especially lightweight but offers good rigidity and excellent braking. The wheels are tubeless ready if you want to go down that route in the future.
The Reilly T640 costs £4,499 built up with a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset, £4,799 with Campagnolo Record and £5,199 with SRAM Red eTap. It's available as a frameset for £2,399. It comes in four different sizes: 53cm, 55cm, 57cm and 59cm.
Of the bikes that we've reviewed on road.cc recently, the closest in price to the T640 is the Rose X-Lite Six Disc Ultegra Di2 at £4,417.79, but that is an entirely different type of bike with a carbon fibre frame, disc brakes and Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting.
A more relevant comparison is with the £3,713 J.Guillem Orient. That bike is made from 3Al-2.5V titanium and Shimano's second tier Ultegra groupset rather than top-level Dura-Ace.
The Enigma Evoke Disc that we reviewed last year was £4,199, also with a 3Al-2.5V titanium frame and an Ultegra groupset, although this time with mechanical shifting, and flat mount disc brakes.
The T640 is a lot lighter than either of those bikes and looks at least on a level with them in terms of value.
The Reilly T640 is a bike that proves carbon fibre isn't the only answer for those who value speed and sharp handling. It's stiff and solid, in no way soft or vague, and although it weighs a little more than a carbon alternative, it's not so much that you'd notice in use. Add in an elegant design and excellent craftmanship and you have a really appealing proposition.
Stiff and efficient titanium road bike that demonstrates carbon fibre isn't the only option for those in pursuit of speed
road.cc test report
Make and model: Reilly T640
Size tested: Large
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
The frame is made from 6Al-4V titanium with 3Al-2.5V titanium stays.
Reilly lists these frame features:
Di2/EPS or mechanical to choice
Designed for 28mm tyres if needed
Breezer cowled dropouts, super stiff
CNC XX44mm head tube for Chris King inset
English threaded BB
31.6mm seat post size
35mm band on front changer
Tubing UTS 1150MPA
Bright brushed finish as standard
Weight from 1200 grams
The fork is Reilly C-290 full-carbon.
Groupset: Shimano Dura-Ace 9100
Wheels: Fulcrum Zero Nite
Tyres: Vittoria Corsa
Seatpost: Reilly Vector
Handlebar: Reilly Vector alloy
Stem: Reilly Vector alloy
Tell us what the bike is for
Reilly says, "For the rider that demands and must have the best, the Reilly T640 is our flagship titanium road frame and available as custom or off the peg. Featuring ultra butted 6AL4V seamless main tubes that have a ultimate tensile strength of 1150MPA and density of just 4.42gm/cc, these numbers added to extraordinary design make the T640 staggeringly stiff but supremely comfortable. Lighter, stiffer and more compliant than 3AL2.5, this frame has it all and bags more. Designed for a tapered fork which adds incredible, sure footed, razor sharp handling."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It's superb. The welds are neat and the graphics are tidy.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is mainly made from 6Al-4V titanium with 3Al-2.5V titanium stays.
The fork is full carbon.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's a race geometry as opposed to an endurance setup.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It's about what you'd expect of a race bike of this type.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It was firmer than I expected – not harsh, by any means, but not soft either.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
It's certainly stiff.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, the most efficient titanium bike I've ridden, I'd say.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so
The tiniest amount. The tyre just brushes the toe of my shoe. Not a problem.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively The lively side of neutral.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? I would if I was in the market for titanium.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The bike is a clear 9 for performance and I think 7 for value is reasonable considering what you get here. It seems like a solid 8 overall.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.