- by Shaun Thompson
- Published: 29 October 2010
New brands are appearing quickly and they’re providing more styles than imaginable; choices for the budget conscious student or commuter appear to be endless. But can cheap mean quality?
James Reid has developed as a business (Reid Cycles) that offers a cheap solution for the budget conscious; don’t expect to find any flash designs or wicked paint jobs as this isn’t what Reid had in mind when putting together the brand. Reid is keeping it simple, and I was surprised to hear that his clients are coming from a mix of different backgrounds; they’re not just the budget conscious riders. They’re riders who are doing Around the Bay for the first time, new cyclists competing in the BRW series for the first time and international visitors to Melbourne who are here for more than a few weeks.
The owner and developer, James Reid started as an online business. Reid sends bikes all over the country, for the Melbourne based business things are starting to take off, so much so that the prospect of new designs and carbon fibre roadies are beginning to infiltrate his business. The quality and price have been a hot topic in online discussion about Reid Cycles, so how good is cheap?
Bicycles Network Australia decided to find out more about Reid Cycles and exactly what James had to offer in his products. I was sent on a fact finding mission to discover if Reid’s bikes were worth the minimal outlay.
I decided on the midrange blue and white Aquila, once home, I put the Aquila (Alloy Frame) straight onto the work stand for a good look; apart from the front wheel being slightly untrue and the rear brake needing centring, the Aquila was ready to go; with a few minor adjustments to the seat height I was ready to go.
I spent more than eighteen hours aboard the Aquila over the course of sixteen rides. I was impressed with the handling, the bike is happy to change direction quickly without wanting to fight me or throw me too far off line on rough corners, the stiff frame and alloy fork meant good acceleration, though this meant a fair bit of road noise came through. You can certainly feel the bumps in the road. Everything worked well together, the front friction and rear SIS thumb shifters have improved greatly since my last meeting with them, clicking up and down without hesitation or odd noises.
Braking was average at best, not scary but it paid to think and look ahead. Off pavement is not really recommended on the 23mm tyres fitted, but for the short sections you have to ride when linking paths here and there, keeping the speed down and choosing a good line will keep you flowing. I only suffered one flat with the supplied Kenda Koncept 700×23 tyres, but I can’t blame them, most if not all 23mm tyres would have pinch flatted in that new pothole I discovered the hard way. The rear wheel laughed at it and spun true for the rest of my time aboard.
The TIG welded 6061 aluminium alloy frame and fork looked the goods with neat and even beads at all joints, only slightly let down by a few rough spots in the paint that were only noticeable under close scrutiny. The wheels are fairly heavy, Rainbow rims laced to 36 hole Quando loose ball hubs with generic 2.00mm black spokes. They stood up well for the test, finishing up as tight and true as they started, despite my best efforts to loosen off spokes with a bit of gutter jumping and pothole crashing. The components were a mixed bag, consisting of AO50 and 2300 mechs and Tourney thumb shifters with the Prowheel 42/52 crankset and 11-28 7 speed Shimano cassette; overall the components worked well together. I experienced a few missed shifts and the only time it got at all noisy was in heavy rain, which is to be expected from any bike. I thought the unbranded dual pivot brakes were a bit flexy to be honest with average modulation but acceptable stopping power.
The rest of the components, consisting of Zoom stem and seatpost, Vader branded saddle and no name handle bar all did the job designed with no complaints from any part of my body until it found the grips. The grips were too thin, too hard and too slippery for my liking, spend a few extra dollars on something that will make your ride easier and a little more pleasant.
Reid Cycles Aquila Specifications
|Frame||Reid 6061 Alloy Frame 51cm / 54cm / 57cm|
|Front Derailleur||Shimano 2300|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano A050 7 Speed|
|Shifters||A050 14 Speed|
|Crankset||Prowheel alloy 42/52T 170mm|
|Bottom Bracket||VP sealed cartridge|
|Cassette||Shimano HG30 7 speed|
|Brakes||Tektro dual pivot Alloy with adjustable pads|
|Brake Levers||Tektro RL-340|
|Hubs||Quando racing hubs with quick release|
|Rims||Alex Double Wall alloy rims|
|Spokes||14G stainless black|
|Pedals||VP-386 alloy with cage 9/16" thread|
|Seat Post||ZOOM alloy|
|Saddle||Ventura racing seat|
The warranty isn’t the same for all of the models Reid Cycles has on offer. The warranty for the Aquila is 12 months on parts and frame, naturally crash damage or misuse of the product isn’t covered. I would suggest discussing the warranty with Reid Cycles before purchasing; ensure that you have the same understanding as them when deciding to finalise the purchase.
I was impressed with the Aquila as a low budget package, as were many of the people I spoke to after commenting on my “new bike” plus there was unanimous approval for the looks.
The Reid Aquila would be a good choice for someone looking for a decent bike at a competitive price; it ticks all the boxes for a budget flatbar road bike at $390. If I decided to purchase one myself I would use it as a rain bike, the standard stock parts aren’t going to last forever so I would suggest replacing the stock parts with entry level Shimano parts (Sora) when the time is right.
If you’re a budget conscious rider then a Reid bicycle may be right for you. The brand is growing and you can find Reid Cycles in North Melbourne to have a closer look at the bikes or on the web: www.reidcycles.com.au
Review by Shaun Thompson
Co-Author Rowena Scott