The Reilly Fusion is a titanium aero road bike built like nothing else.
It has been a long time since I’ve wanted to start a bike review like this, but… look at it. Look at it. This is the Reilly Fusion, and it is frankly stunning, as well as being the product of some brilliant innovation.
Titanium has upped its game significantly in the past few years, from Bastion making its 3D-printed, titanium-lugged carbon frames to UK builder Tom Sturdy and his Fiadh, which employs 3D-printed frame parts plus a matching 3D-printed titanium fork. crank and stem.
However, as incredible as those bikes are, the key difference here is that Reilly isn’t using 3D-printing. Instead, the head tube, bottom bucket, seat tube cluster, rear dropouts and tops of the seatstays are investment cast, a little bit like the steel lugs of yesteryear. But this is no legacy project.
‘I was a foundry patternmaker for 15 years so the technique used for the Fusion is close to my heart,’ says Reilly co-founder Neil FitzGerald.
‘With investment casting you can create some elaborate shapes, and you’re able to batch-cast, which brings volume into the equation at a reasonable cost. And unlike 3D-printed titanium, which has a slightly rougher surface, cast parts are much smoother.’
In broad strokes the casting process involves pouring molten 6Al-4V titanium alloy into a ceramic mold, which cools to form a part. Cast component walls are solid (3D-printed parts can be hollow), but the trade-off, says FitzGerald, is that shapes can be every bit as elaborate, require much less finishing and can be made at a slightly lower cost.
‘Weight is virtually identical to our T325D frame – around 1.8kg,’ he adds, alluding to the fact the casting process stacks up well against less elaborately built titanium bikes.
The cast parts are fabricated by Reilly’s partner in the Far East, and they are TIG-welded to hydroformed 3Al-2.5V tubes. Hydroforming is another unusual technique for titanium, which is more commonly drawn like steel, and here the process is used to create flattened ends that meet the cast components just so, and vaguely truncated tube profiles. à la an aero bike.
I’d go as far as to say that you could mistake this bike for a silver-painted carbon fiber bike at 20 paces. The silhouette is modern, the joints of the frame are gratifyingly smooth.
There are functional reasons behind the frame’s design. The lowered seatstays are there to promote flex, the burly head tube and bottom bracket designed to afford space to route cables internally. And just look – amazingly for a metal bike there is not a cable in sight.
Of course, you may have seen dropped stays on T.Red’s titanium bikes and hidden cables on Sturdy’s Fiadh, but as for me, I’ve yet to see a titanium bike with both.
I can’t say the seatstays do all that much for comfort but that’s really because titanium tends to be a forgiving material anyway. Likewise, hiding cables should in theory cheat wind just that little bit, but the net effect is hard to discern, something I’d throw at the tubes too, which have an aero look but may or may not add much.
But that sounds unkind, especially as both things – cables and kamm-tails – don’t detract from the aero cause. And more to the point, in speed and ride feel, the Fusion is brilliant.
It doesn’t whip along like a true aero bike, but I’ve ridden my fair share of titanium bikes and this is very much one that feels like it could give carbon a run for its money.
It does so while being heavier than carbon, but this just means the Fusion picks up quickly on descents and bowls along with a feeling of serious momentum on the flat. However, the standout characteristic is one of smoothness, and smooth equals fast.
I made a similar judgment recently in my review of the Pearson Minegoestoeleven, and here again the tires play a role – 28mm is plenty of rubber for excellent cushioning and grip without feeling squirmy or ponderous. But there is something more going on here.
There is a real zing to this bike. The Fusion dips and weaves in and out of corners in a most pleasing fashion, but it does so with that near-intangible spring that metal bikes have, and which I miss so much in carbon.
The reason is that metal-tubed bikes have skinnier tubes to keep their weight down, and skinnier tubes are less stiff. Thus if there is a criticism here it would be that the Fusion won’t be stiff enough for some – although FitzGerald and his team have done their best to keep stiffness high, employing a monster T47 BB shell and exploiting its size to be able to attach chunky chainstays.
But you can’t have it all, and however I look at this I can’t escape my overriding feeling that this is just an eminently pleasurable bike to ride, alive in its metal spirit and imbued with personality that extends way beyond, but yet is largely because of, its looks.
Reilly Fusion spec
|Weight||8.7kg (size large)|
|Sizes available||XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Levers||Shimano Ultegra R8170|
|Brakes||Shimano Ultegra R8170|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Ultegra R8150|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Ultegra R8150|
|Crankset||Shimano Ultegra R8100, 50/34|
|Cassette||Shimano Ultegra R8100, 11-30t|
|Chain||Shimano Ultegra R8100|
|Wheels||Strada Carbon PAD-45|
|Tyres||Continental GP5000 28mm|
|Cockpit||Reilly one-piece carbon bar/stem|
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Pick of the kit
Etxeondo Alde jersey £139/Orhi bib shorts, £169
I’ve always liked the Etxeondo kit for its premium feel. I think I have – probably most impertinently – referred to it as ‘the Spanish Rapha’ on more than one occasion, but by that I mean the quality is top notch in an understated way.
Take the Alde jersey: in one sense it is basic – three pockets, full zip, that’s kind of it. But put it on and the feel of the fabric is superb – soft yet compressive, racy yet comfy. The Orhi bibs are similar, feeling supportive and compressive yet at the same time lightweight in the leg, abdomen and straps.
Reilly Fusion alternatives
The T640D (from £6,199) is made from 6Al-4V titanium alloy throughout, which is around 10% stiffer than the 3Al-2.5V of the Fusion’s tubes, meaning frames are somewhat lighter yet just as stiff.
This is Reilly’s do-it-all adventure road bike, the Gradient (from £4,199). It’s chock a block with points for racks, guards and luggage, and features clearance for huge tires – up to 700c × 55mm or 650b × 2.4in.
Photography: Mike Massaro