Looking for a cheap city bike? At £380 the Reid Blacktop isn't going to break the bank, and it isn't going to break itself either: it's a well-built and easy-to-ride city bike with durable components and an engaging ride. I like it.
The Blacktop has an aluminium alloy frame and fork; there's some confusion on Reid's website as to whether it's 6061 or 7005 alloy, not that I'd be able to tell the difference. The welds are smoothed and the bike is finished in a matt/gloss black paintjob that's very understated and urban. There are a few chips in the paint now but generally it's holding up very well. The alloy fork is painted to match.
To that frame is attached some very sensible and durable city kit. The transmission is a Shimano Nexus 3-speed hub with a grip shifter and a Prowheel 44T chainset. With the 20T sprocket on the hub that gives you 43in, 60in and 81in gears (approximately). That's a nice spread for getting yourself up the hills and still being able to push on along the flats.
If you live somewhere very hilly then you might find it a touch overgeared, but a chainring swap won't cost you much if it's a real problem. Obviously the 3-speed hub doesn't have either the gear range or the close ratios of a derailleur system, but it's simple, cheap and durable.
The Blacktop uses a zinc-galvanised anti-rust chain that doesn't need much taking care of. There's no chaincase, but you could fit one easily if you wanted.
The Nexus hub is built onto an Alex DC-19 rim, with a Quando hub at the front. At 530g the rims are solid without being over-heavy, and they're well built with plain gauge black spokes. It's not the most exciting wheel build ever, but the wheels arrived true and stayed that way. They're shod with 35mm Continental Sport Contact tyres that roll well on the road and have plenty of chamber if you want to venture onto rougher surfaces; the file tread is good for fire roads and towpaths.
Promax V-brakes take care of the stopping. They do the job just fine, although experience suggests they'll probably be due for a switch a few years down the line as the plastic parts in the spring mechanism aren't that robust. The alloy levers will last for ever, though. Finishing kit is all alloy, as you'd expect, and you get semi-ergo grips and a decent saddle with a fairly sleek shape and plenty of padding.
The ride: firm, engaging
It's a fun bike to ride, the Reid. At 11.7kg it's hardly a lightweight but it's still good to punch away from the lights and the steering is on the lively side of neutral, which makes it good for flicking through traffic. It's not twitchy, though, and 40mph descents don't require any more than the usual amount of care.
The frame and fork are stiff, and the wheels are solidly built too. That's mitigated by the 35mm tyres and the decent saddle and grips, and the overall package is a bike that feels firm without being uncomfortable. If you stuck 23mm race tyres on this bike you might find it a bit of a boneshaker, but as it comes it's good for purposeful progress without getting beaten up.
The tyres give good levels of grip; the carcass isn't the most supple so they benefit from having plenty of air in. I ran them at 70psi most of the time; you can drop below that if you're riding on mixed surfaces and comfort is definitely improved, but at lower pressures on the road you do feel them start to drag.
Point yourself uphill for any length of time and the weight of the bike begins to tell a bit. It's not too bad on shorter rises where you can get out of the saddle and give it a bit of oomph to get over the top, but long draggy climbs aren't so great; it's just a case of knocking the bike down to first gear and making your way up at whatever pace you can.
If you like to spin the pedals fast and you have plenty of hills to do, you might find the gear range restricting. I found that I tended to do longer climbs out of the saddle as the cadence was more suited to that. I didn't find anything that I couldn't get up on the Reid, although there were certainly times I would have liked another gear. Bath is hilly – if you live somewhere less bumpy the gear range will be dandy.
The position of the bike is just right: not too racy, but not too sat up either. It fits the nature of the bike: the Blacktop is a bike that likes to be thrown about a bit. You can cruise about on it at no great speed, but it's more fun if you're putting a bit more effort in.
There are frame mounts for a rack and mudguards. Those things aren't included but you could fully citify (is that a word?) the Reid and make it into an all-weather, four-season commuter. For £60 you could get rack, mudguards, chain case and a kickstand, and you're still only looking at £450 for the whole caboodle. If you were buying it on a cycle-to-work scheme you'd only be paying about £25 a month, for 12 months, for a bike that would last you years. That seems like a pretty good investment.
Overall, the Reid Blacktop is a likeable bike. It has a sensible city spec and although it doesn't come equipped for load carrying in all weathers it's easy to add the bits you need. The £380 asking price looks like very good value, and the bike is enjoyable to ride around town. If you're after a simple and durable workhorse bike for not much cash, it's certainly one to consider.
Simple and durable city bike that's fun to ride and easy to winterise
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Reid Blacktop
Size tested: XL
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame Material 6061 Aluminium Alloy
Fork Alloy Rigid Fork
Gearing 3 Speed Shimano Nexus Internally Geared Hub
Crankset Prowheel 44T Chainring with alloy bashguard and TT technology
Shifters Shimano Nexus REVO Shifter
Rear Derailleur Shimano Nexus Internal
Brakes Promax Alloy V-Brakes
Brake Levers Promax Alloy
Hub Quando Alloy Quick Release Front, Shimano Nexus Rear
Wheelset-Rim Alex DC19 Double Wall Alloy
Tyres Continental Sport CONTACT II 700C x 35C
Chain KMC Z510RB
Freewheel/Cassette Shimano Nexus
Bottom Bracket Prowheel sealed TT exo BB
Handlebars Reid Oversize Alloy 31.8mm
Stem 1-1/8" Threadless Alloy, Oversize
Grips Ergonomic Lock on Rubber
Saddle Reid City Comfort
Seatpost Reid Alloy 27.2mm Micro Adjust
Pedals Nylon Body, Alloy Cage, 9/16" Steel Axle
Frame Size 42/46/50/54
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?
The 2016 Reid Blacktop launched in Australia at the end of September this year, and now it is available in Europe too! Since launching, the Blacktop has been very well received in Australia with buyers commenting about its style, perfect urban riding position and simplicity. So let's take a closer look at some of the features of this stealthy commuter favourite.
Frame and Fork
The frame and fork on this model are all custom designed in house by Reid and are made of heat treated, high grade 7005 series alloy. The frame features impressive smooth welding technology and a stealthy matte and gloss black graphic. The ride position is designed to be sporty, but not racey. Commuters aren't looking to set a stage record in the Tour de France, but want a fast, comfortable ride, with road damping. The Blacktop is designed to tick all of those boxes, with riders commenting on the bike having "the perfect reach and geo". It is also very lightweight with the total weight of the bike coming in at under 11KGs*.
One of the primary concerns commuters told us they have with their bikes is the reliability of their wheels. Towns and Cities are notorious for pot holes, broken surfacing, and debris in the road. These can cause puncutres, and worse still, damage to the rims. So we paid special attention to the wheelset when designing the Blacktop. It features lightweight but tough Alex DC19 double walled rims, laced using strong stainless steel spokes to a lightweight Quando front hub, and Shimano rear hub with internal gearing. These are then wrapped in durable Continental Sport Contact 2 tyres with great puncture protection properties as well as giving a compliant ride.
The inner city commuters we interviewed wanted ultimate simplicity with just a few gears, that need as little maintenance as possible. This is why we chose the popular Shimano Nexus 3 Speed internal gear system. With just 3 gears to choose from but with wide spacing between the gears, you have a low, mid and high gear to choose from based on the gradient and speed you want to ride at. This is operated by the Shimano Nexus Twist Shifter on the handlebar. There are no derailleurs to worry about, and no external parts to be damaged when locking it up at a bike rack or on the street. We also used a KMC Rust Buster Edition chain, to ensure longevity and durability. The lack of the derailleurs also give this sporty model the style offered by Single Speed Bikes and Fixies.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Nicely built, well finished.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Aluminium alloy frame and fork.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It was fine, with a comfortable mid position. Not too upright, not too racy.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The bike is firm in terms of ride but not uncomfortable.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
It's nice and stiff, for sure.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, the drivetrain with 3-speed hub feels efficient.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
No issues, although fitting mudguards might introduce some...
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral to lively.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The bike is fairly quick in the turn which makes it good for moving about in traffic. It's not twitchy and it's fine at speed.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Tyres are good, saddle and grips okay.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, it's a well-made and effective city bike that's good value.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Good performance, excellent value.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.